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Make more art in 2017, but how?

I’m one of those people who loves New Year’s. I appreciate an annual moment to take stock and make a new plan. I have a solo show in a large gallery space in April, so for the next three months, the entire goal is MAKE MORE ART.

Aspirations for the New Year are great, but will be unattainable without a plan.

Goals need a plan

It is one thing to set a goal, but to achieve it, you need a plan. You need actual steps and deadlines so you can see if you are making progress or not. I am not an artist who avoids the studio, but one of the things I noticed from my 2016 evaluation was that my actual productivity wasn’t nearly what I thought. Printmaking takes copious amounts of time, some of which is in your control, and some of which isn’t. Inks dry when they want, paper deliveries can be delayed, or the huge table saw you need to cut your next block can be unavailable.

I realize that in order to make more art, I need to use whatever time I have more efficiently by minimizing distractions.

Taming the devices

I love my smart phone. I delight in having something in my pocket to communicate instantly with my family and friends, take photos and listen to music or podcasts. Not having my phone with me during the studio day is not an option. This device is chief distraction for me, however, so I’ve planning to do several things to help me focus.

• Put it in airline mode
If I really need to concentrate, airline mode means no notifications or texts. My family can call me on my landline if they need to speak with me. But I can still listen to downloaded podcasts or my music.

• Turn off notifications
I still have my email accessible on my phone, but without that enticing number in the corner of the mail icon, maybe I won’t be tempted to check email so often.

• Decide when to interact
One of my main challenges is to decide when to look at email and social media. Perhaps my best strategy is to check the email once in the morning for things that need an immediate response, and then plan a time to sit down and respond at my desktop in the afternoons. The same goes for social media. I will only look at Facebook and Instagram when I’m prepared to post and respond.

Making a plan for action

Because of the current political climate in the United States, I often feel anxious after I read newspaper and online articles. Social and environmental issues I care about are in flux and I often feel powerless. Political scientists state that one important thing people can do is to directly contact their elected representatives, especially by mail.

Postcards to the rescue! I plan to use my leftover postcards to contact my elected officials. Make sure to have addresses and stamps handy.

I’ve decided to press my leftover postcards into service. I’m printing out address labels for my senators and representatives, both national and for Indiana, plus lay in a supply of stamps. When I read or hear about a potential issue about which I am concerned, I can very easily fire off a brief postcard to the appropriate people. If the issue is urgent, I can immediately place a phone call to my representative’s office, because I have their phone numbers in my phone. I make sure to leave my full name and address each time.

YOU can make your own resource list and labels.  Go to www.usa.gov/elected-officials to create your own list. Do it right now before you forget.

I may not be in the majority, but I can ensure that my opinions are counted. Actual mail — especially handwritten — counts most, by the way, followed by phone calls. Those fun internet petitions, while easy, may not make that much difference.

Making a way for me to quickly send a response is my best attempt at dealing with my anxieties, and getting back to my studio work. After all, those gallery walls won’t fill themselves.

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