Planning and Productivity in the Art Studio

Elephant Dream, 2016, by Miriam Schulman. Mixed Media on Canvas, 30x30”. Copyright © Miriam Schulman. Used by permission of the artist.

It might sound obvious, but planning and productivity go hand in hand. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to create. This is typical of creatives. In fact, Leonardo Da Vinci was known to have said that he spent as much time thinking about what he wanted to paint as he did painting it.

So that I don’t spend too much time spinning my wheels, I make yearly goals and then review those goals throughout the year frequently. I also make my kids review their goals and rewrite their goals every quarter.

Here are some action steps you can model to make you more productive as well. In order for the review process to work, you need to review your goals on a regular basis and make yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals.

Most people have no problems making goals at the beginning of the year, but how often do you review them? Do you make daily goals? Here is what the review process looks like for me.

Review the Daily Task List Each Morning

Every morning I review what my appointments are for that day and I come up with three goals for the day that I feel have to get done. The three action items should relate to the goals for the week and ultimately for the year. Keeping the end in mind keeps me from wasting time on non-important stuff.

Night Before

Sometimes I get a head start on my day by writing out my three goals the night before, but it is this process of planning and reviewing each day with gratitude that keeps my productivity mindset a positive one.

Keeping a Monthly and Yearly Overview

In addition to managing daily tasks, I keep a monthly overview which provides a vision of how the upcoming month will look, and a yearly overview to plan my promotional schedule. I offer art classes AND original works of art, and so it helps to see at what time I’m going to be promoting what in between my daily shuffle of making work, answering inquiries, traveling and shipping art.

I also keep track of when the planet Mercury is in retrograde, as I’ve found that during these times, it is best to do developmental work like research and planning. Sure, it might sound strange to plan around the planets, but you have to plan around something, and this method is as good as any. (I’ve been keeping track of this odd astrology phenomenon ever since my instagram account was completely hacked during “mercury in retrograde” a time which astrologists believe that technology will go haywire … btw, you can also read my blog post: Is your instagram account safe?)

Make it Pretty!!

I recently have joined the planner girl cult.

Yes, buying a planner and adding stickers to it as actually a cult.

Who knew?

But this is a very healthy addiction. I actually joined a planner subscription club so each month I receive pretty planning supplies that makes all these planning sessions more fun. Even my daughter has remarked that she noticed that every time I get my planner out I get happier. Win. Win.

Journal Prompts

In order to help you with this process, I created this freebie for you with journal prompts that will help focus your mind. These are the exact questions I ask myself at the end of each period and helps me plan for the next one. A period can be a week, a month, a quarter or a year. The more you check in with yourself, the better! >> Download this giveaway and see what insights you uncover!

Miriam Schulman embraces her creative life with gratitude in New York’s backyard. Schulman abandoned a hedge fund career after witnessing the devastation of 9/11 to work on her art full time. Rejecting the starving artist myth, her watercolor and mixed media paintings have been seen on NBC, published in art magazines & home decor books and collected worldwide. In addition, the Hudson River Museum and Katonah Museum of Art carry her artistic accessories in their gift shops. She has been published in art magazines such as Art of Man, Art Journaling Magazine by Stampington and Professional Artist magazine. Explore her art at or learn her techniques at She also offers private coaching for professional artists looking to master their marketing and mindset.