I can’t begin to express the importance of goals in your creative life (and elsewhere, but that is another story). One easy strategy to document your activity as a creative thinker is to make a calendar just for your projects.
I print monthly calendars out from Vertex because I like to write in, add, subtract, and skim through months at a moment’s notice. If you want to go green use Outlook, Entourage, Yahoo, or iCalendar. Or, if fancier tickles your toes, buy a calendar book from your Borders (Yes, we have those in Dubai. And everything else for that matter! You should have heard my students’ joy when Taco Bell opened up at Dubai Mall. Low grade meat lovers unite!). Clearly, you have choices when it comes to choosing the calendar that is right for you.
To keep it simple I set two goals for the month. I don’t list weekly or day to day tasks except for major due dates like an exhibition opportunity or a commission deadline. If I do get too specific when I break down tasks to reach my goals, I feel obliged to stick to that mini deadline, even if it’s inconvenient or inappropriate because, you know, life changes! A month is just enough of a check-in to maintain decent focus. Instead, as I do accomplish tasks, I enter it on the calendar. This allows the calendar to act as a diary of accomplishments. I can see how much (rarely how little :)) I have worked on my art on a particular week/month/year.
I am a personality type that is extremely self-critical. Documenting the tasks I have accomplished offers positive reinforcement that allows me to observe that I am actually taking measures to reach my goals. It also gives me measurable evidence to reflect on my tasks and goals (remember SMART goal-setting?).
If you can’t go overboard on the goal-setting, this diary style document at the least allows you to reflect on just how much you work on your creative dreams. Do you actually know how much time you spend on creative activities?
Remember that activities like these are only tools to help you reach for your creative goals. If it consumes too much of your time (rewriting it, adding too much detail, etc.) it could take away from the creative process. If you are like me and over-think and over-analyze, try to keep it as simple as possible.
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Get a calendar and choose one goal for the month of February, two if you are feeling especially ambitious! Begin documenting the tasks you work on to achieve those goals!
New to this blog… to all blogs. Do I KNOW you?!?! I think you are ME! What an incredible idea. Sort of a “reverse-engineered calendar” where you put down tasks accomplished rather than tasks to be done. The MDV (mind declutter value) of selecting one or two goals to maintain your focus, coupled with the ability to review tasks accomplished, sounds like it might be an effective plan for me. Have worked with SMART, OATS, and just about every other time-management scheme that has popped up over the past 30 years. (Yes, I said 30.) But this is the freshest approach I’ve ever heard and it just may do the trick. The part about the SMART that always got me was the “measurable.” I was stuck on basing that on “finished” projects, not “finished” tasks. It’s normal for me to be juggling several projects simultaneously and it can seem like NONE of them are getting finished… but if I can show myself that the work IS happening, to think progress and not necessarily completion… I think that would be very encouraging and energizing for me! I’m certainly willing to give it a try!
Haha hi Denice! Welcome to Artist Think. I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed my article. I need positive reinforcement and breaking down projects into smaller tasks allows me some of that reinforcement to continue onwards forwards. Yet, if I wrote down every small task I aimed to completed I might actually feel defeated instead of proud of my accomplishments. I juggle a lot myself and I think its the only way most things actually (eventually) get done! I hope it works for you. I would love to hear how it goes. Best wishes to you.