Usually, I am a focused person. I make lists before I start my day, tidy up my work area, and list everything I can for the rest of the work week. Usually....
This week not so much.
So, with a bunch of deadlines looming ahead, I needed a refresher crash course in HOW TO BE FOCUSED IN A WORLD FULL OF SQUIRRELS! (by the way, Those Darn Squirrels, written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri, is awesome...)
1. Set everything up the night before.
After making a list of all of the projects you have for the week (that you are aware of), break the list down into daily sized chunks. Remember getting your kids ready for school the night before? It works for us adults, too. Set out your clothes for the next day. Decide what you'll have for lunch - are you meeting someone or eating in? Get your work area ready to go by cleaning and straightening up your piles.
2. Get the hard stuff out of the way early.
When making your list, get the hard projects out of the way first. It will feel great to cross it off your list. Reward yourself with your favorite ________ (you fill in the blank). My blank is filled in with a coffee break tomorrow :D
3. Give yourself boundaries for distractions.
A big distraction is social media and answering email. Even the smallest glance can be a time thief that lasts for hours. Give yourself a social media/email break...with a timer. Stick to the boundaries you set. I use my hourly 10 minute stretch time to glance...not stare...GLANCE at social media and my email.
4. Take breaks during the day.
Sitting for hours hunched over your computer keyboard (Cintiq, or whatever) is not good on neck and shoulder muscles. Not to mention, lower back, hips, and knees. Set a timer (yes, another timer) to remind you to move every hour. As I mentioned above, this is the 10 minutes that I use to check email, etc.
5. Take inventory of your daily/weekly goals.
Refer to item 1. above. Check yourself - have you met your goals for the day/week? If not, shoo the squirrels out of your office and begin again.
6. Choose motivating background music, movies, podcasts, etc.
Self explanatory. Choose whatever pairs well with your current project and one that motivates you. Happy music creates happy work. (Caution: Don't play a movie that you have to stop and watch.)
7. Get enough rest.
Another self explanatory slice of advice. If you work until 2 AM and get up at 5 AM...you're a creative so you get the picture.
Get in the habit of doing this every night or early every morning and you'll be amazed at the difference!
Lastly, ask yourself what your long-term goals are and make a list of that, too. Hang it in a prominent place as a reminder on the tough days. And when you're having a tough day, remember to do the Hokey Pokey and put your whole self in, shake it off and pack it under! You've got this!
And now, I've got this! Time to make my list for tomorrow!
What do you do to stay focused? Share in the comments below :D
Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit. ~ e. e. cummings
An experience that truly changes us is one that eventually becomes part of our DNA. We begin to believe what it is that we learned and start applying it to our life. More thought creates a greater purpose. There is purpose in what we create. Creating - writing and drawing - is where soul meets heart and from that we get an infinite sky of possibilities.
Such is the #LA17SCBWI experience for me. Weeks later and I am still being transformed by the people I met, the skills I learned, and the friendships made.
More takeaways to share with you!
Lucy Ruth Cummins - Art Director at Simon and Schuster and an author/illustrator of A Hungry Lion with more books on the horizon.
Notes from her workshop, Stealing Best Practices of Working Illustrators (that I steal, too)
It was this workshop that gave me the courage to share my book dummy with little Miss KK on the plane trip home. Read picture books aloud. Read your own picture book aloud. Let a child read your "heart, soul and infinite sky" aloud. I think you'll be surprised at what you hear. I know I was. And I will let that moment continue to change me.
Thanks for taking the time to read and, in the process, I hope you found a bit of inspiration to take with you throughout your week!
Deb Johnson is an illustrator and writer for the children's market. She loves character designing and story weaving...and is excited to see what God is knitting together in the process! She launched her dream in 2020 with her first self-published book and imprint Flannel Moose Books!