Boring but important: organization and systems for artists

“If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to say of an empty desk?” said Einstein. The problem with a cluttered desk (or desktop) is not that it is cluttered. The problem is that the more cluttered it gets, the easier it becomes to lose important documents and files, and to lose track of projects that need to be finished. As creatives we tend to work on ten different things at the same time: writing an article, shipping paintings to your gallery, posting your social media and not to forget, admin. With so much going on, it is easy to get lost in these mundane tasks that are part and parcel of running an artist practice. This is why you need a system.
Systems are helpful but as with everything, common sense has to prevail. You don’t need to write yourself a 10 page manifesto on how you are going to organize your studio. This will just add to the confusion and ultimately your workload. Start by asking yourself: what do I have to do repeatedly (i.e. every week or every month) that I tend to forget about or push to the side? Create a list of these tasks. For example, I often hear from clients that they are not sure how often to post to social media or that they forget about it. Another example is to photograph your art before it leaves the studio and to add new works to your studio inventory. All important but easily (and understandably) overlooked in favor of creating or selling art.

If you don’t have the luxury of a studio assistant who can take care of all of this for you, start by allocating one hour a week to each of the tasks on your list. Then add them to your calendar as a repeated event so that they pop up on your calendar at 8am on Mondays (posting to social media) or 4pm on Fridays (cleaning out your inbox). Allocating time to these tasks in a structured way will remove a lot of the stress of re-inventing the wheel every week or getting seriously behind on important tasks. Simple systems like this will allow you the freedom to focus your mind on creating and selling your art.