Be Smart About Art

Work for yourself? Devise ways to hold yourself accountable

written by: Susan Mumford Aug. 23, 2015 1) RECOMMENDED-> Susan Mumford + Chris King's Blog 2627 views

Work for yourself? Devise ways to hold yourself accountable

from our Sunday reading series - a weekly blog post (subscribe here

People who work for themselves encounter a number of regular frustrations. Struggling to stay motivated is a particular problem for many. How can you get yourself to do what you’re supposed to do if no one is watching over to keep you on track?

With no traditional ‘boss’ figure, think about whom else can step into the role, at least to a certain degree. I did this in my formative days as a gallerist with a business coach. In the early days we met on a weekly or fortnightly basis (mostly over the phone to save time). The duration between sessions grew over time, taking place monthly, and eventually every few months. During this time I learned how to structure the workday and generally prioritise.

The solution chosen by many artists is to adopt the ‘buddy’ system, in which they regularly meet another artist. Meetings can be face-to-face, over the phone or online. They update one another on creative and professional development and state what they’ll be doing before the next meeting. Not only does it work a treat, it often results in collaborative exhibitions, introductions and more.

Another solution for artists is forming a collective, in which a group of artists meet once a month to discuss creative and professional practice. In the case of The Rooftop Collective, which I started in 2010, members read minutes from prior meetings to ensure they’re sticking to promises. And when they’re face-to-face, they check on one another’s progress.  

Furthermore, the digital age provides excellent opportunities for holding oneself accountable. Do you use social media or blog? Excellent; you can commit to ‘daily’ social media posts, ‘weekly’, ‘monthly’ or ‘quarterly’ blog posts or newsletters. How do I maintain consistency in my Twitter postings year on year? With the ‘Daily #besmartaboutart tip’ of course! And what’s prompted me to regularly blog? The promise of a new post weekly in the ‘Sunday reading’ series!

A social accountability initiative created by yours truly is committing from time to time to a week-long #blogchallenge. Only recently, an art journalist and I equally committed (on Twitter) to a one-week #blogchallenge in which we were to write a blog post every day. On completion of each new piece, we would send a tweet using the hashtag #blogchallenge. Would we have otherwise written five posts in a week? It’s doubtful.  

By making such public commitments, not only are you motivated to deliver, but your audience also sees that you are a trustworthy individual who does what you say you’ll do. This results in not only making headway for your career, but also achieving trust.

Think about what actions you can take to hold yourself accountable, from regularly meeting an accountability partner or peer, to socially committing actions (online, in print – you name it).

See related blog posts: Remove barriers that you place in the path to success; Too much to do? Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice.

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