Lessons from a One-Year Old

GratitudeToday is the First Birthday of “The Art of a Well Lived Life.” Time for a party! Bring in the clowns, the ponies and let us consume copious amounts of CAKE (preferably chocolate)!

Setting out to simply share some thoughts and be a solid resource for creatives by using my corporate chops, a year ago I committed to writing a weekly blog and publishing it – every Friday – for at least 12 months. Family and friends supported me. They safeguarded my already ruddy reputation by making sure I didn’t breach the line…much. I only want to sprinkle mischief dust; I don’t intend be hurtful (click to Tweet). As I said in the beginning, one of the things I love most about people is, when we are being genuine, we have interesting wrinkles and shortcomings…it makes us human and I am thankful, because those imperfections add perfect colour to our world.

My readers have responded to the shares. I’ve discovered an enormous sense of community through “The Art of the Well Lived Life.” I’ve had an opportunity to share my knowledge, and in turn, you all shared your wisdom. I’m grateful for your shares, your feedback, your words.  People have gotten naked with me in conversations – bared their souls, their pain, their hopes…I am humbled. 

I work for free, but should really be paying you, dear readers. Here are a few of the priceless lessons I’ve learned while penning “The Art of The Well Lived Life” –

    • People are kind
    • After over a decade of business writing, the writer I was born as has rediscovered her voice
    • I’ve written over 52 stand alone posts – a cohesive, though short, body of work
    • I possess self-discipline – I don’t need a boss – I’m the boss of my own, bad self
    • Older people have incredible stories, philosophies and wisdom to share – they are reluctant to share them on a blog , but they rock it in private groups
    • Creatives need a community – while we may work alone well by nature, we get lonely from time to time
    • Showing my own scars and faults has hopefully given us all “permission”
    • Everyone is insecure from time to time and in their own way – if they aren’t they’re probably a psychopath
    • Even people who rail against structure want structure – let’s just dress it up in lace and call it something else
    • Spellcheck cannot be overrated – evher
    • People love to have fun. They like to laugh and poke, but they want respect and reassurance – so I give them permission to laugh at me
    • WordPress is relatively user friendly
    • Our souls were designed to express our essential selves. When the outlet is blocked we react with negative behaviours and behave poorly (click to Tweet this one)

This is a deeply emotional birthday for me, like the ones that end in a 0 or 5. I’m actually crying as I write this, it must be hormones or a lack of chocolate. It also may harken back to  this first post.  Above all, I am awash with gratitude that you keep reading, keep commenting, keep laughing and sharing your wisdom and questions.  Thank you, thank you, thank you….

Make a wish…

Coaching

 

 

Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, 
Writer, Artist, Coachhelping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives. 
 
                                    Follow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

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Walking the Tightrope

Ritual and Routine

 

When you work on your own, it’s easy to get into an unproductive rut. The demands of everyday life can pull you off track. Soon, you find, you’re taxiing kids, doing the laundry or waiting for repair people. Did you get into the studio? Nope. Take care of that upcoming marketing piece for your event? Nope. Did you write your newsletter? Heck, nope…and that’s not all. It’s not that you’re not “working,” it’s just you aren’t working on your stuff. Your life has become a circus!!!

“If you don’t spend your time delivering your own package, other people will use your time to deliver theirs.” (click to Tweet)

This kind of “off-tracking” and generosity may feel like flexibility to you, but what it really does is zap your productivity. What’s more, it can suck every bit of creativity out of you. Schwwwwooooopppp!

   

So, how do you develop a healthy routine that boosts production and allows creativity to thrive? Can your free-spirited self ever be happy with the bridle of routine? You might think it feels, well…constricting.

It’s unrealistic to expect our days will be spent doing only the things we love to do. Ooooh, did I sound like your mother?  Sorry!  Sure, the bulk of your work should be something you’re passionate about, but realistically, we all have parts of our work we don’t thoroughly enjoy. If we want to sip the sweet nectar of success, we have to drink the bitter medicine, too.

The key is to create some balance. If we only do the tasks we enjoy and put off the others, we run into a big pile of procrastination. Life can be like the bigtop, so here are some tips to get a foothold on that tightrope, and create some happy, predictable fun and routine in your days.

Start with a Solid Program – When creating ritual and routine think of the things you enjoy…what are you passionate about? This is your foundation for the day’s journey. Make sure your passions are really your own…unique to you.

Artfully Schedule the Acts – Identify your peak production hours. Schedule hard hitting stuff for the times you’re most energized. For example, if you’re a morning person, do your heavy lifting in the morning. If you are energized after lunch, schedule demanding tasks in the afternoon. Schedule your days with the activities you most enjoy in strategic time slots to kick off the day. Keep momentum by scheduling some “duties” that don’t squeal your wheels, but need to be done anyway, in between the times you’re doing the fun stuff. Need some time management tips?

Sweeten the Deal Think of it like cotton candy. If you’re doing a task you don’t enjoy, sweeten the deal by playing music you love, or performing the task in an enjoyable spot. For example, go out to the garden with your laptop to create marketing material, or play your favourite artist during your clean up phase in the studio. Sip a favourite beverage while doing your books. It works!

Be the Ringmaster – Of course, you have an audacious “To Do” list! You also have a calendar. Use them both. Schedule 60% of your time and leave 40% free for life to happen. But when you schedule it, make sure you honor your commitments to yourself and do what’s on your calendar. It’s important to schedule time in the day to take a break and recharge. This is essential to your creative flow. You can find some tips here.

Hold Regular Dress Rehearsals  – Spend time on the tightrope every day. Repeat the ritual and routine. Keep it predictable…well, as predictable as possible. Let those around you know the road you’re traveling, so you can reclaim your time for yourself and decline their requests until you’re free. If you get up everyday and repeat the same positive behaviours, you can’t help but increase your productivity and creativity. You’ll be flying through the air with the greatest of ease.

By consciously filling your days with both things you love and activities you MUST do, and being committed to the schedule, you create ritual and routine. Inform others of your plan and schedule their time separately…then they can’t clown with your calendar. Be committed to your own success by claiming your own time and stepping into the spotlight. Be the star of your own act.

Take a Bow,

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Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, helping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives. 

Writer, Artist, CoachFollow her on  Facebook and on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

Get to Work!

productivity art distractionsStep Away from the Vacuum Cleaner!

Or the laundry, or the landscaping, or walking the dog, or fixing the light in the back yard or whatever.

Solo-preneurs and creatives have a lot of freedom with their schedules. Sometimes, customers, galleries, shows or collectors will demand deadlines with structure, but most of the time it’s a free floating extravaganza of unbridled days. That flexibility was part of what attracted us to the job in the first place. To tell the truth, a lot people are unable to deal with this type of freedom. Some of you get “distracted.” Here comes the tough talk, so put on your big girl panties, or big boy boxers (tighty-whiteys…I’ve got nothin’) and admit it…much of the time….

 The inmate is running the asylum.

I understand the Road to Hell was paved with good intentions, really, I do. There’s one concept that may help keep you from reaching that destination. There’s one factor we sometimes forget to take into account –

Life happens regardless of your calendar and intentions. (click to Tweet)

Homes and children continue to require maintenance. Those “emergencies” that rear their heads do not take your “schedule” into account. Those pressing items that need your attention, which are not your “work” are most often manufactured between your ears. Hear me – You hereby have PERMISSION TO DO YOUR WORK.

When I teach executives Time Management, I always emphasize scheduling only 60% of the day because STUFF happens. They schedule things they MUST do and magically, the rest of the calendar gets filled. These men and women have to get it done, because, unlike you, they have direct oversight and written objectives to meet. If they don’t take care of business, their bosses will force them to stare at a free floating extravaganza of unbridled days, and they can’t even paint!

Whoa, I digress.

So, here you are with empty hands. The time comes to show your stuff and you stand in front of the crowd with excuses, a sad, sad face and empty hands. Or, you’ve generously donated so much of your work time that your work has not reached the level you had hoped. It’s not the best you could have done. So sad.

Do not call procrastination laziness. Call it fear.”   ~ Julia Cameron

 Generally, two things will derail your good intentions for getting your work done. Fear and fear. (click to Tweet)

Either you’re afraid to do it and make excuses because you may fail. Or you’re afraid to say “no” to other people’s requests because you feel selfish and won’t guard your productivity time properly.

Productive artist
Robert Burridge in the Studio

When we begin to elevate our creative work and make it a priority, children survive, floors eventually get cleaned, underwear can be worn more than twice (I did NOT just say that), and life goes on without us hovering over it.

Your work is your passion, your dream. You are privileged to have this opportunity that so many others do not get, and you are obligated to honor it. I encourage you to say, “no” to things you don’t have to do in order to get done what you MUST. (click to Tweet).

So as we begin this year anew, take control of your life. Set your goals. Claim your time on the calendar. Develop the self control to say “no” and get the work done. Develop muscle where you are weak in your work. Seek teachers. Get support from other artists. Do not be complacent. No distractions. You get to work, so…

Get to Work!

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Special Thanks for Kate and Robert Burridge for permission to use the photo – isn’t he all cute and colourful? Super fun classes, too. Find him at www.robertburridge.com
Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves her clients in the direction of their Writer, Artist, Coachdreams by helping them improve productivity and cultivate good behaviours while eliminating poor ones.

 Follow her on  Facebook on Twitter

For a free gift that will help you boost personal productivity “Join the Tribe” and subscribe to this blog!

Ready for some creative fun while pursuing your dreams for the new year? I’ll be having a Beginning Mosaic Workshop called ” Magic in 2014″ in January. Register or  learn more!

 

Sniff

productivity

I don’t read fiction.

I’ve always considered it unproductive. I guess, in a way,  I’m a commitmentphobe.  A story must be finished to learn what “happens.”  If I stop short, I waste time. What if I don’t like the read? If I read a non-fiction book I can walk away at any time and take with me the knowledge that’s been shared. There are no “sunk costs” with non-fiction.  Fiction has sunk costs. (click to Tweet)

If I start something I finish it.

I don’t so much stop and smell roses along the way, though I won’t judge you for sniffin’ the perfume and may even advise you to do it. But me, I just plow right though. Finish it. Move on. NEXT!

I don’t sit and chill.

You guessed it. A colossal waste of time (for me). You can chill though, I know it’s good for some folks, but chillin’, for me, requires being still – and I can’t be still for too long. If my body isn’t moving, my mind likes to be doing the cartwheels.

If I do it right, I bleed.

Yes, that’s the litmus test. Catholic upbringing and work ethic have taught me that I have to go the extra mile. I have to leave a little blood on whatever I do – figuratively speaking, of course.  It should hurt to be “good.” Hey, I know it’s a fallacy and don’t call it “perfectionism” because you know how I adore imperfection. I know it’s not true, but it’s in me…in the quick…so I partake in the regular bloodletting. Feels good. (click to Tweet)

Enter Raging Rhinitis

My husband shares everything, including his wicked common cold. Last week, that thug, “Rhinitis” rolled me and stole all my goods. (click to Tweet)

 I. Got. Mugged.  

I spent the historical equivalent of 3 days down for the count. Once I acquiesced, I decided in my typical fashion, to leverage the time I had left. I set up shop by the hearth and went to work relaxing (yeah, I realize the irony in that sentence). Here’s what I found most healing:

  • A good book
  • A gentle fire
  • Tea
  • Several lengthy, mouth-breathing naps – sequential or gently spaced – didn’t matter
  • Not writing
  • Not painting
  • Not making the bed
  • Not doing much of anything
  • Snuggling with a cuddly blankie
  • Chicken soup (made for me with loving care, thankfully)
  • Hangin’ with my hounds
  • Allowing myself to be taken care of by others
  • Proper drugs
  • Chocolate

On the 3rd day I probably could have risen, but hey, I’m not that Guy. Truly, I was able to leave my post, but didn’t make any serious attempts to rejoin the real world. I was finally “allowing” myself to unwind. Trusting if I took a break I could restart the engine. Being gentle with myself.

It. Felt. So. Good.  !  Delicious.

Which brings me to the question. Why continue to allow such crazy beliefs to run my life? I see other ways working great for other people? What makes me so unspecial?  Isn’t it enriching to explore the other side? Scientific evidence supports stopping to “smell the roses.”

I vow to schedule more breaks like this…only sans phlegm. Maybe one-a-day, like a vitamin. Or simply take them as life serves them.  I’ll recognize and banish the para-abnormal overactivity that robs me of the “now.” (click to Tweet) Don’t get me wrong. I fill my days with work I love and with the people I find the most endearing, but I still subscribe to some strange beliefs, one being I don’t need to take care of myself the way I’d take care of someone else I love. I’ll bet you do, too. Care to take your inventory and vent your confession with me? You can jot a note below. You’ll probably feel better. I did. And  then, we can smell the roses together.

Sniff, sniff (but the good kind),

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Ripe for some creative fun while pursuing your dreams for the new year? I’ll be having a Beginning Mosaic Workshop called ” Magic in 2014″ in January. Register or  learn more!

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves creatives in the direction of their Writer, Coachdreams by helping them improve productivity and for good behaviours while eliminating poor ones. Follow her on  Facebook on Twitter

 

 

 

Driven to Distraction – 6 Strategies for Creatives to Get More Done

Tick Tock Your Life is Waiting
Tick Tock Your Life is Waiting

 

I could move mountains if it weren’t for “distractions.” (Click to Tweet) I mean, really, the shiny things get in the way, catch my eye and I’m gone.

It’s become more challenging since I’ve become a corporate refugee, because now I’m doing creative work and am accountable to only myself. We are all creative beings, no doubt, but once you give yourself permission to be fully creative, you lose some of the ability to focus on getting stuff done. I think this is partially due to the fact that creativity is fostered by exploration and play. (Click to Tweet)  The three go hand in hand in hand.

I’m sure the “shiny thing” gets you, too. And it snowballs. One distraction can lead to another and soon the sun is setting and you haven’t done anything even remotely productive. Urghh!

What to do?

It’s all about – ahem – time management. And self discipline. Ick. Doesn’t that sentence just make your hair stand on end? Feeling resistance yet? Think of it this way:

Time is your asset. It’s the key to the kingdom. (Click to Tweet)

You aren’t going to get more of it, so have the self-discipline to jealously guard the 24 hours you’ve got. Identify what gets in your way – and take steps to secure it. Here are some easy strategies:

Your “To Do List” is your GPS – Creating a “To Do” list may sound cliché, but it keeps you on course, guides you and tells you cheerfully, “You have arrived!” Use a list!

Control TV, Email and Social Media – Set designated times to check and respond to email and social media. For most of us, three times a day will work. Morning, noon, afternoon. Having your mobile device firmly tucked into your hip pocket and responding to its every chime? That chime – that’s the sound of your time being sucked into a big hole!

Schedule your Day – Schedule your day…but not ALL of it. Scheduling 60% of your day is realistic, because it allows room for life to happen and keeps you from turning into a shrew. Schedule the stuff you must do, and the stuff you want to do.  Workout time – schedule it! Creative prep – schedule it! Even schedule recreational time. Remember to schedule some time at the end of the day to prepare for the following day. You can create some balance in your life and still move the mountain if you schedule it!

Create systems – Take time to organize in a way YOU can understand. If you can’t find it, you spend time looking for it, so take time to put it in its place in the first place. Besides, just admit it, if you’re looking though stuff to find other stuff you get DISTRACTED with the new stuff you find. (yeah, I wrote that all by myself).

Get a Handle on Procrastination – We all do it. If you really want to, you can get a handle on it. It’s not rocket science…if it were I would procrastinate for sure. Find the root of the procrastination and ferret out the resources, gumption or whatever you need to move through it…one step at a time.

Make Yourself Accountable to Someone Else – Research shows if you write down your goals you’re more likely to achieve them. If you write them down, tell someone you respect about them and make a commitment to report back to that person, your success rate jumps to 95%!

I offer a free gift to those who sign up on my mailing list. This published article is a “How To” for overcoming procrastination. Just “Join the Tribe” at the left and I’ll send it to you, FREE. Tell your friends to sign up, too….don’t procrastinate!

I once heard a wise woman say, “If you’re not using your time to deliver your own package, others will use your time to deliver theirs.”(Click to Tweet)  At first this self discipline may look like shackles to you. This is not bondage. Manage your time well and you will get to spend more time doing what you love to do…perhaps even move a mountain or two.

Git ‘er Done!

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leadsCoaching pic  - Version 3 straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her on Facebook or Twitter