10 rules I live by for an efficient and happier daily routine

10 efficient rules to live your daily life by…

I’m an organized person. I like to plan, get things done and I don’t like being late. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I have rules for an efficient working day.

I try to have a daily routine and even though there’s almost always something that throws it off, I like having a plan, so I try to follow these 10 rules.

10 rules for an efficient work day

  1. Make a physical list the evening before. I use a small notepad, where I jot down thoughts of what I need to do tomorrow in a list. I don’t do it digitally, because I’ve found digital lists are too easy to ignore. My list sits next to the coffee machine, where I see it often throughout the day.
  2. Start the day reading something meaningful. I think it’s important to put yourself in a good frame of mind for the day. Don’t start with work, email or the news. They all trigger feelings of stress. I’m not a religious person, so my morning reading tends to be about mindfulness, compassion and other life lessons. Another person might read the Bible, Koran or whatever. The point is to start the day with a sense of being grateful for your life and the people in your life and thereby realizing that not everyone is so lucky and that any day can potentially be your last. Don’t waste your time being angry, unhappy or mean to others.
  3. Eat a good breakfast. Not cereal or a quick bite in the car. Your brain and your body needs fat to be full, content and happy. I cook breakfast for my family every day, so we can all last until lunchtime without being hungry or needing a snack. If you’re in a hurry, make sure you have a boiled egg in the fridge you can eat. Avoid sugars and carbs. They make you lethargic, tired, hungry and fat.
  4. Delay reading your first emails of the day, because once you start, you know you’ll be putting out fires for a while. Many problems solve themselves and most can wait, really, they can. So, if you have something that must be done today, do it before looking at emails.
  5. Dumb down your smart phone. I turn my smart phone off around 8 or 9pm and usually don’t switch it on until about 9am. That allows me to spend the evening with my family without distraction, sleep without disturbance and focus on my morning routines. I also removed all my social media and games from the phone, except Instagram (I use it to post pictures of my artwork, but I rarely spend much time visiting it). Instead I have my books on the Kindle app, so when I’m in a situation where I’m waiting somewhere, I spend time reading. This was an excellent tip from The Minimalists. I read more and waste much less time on Facebook. It’s also much better for my data usage.
  6. Have lunch at a set time. I don’t eat a huge lunch, because I have a good breakfast, so I don’t spend much time on it, but I try to have lunch at pretty much the same time every day.
  7. Stop working when you get home. This one is hard for me, because my art studio is at my house, so it’s easy to slip in there. But really it is much better to set work to the side and give my wife and kids the full attention they deserve. Again, this one is very hard for me. My brain wants to keep going. However, when I adhere to this rule I’m always happy afterwards that I did.
  8. Read before sleeping. Nothing can keep you up more than to work late or to stare at a screen late at night. Nothing helps you sleep better than reading a book in bed. If you must have something keep you awake, let the book hit you in the face as you fall asleep.
  9. Keep electronics out of the bedroom. Even your TV! Luckily my wife wholeheartedly agrees with me and believe me, once you start doing this your partner will too, because as far as I’m concerned, the bedroom is for 2 activities only and both are more enjoyable than TV or Facebook. I notice the difference, even if I’m just charging my phone in the bedroom. Only the Kindle is allowed.
  10. Use a shared calendar with your family. We use a shared Google calendar. We can all add to it and see what we’ve going on. That way there are less surprises, better planning and less chance at double booked appointments. It really reduced stress in our household.

Art Pricing III – Custom art on objects

Art Pricing for commissioned work on objects

The first time I had my hockey goalie mask painted, I wasn’t working as an artist yet. I had bought a brand-new mask. I remember that my budget for the paint job was (arbitrarily chosen, I admit), no more than what I had spent on the mask. After all, in my mind it was just decoration, whereas the function of the mask, to protect my noggin, was worth much more. The idea that the paint job was skilled art work that takes much more time than to create a mass-produced goalie mask and therefore should cost more, never crossed my mind. I looked at the art pricing from the consumer’s perspective, not the artist’s.

A goalie mask will set you back on average around $500. OK, there are more expensive ones and cheaper ones. To paint a goalie mask typically takes me around 2 weeks, including preparation for painting and clear coating. Of course, I don’t work on it a solid 8 hours a day – I’m also a stay-at-home dad and I usually work on more than one project at a time.The artist airbrushing a goalie mask.

If I was to divide the price my customers pay for a goalie mask paint job by the hours I spend on it, it comes to a little over minimum wage. I avoid doing that. It’s depressing. If I priced the paint jobs properly by the hour at what I think it should cost, the cost to paint a goalie mask would be prohibitive for most goalies.

The Art Pricing Value Gap

I call that the art pricing value gap. The difference between what the value of a piece of art should be or is even perceived and what the customer is willing to pay for it.

I think most of my customers would agree after I paint something for them, that the value of the paint job is far higher than what they paid. However, budget constraints simply won’t let them pay that. That’s OK and understandable. We all know this struggle.

So once again, my father’s wise words, that you price an item to what the fool is willing to pay hold up. However, in this case it really backfires.

The value of doing what you enjoy

Why do it then? Well, I could spend my time in an office, making much more than I do, performing a job I don’t want to do, 8 hours a day? Not in corporate America, where you’re required to show your commitment to the company by working many more hours than the regular work week.

Or, I could make a lot less, but do what I want, be my own boss and enjoy what I do and spend more time with my family, which all makes me happy! That’s a choice I made.

Not all jobs are like the goalie masks though. I find that the higher the value of the object you paint, the more people are willing to pay. My motorcycle customers are willing to pay more than my goalie mask people.

Of course, there are occasionally exceptions, but I think many of my colleagues in the custom art world will agree that they prefer not to divide what they get paid by the number of hours they put into a project.

Lastly, my airbrush teacher had looked at it in a positive light: “Every dollar of profit you make, is more than you had in your pocket yesterday”. I’m not so sure that that holds up when you look at your total business accounting, but it puts things nicely in perspective. Enjoy what you do and be grateful for that.