Learning organisational skills is possible
The Hanging Judge
I used to think I was no good at logistics. I was always late; my stuff was a mess and I couldn’t even plan a dinner date. My organisational skills were completely out the window. I couldn’t organise my time or resources to save my life.
Now, two solo exhibitions later, I suddenly realise that I can do logistics.
My first exhibition was a mess. Not in all respects. I had fun and sold a few pictures. The hanging was a nightmare. I was chasing my tail trying to arrange ten different things at once (as usual). Only just getting the pictures on the wall before running out to get drinks and nibbles for a poorly advertised opening which was even more poorly attended.
Now, I realise, hanging is always a nightmare. It is common knowledge that you should never volunteer to hang an art show, or you might get hung! Luckily, I survived untangling all the stringy things with metal hooks that wanted to whip my eyes out.
This time, I had a plan for hanging all the pictures in a certain order and stuck to it. I also vetoed an open night. By the time I was finished hanging 25 pictures I was exhausted. Less expense and less need to advertise.
However, I still put in plenty of advertising time. And expense. I ordered a new batch of business cards (a few days in advance, and they arrived on time). I printed fliers and posters. And did the legwork to put them up around the town. I also framed and mounted all the paintings myself.
This time I made it work. Bringing it all together seamlessly and professionally. And all whilst working shifts, learning to drive and writing an article a day on Medium. Phew!
The only casualty: one split pair of jeans (whoops!)
So how did I fit all that in?
To be fair, I had already got a lot of artwork made. The reason I booked the exhibition was because I had a series of pictures which needed to be shown. But it wasn’t quite there. I needed something more to make it a full exhibition. So, in the last month I must have made about 8 new pictures and framed them all.
I gave myself a month because I knew I needed a bit of a kick up the arse.
I wasn’t quite sure how many pictures I needed to make, but it was definitely going to be at least two, plus a handful more. And I made the time to get them done. When I needed to.
Everything else that needed to get done (work, chores etc.) got done. Then I made time for the rest.
I have heard it called time blocking, or time boxing. Whenever I got a spare 2 hours or so, I knew I could fit in some art, exhibition preparation or some writing.
Two hours seems to be about the time I need for most things, now. When I get ready for work, I always get up two hours earlier than when my shift starts (except on very early starts). This gives me time to get everything extra done that needs doing.
This is not always beneficial. it can be too easy to get caught up in the social media loop. Or lost in a particularly good article on Medium.
But two hours has become my ‘complete it or stop’ time. Whatever I am doing. Unless I get very caught up in the flow. And most of the time I will be finished whatever I need to do in that time allowed.
I am not rigid about this system. Because some days two hours are better spent chilling.
I am almost never late for work now. At school I was always the one who got lines for coming in last.
When I am at work, and I forget to wear a watch, I know what time it is by what I am doing (most days). I have got my work pattern down so well that a watch is almost unnecessary.
I have come to realise how long certain things take me to complete. At work and at home.
This was not something I thought I would ever learn.
I love tidying up and arranging things neatly into storage boxes. However, I usually end up by tidying something important away and forgetting where I put it!
One of the most important things which helped me to become organised in my life, was to attend craft fairs.
Since I don’t drive (yet), I had to pack all my artwork into a small travel case. This limits the amount of stuff you can take to how well you pack it. I got to be a great packer.
Travelling by train and bus to attend the events also improved my logistics sense. I needed to make detailed plans of my route with timetables going and coming back. That was just going to the next town, sometimes!
Doing this regularly for a few years has really helped me to understand the importance of timekeeping and also resource management.
Since my resources have always been a bit limited, I have just had to make do. But every year I would purchase one more thing for my stall, out of earnings money. A nice wicker basket, a picture rack, a box…
Now my stalls always look professional and neatly arranged. I arrive on time and I manage to plan for all eventualities (most of the time).
This is what getting it together feels like. And, in the end, it is an exhibition hung right.
My exhibition is on for two weeks at the Nairn Community and Arts Centre, Nairn, Highlands, Scotland. Until August 31st.