I've never been a task list person though I've tried (oh have I tried). If I make a list of a few things I need to do I find myself instead doing other things that I find equally important, but are not on my list. When I do this I then add the finished tasks to my list and immediately cross them off, which makes my task list less of a "things to do" list and more of a "things I've done" list.
With more time in the studio I've long been trying to establish some framework of how to spend my studio hours productively, which naturally began by my creating elaborate task lists for each piece I was working on, and for all of the other little "things to do" in the studio (cleaning, ordering, etc.). This manifested itself in hundreds of tasks on dozens of lists...it was a bit overwhelming. This not only didn't work, it had me avoiding the studio which was an endless source of frustration for so many reasons...I won't even begin to go into that.
My initial move away from the task list was still a list of sorts, but it was framed out within the hours I had available to spend in the studio, so it didn't look so much like an endless and impossible-to-get-done list:
This was much better, but the problem was that it was still technically a task list...see that "Update Blog" entry? I probably didn't do that.
This time management issue is one I've been wrestling with for as long as I can remember. A couple of months ago I was once again struggling with how to best plan my time for the studio when I suddenly remembered how my third grade teacher Ms. Verduzco dealt with my chronic inability to stay on task. This recollection gave me just that "eureka" moment I needed to help me develop a system of time management for my studio that has worked for me for almost 2 months now...a record for me.
Ms. V gave me a timer for my desk and each week she would give me a 3x5 card with the week divided into columns. While we were doing desk work I would set the timer for 10 minutes at a time and if I was still on task when the timer bell rang I got to draw/color a square on the card. Then I would reset the timer and get back to work. I would get some trivial prize at the end of the week if I had completed a certain number of squares, but really the highlight for me was that little 30 second break I got to draw a square and color it any color I wanted.
Remembering this system helped me to realize that the key in the studio is just to stay on task and stop focusing so much on planning the "what" of the task. It doesn't really matter WHAT that task is, because if I am in the studio I am working, and I am going to get done what needs to get done. So now at the beginning of every week I sit with a weekly planner and mark out my available studio hours. Once I know what days/hours I'll be in the studio I draw a bubble at the bottom of the column for each hour I have to spend in the studio for each day, then I divide each bubble in half.
When I'm working in the studio I set my timer for 30 minutes, and when the timer goes off I reset it and fill in 1/2 a bubble (there's just something so satisfying about filling in those bubbles). I can even work ahead...if I'm still in the studio and all of today's bubbles are filled I can go on to start filling tomorrow's bubbles in...elation!
The great thing is at the end of the week I can look at all of the bubbles I've colored and it feels so satisfying to have a record of the hours I've put in.
So, to all of you non-task-listers out there I encourage you to give this system a try, just remember you are only allowed to fill in a bubble if you are on task when the timer goes off. And for all of you task list adherents, maybe you can try it too on a day that you want to be productive, but it doesn't matter so much what exactly you do when...who knows, it might feel a bit liberating.