Another note on SMART Goals!

Hello Fuzzbutts!

So it occurred to me as I’ve been trying to draw more often that I missed one aspect of smart goals. Tracking! If my goal can be achieved by drawing 4 hours a week, then I absolutely need to track how much actual time I’m spending! It’s easy to think you’re spending all that time on your goals but you might actually fall short without realizing it. By having a way to track your progress, you’ll have the motivation and awareness to increase your efforts and stay on target!

I’m trying for 4 hours a week to reach my six month goal but imagine how I would feel after 3 months and realize I only spent between 1-2 hours a week on my goal? Adjusting to 6 hours or so after 3 months would make it super hard to maintain the habit until the deadline! By watching myself and checking in on a regular basis, I can stay on task!

For tracking, I keep a whiteboard handy on my wall. I write my goal large enough that I can read it from across the room with how many hours I’ve worked on my goal. I have it right by my computer desk so I can see it as a reminder. It definitely helps me and keeps me from screwing around too much on my PC! Anything can be used as long as it works for you and you USE it. A notepad, post-it notes, etc. Just start tracking and I hope you succeed!

PS: I love hearing from you regarding your goals and what you’re doing to boost your productivity. Feel free to click on the Contact Wuffles link to the left and send me a message! Thanks!

Waiting for Motivation?

Greeting fuzzbutts!

After last week, there were some thoughts about “Well I just don’t feel motivated.” or “I feel motivated for a while and then I stop feeling the motivation to keep going.” or “When I DO feel motivated, I’ll be sure to tackle it.”

Well, sorry to say, but depending on motivation for anything is like having a bad significant other. They show up at the most inconvenient times. They’re never there when you need them. They’re just unreliable, even if you try to set up a date with them. So dump them already!

Motivation is as fleeting as the next breath. Maybe you can stick to it for a couple of days but it’ll poof at some point and then you’re left waiting for it to come back so you can continue to work on your goals. So are you doomed? Can you never finish something because motivation isn’t there?

Well the point is that if you truly want to reach your goals, you need to just get moving and do it. Just commit to spending a certain amount of time each day or each week (Each month is not recommended since it can sneak up on you at the end of the month). Don’t feel like drawing? Just sit and draw circles. Not in the mood for learning Japanese? Watch anime and just repeat what they say.

I’m not saying motivation is useless. After all, like the bad significant other, there was something you liked in the beginning. Remember that feeling as detailed as you can. Meditating and focusing on WHY you set that goal can help get some of that loving feeling back. Just don’t depend on motivation. It’ll be there for you sometimes but you need to push the rest of the way and develop the habits that will move you forward.

I hope this helps! Stay productive!

Is your environment productive?

Another beautiful Saturday to you, fuzzbutts! I hope you’re taking advantage of the weekend to do everything you want and feel good about it!

So you’re feeling good and ready to start doing stuff! But is your environment ready for you to do those things?

There’s articles out there that say all kinds of things about having the best work environment. Music is bad unless music is good. Cut yourself off from the world so there’s no distractions so put your phone outside the room when you’re working. Keep minimal decorations so you don’t get distracted but keep lots of decorations to stimulate your creativity. What’s the bottom line? Factors that affect your productivity are very personal to YOU. There’s all kinds of advice out there but I’ll start with a few basics.

Keep you work area tidy

Yes we all know that keeping everything clean is a pain. However, it’s hard to lay out all the things you want to do when your workspace is covered in junk. Sometimes, when faced with something daunting, it can put us off from wanting to do it. You want to draw but cleaning off your desk looks like a monumental task so you’ll draw later, once you’ve had time to clean up. The less obstacles we put in our own way, the more productive we can be. So clean off those areas (use your tail as a brush if you have to) and keep them that way!

Music or no music

This question is a little trickier. Some advocate silence and while others say some music is good to keep you in the mood. You’re the one who knows best but feel free to experiment. If you always listen to music, try some silence while you work and see if it helps. One things I’ve found helpful with music is that it shouldn’t have lyrics or tell a story because it can get distracting.

Realize what’s distracting you

Maybe you know what it is or maybe you don’t. Is a significant other in the same room doing something totally different that keeps catching your attention? Do you have a TV and find yourself staring at it? Find the things that seem to prevent you from working and then do your best to reduce those issues. Remove things that get in your way.

Find what helps

Sometimes we do need certain things around to keep us in the workspace. My own mind goes a mile a minute in silence about anything BUT the task I set myself to do. Music is helpful but it’s hard to keep me in my seat for long periods. Are friends helpful or do they distract you?

One thing that helps me the most is having friends around all working on the same thing. I had art friends where we could sit for hours together, even in coffee shops, and we’d just draw the entire time with a little chit chat. I’ve sat around with friends making fursuits, cutting up and sewing fur. As friends moved away, it became more difficult to just sit down and do something.  So I try to make friends with more artists and set up art jams when possible.

To keep my own fuzzbutt in my seat when I’m alone, I have my own environment to help. I open a reference image on my computer screen at my desk and then open a movie to the side of it. Then I push my keyboard away and put my sketchbook on my desk and start drawing. “WHAT?! That’s not productive!” you howl at me, voice dripping with the sense of betrayal. Fair enough.

Does the distraction of a movie slow me down in my pursuit? I agree it does. However, I’ve also experimented with a lot of things. I’ve tried to draw in my bed before I go to sleep only to find I never reached the bed until I was tired and then too tired to draw. I’ve tried sitting away from my desk and drawing on my recliner couch only to keep making trips to the computer for images or to fix the music. I’ve tried only sitting at my computer with the reference up only to get distracted by messengers and other things. Having a movie on keeps me from going to other social media and I keep drawing. Even if I only do 30 minutes worth of work in an hour, it’s still 30 minutes I wouldn’t have accomplished otherwise. Someday I do think I’ll be more comfortable with drawing to not have any distractions.

Only you know what really works for you and what works best

So try to honestly judge what you need to do to keep working. Being a little productive is better than not being productive at all. Out of all the advice out there, the only universal one in my opinion is to keep things tidy in your work area. It really helps. Anyway, try some new things and see how you react! Good luck, fuzzbutts!

So What Is Your Goal? Why?

What a great week! Now that you have some energy from the last post, what are you going to do with it? Let’s have a chat about goals, fuzzbutts!

Goals are important. They give you something to work toward. Without goals, it’s easy to just exist which, more often than not, will then lead into depression as you unwittingly stunt your personal growth. It’s not just the having of goals that will provide a sense of fulfillment, but you need to work toward them. So we have to be productive!

So how do we set goals? Most will refer to SMART goals. Specific, as in there is a specific think you want to accomplish. Measurable so there is some actual way to prove you accomplished your goal. Actionable, meaning there are very specific things you can do to get you to your goal. Reasonable goals mean you can actually get it done. Time-specific, meaning you need to set a deadline for yourself to get this goal done which puts a little pressure.

An example of building a smart goal:

I want to get better at drawing. That is the specific goal I want. How do I determine if I’m better at drawing? It’s a skill that is constantly developed so it’s not like there’s some sort of ending to it. To make this goal measurable, I’ll rely on the opinions of others and decide that I’ll be better at drawing once I post an art piece that gets 30 favorites on FA (which gives an idea of how good I am at drawing). Once I hit 30 favorites, I’ll consider the goal accomplished. Is it actionable? Of course! I need to post something on FA that will get 30 faves. Is it reasonable? I’ve gotten 20 faves on a piece before so 30 does seem reasonable. Do I have a deadline for this? I’ll give myself 6 months from now. Now let’s put it together:

I will become better at drawing by posting more art and get 30 favorites on a piece within the next six months.

That’s a solid goal. What happens after that goal is accomplished? I make another one if I want. Maybe go for 40 favorites or work on increasing my drawing speed or draw a certain number of backgrounds.

I want to add that not every goal has to be a SMART goal (but it helps). Sometimes you just want those 30 faves but don’t want to set a deadline. The deadline helps add pressure  to keep you going but if you’re not concerned about how long it takes (so long as you’re putting in the work), then alright.

Have your goal now? Do you know why you have this goal?

Goals are easy to set but it’s hard to stick with them sometimes. What’s most important is knowing why you want this goal. Do your reasons for this goal outweigh the reasons why you haven’t been working on this goal? Saying “I want to get good at drawing or making fursuits just to make money” is a sure way to exhaust yourself when you know you dislike sewing, working with hot glue, or sitting for long periods of time. You may stick with it for a while but burn-out is looming around the corner. To help avoid burning out, make sure your life is balanced and enjoyable (Work Hard, Play Hard philosophy). Your reason for your goal must be your own. Trying to change something about yourself purely for the sake of others will not lead to meaningful, lasting change.

How many goals do you have?

“Hey Wuffles! I already have a ton of goals I’m working on!” you say. “That’s nice but not very useful.” I say as I pat you on the head. Yes you can easily set too many goals. Goals require attention and work and if you have too many at once, it’ll take way too long before you check even the easiest goal off your list. Narrow down what’s on your list and prioritize. You should have maybe 2 big goals you’re working on. Goals are supposed to be reasonable, not simple. Why 2 and not just 1? Because sometimes we enter a waiting period. Making a fursuit was your goal but you ran out of a certain color of faux fur and realized you had to order more which won’t arrive for a few days. Well now you have your second goal to work on while you wait (Read that book that’s been collecting dust on my shelf for the past 2 years or spend that time exercising).

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Assuming you have a SMART goal, you determined your goal is actionable. I’ll keep with my goal of trying to reach 30 faves. So what is the action? I need to post something that gets 30 faves on FA. So how does that work? I need to post better quality art and more of it until I come up with a successful piece. Well how can I do that? I need to spend more time drawing each week, include backgrounds to make the scene alive, and add more variety to what I draw like different characters, angles, poses, etc. I can probably stop there but let’s keep cutting up this elephant into smaller bites: Spend more time drawing how? Dedicate at least 4 hours a week to just drawing. How are you going to include backgrounds? Practice drawing scenery and landscapes so I learn more about perspective and how to place things. How are you going to add variety? Draw character gift art for friends, artists I like, or just fan art of shows, etc. Google up photos that have different perspectives and poses and do my best to imitate it until perspectives feel natural. That is my new plan. Also, maybe 30 faves requires me to draw more than 4 hours a week but the point is to have a plan. You are free to adjust your goals and plans

My goal is to get better at drawing. I could accomplish the measurable part of my goal by just trying to be better at marketing myself as an artist or begging for faves  (which could also technically be broken down into many, smaller tasks) until I had my 30 but my specific goal is to get better at drawing.

I’d love to hear your goal!

Come up with a goal after reading this post? I want to hear about it, fuzzbutt! Click the Contact Wuffles link to the left and tell me about it! I’ll do my best to respond!