Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How do you measure Results?

There are certain things I have learned about myself. I tend to measure "results" in quantitative amounts or by actions completed.

For example, today I finished and shipped work to 3 galleries (amount, action); shaped and grooved 25 glass pendants (amount, action); removed the dead vines, sticks and yard debris from behind the studio (3 trashcans full) (action, amount); spent 1 hour at the gym; you get the idea... I like to start the day with a list and check things off to mark the progress.
However, there is a flaw in this system that I continue to struggle with.

How to feel productive doing "nothing"? And by this I mean the quiet, still, thought provoking moments that require a lot of concentration and soul searching. This is a lot tougher to do! And I usually avoid it by trucking ahead doing things that need immediate attention or have tangible results.

If I had written down "spend 2+ hours thinking and sketching" rather than "come up with brilliant idea for next project" I could cross the former off the list instead of stressing over the latter.

But if I want my work to improve, I have to stop and ask myself the tough questions. Why did I do this that way? What am I trying to say? What do I want to communicate to the viewer? What is my work about? How could I have done so-and-so better? And does anyone really care?

While I believe I know the answers to these questions on some level, it is extremely difficult for me to articulate these ideas both verbally and visually.

Ultimately, I want my work to be the best (technically and conceptually) it possibly can. Being back in school has been a tremendous help with this process. Someone else is now holding me accountable; pushing me to address issues that I would otherwise avoid or procrastinate.

So, do you struggle with similar feelings? How do you slow down the forward momentum to make time for reflection? How do you carve out time for these tasks? How do you tackle the tough questions? How do you keep from getting frustrated? How do you measure Results?

Whew! All those questions call for a glass of wine!


PS - Write 1 blog post (amount, action) :)


Linda Starr said...

I have a really hard time slowing down momentum and I know I need to do this more. About the only time I do is when I run out of clay.

ang said...

ahhh theres always space for ideads, i regularly sit with my journal while 'watching'tv or listening to something and do 2 thing at once i find that always helps you dont have those blank moments! I also drive a fair bit so thats good ideas time just process the thuoughts and scribble it down anywhere handy and dont try to come up with a complete idea just note lots of bits down and i use those for projects across the year and keep adding.. hey cool question maybe just add the ?'n to your list its always there you dont have to complete it, just consider it...cheers ang

Nigel and Cheyenne Rudolph said...

I don't keep from getting frustrated. lately, i've let frustration stop me from doing anything. which is totally the wrong thing to do. It's a constant stuggle to understand what my work is about and how to convey what i think it's about through form. I've found a conflict now between making work that is about "something" conceptually, and making work that i know sells. i think it's very important to take time to reflect on ones work, what i struggle with is that contemplation often seems to turn to procrastination. my problem is even getting that forward momentum started. i've always dealt with these doldrums by working my way through them. forcing myself and not thinking to heavily on notions of concept and focusing on technical aspects. unfortunately then the work lacks that conceptual grounding...and then that frustrates me. then back to square one. I've always admired your work ethic meagan. you seem to deal with both notions of concept and craftsmanship very well.

pcNielsen said...

Blogged about something similar today (http://theaestheticelevator.com/2010/01/20/how-business-can-stifle-imagination/), and have been thinking about the role of contemplation lately too: http://theaestheticelevator.com/category/the-contemplative-life/.

Vicki said...

I do what you do--- write a list and happily check things off, forgetting that the "do nothing" times mean something too. I liked your idea of writing "spend 2+ hours thinking" (though I will start with 1/2 hour! even that would be an improvement), because if it finds its way onto my to-do list in actionable terms, I may give it proper credit. Thanks!

Meagan Chaney said...

Thank you for your support! It's great to know I'm not the only one struggling with this. Got a good laugh from Linda's comment about running out of clay! Paul, loved your spin on imagination and the business world. Thanks for the link! And maybe I should turn my commute to school into more "do nothing" think time.