Brad Blackman in the studio, January 2020

Behind the Scenes: a Day in the Life of an Artist

I’m not just an artist. I’m also a husband and a dad. Here’s what a day in the life of an artist looks like for this particular artist.

The artist’s life is probably less glamorous than you’d think. I get up and exercise and shower just like everyone else. My kids need their dad and my wife needs time and attention from her husband. Graphic design clients expect need things from me, and painting customers and fans want to see what I’m creating next. It can be overwhelming. (I feel my chest getting tight just thinking about it all. Hello anxiety!) So that’s why I’ve made several checklists and keep a planner.

Brad Blackman in the studio, January 2020

What an artist’s daily checklist and rituals look like

A year ago we started using a checklist for the kids so they can stay on track. Both of our boys have ADHD, so it helps them stay focused, especially the one who is also on the autism spectrum. (He loves checklists!) Heck, it helps the rest of us stay focused. We printed the checklists out and put them in clear acrylic stands and gave the kids dry-erase markers so they can check things off each day.

Earlier this year, I read Michael Hyatt’s book Free to Focus. He talks about setting daily rituals and templating your day and week so you can maximize your productivity and creativity and get more done in less time. The result is less stress and anxiety about what you should be doing.

After about six months of thinking about it, I created my own daily checklist. Years ago I realized I had something of a ritual already in place: I follow almost the exact same sequence every morning when I shower and get dressed. I always put on deodorant first, then fix my hair, then brush my teeth. (I also pull everything out of my drawer and put it back as soon as I use it. That way, if my deodorant is still on the counter, I know I haven’t put it on.)

So it was easy to systematically think about what I do every day and put it in a good structure to be more productive.

Now, if I find myself staring off into space wondering what I should be doing, I just look at my checklist. It’s not terribly different from some of the examples Michael Hyatt gives in Free to Focus. Here’s your glimpse to a day in the life of an artist.

Brad's Daily Checklist (Updated 4/26/2020)

A day in the life of an artist: daily rituals

Morning Ritual

  • Drink 500 mL water
  • Make bed
  • Make coffee
  • Bodyweight exercises
  • Read devotional/Bible
  • Journal/morning pages
  • Shower and get dressed
  • Make and eat breakfast

Workday startup

  • Process email inboxes to zero
  • Check Slack, etc.
  • Review today‚Äôs calendar
  • Review annual goals
  • Finalize today’s Big 3

Workday shut down

  • Process email inboxes to zero
  • Check Slack, etc.
  • Move unfinished items to new days/times
  • Process the day’s notes
  • Determine tomorrow’s to-dos

Evening ritual

  • Make the next day’s lunch
  • Set out tomorrow’s clothes
  • Write to-dos for tomorrow
  • Read 30 minutes
  • Put kids to bed pray, talk, sing
  • Pray with Hope
  • Spend time with Hope

I also made a list of everything that I might do in a given day

In an effort to streamline my day, I have categorized all the things I do. It’s a little overwhelming to look at all of it at once, but when you break it down by category it is more manageable. This makes it easier to use time blocks and do certain activities in batches. For example, I set aside the afternoon for working on content. I try to do billing and shipping on Fridays. Years ago I wrote about my ideal week schedule, which I’ve modified a few times over the years.

I can only focus on one particular area in my life at a time. I wouldn’t try to do all of these on the same day or even in the same week. But I’ll do several of these things each day.

All the tasks that I do. It can be overwhelming to look at all of it at once. But I can look at a particular category and decide what needs to be done right now.

Admin

  • Email
  • Billing
  • Filing
  • Shipping
  • Adding artworks to database 
  • Ordering supplies

Blogging

  • Plan content calendar 
  • Create rough high-level content (sort of an outline)
  • Fill in the content
  • Edit blog post
  • Promotion

Social Media

  • Content calendar planning
  • Create social media graphics
  • Schedule social media
  • Reply to people on social media
  • Comment on social media


Graphic Design

  • Design sketches
  • Layout/Design
  • Design edits
  • Reading
  • Research

Studio

  • Gesso
  • Tone canvas
  • Painting
  • Painting edits
  • Varnish

Painting Photography

  • Photograph paintings
  • Photo editing

Business Building

  • Meetings
  • Lead generation
  • Networking

Personal Development

  • Journaling 
  • Reading
  • Video training

Household

  • Unload/reload dishwasher
  • Put away dishes
  • Vacuum
  • Sweep/mop
  • Wash clothes
  • Fold/distribute clothes
  • Iron clothes
  • Repairs
  • Pay bills
  • Update budget
  • Buy groceries

Health

  • Exercise
  • Run/walk
  • Get 7 hours of sleep every night

Is this helpful?

So that’s your look at a day in the life of an artist. Feel free to swipe any of this and rearrange it as you see fit for your life. Let me know how it goes!