New Year, New Schedule
I had so much going on last quarter, I wasn't sure 2023 would ever come! Fortunately, I got through all my events without a hitch and then got my first case of covid to make sure I really didn't do any work after Christmas.
Now that the phlegm and nausea have passed, I am ready to tackle the new year. Looking back on the creative goals I wrote last year, I managed to accomplish only one of them. I'm not sure I want to make a new list for this year. However, I have the whole year lying in front of me like a blank slate ready to be mapped out with tasks to grow my business and fulfill my creative spirit.
It's been 2 years since I've had a regular working schedule (even more than that if you include lockdown WFH where the concept of time ceased to exist), and I'm trying to incorporate some structure back into my work days. Before I went full time with my business, I just did whatever I felt like doing in the few spare moments I had to spend on it. Now, I have a never-ending list of tasks to do, many of which aren't the most enjoyable but must get done (think taxes and boring admin). There are also things I need to get done regularly, so the "do what I want, when I want" schedule isn’t very efficient.
To get myself to create more regularly, I started a Patreon. Only with the accountability of other people’s expectations can I actually get anything done, so I made a promise to make 1 illustration, digital download versions of it, and 1 comic a month. So far, I’ve made it 1 month and am already starting to fall behind, but I still have time to catch up! Become a patron before the end of the month to give me some added pressure into finishing my monthly creative tasks.
The other regular to-dos are not as creatively fulfilling so they’re a bit harder to find motivation for. First, there’s these newsletters and blogs. I do find them fun to create but I’ve set myself up for a bi-weekly publishing schedule that feels a little daunting. I barely write captions for my instagram posts, so writing something publicly isn’t a feeling that I’m accustomed to. Nevertheless, I do enjoy sharing these tidbits of my life with you, so I’m determined to keep at it. My only concession will be that not every blog or newsletter has to be amazing and mind-blowing. Sorry if that bores you, but I only have so many ideas! Hopefully I can provide at least one little nugget of goodness worth taking away from each post.
Next, there are the regular tasks I should do to keep my business moving forward. These are tasks like maintaining my website, making or restocking inventory, and working on my wholesale accounts. My business won’t fail if these tasks don’t get done, but it will become stagnant without these constant efforts.
And finally, the category of to-dos that I hate most in the world: marketing. In the age of social media and the power of platforms like TikTok and Instagram, I have access to potential customers all over the world, but only if I do the work to participate. This work can be anything from taking product photos to making relatable video content to working with influencers to market my brand. I personally have always preferred the creative parts of this job over the entrepreneurship and sales-y side. It also feels slightly counterintuitive to have pivoted away from money-making as a career goal and leaving my office job, only to be spending more time actively trying to earn a dollar. Nevertheless, marketing will always be a necessary evil to running a small business.
To get myself to hopefully complete all these tasks on a regular basis, I have broken up my week into blocks of time focusing on certain tasks as follows:
|Plan marketing & social content
|Work on newsletter & blog
|Design a new greeting card
|Wholesale research & outreach
|Create marketing & social content
|Update website & work on blog
The “Project Time” blocks are open slots for whatever particular projects I’m into at the time like illustrations or designing products. My hope is that by dedicating specific time periods to these tasks rather than following every whim that comes my way, I will be able to concentrate and actually get whole projects finished. The way I’m conducting myself now, I have a lot of started projects and very few complete ones.
I find working on projects sequentially the hardest as an undisciplined creative. If I feel inspired to work on something in a particular moment, it’s hard for me to turn my attention to anything else. And when I manage to do so, the fleeting inspiration to work on the first thing has left by the time I get back around to it. This is what I feel I would have most benefited from if I had gone to art school; becoming disciplined to make art when I have to without waiting for the exactly right inspiration to strike. Years of running this business as a fun side hustle also taught me the habit of working for immediate gratification and not acting with long-term goals in mind.
That is what I aim to accomplish with this set schedule of time blocks. Concentrating my creative energy into productive output while also getting the boring but necessary tasks done. After all, I did manage to do this for years while working in an office with tons of less than desirable projects.
Though, if I learned anything in the last 1.5 years running my business full time, it’s that plans don’t always go the way I think they will. After a stretch in 2021 where I declared plans only to have them fall apart 2 weeks later, I learned to be more flexible. Some plans don't work out and that’s okay. At least I tried it and now I can move on to trying something else. So this new schedule is just another one of my many plans I am trying out. I’ll let you know if any of it sticks and which parts help me run my business more effectively.
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