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Welcome to rachelsays... The blog of Rachel Lewis, containing my thoughts and musings on illustration, design, fashion, music, cakey-bakey goodness, culture and things that I generally find cool. There's also a good chance my own illustration work will pop up on here.

All work on this blog is copyright to me unless I state that it isn't. Obviously. Don't do stealing, kids.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Immersion 2010: Session 3

The next session of Immersion had a change of leadership, from the Palmer-Hamilton Partnership. This session was all about Action Planning: putting targets, dreams and ambitions into realistic goals with timescales that are achievable, and ways of organising/streamlining your time and your life to be more productive. 'From your dreams to your diary'.

A lot of this stuff was things that I was already aware about from my Creative Industries module at Uni, things like S.M.A.R.T goals and having a diary (duh), colour coding, lists, mind maps, wall pplanners, all sorts of things that I already utilise, but probably not the fullest of advantages. So this session wasn't midn blowing but really useful for visualising and solidifying goals.

Action Planning and Tools
A lot of people don't organise their lives very well - I like to think I'm a naturally well-organised person and I've had a diary for years. I live by it. If I lost my diary I'd go mental. But it definitely could be more organised; they suggested using pencil so things can be changed easily; there are so many scribbles in my diary where my life changes from one minute to the next! Here's my diary:
Which is slightly silly but I love it. I used to have a moleskine one, last year, which is week to one page and notes on the other. SO useful. I sort of wish I'd got that again this year; it's dull looking but brilliant to plan on. This diary hasn't got as much space for notes etc. So it may be that I need to get a small 'ideas dump' notebook, which they suggested as a good way to get all your ideas/thoughts down on paper to then action into things to do, instead of keeping them in your head. A good idea.

I also use lists - religiously so - but to the point where I make huge lists, often with no timescale or sense of priority, and then get the fear/depression at the end of the day when things aren't done. This is due to my goals for the day being unrealistic, not because I'm lazy. So I'm learning to separate lists into order of priority, to be more realistic, and to set a time limit on them. This is already helping a lot, especially with things like emailing people, blogging, etc.

I don't write down big goals or milestones I want to achieve and I've learnt that this is really useful. I've also learned that there need sto be timescales attached to them, and that they also need to be broken down into smaller goals. And obstacles and resources that I may need also need to be listed so that these can be taken into account. I haven't really started doing this yet but I shall.

I also have a wall planner that I use for 'big' things like events etc so I can look at my year quickly.

We also discussed the digital vs paper debate. I sort of use both. I have iCal on my mac which I double up everything that's in my diary - just in case I lose it. But I prefer using an actual physical diary; I've never been one of those to use the Calendar function on my phone for example. Maybe when I get an iPhone this will change; afterall you can sync iCal with iPhones so this might be something in the future. But you can't beat the freedom of scribbling Things To Do on an actual real piece of paper. It feels more vital and urgent that way, and less easy to forget.

We also talked about the importance of leaving room in your diary for social/you time. This is something peopl eforget but that I feel is so important - every so often you need a sofa day, right? I definitely do. A day where you have nothing planned, have a lie in, eat nice food and watch good films/telly, or go out with friends for the day, or anything like that which isn't work. Most people fit these things round everything else in their life but I'm a firm believer that you'll burn out if you do this. So it's ok to have a blank day in your diary every so often. In fact it's good for you. I haven't had one in months.

Visualising Goals
We then got on to the subject of visualising goals. We had to do an exercise that actually turned out to be really fun - draw, using as little words as possible, how we felt about our life now, what we had etc, and then what we wanted our lives to be in a year's time, if everything went to plan. Here's mine:

What my life is now
What I want it to be in 1 year's time.

I found this really fun and amusing. To sum it up:
My life now - Working in a well-known shoe retailer as a sales assistant to make money; not that enjoyable and a waste of my talents, to put it bluntly. A means to an end.
Having to do the thing I love - design & illustration - at night, when I am tired.
Tired and unhealthy, need a hair cut, a little bit doughy round the middle. (lol).
A bank account that is in bad shape with not much coming in and quite a bit going out.
No social life to really speak of - I love dancing and having nice cocktails in bars and dressing up and going out - who doesn't? This is how I enjoy myself. As I live with my parents I mostly drink wine with them. That's about it. All of my friends are up in Wolves still so if I want a night out I have to travel 200 miles.
Generally unsatisfied. Single. Grumpy.
1 years time- Working and living in London, nicer clothes, good steady cash flow. Thinner. (lame but I don't care. I want to be healthier.) My hair is better. I work during the day on what I love, i a studio/freelancing, whatever. I make my living on a mac, basically. I travel to cities for random breaks. I'm totally in the middle of cosmopolitan culture and know all the cool places and people and things. I have a varied social life. I have a boy-type person. I am busy and happy about it.

and I know it seems a weird task but it's great to do - in fact I think I'll match it up in a year's time and see what I've got - then I can do another one for the following year. Who knows if it will all come true - just aiming for it is the main thing. And if I'm still single in a year I may die.

Then we had to look at the gap between the two images and write down what we needed to bridge that gap. It was really great to clarify the things I seek like that.

Following on from this, we then had to write down a list of priorities, things we want to do, what obstacles are in their way and possible solutions. An example of my priorities are:

  • Leave retail job - Obstacles: Need to have a new job to go to. Solutions: Apply to graduate jobs I know I want to work in. Not just any old job. That's how rubbishness happens.
  • Live/Work in London - Obstacles: Need enough money for a flat, need a social life/friends to live with. Solutions: Live at home and commute for 6 months, build up social circle. See what happens.
  • Continue with freelance illustration career - Obstacles: Not enough time to focus on it, not enough regular clients yet. Solutions: Set aside certain times of week to focus on work and then on self promotion, keep at it.
  • Extend social circle down here in London - Obstacles: All friends up in Wolves, don't know many peopl ehere to go out with etc. Solutions: Meet new people on evening classes/through work/exercise classes, be more confident.

HOWEVER. As we've just seen, I achieved my first priority! I now have a job in London :) So I need to rethink all these priorites now; I know things will shift. I need to spend time on doing this. Some will change, some will stay the same. Exciting times.

I have also decided that I need to get feedback on my website - critique from someone who knows what they are talking about, are things clear, does it run smoothly, what should I change. That's on the list.

The last section of the session was run by a Theatre Director, who helped us with our confidence and physical presence. We had to do silly breathing/shouting exercises which were loads fo fun and actually really helpful. Also helping us to think of our confidence as a scale - 1 to 10- someone who is a 1 being so shy that they barely talk and have no presence at all, to someone who is a 10 who is so loud and confident that they must be slightly irritating. It's best to aim for an 8, for things like presentations, interviews etc. And it really worked to think like that! 'I am an 8' You remembered eye contact, pace, breathing, smiling, etc. We all left feeling great about presenting ourselves and our work.

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