I get asked this question a lot. My first reaction is to the word “should” – the minute I hear “should” I shudder a little – should is one of those tricky little words that we use when we think there is a right answer and we want to make sure we are doing the right things. There is no should, no one size fits all – each of us is unique. So let’s let go of that first … please do away with the “shoulds”.
Normally, I am asked this question in relation to things like how much time to spend on particular processes like marketing, planning, etc. I understand – we are all in the same boat – there are 24 hours in a day and 168 hours in a week – our time is precious. We definitely want to use it wisely and make the best use of it.
Even though each of us and each of our businesses are different and I would need to know more about your specific situation to have a real answer to the question … there are some general thoughts that I can contribute to the way we look at the time it takes for the Business of your Art.
First – I am particularly fond of a law that was made popular by Cyril Parkinson in the 50s. Parkinson’s Law states, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. Bottom line: If you give something a week to do it will take a week … if you give yourself 2 hours to do it then it will take 2 hours.
We have all proven this to ourselves at some point in time when we had to cram for some exam that we may have had weeks to study for but instead found ourselves madly consuming the information we needed the night before and still did a good job on the exam. Notice I am not promoting procrastination here – just the power of focus and having a deadline. I’ll talk about procrastination in a minute.
Now that said, there are some things to notice and look out for in applying the law practically. One is that you really do want to have some realism. If you have never done something before it will take a little more time at first because there is a learning curve. Also, you want to create enough time to do a quality job. However, when you shorten your time frames and give something a deadline it requires you to really focus on the task and that you become more efficient at the task.
On the flip side is where we usually go – we have 3 weeks to get a project done and we dally around with it for 3 whole weeks … pure procrastination. We set no deadlines and then we actually expand the task. We keep going back and adding more and changing it … we are not really doing much work … we are just dragging it out, making it bigger than it is … E-X-P-A-N-D-I-N-G it to fill the time we have given it.
For me, I have, as my business has expanded over the years, managed to fit in sooooooooo much more into my day – in the same amount of overall time – than I did at the beginning. I continue to find ways to compress my time and become more efficient in the process … it gives me a big kick when I tell myself, “I bet I can do a quality job of that in less time” and then I focus in, set a new timeframe for it and accomplish it. AND since I am not procrastinating it is easier and without the stress that procrastination used to produce for me.
The second thought I have about the question is that it is not so much a question of how much time something will take but instead a question of how much time are you willing to invest in it. This is more of a commitment issue than a time issue. Notice that when you are really committed to something, when it is a real priority, it gets done … no matter how much time it takes? As a matter-of-a-fact when you are really committed to something time flies by – you are totally focused on the end result.
When you are really committed you also don’t find yourself doing things like: procrastinating or giving your time away to other shiny objects that appear in front of you, or being pulled away by other desires like watching one more show on TV. The commitment gives you a laser focus that gets the job done.
So if I add my two thoughts together here is what I have so far:
• Do the things you are committed to or, if you need to, create a real commitment, to what there is to do to so you will be willing to invest the time it takes.
• Schedule the time and set deadlines to allow a time frame that prevents expanding the time it takes or procrastination.
If you set two hours to do a task like work on creating your marketing plan today, and you are committed and willing, you will get it done in those two hours! If you have a show in 3 months then set up the times you will work on it and a deadline and get it done ASAP vs. stretching it out over the whole 3 months and continuing to go back and work on each piece over and over again forever and still not be ready the night before you need to hang your work.
Now back to the original question about how much time the Business of your Art will take? I have found that to make the business of your Art succeed, for most artists, it takes an equal amount of time to the time you spend on your Art. For example: If you spend 20 hours a week creating your art then it will take another 20 hours a week to take care of the business of your art – including the marketing, maintaining finances, planning, etc.
Warning: Do NOT be tempted to cut out the time creating your Art all together in order to work on your business! Your time in the studio or practicing your music, etc. is critical! That is the foundation of everything – there is no Business of your Art without your Art! There will be no commitment without your Art. Your ART is what breathes life into you. Balance your time and create both your Art time and your Art Business time using the two suggestions I discussed above instead and see what kind of results you can produce.
So … how committed are you to the success of the Business of your Art and how much time will you invest?
I look forward to hearing any thoughts you may have – please feel free to share with me/us! It always gives me great pleasure to be able to find out what you are thinking and experiencing and to interact with you.