Protecting your time-space

I’m fortunate these days to be able to commit most of my time to my painting and writing. I have two or three big projects on the go at any one time, at different stages. I’ve learnt over the years that projects need their own timescales. And that my timescales are personal to me. And that I am the only person who will arrange my time to suit what I need.

It’s not just about having time to spend doing the work, but about keeping clear enough time – as if project time sits in a ‘time-space’, and if that time-space is too narrow, it limits possibilities.

A need for sky.  Original painting by Lynne Cameron.

A need for sky. Original painting by Lynne Cameron.

If I have an appointment at 1030 in the morning, I know that I will get nothing done after breakfast, other than tidying the kitchen. My brain will be in clock-watching mode and getting-ready-to-leave mode. It will resist concentrating on writing or painting. However, if I make appointments for 1230 or later, it feels like a vast swathe of time lies in front of me. This strategy allows me to stop clock watching. I switch on a mental, or actual, alarm to stop at 12 and be ready then to leave the work for whatever comes next. It protects the time I want to do the things that matter.

Sea Edges: Summer (1)  Collage and acrylic on canvas panel. Original artwork by Lynne Cameron.

Sea Edges: Summer (1) Collage and acrylic on canvas panel. Original artwork by Lynne Cameron.

The strategy of protecting time-space works on larger timescales too – if I want to get started again after a break, or do the final work that completes a project, I know that I need two or three days ahead without interruptions. If I want to immerse myself in an art project, I know that two or three weeks in the diary, with no commitments to travel or to host visitors, is needed.

And on the micro timescale, it makes a difference to have a few minutes between one activity and the next. To stand up and look out of the window, to take a breath, to give yourself time-space to notice what has been done and shift attention to what’s next.

I’d love to hear your own preferred time-spaces, and how you make them happen. Do share your thoughts in the Comments box below…

Lynne CameronComment