I’m always chatting with artists about staying focused.
It’s easy to feel like busy and productive are the same thing.
But the truth is, we’re often busy: endless website tweaking, redoing our branding, falling deeply in love with the newest social media platform, rewriting our about pages, etc – but we’re not often productive: interacting with people who didn’t know about us before and building relationships with the ones who did so that we make sales.
In fact, in my informal studying of artists, I’ve noticed that when they are right on the precipice of breaking through in their marketing and sales they spend a lot of their time on these busy tasks that make them feel like they’re accomplishing things, but nothing important is actually happening to grow their art business.
It’s like you figure out what you need to do to make your business work but it’s so simple that you’re scared of it.
Or maybe it’s so boring that we want to get involved in something more complicated.
Or maybe it takes so long to see the results that we just want something tangible like building a new website.
Or maybe productivity is elusive because there are so many things to do that it overwhelms. (And the overwhelming, endless list of tasks doesn’t go anywhere even when you learn to be productive.)
I’m not sure exactly why, but we get distracted from the things we KNOW are going to work.
THAT’S WHEN 90% OF ART BUSINESSES PLATEAU FOR MONTHS AND YEARS, WONDERING WHY THEY AREN’T MAKING MORE MONEY.
And maybe you’re not feeling that way at all. You may be at the stage where you really don’t know what you should be working on and your list isn’t very long at all. I remember that stage of business fondly!
If that’s the case, I highly encourage you to poke around my blog some and learn some of the productive things you could be doing to sell your art so that you don’t waste this stage on busy tasks.
Another thing artists do when hanging out on that precipice is stop paying attention to details.
Because there’s a certain level of monotony to running the business side of things (thankfully, the creative side is always there to spice things up!) it can get boring and tedious and you can stop paying attention to all the nuances that make something successful.
If you’re emailing to reconnect with past customers, don’t just use a template and write the same thing to each of them. Take your time to make an actual connection with that customer. It doesn’t have to be a long email, but it needs your care and attention so it’s a thoughtful email.
That’s just one example. The same principle works for all your tasks.
Marketing and selling (the main components of your art business, aside from creating) aren’t effective unless you are attentive to the details that make them work well.
Today I want you to evaluate your to-do list (and do a BBD if you don’t have a list yet) and store away the tasks that are busy rather than productive.
MAKE SURE YOU’RE NOT JUDGING THOSE TASKS FOR NOT BEING PRODUCTIVE ENOUGH.
There’s nothing wrong with updating your about page. It’s the stuff you’re not doing because you’re updating your about page that’s the problem.
So don’t cross off the busy tasks for good. Just move them to another list.
Most people find a rhythm of a certain number of productive tasks and then a certain number of busy tasks.
For instance, I can usually stay focused for two productive tasks and no more than an hour and a half before I need to take a stretch break. And then when I sit back down to work, I need two or three busy tasks before I can move into productive tasks again.
As long as you’re watching the balance, you’ll make sure productive tasks are getting done too. And then there’s nothing wrong with doing those busy tasks when it’s time to work on them.
So – back to today’s assignment.