Thursday, March 13, 2008

Deadlines

My daughter and I were having a conversation the other day about working. She told me she could never be an entrepreneur. She could not imagine working so hard. I love it when someone makes an observation like this. It makes me pause and step back from what I am doing everyday, and see it in a new light.

I do work a lot. Every day. All seven. Too many hours by most any standard. But, for the most part, no one is making me work so much. No one but my own drive and desire. We recently had someone here doing some work on our house, and I commented to him about the hours he worked. He did this as a second job. His weekends, and long evenings were spent in a second job. He quickly questioned my comment in light of my own behavior. He had observed my workaholic tendencies as he spent time in our house. Once again, I had to step back and look at things from another point of view.

As my daughter and I talked, what I began to realize is that the "work" part of what I do is often around deadlines or drudge work that needs to be done. That is the part that most feels like work. But it is only a fraction of the time I spend "working". In comparison, I probably spend less time per week in these tasks that feel like work, than my husband spends at his job in a week. Most of what I do, I enjoy tremendously and so, feel pulled to spend the time doing it.

As I juggle several deadlines in the coming weeks, I am feeling a bit more overwhelmed and under more stress than I normally do. As I work towards these deadlines, I wonder if this is where the line between doing this as work, or as an avocation may lie. As a job, deadlines are regularly popping up on the radar. Show applications. Dates to ship work. Submission deadlines. Deadlines for running an ad, or doing a mailing. With a deadline we can't always follow our muse into the studio. Sometimes we have to shift our focus to the task that must be completed.

But, deadlines may also serve a purpose. A reason to push a piece further. A reason to get the photos taken. A reason to create a body of work. Without deadlines, sometimes things will drift about, to and fro, perhaps never getting the final focus and push to move it to completion.

Are you able to follow your muse at will? If so, do you sometimes find that it is hard to maintain focus or commitment? Or do you find that other obligations are your biggest challenge? Does the idea of the commitment of deadlines keep you from moving from a passionate avocation to an artrepreneur? Are deadlines a spur to move, or a roadblock in your life?

4 comments:

Carrie said...

I remember in art school how all of the students had to wait until the end of their final year before being allowed to create a project entirely without bounds. The teachers told us it would be harder where there were no limits or guidelines or deadlines. And they were right! Some people completely mismanaged their time, others kept changing their design to their new idea and so on..

But it was an excellent experience and the next time we had an assignment to do as we wished it slowly became easier and easier.

Elaine said...

I find that when I am allowed to 'follow my muse' at will, I get nothing done or not enough to keep the electricity on, the rent paid and us fed.

On the opposite end of it, when my calendar starts to have more things booked per day and more deadlines written in then there are days or slots (I break work days into 4 slots of 2 or 3 hours - quiet of the morning, morning, afternoon, quiet of the evening) I get a lot done but suffer for it.

Best is somewhere in the middle but I haven't figured out how to get there yet!

Pauline said...

I thought "Deadlines" was the perfect place to take the time to thank you for coming to our NHPC Guild Meeting and sharing your insightful thoughts on starting a business in the Craft world of Polymer Clay. After reading how busy you are at the moment, it only makes me appreciate it all the more! Thank you again.
Pauline Duke, Vice President

Judy said...

Carrie, What a great story! Thank you for sharing it.
Elaine, that balance is a struggle, isn't it? But at least if we aim for it we have a better chance of achieving it from time to time.
Pauline, Thank you, and Bette for inviting me. I enjoyed seeing old and new faces, and the discussion. I certainly left with a few things to think about as well. It was time well spent!