Drink Guinness, Wing It!
I'm really not sure why I agreed to write a blog about about planning work. Those of you that know me know I don't really like to plan. So writing a blog about planning advice seems like a seriously dumb idea. Ironically I agreed to write this before Christmas and the deadline is today at 4pm, I started writing at 1pm because I completely forgot about it. That is the level of my planning... Somewhere between utterly crap and non-existent. So if you are wanting to learn how to plan better or improve your productivity you might aswell stop reading. If you want to read something that I'm writing in a rush, in a pub, drinking Guinness then keep reading. This is going to be less about planning and more about winging it. In fact that could be my advice, drink Guinness and wing it, but that would be nowhere near the required word count. So... When I was at Uni I used to plan everything, obsessively so. Every aspect of every project was marked on my calendar. I'd plan things down to the hour so I knew how long I had on each part of a project and still be able to meet the deadline. Nights out and part time jobs were taken into account. It was 100% obsessive compulsive behaviour. Almost immediately after graduation and starting to freelance all of that went out of the window, and I've never gone back. I realised that there are that many variables to a live job that you can't plan for them. The only thing you need to focus on is the deadline, how you get there is irrelevant to the client, only how good the work is at the end. The client might change the brief halfway through the project so trying to follow a rigid structure doesn't work, or at least for me. It's the same with personal work, there are that many variables that there isn't much point in setting yourself an hour by hour plan of how the work should go. A client might get in touch and request work, you might be ill and not able to work, you might not be able to get the materials you need. You may even have to take on a part time job to pay the bills. There is also one huge problem I have found with planning my work, it kills my creativity! I stop letting work follow its natural course and try to fit a contrived idea into a predetermined structure. You should never do that because generally it means selecting the first idea you come up with and following it through to its conclusion just so you fit within a timescale you have imposed upon yourself. It's very rare that your first idea is the best. For the past 9 years the only things that have gone in my calendar are deadlines and meetings. I will give each project I work on the process it deserves, which is to spend as long as is necessary on coming up with a decent idea, and then follow that through to its end. Out of the 100s of projects I've worked on I've only missed one deadline and that was because of a power cut! Every project is treated on its merits rather than being forced to fit into an obsessive compulsive structure. It has helped me to develop as an artist and designer by allowing me the freedom to explore ideas, personal style and work routine. Now the only thing that comes close to planning that I do is set long term goals. There is no plan on how to achieve them or when to achieve them by. They are just things that at some point I want to accomplish. They are as follows; 1. Have my first proper solo show 2. Illustrate for national geographic 3. Create artwork for the band's I grew up listening to 4. Finish my graphic novel 5. Set up a social enterprise/art hostel helping emerging artists 6. Get my artwork in an internationally known gallery (there shop would count) 7. Get back into screen printing 8. Make enough money so I can finally take time off and have surgery on my shoulder 9. Learn how to draw hands without wanting to rage quit the industry 10. Work on more murals Having no set plan in place has improved my mental health. I no longer struggle with anxiety and depression because of feeling like I'm not achieving what the world tells me I should. My work has improved drastically. When I look at the work I created straight out of uni compared to my work now, I'm embarrassed I charged people for it. I have the freedom to create rather than the need to plan. I don't have OCD anymore, other than having to have any volume control on an even number... Cheers for that Lew! But most importantly I'm happy and content, even if work or life is going shit I'm not worried about having to constantly hit targets or goals. Just drink Guinness and wing it.