THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST
[00:00:00] Miriam Schulman: I like to refer to non-linear thinking as circular thinking, because that’s the way I experience it. So if you think that way, it can be very difficult to prioritize tasks because we tend to perceive everything as being equally important. And it’s hard for us to think about this is what needs to be done first, second, and third. I spend so much time with my clients helping them sort those things out.
[00:00:30] Announcer: It’s The Inspiration Place Podcast with artist Miriam Schulman. Welcome to The Inspiration Place podcast, an art world inside a podcast for artists, by an artist, where each week we go behind the scenes to uncover the perspiration and inspiration behind the art. And now your host, Miriam Schulman.
[00:00:53] Miriam Schulman: Well, Hey there, artpreneur. It’s Miriam Schulman here, your curator of inspiration and welcome to The Inspiration Place. I’m so happy you’re here. You’re listening to episode number 276.
Now, if you listened to last week’s episode, I shared with you that we have a new kitty in our family. Her name is Luna, and she is absolutely a lump of sugar. But it’s really hard to get any work done with a little kitten around. Either she wants me to cuddle her, and I will absolutely cuddle her whenever she wants to be cuddled or play with her. Although I have to say this kitty is amazing. She’s very good at playing by herself, but it’s still super fun to watch her. She has her little mouse toys and her rat toys, and I’ve never seen a cat do this, but if you toss the mouse toy she will run after it, retrieve it, and bring it back to you. Yeah, like a dog. It’s hilarious. So I don’t think I’m gonna have to worry about mice or larger rodents in my city apartment or any of the country mice in the country.
However, I still have to get things done. I’m still running my business and things do have to get done – and I also have ADHD. So that’s why I thought it was really important to record this episode, which I’m calling How I Get So Much Done Even Though I have ADHD.
But before we get into all of that, I wanted to make sure you knew that I’m hosting a three day bootcamp next week. So if you’re interested and you’re listening as this goes live, make sure you’re signed up over at schulmanart.com/bootcamp. You’ll come away with a complete roadmap for how to up level your art business, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been at this for a while, but your sales have plateaued. Or maybe you’re doing okay, but you know you can be doing better. We’ll uncover exactly what it is that’s holding you back, what you’re doing wrong. And since we’re doing it live, you’ll have me cheering you on, helping you believe in yourself and your dreams once again.
So to sign up, go to schulmanart.com/bootcamp. I only do this live three times a year, and this is the last time I’m doing it live in 2023. You don’t want to miss it. Alright, now back to the show.
So my husband asked me recently if my spaciness was getting worse with age. And sadly, I had to tell him that I’ve always been this way, and the kids used to tease me that I was a space cadet. This is true. Like, in my yearbooks, that’s what they wrote in. I’m not even sure that I knew that it was an insult back then. That’s how much of a space cadet I actually was.
My son who shares my ADHD, although I don’t think he got teased about it, he says that he stays in orbit, but he never quite leaves, this is the way he used to put it when he was in grade school, that he stayed in orbit, he never quite left the classroom and that’s how he would manage his ADHD.
Now if you’re someone who also juggles the challenges of ADHD or maybe you just have a very creative mind, which keeps you distracted. You’re going to love today’s episode. We’re going to explore five powerful strategies to boost your productivity, stay focused, and achieve your goals, even if you’re distracted.
So that’s why I titled this episode, How I Get So Much Done Even Though I Have ADHD. And just in all fairness, I actually do not have an official diagnosis from a doctor that I have ADHD. It’s more like it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, therefore it’s a duck. So, and it doesn’t even matter. It doesn’t even matter whether you have a diagnosis or not. If you’re struggling to get things done, this episode is for you.
Okay. So I have five strategies and before we dive in, here is a quick word from our sponsors.
[00:05:29] Ad Announcer: Now we have a review of the book Artpreneur from Nicole Sevier. Nicole writes, “Full of great business information for artists. Miriam’s book has helped me with my business so much. She is full of great ideas and strategies. Very grateful she took the time to write this book.”
Next, Stephanie Coulson has also left a review. Stephanie writes, “Truly one of the smartest ladies in the art business. I have learned so much from following her. If you want to learn about this ever-changing business in today’s modern world, this book is a must.”
To order your copy of Artpreneur, whether in Kindle, audio book or paperback, head on over to artpreneurbook.com. Also, if you are international, we suggest that you order your book through Better World Books as they have the most reliable international delivery and customer service.
Again, to order Artpreneur and check out the bonus package, go to artpreneurbook.com. And now, let’s carry on with the show.
[00:06:34] Miriam Schulman: So welcome back. We are doing the five strategies to get more things done, even if you are creative, ADHD, or just distracted. So strategy number one, is to start with the end in mind.
So, ADHD specifically is characterized by an attention, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and some individuals with ADHD might struggle with tasks that require sustained focus and linear thinking, but others might excel in creative thinking, generating ideas and making connection that appear nonlinear to others. Highly creative individuals can demonstrate a range of thinking patterns. Creativity is complex. Creative thinkers can exhibit both linear and non linear thought processes. So that’s my full disclosure of what the Google say ADHD is and how people who are neurodiverse think.
So, I like to refer to non linear thinking as circular thinking because that’s the way I experience it. So if you think that way, it can be very difficult to prioritize tasks because we tend to perceive everything as being equally important and it’s hard for us to think about this is what needs to be done first, second, and third. I spend so much time with my clients helping them sort those things out.
So that’s why I love to use this strategy, begin with the end in mind. That is, kind of, a phrase pulled from Stephen Covey, by the way. And let me give you an example of how this works, beginning with the end in mind.
So let’s say you’re preparing for an art show. What you want to do is start with the date of the art show, okay? And then you’re going to brainstorm everything. Everything that needs to get done before that date. Okay, don’t worry about which comes first, second, or third. But then what you’re going to have to do is picking one task at a time, start working backwards.
So, for example, for an art show, you know that you have to send out invitations. So then what you need to do is like, okay, well, if the art show is, for example, whatever, making this up now, November 2nd, I definitely want them to receive the postcards at least a week or two before, and you want to allow time for those to get lost in the mail. So not lost, but you know, take a long time to get there. So then what I would do is work back from the date of the art show and say, okay, this is the date I want them to receive the postcards. And now how long will it take for them to get there? So let’s say it’s a week, and so now I work back another week, and now I have a date to put on my calendar. And that date I put on my calendar is mail the invitations. All right? Now that I have that date on the calendar, the only task that happens on that date is I’m bringing the invitation to the post office or I’m giving it to my mailman. So now I have to, I work backwards. Okay, so this is the last possible date that I should address the postcards. That goes on my calendar. Now I work backwards again. Okay. Well, if I have to address the post, and I keep using postcard and invitations interchangeably. If that’s the last date I can address those invitations, that means they need to be in my hands by that date. So now I’m going to work backwards again. Now I’m going to figure out, well, if that’s when I have to address them and I have to have them in my hands by that time, when do I have to order them? How long is it going to take for them to get to me? So I may work back another three weeks. Now I have another date to add to my calendar. This is the last possible date that I should order the invitations.
Now I can work backwards again. Okay, if that’s the last date that I can order them, when do I design them? Now I put that on my calendar. You see that? And now I may even want to work something back before that and I don’t know how many I want to order until I figure out how many people I’m inviting. So before I design them and order them, I may want to put a date on my calendar.
Okay, this is the day that I’m going to figure out how many people are going to be invited, who’s invited. And you do that with every single task. You just take each task that’s on your list that you know has to be done. What’s the last possible day that something has to happen and what has to happen before that in order for it to happen? So you just work from the end and work backwards.
Okay, so this goes along with a lot of research in terms of productivity. So it’s really important to break your goals down into smaller tasks. This is something I also talk about a lot in chapter 11 of my book, Artpreneur. That entire chapter is dedicated to really my goal setting and my goal getting process.
So you want to break down your goals into smaller tasks according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology setting specific and challenging goals leads to higher performance and breaking those goals into subtasks makes them more achievable. Because a lot of times we’ll have something, a goal such as design a website, which seems huge. If you break it down to, okay, I have to write an about page, I have to pick out photos for that. I need 10 to 20 artworks, which are the 10 artworks, photograph the artworks. So you can break these down into bite-size tasks. Everything is more achievable and breaking it down into bite sized tasks and working backwards from your goal date is the key.
So the next strategy I want to introduce to you is business babysitting.
So I came up with this term because I, for most of my career, and I’ve been an artist for over 20 years, I was raising what was then two small kids. Now they’re in their 20s. But most of the time I had school-aged kids and they needed a lot of attention because just like mama, they were ADHD. And my son needed me to sit on him to do his homework and my daughter would hyper focus on the wrong things if I didn’t sit on her. So they needed a lot of attention. And kids just do, like little kids, little problems, big kids, bigger problems.
So they needed my attention. Instead of paying somebody to help them with their homework or pay somebody to drive them around, I did those things. And the money that I would have spent on a babysitter so that I could do menial tasks at my business, I got help. So I got a business babysitter. I called also business babysitter because I only really paid the going rate for babysitting.
My first, well, I actually I’m not going to say my first assistant was Anna, who some of you know, because that’s not actually true. I was getting summer interns before I found Anna. And so every summer I would get help and I paid for the help. I liked paid interns better than unpaid interns, just wanted to pay them to give them accountability for showing up.
And what happened is at the end of one of those summers, I decided that I really didn’t want to do this stuff myself anymore. And that’s when I took an ad out in the local college. At the time I lived in Westchester County, New York, so that was Purchase College. But wherever you live, there should be a local college or community college where you can post a job ad.
And Anna responded, as did other people but I liked Anna the best. And at first I only paid her 10 an hour. Then I worked her up to 15, now she makes a lot more, and she’s full time now. This is like a good seven years later though, maybe it’s more. Yeah. She’s been working for me for a long time. So when I brought her in, it was 10 an hour for 10 hours a week, so $100 a week, $400 a month. And I was making enough in my business to support that.
Now, what’s really great about hiring help for tasks that you’d rather not do is it allows you to focus on what truly matters. And when you’re paying for the help, you’ll also become much pickier about what tasks are truly valuable and what might be just random acts of marketing.
When we’re doing everything ourselves and we’re not paying ourselves for our time, sometimes we’re not as discriminant about what we’re doing. So it can really help to start paying somebody else because it really forces you to focus. What – does this really need to be done?
Okay, so let’s talk about what the research is behind this. So studies show that delegating tasks can lead to improved performance and reduce stress. It’s kind of like a duh. A Harvard Business Review article highlights that delegating not only helps in completing tasks more effectively, but also fosters a sense of empowerment among team members.
Okay, but here’s the thing, and a lot of my peers feel the same way, is that when you start hiring help, it really forces you to organize yourself. And you have someone to be accountable for it. You have to get things ready for them in order for them to do their work. You need to organize stuff so they know what to do. So for all those reasons, besides having the actual help itself, it’s really valuable to pay someone to help you, even if it’s small, part time, like I’ve suggested here.
All right, strategy number three. Ask yourself these three key questions. Okay. So remember I said that when you start paying someone, you get more discriminating about what tasks you’re paying them to do.
Here are the questions you need to ask yourself when deciding what to do. First of all, does this task need to be done at all? A lot of times there’s things we think we have to do, which really we don’t. I know there were so many times in my business where whether it was for an online class or a coaching program or something was selling art or whatever, whatever it was, maybe the podcast, I don’t know, where we stopped doing whatever that thing was. And if nobody complained, we knew we didn’t have to do it anymore. I can’t really think of a specific example right off the top of my head, but yeah, there’s a lot of examples where we thought, oh, this is something we really need to do. And then we stopped doing it and nobody noticed.
So does the task need to be done at all? If you decide that yes, it has to be done. The next thing to always ask yourself is can it be automated? I love paying for software that automates things for me. Those who are in my artist incubator program, we actually share with them a list of all the software that we use. It’s a long list. You don’t have to use everything we use, but if I feel that something is going to save me the amount of time that it costs, here’s something I think you should do. If you want to make a hundred thousand dollars a year and assume you’re working 50 weeks in a year and 40 hours in a week, and you’re probably not going to work that much, but let’s just say that’s what it is. So that works out to 50 an hour. Okay. So, you’re paying yourself 50 an hour for everything that you do, whether that is writing a blog post, photographing your art, whatever. So if you can find somebody to do it for less than 50. So that you can focus on something that will actually make you more money than you win.
So I, we always ask, does the test need to be done at all? Does it need to be done by a human or can it be automated? And then finally, and this goes along with the why you have to work out what you’re making per hour, does it have to be done by you? And by making per hour, I don’t mean, like, don’t say to yourself, okay, I’ve sold three paintings. And this year and they were, whatever, 2,000 each. So that’s 6,000 a year. That means I made 7 an hour. No. The reason if you’re not selling more is often because you’re not focusing on the high value tasks. That can only be done by you.
Okay, so does it need to be done at all? Can it be automated? And if it has to be done by a human, does it have to be done by you? Calculate your worth per hour based on not your actual income, but your income goal and considering outsourcing tasks that don’t require you to do it so it can either be done faster or cheaper by somebody else. Okay. And sometimes it can be done better by somebody else because these are a lot of the times the tasks that we don’t want to do. Okay. So make sure you make conscious decisions about what tasks you engage in so that you’re spending time where it matters most.
Okay. We have two more strategies for getting more things done. And these are all things I actually do, by the way, this is not pie in the sky tips. These are things I actually do to get things done, even though I have ADHD. So, but first these words.
[00:21:49] Ad Announcer: Well, hello, it’s Lottie here. Natasha Papousek, who is an artist incubator client, had this to say about the book Artpreneur: “Personable, practical, and profitable. Resist the temptation to rush through this book. It’s an engaging read that feels as if the author, Miriam, is chatting with you. Artist to artist. Friend to friend. But don’t be fooled, this is not a fluffy book. It’s packed with practical advice that works. I started implementing just two ideas out of hundreds and in three weeks have already seen tangible results. I can’t wait to see how what I’ve learned transforms my art practice and business.”
We also have a review from Leah. Leah writes, “Such an inspiration. I’ve been an artist for over 20 years and I have to say that this book is great for beginners and professionals alike. Miriam is such an inspiration. She is a great storyteller. She has tons of business experience in the art world and out. And so much fantastic advice and guidance. I took a year sabbatical in 2022 after a personal loss, and this book is just what I needed to get back to work. I am even excited about writing newsletters again.”
Thank you, Natasha and Leah, for leaving reviews. By now you know leaving reviews is a great way to help authors get seen on Amazon. But did you know that if you leave a review, not only do we share your review here on the podcast, but Miriam and her team have a bonus treat for you? Leave a review by going to schulmanart.com/Amazon. Take a screenshot of that and email it to Miriam@theinspirationplace.net to get your exclusive gift. And now, let’s carry on with the show.
[00:23:50] Miriam Schulman: Okay, welcome back. We’re up to strategy number four. And this is one thing at a time until it’s complete.
So this fourth strategy addresses a common misperception, multitasking. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking does not boost productivity. In fact, it decreases it. So context switching, that’s when you switch between doing one task on another.
So, let’s just say for example, I’m writing an email. And I’m getting bored of writing in the email, so I check my phone and maybe I check Instagram. And I think I’m just going to peek at one cat video, but before you know it, I sent it to my daughter, Talia. Maybe we’ve messaged back and forth. Now I see a heart wrenching reel by one of my famous influencers. Oh, what’s this gossip over here? I don’t know. Okay, besides the time that gets sucked out of your day from social media. That’s not even what I’m talking about because we’re going to just put that aside. I think we all know what a time waster that sort of thing can be. So that’s not even part of the strategy. I’m just talking about the fact that I stopped writing the email and now I switch to something else. And it wasn’t just a few seconds. It sucked me in for a while, whatever that thing happened to be. And now I come back to the email. It’s gonna take me some time to figure out, well, what was I working on again? Where was I? What did I have to figure out here? And that is context switching. Context switching between tasks consumes time and it reduces focus.
So there’s a reason why most of the fuel is used to launch a rocket or for a plane to take off. And when you context switch and you go back to the task, you have to use almost as much fuel again to restart it. So that’s why it’s better to stay on one task until it’s completed. One thing at a time until it’s completed. And even better. Is to batch, and that’s something else I talk about inside my book Artpreneur, is batching tasks that are similar. So for example, if I’m writing an email, it’s better for me when I’m sitting down to write emails to write a few emails, not just one email. Because I’m in email writing mode. Makes sense?
Okay. All right. Now I have my research. Cognitive psychologists like David Meier, I guess it’s Dr. David Meier, have extensively studied multitasking and found that switching between tasks leads to a loss of efficiency and increased errors. So focusing on one task at a time leads to higher quality output. And like I said, there’s a reason why most of the fuel is used to launch a rocket.
All right, we’re rounding the bases. We’re up to strategy number five. And that exhausts your body to calm your brain.
Our final strategy dives into the vital role of exercise and nutrition in your productivity journey. So I find, personally, that I can sit down first thing in the morning at my computer and start working and it may feel productive at first, but whenever I do that without exercising I burn out really quickly and my rest of my day is just crap.
So I avoid that temptation. I work out first thing in the morning. And the way I get myself to do that, when I’m in the city. And some of you may know, I actually split my time between living, we have an apartment in the city and I have a farmhouse in the country and I’m very blessed to have them. So when I’m in the city, I will book a class at my gym. So my gym requires me to sign up about 24 hours in advance to hold my spot since there’s limited spots in the class. And that forces me to go because I get in trouble if I don’t go. I used to do boutique gyms where it actually, they charged me for each individual class. But anyway, it doesn’t matter. Either way, I’ve booked an appointment. So that holds me accountable. It forces me to go. And I pretty much try to exercise the same time every day. I try to do it at eight o’clock every day. Sometimes there’s some classes that I really love. Like there’s a Monday yoga class that’s at 8:45, and there’s a Tuesday barre class at 8:45. So I do make those exceptions. And when it’s an 8:00 class, and I’m done by 9:00. And then I shower, and I don’t start my work until 10:00. And even Monday with the yoga class, I start my day at 10:00.
So, I start my workday actually at 10 o’clock after I’ve exercised. When I’m in the country, I take a long walk and sometimes I’ll take two shorter walks and, you know, it depends on the weather. If I think it’s going to rain, I’ll just take a short walk because I’m afraid of getting stuck in the rain. But I always find that after I’ve exercised, I have more ideas, I have fresh ideas. Especially during the exercise, I find that my mind can wander,and I can just sit for longer periods of time once I’ve exhausted my body. So, the exercise not only benefits my physical health, but It’s for my mindset. It’s for my mental health. It enhances my creativity. It enhances my focus.
Research from Stanford University shows that aerobic exercise like walking fosters creativity and allocating time for exercise and taking care of your body. You set yourself up for a sharper mind and heightened productivity. The rest of the day and then the Journal of Clinical Psychology has also published a study indicating that regular exercise has positive effects on cognitive function, including attention and memory. So, engaging in physical activity contributes to your overall well being, which in turn supports your ability to stay focused.
And notice, I didn’t say anything about this being part of your weight loss. It has nothing to do with that. And then in terms of nutrition, same thing. I just find when I eat more fruits and vegetables. I’m actually a vegetarian, so I don’t eat meat. I sometimes eat fish. I sometimes eat eggs. But eating this way really helps me focus. Even on a vegetarian diet, sometimes I can eat poorly. You know, you can be a french fry vegan. But that type of eating really is not good for my mental health.
Alright, so there you have it. Let us review all five of those strategies.
Number one is start with the end in mind. Number two, the business babysitter. Number three, ask yourself three key questions. Number four, one thing at a time until completion. And finally number five, exhaust your body to calm your brain.
All right, my friend. So, whether you’re someone who battles with ADHD or your creative mind, try embracing these strategies. Adapt them in a way that works for you. I would love to hear from you, by the way. You can email me, Miriam@TheInspirationPlace.net or tag me at ShulmanArt, S C H U L M A N A R T. I’d love to hear from you.
If one of these strategies worked and don’t forget, my live artpreneur bootcamp is happening next week. You don’t want to miss it. To sign up, head on over to schulmanart.com/bootcamp, or you can click the link in the show notes. We’ll have it right there wherever you’re listening.
Alright. Thanks so much for tuning in to another episode of the Inspiration Place. I’ll see you the same time, same place next week. Until then, stay inspired.
Subscribe & Review in iTunes
Are you subscribed to my podcast? If you’re not, I want to encourage you to do that today. I don’t want you to miss an episode. I’m adding a bunch of bonus episodes to the mix and if you’re not subscribed there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on those. Click here to subscribe in iTunes!
Now if you’re feeling extra loving, I would be really grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too. Those reviews help other people find my podcast and they’re also fun for me to go in and read. Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is. Thank you!