I have been trying to write a monthly blog post for ART JC and until recently the routine has been going well. It doesn’t seem like much of a task to generate a short article per month, but lately it’s becoming more of a struggle.
ART JC is much more of a hobby than a primary focus. I paint whenever I can, sort out prints when they’re ordered, and 12 times a year I’ll create a blog post.
Now combine that with the increasing workload I have from running my main business (DH Productions if you’re interested…) and suddenly the number of spinning plates being balanced is quite the challenge!
Being in a more stressful period of work and everything else, I thought I would take this opportunity to write about the situation, and how I’m coping with it. This will be much less of an ‘art-specific’ post, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed and just want to know that you’re not alone, well…you’re not.
I’m not very good at handling initial stress. Once I have everything organised and planned, I can deal with juggling a large number of tasks, but I struggle with the first realisation that a wave of work is coming in all at once (which it always does). Just like everything else however, that feeling of anxiety will eventually pass.
Sometimes all that’s needed is for you to take a step back, and take a few deep breaths.
If you ever find yourself with too much going on, or there just seems to be a huge weight on your shoulders - you probably need to make a checklist.
Industries all over the world use checklists to manage their time and efforts. Pilots would be lost (maybe even literally) without checklists. If it works for them, it’ll work for the rest of us.
My girlfriend always tells me -
‘If it feels impossible, break it down. Split the big task into lots of smaller ones.’
It’s not rocket science, but by having small, more manageable tasks to complete, you feel like you're making progress when several things are crossed off. You instantly feel more confident that you’re on top of things.
The very act of breaking everything down into bite-size chunks is essentially forming a plan. You notice which tasks will be quicker to complete, and what can be done straight away. Soon that impossible task will look a lot smaller.
We’ve all been there. We find that we have so much to do that we sit there worrying and never end up achieving anything in the first place. Our day becomes immersed under the weight of our to-do list, and instead of chipping away until we can come up for air, we seem to sink deeper and deeper, never taking a breath (see my first piece of advice again if needed).
The reality is, and it may sound like a difficult pill to swallow, that sometimes we do just need to get on with things. Figure out what's a priority, and focus on that first. In my case that often means that artwork actually ends up at the bottom of the pile, but I accept that and move on.
Don’t put things off - If it will take you 5 minutes, do it right away. Don’t overcomplicate it, don’t over analyse, just get it done and move on. I guarantee you’ll feel a lot better afterwards.
If it will take you half an hour, try and accomplish it that same day. You’re likely to have a few tasks like this, so organise your calendar and get going. Don’t forget food and walk breaks, they can be a life-saver for motivation!
If you think a task will take you an hour, carve out some time to get it done in the same week. Remember though, the longer it sits on the list, the more angst you’ll place on it - don’t put things off!
If the task in front of you is going to take much more than an hour, well to be honest, I don’t think you’ve broken everything down enough. You are much more likely to make progress on 4 much smaller tasks than a large, open-ended one.
Do you have a quantity within your task? Or something measurable? You need a clear end goal. For example - ‘write 1 blog post’ is much more achievable than just ‘blog posts’. I can speak from experience here, because I believe I’ve just finished this rant, and now I can tick it off my list.
Joseph Cashmore - ART JC
25th Feb 2023
2nd Jan 2023
13th Dec 2022
20th Nov 2022