My cycle of work, the peaks and troughs

contortion, watercolors and pencil on paper by Jennie Rosenbaum

All my life I have had a very specific way of working. In high school I would research an essay topic up until the day before it was due, then pull an all nighter to get it done. I would cram to study the night before, I would spend all year thinking about gifts to buy then buy them all in the rush two days before Christmas at 3am.

And mostly this worked very well for me. I got great marks, I bought the right gifts and I somehow developed the notion that I can only work with a deadline looming.

“I’m great with deadlines!” I would say

Unsurprisingly, I moved into project management where everything is planning and everything is deadlines and best of all, the deadlines are for other people! I mean sure, it was my ass on the line if it went over time or budget, but it never did because I’m great with deadlines.

Now that I’m an artist, I plan everything. I plan my next 5-10 works, posts, tweets, exhibitions… I have shows to propose for and applications to file, I have ideas coming out my ears! But I don’t have deadlines for most of these things. And often they don’t happen. For the first time in my life I make the deadlines for myself and I’ve come to a new realization..

I suck at it.

I can organize anyone and anything, but i can’t organize myself out of a wet paper bag. I can paint a work for an impossible deadline, But i can’t paint a steady stream when i don’t have one looming. I can do anything in my career, As long as I have been given a close deadline.

But I can’t keep going on like that anymore. February and March made me realize that I have to learn to manage my time better. I have to force myself to think more than a month or two ahead and work consistently. This involves unlearning a lifetime of bad habits. But hopefully it will mean that I can avoid the peaks and troughs, the 13 hour studio days and the resulting 13 hour physical and emotional crash days. I can’t physically take it and if I manage my time better I shouldn’t have to. There has to be a better way and I’m going to find it.

One thought on “My cycle of work, the peaks and troughs

  1. Gee Jennie…It’s an artist thing…You’re not a banker…I mean, your history could be mine…You’re just a peaks & valleys kind of a gal…the best you can do is get lots of exercise, take some powerful multi-vitamins, invest in some copal amber bead necklaces to assuage your pain, & just continue being the great & quirky person that you are…You can improve on your order issues, but pretty much you are not going to be able to be that banker…And if you could, you wouldn’t be an artist anymore…

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