Scheduling Time Off


It seems my “to do list” is done.

I have now completed  these major projects:

1. New portfolio of work
2. Become a Juried Artist Member of SAQA
3. “Above and Beyond” – A show of art quilts at a premiere venue
4. Found a local venue to sell my work (solo show in April)
5. Completed a redesign of my web page, blog and gallery

Right now I still have a quilt on my design wall and I have a couple of shows I want to enter. I am working a collection of small quilts I hope to find a venue for and I almost done with photographing that group of pieces. But my BIG projects that have taken up my life for the past year are completed.


My word of the year is “balance” and I want to honor that commitment to living a life that is not so filled that I can’t rest or life that is so controlled that I am never pushing my limits.

When I first retired I needed time to figure out what I was going to do. That took almost a year! By documenting that transition in my blog posts; I can look back see just how much I have accomplished.  Last May after returning from a conference, I set some new goals which I feel I have achieved. Now I am at the point where I need to take a step back.

Every seven years, designer Stefan Sagmeister closes his New York studio for a yearlong sabbatical to rejuvenate and refresh their creative outlook.

Research shows there is great value in taking time off  from what it is you do to help your focus and creative energy.

Sagmeister is following a model well known in higher education. Many Universities offer Professors a sabbatical year to increase dynamic research.  On a smaller scale I found that the summer break allowed me to recharge my creative batteries.  My routine was unstructured. I got a chance to sit on my back porch and daydream. It allowed me to experiment in my studio, try new things and not worry about the results.

The new office

The new office

Many large companies include scheduled time off. IBM gives it’s employees 15% of their work time to pursue their passions. Google gives their employees 20% of their time back.  Forward thinking institutions invest in seemly “nonproductive time” to increase the energy, creativity and focus within their organizations.

Looking down the road, I am thinking seriously about a scheduled yearly break from making art quilts, entering shows, taking part in meetings or class related to art quilting.  In his TED talk,  Sagmeister gave solid suggestions and outlined some pitfalls which I will want to avoid.

The first year Sagmeister took time away was not as productive as he had hoped. He had no plans. Everything was opened ended and unscheduled which wasted valuable time figuring out what ideas he wanted to pursue.  Before starting his break he prepared to stop by finishing projects, writing and letting other people know he would not be available.  He made a note in his daily calendar well before his time off to make sure he was ready on day one to use the time wisely.

Ceramic artist at work

Ceramic artist at work

One idea I had was taking month to focus on health. Maybe improve my meditation practice, get better at yoga, or start a sport. Another idea I had was to take time to work with a completely different medium. There is a very nice pottery studio in town. I might just spend a month working there away from my typical studio. Using the time to take an extended trip to photograph or delve into cooking also is appealing.

This is an idea that I think is worth investing in.

Until next time….