Day 4:
Project Management
for Artists

Part of my wiping the slate clean process is completing some projects.  One of them is converting my Izannah Walker class into an electronic format.  

I first started learning about Izannah's dolls n 2006.   I was captivated by them!  I wanted to see as many as I could and document them. I started a blog about them.  I had a dream of designing a pattern for making an antique inspired Izannah doll.  But the project overwhelmed me for quite a while because I had never designed a pattern other than a small pancake doll pattern.   

I was as stuck as Pooh bear in Rabbit's front door. 

I was afraid and letting that deter me from working on itSeth Godin writes a lot about the lizard brain that rears its ugly head whenever we want to go outside our creativity comfort zone.

I avoided the task.
My dear husband sat me down and helped me figure out a project management plan.

A project management plan is breaks a large task into doable chunks according to a timetable.  It was a big job because I was designing the pattern and writing pictorial tutorials AND learning how to set up the class site online.  I got it done.

And I'll get this next project done by September 30th, getting ready for an October 1st launch. This will be easier than designing the pattern, but still it's been a big enough job that I need to break it down.

What do you want to do and by when? 
It is important that you set a date.  If you don't set a date you will let distractions get in the way of completion.  You will play Xbox, or visit fabric stores, or read online blogs.  Trust me.   Having a date really helps!

What are the subtasks?

Figure out the tasks from start to finish.  What is the foundation task?   For designing the pattern I broke it up into body parts.   I needed to design these and write tutorials about making them.  You can see one of my tutorials here on making Izannah doll hands.  
What is your task?   Writing a book?  Making a commisioned work?  Designing an online class? 

Make a list of the sub-tasks.   For me it was this list (not exhaustive)

Design body parts. 
Make version #24 of body part
Make tutorials for body parts....
Make a doll, take pictures of every step
Edit pictures
Write content explaining pictures
Put pictures and content together in Word.
Convert each section to a PDF.
Upload PDF to website
Write directions for how to use the site...
etc, etc, etc. 

I had to estimate how much time each task would take.   This was not exact because I'd never done it before.  Many things took much longer than I thought they would.   

What's your project you need to break down?  
When do you want it to be ready?

Name the project.
Write your goal for the project.
Divide into sub-tasks.
Set dates for completion of sub-tasks.
Pretty soon you'll have it done!

 Let's do this!


JDConwell said...

I'm worn out reading about it. :~) But when you have a dream of doing something, this is exactly how to make it manageable. Very similar to the structure we used to development Air Force course training materials: "What should the student to be able to do when he graduates?"

Real estate is eating my life right now, and my current need is to make this "office" work well. Your task breakdown is the shot in the arm I needed. Thanks!

Dixie Redmond said...

Hi, Jan -

Yes, and my past teaching experience really speaks to this. I do like to teach. :-) So that was the carrot on the other end.

Task breakdown can apply to anything. Right now it's applying to getting my house cleaned and my work areas cleaned. One thing at a time in 30 minute chunks.

JDConwell said...

Sorta like how to eat an elephant, right? ;~)

Dixie Redmond said...

Yes, exactly. :-) It can be done but that particular metaphor kind of grosses me out.

"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."

John Wooden