Painlessly Prioritize Your Creative Time
by Thea Fiore-Bloom, Ph.D.
Are you an artist who struggles with priorities for your art practice?
I know I sure do.
Let’s start with today for example; should we be posting to Facebook or Instagram*, making a video on our smartphone, pinning to Pinterest, working on SEO, writing a blog post, re-envisioning your newsletter, making art in our studio, playing our sax — or just drooling into a cup?
Let’s drop our drool cups because I just stumbled upon what I think is a great, fast way to figure out how to get to the heart of what matters to us in our creative work at the moment.
A way to help us know what to focus on next to try to let it come to pass.
It’s a simple exercise I heard mentioned on Amy Porterfield’s podcast interview with Kate Northrup. This “experiment” as Northrup calls it, is taken from her book Do Less.
The exercise, which I’ll share with you in a minute, is based on a theory all artists should know about.
It’s called the Pareto Principle.
The Pareto Principle and Your Priorities
The Pareto principle, aka the 80/20 rule, is an economic theory that states that 80% of your best business gains usually come from just 20 % of your actions.
So if we want more results and less stress in our art business, it’s logical that we should try to identify what actions fall into that 20 % category, right?
I thought it would be another boring exercise but the answers I got shocked me.
I hope you get good info too.
Get Clear on Priorities with Help from Glinda the Good Witch
It was as if Glinda the Good Witch flew in my office window and made me drink truth serum.
I say Glinda because she is the figure in the Wizard of Oz who author L. Frank Baum uses to remind readers of an important thing.
The answers to the life questions we run around asking others have been inside us all along.
Want Glinda to hook you up too?
Ok, here we go.
Northrup’s 5 Step Exercise To Unveil Your Top Priorities
Priorities for Artists 1st Step
Get out a piece of paper and draw a line vertically down the middle.
Priorities for Artists 2nd Step
On the left make a list of stuff you spend time on every day during the course of the last few weeks. (For people like us that may involve making art, writing in a journal, writing a blog, entering art competitions, posting your art to Facebook, working your day job, watching cute cat videos and the occasional drooling into a cup.)
Priorities for Artists 3rd Step
Now, on the right side of the paper write down your biggest wins to date.
“Big wins are relative, but everyone has some,” Northrup said.
(Big wins for creatives include things like: launching your art website or getting your first 10 subscribers, landing an artist in residence gig, having your art up in a cafe, having a big author agree to be in your documentary, or finally getting up the guts to start introducing yourself as an artist or writer to people.)
Priorities for Artists 4th Step
Go ahead and draw a line between each win on the right- side of the page and the activity on the left-hand side of the page that had something to do with that win coming about.
For example, your left side of the page activity of taking a daily walk could be connected to your right side page win of starting that new painting series based on the double helix.
How is that connected? Because it is on your morning walks that you got the idea for that series in the first place.
But take note, if you are like me there will be a whole heck of a lot of daily activities on the left-hand side of the page that never have a connecting line from the right side of the page come anywhere near them.
Priorities for Artists Final Step
Circle the activities on the left-side that do have a line connected to them. They are your 20% activities. They are the actions you’ve identified as helping you get closer to your heart’s desires.
How To Figure Out Great Priorities for Your Art Practice, Starting Today
“What you will be left with is a list of the 20 percent of things you need to front-load your day with,” Northrup said.
Northrup teaches you can keep doing much of the 80% mundane stuff on your list. Just shoot to do it later in the day.
In other words, try doing the things that bring you closer to your heart’s desire in your peak productivity times. You know, those 2 hours every day when you focus clearly. That time slot where you tend to produce your best work.
Sounds reasonable right?
Why not devote our best hours to stuff we know is in direct alignment with our dreams?
I was surprised but affirmed at what my current 20% activities turned out to be.
Paid classes I mistakenly felt guilty about spending money on (like a video series on how to improve my website SEO) were some of the very things bringing in my big wins.
The exercise is causing me to participate in those activities in a new way. With less guilt. Renewed vigor. When I am working on online classes now instead of thinking ‘Ooh I shouldn’t be doing this’, I’m like “Yes, this is helping me meet my dreams.”
I’ll be consulting Miss Good Witch again in the future as things change.
What will Glinda tell you?
Do you feel overwhelmed with social media marketing choices? Or life choices?
Up for talking to Glinda and sorting out your priorities?
I’d love to know in the COMMENTS below. 🙂
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