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« Balance: What Makes You Happy? | Main | The Productive Artist: A No Calorie Recipe for Your Sweet Artistic Success »

The Productive Artist: The Year is Almost Over But You're Not Finished

The Productive Artist Series

I don't know if you’ve ever had this experience, but after September, my To-Do lists got longer and longer as the end of the year approached (as if December 31st were a wall I’m about to crash into.)

And even though I’ve done a lot - and many things that weren’t on my list to begin with - the undone items diminished my sense of accomplishment.

I wore a digital path in my online planner by moving tasks off the overdue list and over to a new date that seems far enough away that I can tick them off the list.

I was beginning to feel like I was doing the equivalent of moving the deck chairs on the Titanic before it sank.

That’s a waste of brain bandwidth and bad for the attitude.  

I always want to get more done in less time and to a higher standard, so I had to make some changes. I established some scheduling principles that replaced the guilt of unfinished business with better habits.

Maybe three of these changes will help you too.

1.  Plans should be dynamic; never static.

Planning is the operative word, and plans are only the product of thinking at a moment in time.

I remind myself that I made up those goals and deadlines, and I can remake them to be more realistic. When I made them up, I didn’t have all the facts and experiences I’ve had since then. Now I know more, and I can make a better estimate.

2.  End of year deadlines are deadly, so stay away from them.

I have a deadline-free zone from December 15th to January 15th, so I can clean up must-do’s; move need to do’s to a new date; and enjoy some digital-free holiday time, so I won’t be too worn out to do the To Do’s.

3.  Take definitive action on the items that never seem to get done.

If some things never seem to get done, keeping them on a rotating task list is about as useful as watching your food on the rotating turntable in the microwave.

Ask yourself three questions:

  • Do I still need to do this task in the next 12 months to reach one of my important goals?
  • If I still need to do this task, then what will make it easier, more enjoyable and more likely that I will get the task done?
  • If I don’t need to do this task in the next 12 months, then can I delete it entirely or add it to my “Not Yet” list. (Then look at that list monthly and ask the same questions.)

May your lists be shorter and may you have warm breezes at your back to speed you on your way.

Read More Like This

The Productive Artist: Shine Your High Beams Next Year
Art Business: Make an Artful Transition to Next Year
Balance: The New Year is Not a Command Performance

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Reader Comments (1)

Excellent, Aletta! I wish I would have had your list a year ago, as I am working on an end of the year deadline right now! I would add one more point: Build into your plans MARGIN for unexpected life events, which always require more time and energy than we think. Your first point encourages me to adjust my plans to fit my life when the unexpected happens.

December 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Schmidt

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