An Alternative To The Daily To-Do List

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

If you are like me, you live life through multiple to-do lists. Enough to-do lists to bind into a book. Tasks in my calendar, tasks on pieces of paper, tasks on a whiteboard, tasks on apps, tasks on napkins.

The problem with our to-do lists is they tend to be approached from daily increments. The perpetual question we ask ourselves is, “What can I do today?”

Let me answer that question…not much…

Have you ever felt you didn’t get enough done in a day? You had this massive list of things you wanted done and only accomplished a few in a day. This happens to me all the time because there is only so much you can do in 24 hours.

Here is a new approach, continue with your daily to-do’s while being realistic about what you can really get done in one day. Move the larger multi-day goals onto weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual goals. On a whiteboard or piece of paper, make headings for the aforementioned time blocks. For the things that always sit on our old to-do list, but never get done because they are bigger projects, move these to the week and month category; it is likely the reason we didn’t get these larger tasks done is because they take multiple days to finish, therefore we don’t get the reward of crossing something off our daily list at the end of the day. Make a progress bar below the longer term goals so that you can get the personal accomplishment feeling of getting ‘er done incrementally. Checking things off the list is a very satisfying thing and making a progress bar enables us to have that same contentment.

Now think about your longer term goals. Where do you want to be in five years? Where do you want to be by the end of this year? Where do you want to be in three months?

Goals in this time-frame likely never made it to your older to-do list because daily lists give us a shortsighted focus where we spin our wheels but don’t make much forward progress; we have our head down in daily work and ignore the big picture.

Whenever you plan your smaller increment lists like daily or weekly tasks, always refer to the long term vision for the year (and five year). Always working your way from the longest term goals to smaller and smaller increments. “Always begin with the end in mind.”

The difference between the old way of doing lists and the new way of doing lists can be illustrated in dealing with finances. The old myopic way is like buying stuff on credit card for the short-term benefit while ending up spending triple over the next eight years by paying only the minimum payment. The new broad-vision way is like investing money every month and having a great nest egg at the end of eight years.

Speaking of forward-thinking-future-focus, let’s also talk about the opposite…retrospection.

With all this looking to the future, we often forget to reflect on our past and where we came from. After all … the past is over, we can’t change it, why think much about it?

For many years, this has been my approach; perhaps this is why my vision has been the most farsighted my optometrist has ever seen. But I have come to realize the power of acknowledging the past. Indeed, the past propels us into the future. It provides the foundation to build from. The past can be like rocket fuel pushing us forward.

Here is my suggestion, at the end of every time interval … day, week, month, quarter, year … take some time to reflect about what you accomplished during the period. Write these things down in a separate nice notebook. We can refer to it whenever we feel down or like we aren’t where we should be. We can open up our accomplishment book and learn to give ourselves more credit for how far we have come. They can be small victories like socializing with a friend you haven’t seen for a long time or making a decision you have been postponing for months, to large accomplishments like finishing a large multi-stage project or hosting an event for dozens of people.

Seeing what we have built and how far we have truly come will provide lift to our wings of forward momentum. It provides a certain contentment and satisfaction to give ourselves; it’s like looking at all the things we have erased from the whiteboard and crossed off the paper.

Key Take-Aways

  • Reflect on upon the past accomplishments.
  • Keep the big picture in mind.
  • Work in larger time-increments.
  • Utilize progress bars for long term goals.

The Why and How: Of Being An Artist

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

Why Are You An Artist? What Drew You To Your Craft?

I am an artist for three reasons. Truth, Freedom and Expression.

Truth:

First of all, art is one of the truest forms of expressing the deepest truths of our existence. Whereas in normal prose, we understand through logic and superficial consciousness; in art we understand such abstract concepts like emotion, human archetypes, belonging, interconnectedness, curiosity, etc at a deeper level of knowing. Art serves to remind us what we already know but often forget.

Freedom:

In terms of freedom, being an artist allows me to do as I wish without normal constraints of others jobs. I am free to go for a hike anytime. I am free to dress the way I want. I am free to speak however feels right. In the art world, there is acceptance of the eccentric unlike any other field.

Expression:

And finally, art allows me to express myself. It allows an outlet for my emotions. Art allows my vessel of consciousness to be uninhibited. I believe creativity is the highest form of human expression.

Now let’s talk about why I am specifically a sculptor. The three dimensional nature of sculpture creates a gravity that cannot be ignored. Sculptures create and modify the literal space we inhabit. I have a particular penchant for large-scale public sculpture because of the accessibility to all. I believe it improves the quality of life of all people who interact with it by providing speed bumps to our normal hustle and bustle in the linear world of concrete and boxes. To lift people’s eyes from their phones. To encourage curiosity. To suggest there is still mystery and magic in the world. Public art breaks up monotony and therefore creates a crack for the seed of organic thought and self-awareness to sprout roots.

My sculptures become landmarks in people’s experience and consciousness. The child growing up passing my sculpture on their way to school has been imprinted with it by the time they are an adult. The young friends who meet at my sculpture and go on to get married have their experience marked by it. The business person who walks by my sculpture during their lunch hour has it in their heart. In nature, we often have landmarks to go by such as hilltops, rivers and trees; but in cities we have public art which serve a comparable purpose. The sculpture enters the sub-conscious of people’s experience and I hope it inspires positivity, a verdant life and a heightened awareness.

I choose steel as my medium for it’s fluid malleability and easy translation into large scale.

What Is The Mission Of My Craft?

My purpose in life is to make the world a better place. I believe art can speak the deeper universal truths. I intend for my sculptures to inspire curiosity in people and to derail people, even if momentarily, from their tracks of normalcy. To create space that provide an excuse for people to stop, breath, look around, listen and become aware of both the inner and outer worlds.

What Is The Most Satisfying Aspect Of Your Art?

My art is my progeny. They will outlive me to go on to tell stories. They will go on to reproduce their purpose of creating inspiration. The most satisfying part of my art is not intrinsic within the piece, rather is in the hearts and minds of people who experience my art. Knowing that my art elevates our living environment and has a positive effect on people’s lives is the most fulfilling part of my career. I make art for humanity.

What Is The Greatest Challenge Of Being An Artist In Your Genre?

The greatest challenge is being a steel sculptor is procuring the tools and space to work. My paintbrush and palette in sculpture is the welder, angle grinder, plasma cutter and other tools. I began my tool collection at 14 years old when I had a job as a dishwasher at a local wine and jazz club; I invested all my money into tools. Having the space to house the tools, materials and work-area can be a challenge. For many years, I have fabricated outside in all the elements: wind, snow, rain, freezing to 120 degree heat.

What Recommendations Do You Have For Aspiring Artists?

Devotion.

One must be devoted to one’s art to an obsessive degree. Spend hours immersed in art. Thinking about art. Creating art. Drawing ideas. Practicing. Strive for your own definition of perfection.

Coherence.

To be successful, you must coalesce chaos into form. I believe inspiration exists in an etheric un-defined state. Our consciousness can witness it, but is up to us to manifest reality from the nebulous cloud of inspiration. Think of a laser focusing light into a cohered beam enough to cut steel.

Immersion.

Not to be confused with devotion, by immersion I mean being enveloped in the art world. Go to art galleries, talk with other artists, visit art museums, study the artists you like, read books on art, write about why you do what you do. Likewise, you become like those you hang out with. Choose your friends and environment wisely.

Sleep.

Sleep is often underrated in our society that rewards self-denial to attain greater goals. Getting at least eight hours of quality sleep will reward your creative inspiration and productivity immensely. Sleep cleans the brain of toxins that would otherwise lower our intelligence and stamina. Sleep also puts the mind in an important dream state that make sense of existence at the sub-conscious and un-conscious level.

Balance.

I have experienced burning the candle at both ends and ending up with adrenal fatigue. It took me a full year to recover. Since that time, I now spend more time maintaining the “machine”.

Authenticity.

Be authentic in what you do. Be honest. Maintain integrity. And create from a space that fulfills your heart. Express yourself in an empowered way that makes you alive and abuzz with ecstasy. Do what makes you want to dance. Don’t let others dictate your path. Always ask yourself first, “What do I want?”

Writing.

In the book “The Artist’s Way”, the author presents the concept of morning pages. That is where you write three pages of anything and everything that comes to your mind the first thing in the morning before you do anything. This clears the mind of nagging thoughts and worries that bounce around in our consciousness throughout the day and act like having too many applications up on your computer. It bogs us down. I often find that the process of simply writing out a problem or question in detail, reveals the answer. Writing is a form of meditation.

Limit Technology.

Speaking of computers, it is best to limit our use of technology. Studies have shown that the mere presence of a turned off smart phone reduces our intelligence including emotional intelligence. Technology provides distraction on what would normally be uninterrupted focus. Here are some recommendations to break the addiction to devices that sell your attention to companies. Turn off your phone at night. Avoid reaching for the phone to check in during the morning. Remove social media applications on your phone which push notifications and track your every move. Turn your screens into greyscale to be less attractive. Log out of accounts each time when you are done. Turn off the computer before you walk away. Tell people to call you instead of text.

Nature.

We came from nature. We derive sustenance from nature. Nature has been shown to relieve stress and provide inspiration even in the darkest times. Walking in nature washes away the haggard dust of civilized life to remind us of our deepest truths. Nature is the epitome of art, freedom and creativity. In nature we are content. Nature charges our batteries of consciousness. Prioritize nature.