Let’s face it: high productivity isn’t something you can just easily order on command or wave a wand to magically achieve, and then spit out tons of paintings and studies daily.
Whether it’s sketching some ideas you’ve been thinking about, finishing those character concepts you started last week, or if it’s creating a new landscape illustration for a client – productivity issues will at some point appear for every one of us.
Luckily there are ways to becoming more productive – and it doesn’t have to be that hard. We get there by exploiting how our body and mind works.
Timing is essential
Now, you may wish that you can at any point in your day (or night) just sit down and start painting and create something great. Well… it doesn’t always work out that way. I know it doesn’t for me anyway.
What I used to do is I would try to paint even on the time of day when I didn’t really have the willpower or brainpower to execute my ideas and finish the work I wanted to get done. I knew because I had started a painting, only to shut it down in frustration. It felt like hard work.
Instead, I would find the proper timing for when I knew my productivity would be at its highest. Willpower is a finite, but renewable, resource, and you only have so much you can pull off each day. Imagine it like the energy bar in a Metroid game.
For me, the best time to work was about one hour after I woke up, did my morning routine, had my coffee & contemplation, and boom – after that was when I got most work done!
I also enjoyed painting for fun and for practice after dinner time, for about 2 hours or so. Find your own timing and use it to your advantage.
Eliminate the possibility for distractions
One of the biggest tips in this article would be this one. Interruptions are among the top culprits for destroying productivity. Recent studies show that interruptions gnaw away at a third of a regular workday and that it takes up to half an hour on average to get back to work after being interrupted. Interruptions are bad for creators like us!
So what do you do? You need to eliminate the possibilities of getting distracted. Here are some tips for when you are about to paint:
- Switch your phone to airplane mode
- Shut down your internet browser
- Close your door if you live with more people
- Prepare with some snack if you feel a little bit hungry
- Set a time for how long you want to paint, and stay at it
You can add on more ideas to eliminate distraction possibilities, but this should get you started. Getting interrupted is by far the most abundant productivity killer, and when you implement these measures, you’ll notice how much easier it is to get you into painting mode.
Know what you want to paint
“If one does not know to which harbor one is heading towards, no wind is favorable.” – Seneca
Knowing what it is you want to do, having an aim, a goal, is also one of the pillars of productivity. If you wander aimlessly, you won’t reach any place that you would like to reach. In painting, there is no difference.
Once you know what you want to paint, and you have set a clear mission to create that painting or illustration, or study that masterpiece, or copy that concept artwork from that game that you really enjoyed, to improve as an artist – only then will it be easier to actually create it. Be aware of your aim. Know what you want to paint.
Create habits – slowly, but surely
Creating a productive habit isn’t something that happens overnight. It happens over time, and with due diligence. But trust me, once you’ve built a great habit that let’s you paint what you want to paint, and really make those ideas come into existence, it will be hard to break that habit because it’s just too much fun creating things that you really enjoy seeing come into reality. It’s a self-feeding upwards spiral of productivity.
Start by following the first two tips in this article, and then follow up by building a habit of thinking about them, and slowly but surely start following them. This way you will create a habit for yourself to make it easier for you to get started with your illustrations and you will reach points where you’re painting more than ever – without any more effort than you had given before. Perhaps it’s even easier than before!
Apart from creating habits for painting, you should also create habits for…
… Your day by day
We all want to paint awesome things, and become super productive when it comes to illustration. However, it is quite easy to forget that there’s an entire other aspect to this: your day by day life. What you do daily, and outside of painting, will greatly influence your creative output.
Ask yourself: am I eating properly? Do I easily become tired, if so, why? Maybe I should be outside a bit more? Exercise a little bit a few days each week? Am I stressing out over X or Y, when I should relax? Etc. Etc.
All these things are very basic, and can easily be overlooked when you’re trying to improve your creative productivity.
A fully functioning system (your body and mind) needs all its parts working as best as they can!
And of course – don’t forget to love what you do and do it purposefully. This is the prime motivator!
Until next time guys,