I don't do resolutions. Resolutions make me crazy, mostly because I can never, ever keep them. Ever.
I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this, right? Who needs the extra pressure and opportunity to feel worse about oneself??
If 2014 was any indication, I definitely need to slow down and take some time to not only do a better job of planning but also do a better job of working my plan, whether that's at home or in the studio. If that's a resolution, then I guess I'm making one... and the more I thought about it, the more I decided I was going to need some help.
First up: planning for my income in 2015.
Maybe this seems like a no-brainer to some of you, but I didn't sit down last year and really examine my goals for each income stream I'm working. So I put together a spreadsheet that breaks down where my income came from last year and where I want it to come from this year. That's helping prioritize where I spend my time and focus.
This was super simple to set up in Excel, and for every line item in this summary I have a planning tab that lets me work through the details. For the 2015 columns, I set it up so I can plug in a bottom-line income number on the total line, and then shuffle the numbers around in the goals section to play with percentages. This particular exercise has been really eye-opening - as it turns out, some of the things that take up the most amount of time haven't been the most lucrative. Being more efficient with my time and energy seems like a logical thing to move to the top of my priorities list.
So: creating efficiencies comes next.
Again, this may seem like a no-brainer, and having spent so many years (decades) in the business world, I was honestly surprised that I was struggling so much with this. In fact, it wasn't until I had a conversation recently with my friend (and business partner) Gail Stouffer that the light-bulb went on. I kept referring to all of this in the context of my "creative life." She said, "It may be your creative life, but it's also your job."
So I'm implementing a few new "rules" to help me think of my creative life as a job. First, I'm only going to take my laptop into the Roadhouse Studio one day a week. I can pick an hour to handle emails and stuff from home either before or after studio time each day, so one day a week should be PLENTY to do the necessary admin stuff. If my laptop is in the studio with me, I tend to get distracted from the work of "making" that I really need to be doing in that space.
Second, I'm going to try out some new tools to help me manage my blogging and website tasks more proactively.
Do a Pinterest search for planner printables and you'll get a ka-billion pins to wade through. I found two that looked interesting to me (here and here) and printed out only those pages I thought I'd really use. Mondays are usually the day I update my to-do lists, and since I tend to be more analog than digital about my planning, these printables will give me a place to do my jotting. With three websites to keep updated (mine, Roadhouse Arts' and - soon - my husband's) and three blogs to write for (mine, Roadhouse Arts' and here at AJE), I really need to do a better job of planning and researching updates and contributions.
(As an aside, I do use Asana for my to-do lists and I highly recommend it. Once my plans are finalized, I update my projects online. This is especially helpful for long-term projects and it's essential for teamwork. Gail and Lisa, my Roadhouse partners, can see all my Roadhouse-related tasks, comment on them or ask questions, and see when I've completed or updated things - and I can do the same for theirs. It's been a huge help in reducing emails, confusion, and duplication of effort.)
Finally, keep learning.
|Barbara Minor at Roadhouse Arts, December 2014|
I am so very, very fortunate in that I get to participate in deciding which guest instructors get invited to Roadhouse - and who I personally would like to learn from often pays a huge part in the suggestions I make to my business partners. I love learning from other artists, don't you?? Last November, I spent a week in the home studio of metalsmith Melissa Muir and in December, master enamelist Barbara Minor spent three days at Roadhouse. I came away from both experiences completely fired up and creatively refreshed, and December was maybe my most productive time all year. I didn't do enough of that throughout the year.
In 2015, I'm going to have the great pleasure of working with and learning from Melissa Muir and Connie Fox at the Roadhouse Retreat, followed closely by two Roadhouse workshops with Robert Dancik. I'm such huge fans of all three of them that I'm a little giddy at the prospect! (Want to join me? Head over to the Roadhouse Arts workshops page for more info!) And I'm teaching at three national venues this year - teaching is always a learning experience for me, as I work to create projects and an experience that is positive for my students, so I'm counting all three in the "learning" category. (More info about those opportunities will be posted over on my personal blog soon!)
So that's where my reflections on 2014 have brought me. What about you? It's hard to believe January is nearly half over already - where are you focusing your energies? What are your plans for 2015?
Until next time -