Marie Kondo has made a fortune by telling people how to declutter their homes, so that they get rid of anything that no longer “sparks joy.” This idea has inspired one of my favorite exercises for artists.
Artists face a challenging paradox. While the creative process itself is dynamic and unpredictable, creative people need structure and order in order to make consistent progress.
When you declutter your living space, you remove unnecessary belongings. It’s what we do (or intend to do) when we run out of closet space or move to a smaller apartment. When you apply this idea to your art practice, you open up mental space by finding time for what matters most to you.
So here’s how it works. Examine two or three typical weeks in your calendar, where you write down appointments and other commitments. Notice how you actually spend your time, and look for patterns or recurring activities. Then think about your long-term goals, your highest priorities. How much time do you spend on them in a typical week?
For example, many of us spend hours each day on administrative tasks, errands, and meetings. Such activities can become automatic, habits that drain your energy. Look at your own calendar, and ask yourself if any of your recurring activities could be eliminated.
Then remake your calendar by blocking out chunks of time devoted to your most important goals. Mark these times as appointments, just as though you were going to the dentist or meeting a friend for lunch. When you think about accepting a new invitation, you’ll look at your calendar and see that you’re “already booked.” You have an appointment with yourself.
For many artists this will mean finding the time to create the work that is the core of your practice.
Mary Edwards, Ph.D
Career & Life Coach for Artists
“Left Brain Skills for Right Brained People”
As an artist coach, I bring a unique combination of business knowledge, art world experience, and professional coaching skill to my practice.