Tag Archives: Brainstorming

the art of finding balance

I received an e-mail today from one of my readers asking:

I was just wondering if you have any advice for the modern career woman who is struggling to have some time for herself. How do you find an outlet for your creative self expression and still manage to balance your financial responsibilities and so forth.

It’s a question that a lot of fellow readers might struggle with so I decided to post my response here on the site.

To give you some background history, I decided at an early age to choose a field outside of the art scene to allow me creative freedom in my art, and to give myself financial security. At first, I struggled at finding a real world job that fit my personality and skill set, but in time, I found myself working in the accounting field of all things…and for me it works.

Contrary to most misconceptions of accounting, I don’t sit in my cube counting beans all day. It is really more intense and exciting than most people realize. Of course, each day varies, but in a typical month, I’ve used a wide range of skills from using my detective skills to solve accounting mysteries to developing processes and procedures to prevent those “mysteries” from happening in the first place. And really, typically, they are never truly “accounting mysteries”, it’s just a way to add the element of fun back into my career. Something that’s missing from most corporate america jobs.

In other words, part of being a successful artist in the corporate world is a matter of perspective. Find elements of your work that you love and discover a way to transform it.

The other key part of finding balance between your work and life is in the art of recycling paper. Instead of throwing paper away that has only been printed on one side, find a place to stack it. Then when you need to brainstorm on an idea, reuse other side. Instead of wasting more paper through post-it notes, use your recycled paper when jotting down notes from phone calls. Part of you will feel good from doing this one good deed. Not to mention, that recycled stack of paper comes in handy sometimes when you realized that you might have thrown away something you need at a later date.

The other very important use of recycling paper comes with daily goal setting. Take of one those sheets of recycled paper and fold the paper in half. Use one side to list your goals for work that day, and the other side to list your personal goals outside of work. At the end of the day, cut the paper in half…leaving your work to-do list at the office as a mental note that it will still be there for you in the morning. Then take your personal list with you.

When it comes to personal goal setting, I have six main sections right now that I’m focusing on: Art, Financial, Health, Relationships, Spiritual, and the Mundane.

With my art goals, I look to accomplish something artistic every day. Whether it’s working on one of my paintings or simply brainstorming for new painting ideas, all of it counts. I also list my goals for the website as well as my recently opened etsy store. Basically, anything that has to do with my pursuit to make art part of my life.

Daily financial goals can be as routine as paying bills to downloading our Quicken statements. Again, remember, those small little steps add up over a week or even month’s worth of time.

As for my health goals, one of my main ones is remembering to take my vitamins. I’ve even taken in a pair of 5lbs weights into work considering I spend a lot of time in the office. They’re great for conference calls. Just put the phone on mute, do a couple bicep/tricep curls. Sure, I do occasionally get a few weird looks. But more often than not, I also get thumbs up for making that commit to keep healthy. Not to mention, I typically stay more focused on the call when lifting weights versus browsing my inbox.

Another one of my main areas for daily goal setting is relationships. From calling my mom on my way home from work (on my hands-free device, of course) to making a birthday card during lunch at work with friends, I always look for creative ways to accomplish my goals. Just remember that you’re not always going to get everything done in time. When it comes to cards, I’m always horribly late. As anyone that knows me will say, my sense of time is always off. But as someone once said, the wait is always worth it for my cards since they are typically homemade.

As for the spiritual realm, it can be as simple as saying a prayer, lighting a candle, or reading something inspirational before bed. The idea is just to make a little bit of time to step back and be thankful for the many blessings in life.

And then there is the mundane…laundry, dishes, mowing the grass…all those things you wish would go away, but never do unless you put a little elbow grease into it. So to prevent the weekend from being full of chores, spread it out throughout the week. Fold some towels one day. Do another load the next day. And if you really need help in this area, check out Flylady, a website dedicated to helping you find balance between life and chores.

Goal setting is just one part of finding balance in your life though. The other main part is your friends, family, and your significant other if you’ve discovered him or her. It’s these relationships that you build that will help you keep perspective, give you guidance when you need it, and inspire you to keep reaching for the stars every day. The important part is to develop these relationships across the different areas of your life that are important to you from work to your hobbies. And if you’re lacking friends in an area of your life, be bold, be daring…make the first step and ask someone to join you for lunch or coffee. Over the years, these friendships will become priceless.

When it comes to finding balance in life, sometimes you discover the secret through trial and error. Other times, you might discover it over a cup of coffee with friends. So if you’re still reading this, what are some of your own personal ways to find balance?

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Cures for the Daily Grind

A couple weeks ago, a friend remarked that my art had taken backseat to the daily grind, which indeed it has. But that is not necessary a bad thing unless it takes us years to return back to those pleasures in life that bring a smile to our face.

The challenge then becomes finding the time when our to-do lists seem to conquer over lives. So during those moments in life, simply make a commitment to find 15 minutes to do something creative. And if you can manage four 15 minute sessions in a week, you’ve accomplished an entire creative hour in just one week!

Now the question is what you can do in only 15 minutes?

create

Well, if you already have a creative project in the works, just set your timer and work on it for 15 minutes. Or you can try one of the ideas I have listed below:

1. Brainstorm for project ideas

2. Take your camera with you, and make a pit stop on the way home to take pictures somewhere interesting

3. Draw your day

4. Take a creative walk

5. Go looking through your magazines for collage clippings

6. Collect interesting quotes

7. Dance to your favorite song

8. Collect pictures for a scrapbook page

9. Make a card for a friend

10. Have a couple of tea and read something inspiring

11. Make an artist trading card

12. Write in your journal

13. Make a floral arrangement from your garden (or pick one up at the grocery store) to brighten up your creative spot in your home

14. Make a collage using the quotes and collage clippings you collected on a prior 15 minute creative sessions.

15. Press the flowers from the floral arrangement right before they start to droop

The key to 15 minute creative sessions is learning how to build upon them and break up tasks that normally would take you an hour to accomplish so by the end of the week you realize that it is possible to find the time.

Creativity is responsible for our mental, emotional, and spiritual vitality. Thus, a daily habit of creativity is vital to our fulfilled existence.

- Jill Badonsky, The Nine Modern Day Muses

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Big Idea Book

As someone who is always having creative ideas, I have always struggled with how to keep track those ideas for a rainy day. In the past, I would try to log them in my journals, but over time I would lose track since the ideas were kept in between long winded journal entries. I even debated using a cork board or a jar with scraps of paper, but nothing seemed quite right.

As I debated the perfect way to track my project ideas, I started to keep track of the search terms visitors were using to find my site in a little scrap notebook. In time, I started to realize how perfect it was to have one little place to log ideas…and by chance, this little notebook became the big idea book.

The key to the idea book is that you only log key words. The idea book isn’t the place where you expand upon your ideas. It’s sole purpose is to become the ultimate index of your ideas. So to get started in keeping your own idea book, look around the house for a little notebook. Possibly even something small enough to travel with you. And then you might also look for a larger notebook to expand upon your ideas later.

While you might prefer lined pages, you might experiment with blank pages so you can brainstorm on the page, and connect corresponding ideas with arrows. Or even sketch pictures of your ideas.

To get your idea book going, here are some ideas of things you might track:

big idea book- Painting ideas
- Favorite Quotes
- House Projects
- Garden Projects
- Art supply wish list
- Yearly/Monthly Goals
- Favorite Artists
- Art Projects
- Artist Dates
- Sketching ideas
- Photo Shoot ideas
- Journaling prompts

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