Constant connectivity often comes along with running an art business, but it also drains us of creativity and energy.
It may sound crazy to someone solely in charge of running their own business—or at the very least unrealistic—to unplug from work, social networking and holiday sales and emails.
With so much to do, work to sell, and clients to communicate with, how is it even possible to switch everything off for a few days?
We promise you, all of your work will still be there when you come back.
As artists, creativity is our currency. Creative ideas are all around you, but you have to be in the right mental state to actually catch those ideas and turn them into worthwhile creations. Exhaustion, stress, anxiety, negativity—these all affect our ability to create because they affect our ability to think clearly.
To think clearly and create our best work, we need to give our minds the time and space to refuel. And you simply can’t do that answering emails, worrying about your to-do list, and obsessing over creating the latest and greatest body of work. Burnout is all too real, especially during the holiday season.
If we expect ourselves to do our best when we are “on”, then we need to learn how to turn “off".
And, what better time to hit the reset button for the year ahead than during the holidays?
We’ll show you how to truly unplug (and keep your business afloat) without the guilt:
First, identify and tackle your big priorities ahead of time
As small business owners, we have to find an on/off balance that’s realistic. That being said, we also have to make it a priority to not allow work to take over our whole lives. Trust us, the pace of working all the time in and out of the studio can't last forever, you will burn out.
In order to keep a pace that you can maintain (and therefore keep making work in the long term) you have to do a little mundane planning ahead of time.
First, before you ever feel the stress of the holidays breathing down your neck, take a look at all of the projects you have coming up. Write out everything that needs to be done for each project and by what dates—applying for shows, finishing commissions, holiday fairs and sales, sending a monthly newsletter, etc.
With everything out in the open, no surprises, then you can block out time in your schedule to get these tasks completed BEFORE the holidays are upon you.
Pieces and projects you are eager to work on, but don’t need to be finished immediately? They can wait until after the holidays. The last thing you want to do is procrastinate on the work that has a firm deadline because this will definitely eat into your relaxation time later down the road.
Set boundaries for yourself and let others know about them
Start by announcing on social media or in an email when you will be on holiday. Small business owners actually do this all the time, and their clients completely understand! Everyone needs time off, even artrepreneurs.
If your art business relies on holiday orders, promote well in advance the last date you will be accepting any art orders.
TIP: When picking that date, be sure to factor in the time it will take to fill orders, pack and ship any artwork in time for gift-giving, and finish up loose ends, so you aren’t scrambling to do things last minutes or cutting into your own time off.
What can you schedule ahead of time? There are so many tools these days for artists to schedule social media posts and newsletters. That way your online presence is not forgotten, but it doesn’t require you to plug back in when you’re really trying to unplug.
In the end, staying organized may seem like a lot of extra work, but the time and stress it saves you is tenfold. If you manage your time and priorities well, you should be able to take a well-deserved break when the time comes!
Put space and time limits on your devices.
Now that you’ve managed your time like a pro, it’s time to take the plunge and actually unplug.
It might not be completely realistic to forget your phone altogether, you still need to communicate with friends and family and get around town. But, try setting a time limit on your social media apps and email. Give yourself 15 minutes a day to check in if you must and then activate your time limits if you have and stick to it. Iphones now have a feature that allows you to see and limit all of your phone usage with reminders about the limits that you set. Plus, you might be surprised at how much time you burn endlessly scrolling (we are looking at you, Instagram).
Next, designate "no phone zones". You might be surprised at how many times a day you mindlessly pick up your phone out of habit and yes, a little out of digital addiction. Break the habit by establishing zones in your house and life that you don't use your phone. Some obvious ones during the holidays would be at the table, in the kitchen, and in the living room. Put your phone away for a few hours and enjoy really, fully, engaging with your friends and family—cooking, playing games, talking, and connecting without all the distractions.
Try making a list of at least 10 things that you enjoy outside of your screen—reading a book, going for a walk, doing yoga, learning a new craft, cooking, coffee with friends—and choose one when separation anxiety kicks in.
“Our dependence on our various screens have become automated, but that doesn’t mean that they help us thrive,” says writer Ayla Khosroshahi. It’s a dependence, after all. Our devices now have complete control over our attention, our brains becoming hooked on the feeling of entertainment. It’s why we jump at the chance to keep scrolling through posts or responding to an email or text the second it appears in our inbox.
If you are truly looking to recharge your brain, stamina, and creativity this holiday season, it’s going to take a conscious effort.
Notify your followers that you are signing off for a little rest and relaxation! Keep it positive and explain that you’re excited to share with your art fans how your holiday was when you’re back on in a few days or weeks. They’ll understand, we promise!
Embrace the silence
When was the last time you sat in true silence? No music, no television in the background, no conversation—just the sweet sounds of nothingness.
Granting yourself a time and place for silence is another essential step for unplugging.
“Studies have shown that silence is more restorative and regenerative than filling that space with relaxing music, podcasts, conversation, etc.,” reminds Ayla. And while the holidays are definitely fun-filled, they aren’t always tranquil. That is unless you actively choose to make them so!
Silence allows you to refuel your brain in a way no other method can.
It’s where you can turn your worries off for the moment, reflect, let go of your constant focus, and give in to the peace and calmness surrounding you. And once it gives your mind a refresh, it also gives it a space to think clearly once again, without all the noise of everyday life.
So, how does one quiet down?
Try to momentarily check your worries and stress at the door, and focus on your senses in the silence. If you’re having a hard time, try lighting a candle, turning down the bright lights, practicing some deep breaths, and reflecting on how to be more mindful.
Pick a space that’s clear of distractions. It could be a walk in a quiet neighborhood, sitting in your favorite chair, or giving yourself a few extra minutes before bed (try doing this instead of scrolling at night).
Create something just for fun—in a different medium than your own.
Unplugging is all about giving your mind the space to recuperate.
And to do that, we have to turn off our inclinations to achieve, to produce, to perform, to succeed (fill in your own verb here). We have to remember the reason we started making art in the first place—it brings us joy.
There’s nothing like that happiness!
And, giving yourself some time off doesn’t always mean sleeping in and sitting around all day. It’s also about finding a way to spark that joy in you once again, so when you jump back into life, you feel renewed and ready to take on new challenges.
So by all means, create! Just don’t do it because you have to. Don’t do it for the sale. Don’t do it for likes on social media. Do it because it’s fun. And it makes you feel good.
It’s your chance to try something new. Test out a new medium, a craft you saw on Pinterest, or something entirely unrelated to art, make the effort to experience something new this holiday season—not because it will get you ahead in life, but for the joy of it! Embrace being a beginner at something new and laugh at your struggle or fails. Creating with a sense of lightness will undoubtedly renew some joy in your own process as well.
When you are taking time off this holiday season, actually allow yourself to unplug.
No work. No devices. No distractions.
Holidays are holidays for a reason—it’s a time we’re supposed to take to relax, enjoy life with loved ones, and regroup. Don’t miss this opportunity in a world constantly asking you to achieve! Give your brain the rest it deserves, so you can come back refreshed, ready to discover new ideas, and create the art you’ve always wanted to create.