Sunday, February 07, 2010

Art as Business: Time Management II

- Do you play chess?
I don’t. Or rather – I can start playing a game of chess and stay focused and concentrated for like 7 minutes. Then I just make a bold surprise attack without really thinking about the consequences. The other player looks at me surprised – thinks – and will of course win the game. Being a general in real life a surprise attack could work … but in chess? No.
I don’t like loosing.

Time management is like chess – and I am more of a poker player. I can be patient and strategic if I know I can be allowed to bluff and take risks. Poker involves that … but can I time manage like that? Deadline surfing could be like taking risks… but it’s just plain stupid when you have a child who might have to stay at home with a fever at any given moment – especially when something important has to be done. So I’ve decided I will have to play chess when it comes to time planning – and play poker in the studio instead. One important thing for me to remember is to not play too much chess - then I’ll just go crazy and do something totally surprising with my administration and time…

As I am a poker girl my chess players are a bit handicapped – they have really poor eyesight and need to use three aids: normal glasses, magnifying glass and binoculars

Normal glasses(6 -12 months into the future)

These last years I’ve had so many parallel projects going on – and I’ve had such a hard time remembering when to do what that I’ve sometimes missed important things (like applying for grants, making follow-up calls or even missing meetings).

But now I’ve solved it! Since last spring I use the calendar on my computer (iCal). I have more or less detailed planned what to do until the end of April – and I’ve backtracked things that need to be prepared.

For example: I will give a screen-printing workshop in March. When I planned it In December I wrote down in the calendar: when to promote the workshop, when to mail the participants (twice), when to order materials, when to send a nice e-mail after the workshops etc. So now I don’t have to think about it! I look at my calendar every night – and if I’m home doing administration in the morning as well.

I have this great overview of the whole year. I have managed to concentrate some workshops and projects to March, I’ve reserved April for making the enamels, May will be a mix (project, screen printing, enamels) and I’ve planned June for concentrated work in the studio. I’m going to try to get autumn organized in a similar way, but with more studio time (I have two exhibitions late autumn).

Magnifying glass (to do list for the day, the week etc)
  • Less than 2 minutes-rule. I’ve started applying the rule that if something will take less than 2 minutes to do: Do it now, Don’t postpone it! For example: answer the e-mail straight away, put the date into the calendar, and pay the bill. Ok, I’m not perfect on this .. but I’m getting there slowly and I can see improvement (less paper on my desk)
  • To do lists. I love to do lists. But I have this tendency to put too many things on them and then just feel a kind of despair when I just manage to do half of it. But thanks to using iCal and it’s very little space per day (I write down the things I have to do at night for a week or two) I can only put a few “to dos”. And I do them (ok ... I move some boring ones around a bit!). These tasks are complements to the long term planning (like with the workshops above). It can be: updating my website, do my bookkeeping (YES! I’ve finally started doing it on a regular basis instead of desperately a week before it’s time to do my tax declaration) or writing a follow-up mail.

binoculars (1-5 years)
but … where are they?
Shit – I must have misplaced them. I’ll try to find them until next week (i.e. I have to start using them)… a problem to try to fix. How can I work better on keeping my long term goals in front of me? What do you suggest?


Kitty Kilian said...

Yeah.. sounds familiar! Don't you like the OHIO-rule? (Only Handle It Once) - a bit like your 2 mins rule.

Anairam said...

I loved this post, Alexandra! The glasses /magnifying glasses / binoculars analogy is great. I am going to apply your 2-min rule - I think it is a good one and will prevent lots of piddling things from cluttering up my to-do list. Do them immediately - then they are out of the way. PS I have also lost my binoculars - I find it really difficult to make plans or set goals too far ahead. Things can change a lot in one or two years!

Veja cecilia said...

Otroligt välskrivet och välformulerat och välillustrerat. du är en sann talang. GE UT EN BOK NU!

Alexandra Hedberg said...

cissi - kan du bli min bokförläggare?

●• Thereza said...

hmmm i'm the same with the to do lists... maybe what you suggest there could be a better way of getting through them: write less and get more done!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post - but that whole 2 minute problem is that I have so many 2 minute tasks, they start to pile up into 2 hour tasks! sigh...

Alexandra Hedberg said...

Kitty - OHIO. Yes, but that thing you should only handle once could very well be a thing that will take an hour to do. And then you can probably not do it intermediately when you are aware of the task!

Candied Fabric - what I mean with my 2 min rule is that what can be done intermediately should be done intermediately .... if you know you have 100 mails to answer maybe then that's not a 2 min task. But put the papers into the file? Wash your coffee cup? write it into your calender, put the (ONE!) address into your address book... I mean those kind of things.

nathalie et cetera said...

J'aime beaucoup tes analogies et je suis toujours impressionnée par ta détermination.
Je suis personnellement assez organisée. J'utilise encore un agenda papier car je peux l'apporter avec moi, mon imacest trop gros. La seule chose que je n'arrive pas à faire avant la toute dernière minute, c'est la comptabilité. Alors là, je n'ai aucune discipline.