Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Timed Studio Practices Increase Art Productivity

If you don't have a studio timer Go. Buy. One. Just do it. And then use it as a gentle taskmaster.

Whenever I have a job to do that I don't really want to do I grab my timer and set it for 10 to 30 minutes and get to work. When the timer goes off I quit. Sometimes I choose to set it for another short period of time in order to finish the job, but usually that's enough unless it's a big job. At the end of the time I do something I want to do... like enjoy a cup of tea, or look out the window, or walk through my garden. Then I go back to work.

What I haven't tried is to apply this technique to making art. Then I read an article by Robert Bruce about how he sets his timer for 33.33 minutes and proceeds to tackle a copywriting job within his own set of rules. AHA! Why not apply the principles to common studio tasks that are hard to get started such as:
  • making warm-up daily collages, 
  • applying layers of complexity to painted  papers or journal pages,
  • filing, sorting, tossing,
  • writing in my journal, 
  • managing inventory, 
  • matting and framing,
  • dancing with joy.
You get the picture.
I've joked about my short attention span when applied to doing just about any type of art; well, it goes deeper than that. I have trouble with routine of any kind, with establishing and maintaining good habits, but since I already know that I like working with a timer on the less tasteful tasks maybe I'll get more accomplished more efficiently if I use a timer.


  1. Hi, this is something we did a lot in drawing classes at uni. Half hour to one hour for detailed, accurate drawing, 30 seconds-5 minutes for spontaneous, contour drawings. I think its a really good exercise.

  2. A great idea, Jo. Thanks for sharing. It can be applied to several different practices.

  3. I just bought a timer last week to use when working on marketing things, but I LOVE the idea of using it in the studio as well! Bravo! Trying it out today :)


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