News


Why artists need to connect their work and home lives (and why doing so is a political act)

Sheila Chandra - Monday, June 19, 2017

When I started out as an artist, I read lots of business books about efficiency. I had never worked in an office or had any other sort of job, and I was sure the business world could teach me lots about how to make my work more streamlined. Well, in part, it did. Some of those productivity tips were useful. But when I was following that advice, I kept running into serious blocks. And here’s why…

 

The business world separates work and home

Economists made a deliberate decision not to include essential free labour in the domestic sphere, in economic calculations, some centuries ago. This was largely because the world was developing a scientific and reductionist approach to the world.

It resulted in employers looking at employees as interchangeable ‘labour units’ that were replaceable. And that approach just doesn’t work for self-employed people or artists. Because we’re not replaceable. What we do can’t be replicated by anyone else – that’s precisely what gives our work value. And if we make the same ‘efficiency’ assumptions that employers typically make, and act as if we are, we’re bound to crash sooner or later.

 

Businesses don’t care about the state of your home and your personal life

Most of us wouldn’t relish the prospect of an employer enquiring into our personal lives to ensure we’re ‘fit to work’. It’s too ‘Big Brother’ for comfort. But by taking no responsibility whatsoever, many employers are conveniently conscience-free about paying less than a person can possibly live on, and forcing people into zero hours contracts without considering the effect of such uncertainty on their finances and mental health.

 

Artists often unconsciously use this mechanical, reductionist approach on themselves

Many of the companies we work with are operating on these principles. And so they will tend to make unreasonable demands of us. Obviously this has a knock-on effect. We expect ourselves to be able to cope. This process is magnified because that ‘magic’ that artists typically generate, especially onstage, makes us appear to be able to break basic physical laws with impunity. As a result we end up believing that a ‘true’ artist could manage whatever unreasonable demand is being made of us.

 

Artists need to preserve their sanity and creative capacity

We need to concretely understand and allow for the differences between the kind of work businesses do, and the nature of the creative process. Most crucially, our capacity to concentrate, our peace of mind, domestic peace and emotional contentment all contribute our ability to create great work consistently. And that isn’t obvious to the new artists among us, because they’re so often fed the trope of the ‘dysfunctional, troubled genius’. Many of us don’t even realise that all of the above are essential resources that need to be husbanded and marshalled if we’re to have any longevity in our careers.

 

Artists need to connect the importance of their home life with that of their work

It sounds pretty mundane but actually this is a fairly radical idea. For a start, it will mean that you put a priority on your health and your relationships – much more so than most young people with a 9-5 job. It will drive you to set up your home to nurture and support you efficiently – often an unfamiliar idea for young men… But more than that, this kind of connected thinking is a political act.

The separation of work and home life by economists has profound consequences for women. Most obviously, the free caring women do for infants and the elderly is not valued because it doesn’t produce profit directly, nor the huge efforts they often put into making a house a home. With conventional thinking, women ‘disappear’ both economically and in terms of their ‘perceived value’ when they’re not formally engaged in paid work. Understanding how crucial that unpaid caring and nurturing contributes to both your quality and pace of work will rebalance your appreciation of those who concretely care for you without motives – whatever their gender – but most especially the women in your life, past and present.

 

The benefits of balance

Long-term, you want to work in a relaxed way most days. You want to enjoy creating your work. And you want to feel supported and nurtured. That’s how the best work of your career is going to get created. Well that doesn’t just ‘happen’ and particularly not for self-employed creative people. You have to create an ecosystem for yourself that does all that. And encourage other creative people to do the same. And as a bonus, it’ll change your attitude to what’s important in life, too.

If you want to know more about healthy creative habits and how to set your home and career up to nurture your talents, you’ll find more in ‘Organizing for Creative People’.

 


Comments
Bert commented on 23-Jun-2017 11:02 PM
Ive been reading all these great tips for Sheila's book via Stik and have just bought the book. Can't wait to really get stuck in, keep up the great work.

Post a Comment




Captcha Image


×

Recent Posts


Tags

business clearing in short bursts display items living mess free creative career efficient work patterns peer-to-peer networks mess networking multiple lifetimes professional encouragement confident in clothes emotional support nurture creativity appointments creative magic card chaotic fine art warm down much better friend focus anxiety why organise childhood time clutter quality business-like effortlessly tidy nurturing creative work concentrated creative time artist mentoring successful artist binge tips for clearing to do list critical acclaim disorganization creative organising visualising bulk buy brands slow and steady Sheila Chandra author options tension collections clean desk introverts work/home life balance organizing for creative people artist materials boredom peacefulness home organising living clutter free commitment clearing as you go crowdfunding goals social media networking network myth great artists hijacking creativity funding cleaning the void buying youth email creative culture getting ready for work minimalists great art ‘stories’ about your possessions good friend 2018 goals emotionally secure artist clear outs creativity diary housework much quicker artists copyright creativity work priorities how to be naturally tidy spree writing funding campaigns VIPs emotional balance subconscious mind absences stardust sacrifice morning routines email bankruptcy creative people overwork pop music buying stardust tidiness in living spaces staying in control just in case organise resentment tidy desk trope under-confidence work trips home care clearing clutter car professional mentors how to work efficiently email overload low maintenance domestic life clutter addict vocation creative ambitions precious memories feel like creatiing proposals business interface to creative businesses streamlining routines clear desk artistic chaos slim-line wardrobe stay on top of email nascent artists : clothes sheila chandra coaching business-speak dynamic spaces smart artists lifetimes long-term artistic development theft static spaces compulsion proposal writing diagnosis emotional resilience stop hoarding stuff too busy artistic conviction celebrity endorsed products making decisions branding cry tidy diary organisation work life lazy pop culture home life stay tidy automatically artistry being tripped up hostile clutter tidy people saving time stop cluttering new year ‘creativity’ green room career strategy low maintenance strategies buying hope hotel room popular culture platform creative identity friends buying happiness mature artists tortoise and hare clearing work efficiently working class culture creative confidence inconvenience hoarding wind down creative career coaching professional creative career temperament parent creative wellbeing control motivation self promotion clarity of thought workspaces too many commitments artist mentors social media creative spark imagination grief buy fewer clothes jealousy productivity networking effectively partners touring normality storage good art work artist goals mornings innocence vulnerability tidier missed opportunities fall of innocence letting go artist workspaces criteria for letting go of stuff feeling creative friendships creative commissions well organized wardrobe arrogance nipping things in the bud good creative habits working class artists magic loving your audience cupboard of shame being organized symptoms of creativity hobbies creative person exhaustion culture double standard loss cleaning your desk inspiration guilty purchases well curated closet elevator pitch procrastination brilliant creator how to save time artist clutter buying wealth

Archive

    ×