Dear Design Doctor
I am working really hard as a textile artist since I graduated 3 years ago. I still have a part-time job for the money. I did lots of Christmas events and will be doing two shows later this year.
I just feel that I don’t get any ‘real’ work done. I have so little time to make my work, be creative in my studio. It’s frustrating, can you help?
Patricia van den Akker, Director of The Design Trust, answered this question as The Design Doctor in Crafts Magazine January/February 2014 (page 30) where it was titled ‘Navigating a career at a crossroads’:
‘It’s interesting that you have been working for three years, as this is often a crucial turning point. You have been long enough in business to see if it is for you, but you also start to take stock and wonder if it is ‘worth it’.
You are at a crossroads in your career.
Many new creatives underestimate how much is involved in being your own boss.
To create a successful and sustainable craft business I recommend that in the first years you spend around:
- 40% of your time creating
- 40% on marketing
- 10% on training
- 10% on administration
You might be doing fine within that guidance, it’s just that nobody ever told you how much there is to juggle when you run your own business!
And working part-time takes up time too, although it can be very beneficial in creating structure in your life, learning new skills and obviously bringing in money.
Many (new) creatives can’t make ends meet with their work alone. Money worries can kill your creativity very rapidly, and a regular job can bring much needed financial security and stability, which is essential if you want to create.
January is a great month to work ON your business. It’s quieter in your business, and it’s a natural time of the year to rethink what you want to do, be and achieve with your life and work.
So, what do you want?
- What would you really love to create?
- Why textiles?
- Who would be your dream client?
- Where would you like to work?
- What do you want to do or achieve by the end of this year? By your next significant birthday?
Take some time out to listen to yourself and find the right answers for YOU.
It often helps to create a visual collage with doodles, images and descriptive words. The better you visualise what you want, the more clarity you get.
You might not achieve exactly what you imagine, but at least you know what you are aiming for.
When you have a clearer vision then it’s time to identify your juicy goals.
- Which events or projects do you really want to create or take part in?
- Who do you want to work with?
- How can you improve your work space to make it an inspiring and inviting place to work in?
Make sure your ideas excite and stretch you, but not overwhelm you.
It’s YOUR business and life, so take charge. THAT’s the great advantage of being your own boss!
When setting goals it is good practice to create SMART goals, which stands for: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound.
Basically include numbers and deadlines in your goals, e.g.: ‘In 2014 I want to take part in 2 craft shows: ‘Art in Action’ and ‘Made London’; or ‘I want to launch my new collection in June on my website’.
Identify 3 big SMART goals for this year.
You work very hard but don’t necessarily achieve what you want. Focusing on 3 goals only will help with that, it’s time to let go of some non-essential activities.
Then chunk these 3 goals into 5 – 10 smaller actions, each with their own deadlines. For example: to launch your collection you need to photograph the work in May, and make the work in the Spring.
When setting goals it is useful to ‘start with the end’: identify first where you want to go, then work backwards to what you need to do to get there.
Finalise your year plan, including 3 big goals, actions, and deadlines on one A4.
Now the hardest part …
You need to start making time for your creative work.
Allocate 2 days per week for creative work, 2 days for marketing, one day for admin.
With the help of your plan physically write down in your diary what needs to be done on specific days or in certain weeks or months. For example note the craft show deadlines, and then plan when you will do your photography and application.
If you want to achieve something it’s useful to get extra accountability and motivation.
- Participating in events often stops procrastination, and will give you deadlines to launch new work, to photograph it, to do marketing, to update your website etc.
- Working together with a colleague or a business coach to review your plan on a regular basis helps too.
- Or have a ‘meeting with yourself’ every first Monday of the month to check your progress, see what is working, what needs attention, and adapt actions and timings in your diary for the month ahead.
If you know what you want, with a clear vision, and you allocate time and create accountability, then the chances of you getting closer to what you want will be high. There will be days that you struggle, but with support from others, your diary full of exciting actions, and an eye on your vision collage you will soon be back on track.
All the best for 2014 and beyond!’
How do you make time to create? Do you have any tips in how you juggle all your jobs? How you stop procrastinating? Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments box below: