This year, I'm holding nothing back in a series and exhibition called 'Balancing Act,' a behind the scenes insight into balancing commitments and creativity.
Each Month I’ll share two posts – the first (out on the first Monday of the month) will be a monthly insight into the studio of how I balanced the previous month’s workload, life and business with the pursuit of something that’s on the heart - a Solo show. This will be packed with honesty, tips and lessons learned from deconstructing the month.
The second post (on the third Monday of the month) will be a thought, concept or strategy to help you make more time for your he[art].
January and the White Space Schedule
For the first few years of my creative business, every January without fail I would have a meltdown, question the why of everything and think I’m a total failure because January is S.L.O.W. But this was before I noticed the trends of high and low seasons within my business.
I now embrace the low seasons and use them for development, respite, creative time and a chance to strengthen the upcoming busy season by creating White Space in the Schedule.
The White Space Schedule is about ensuring there’s still time for creativity, relaxation and health each week whilst also reducing the risk of scrambled egg brain during the busy seasons. By this I mean waking up not knowing what’s on the agenda, then frantically scrambling to deliver the day. This is a recipe for total burn out and keeps you reacting to the have to’s of the here and now rather than claiming space for action on the must do that builds your tomorrow.
For my kind of business, white space is created through batching and automating. Looking at the year ahead and drafting as much of the activities ahead of time possible such as:
Editorial Calendar - Social media and Website posts planned and drafted.
Education Calendar - Creating timetables and Resources.
Meal Plans - I’ve now invested in ‘Hello Fresh’, a meal delivery subscription to reduce the time spent buying food whilst ensuring we don’t resort to rubbish convenient foods when we’re ‘too busy’.
Reduce Noise – Review and forward planning keeps one clear tune in my head rather than getting distracted by earworms - You know those little snippets of music that pull your attention and drive you mad. In business I think of this as losing the whole tune (goal) to many half tunes (distractions or shiny object syndrome) which results in nothing reaching completion.
This prep work to create white space does two things - first it carves physical space, but secondly and arguably more importantly, it creates mental space. Any time I fail to do this prep work, I get so lost within the hustle of the Have to’s in my busy seasons I lose sight of my Must Do.
Is there a way you can create White Space in your schedule this month?
Inside the Studio:
Week beginning 31st: My husband was still on leave, so I took this week off for us to spend time together.
Week beginning 7th : Focused on planning the year ahead and getting in front of my editorial calendar. This week I couldn’t keep my hands up with my head as I'd so much I wanted to create and share with you. It never ceases to amaze me just how much a rest and space can give you new momentum, perspective and energy and this week I had the white space to act on these inspirations.
Week beginning 14th: The yearly chore of tax return consumed this week. I also had my final class with my watercolour group who I’ve been with this for the past 4 years. To say this was an emotional night is an understatement; they’ve been my constant companions and in turn friends which resulted in them becoming a comfort blanket, which is no good for either of us. I’d given all I could and I knew they needed someone new to challenge and push them in new directions, and so did I.
Week beginning 21st: Back into teaching at Ards Art Centre and an intergenerational project with Abington Manor and Mercy School began. This week was focused on batching timetables and creating resources for these classes for the next 3 months as well as committing all 56 new students names to memory. Work began on two new mini watercolour commissions.
Week beginning 28th: - Foundation was now set so my attention moved to creating the first mini figure of solo show where I tested adding hands and feet detail. Alongside this, I paid whilst simultaneously wobbled about tax bill, then at the end of the week piloted a new collaborative class with Dementia NI and Ards Art Centre, which was a massive success and highlight of the week.
Next month: focus will move to building upon the foundations set and looking ahead to new collaborations for the summer and beyond.
January Website Updates:
On the Studio Journal:
New Courses Scheduled:
Balancing Act Quick Links:
If you’re just hearing about this now, here’s where we are in the series:
January Tactic: Balance and Accountability
January Review: White Space
February Tactic: Define the Pace
February Review: Wrestling Resistance
March Tactic: Action Versus Reaction
March Review: The Knock-on Effect
April Tactic: Go Wide or Go Deep
May Tactic: Sow a Mustdo Seed
What about you?
Let me know in the comments below how you found this month, what you’ve created, or what you’re struggling with. I’ll offer my support and guidance and if you want an added dose of support, sign up to Studio notes to receive free tips, lessons, discounts and insights into the studio.
I hope you have a creative February and stay tuned for the second part of Balancing Act - a thought, tactic or strategy to help you make time for your he[art] coming out on Monday 18 February.