I've had a relaxing week. Not normal for me as you know!
How often do I need to go through this cycle of boom and bust - piling on the pressure, then eventually realising I need to release it - before I learn?
It's one of the greatest challenges of being self-employed - or a solopreneur as it's called these days.
How do I get an overview of what I’m doing?
There’s no-one to pull me up when I go down a rat-hole of my own making. No-one to ask me,
“Is this project worth the time you’re putting into it?”
“Does this deadline matter? Or could you extend it, take off the pressure, and complete the work in a more meaningful way?”
Plus - I bet like you - I feel guilty all the time that I'm not doing enough.
But I'm beginning to understand that there’s no such thing as 'enough'. I'm never going to reach that point. There will always be more, more, more, that I could be doing.
Maybe, I need to run in the opposite direction. Ask myself instead,
"What's the minimum I need to do?"
This paradigm would make me look hard at what actually 'works' in my creative life and business. What’s truly valuable and meaningful?
The 80-20 rule
Yes, it's the old 80/20 rule. What takes up 80% of our time is NOT what gives us traction. That's all contained in the 20%.
Of course, I'm not talking about the actual art-making process itself. That's one of the main reasons we might want to create more space in the first place, isn't it? To have more time to create. And we all know that the creative process is generally the antithesis of what the world perceives as ‘productive’.
It’s all the work we do to promote and sell our work and/services that suck our time. But are we optimising our effectiveness?
Ironically, in order to even begin to think about which parts of what we do fall into the 20 and which into the 80 per cent category, we need to free up time in our schedule.
Making time for the important stuff
That's precisely what I did this week. The only non-negotiable to do's on my list were to work on my triptych - my current art WIP - and to do lots of yoga. Other than that, I allowed myself to do the 'work' I felt like.
This unloading of pressure feels really good. I've done lots of brainstorming about new approaches to repeating tasks that I usually do without questioning their validity or effectiveness.
In the space I've created, my ideas have become more playful, further out of the box.
I’ve had time to look in detail at the metrics of my business. What emails get opened? Which blogposts get shared? What images get pinned?
(Made me smile that one of my most popular recent posts was the one I wrote after visiting the Barbara Hepworth sculpture garden.
Not only was the post the result of having taken time out from my usual not-so-merry-go-round, but Hepworth’s work itself is all about creating spaces through which to get a new view of commonplace things!)
What on earth have I been thinking? I don't need to fill every hour of my day to be productive! Instead I need to create empty containers in which creative thinking can happen.
What about you?
Are you working mostly in the 80 or 20% zone?
Do you regularly take time to consider the validity of your creative projects, approach and direction?
Share your thoughts in the comments!