The Problem: Most artists dislike keeping track of mundane business tasks. But when those things fall through the cracks, you can end up spending more time to fix them than you would have spent handling them timely, and often at much greater expense. This applies to anything from updating your website copyright notice (see last month’s Quick Tip for a how to on that) to keeping your business entity in good standing to maintaining your membership in arts organizations.
The Solution: Use your cell phone, tablet or computer calendar to solve this problem efficiently by calendaring both the day something needs to happen as well as one or two advance reminders of the task. The approaches below give examples for artists but the same principles apply to things outside of your art life, like timely paying property taxes and insurance, staying on top of scheduling medical tests at the right intervals, and changing your passwords. For those who need it, there are free online tutorials on how to use the array of electronic calendars, so take advantage of them if you are not already comfortable using this tool on your devices.
Annual Tasks: For example, since WCA/DC membership is on a calendar year, you should renew your membership in December so it is paid by the start of the new membership year in January. Add that task to your calendar with no end date so it repeats each year. If you put it in for December 20, you can also put a reminder in before that, such as a week ahead, also with no end date so you are reminded of it annually. (For anyone who needs to renew their membership and pay their dues for 2021, the form to use for that is at https://www.wcadc.org/to-join.) And, if you operate your art business via an entity, such as a corporation or limited liability company, then you may have annual filings and taxes/other fees due each year. So add the actual due dates of those things to your calendar with one or two reminders in advance, again with no end dates so they repeat each year. Some other examples of annual tasks to calendar could include updating your resume and artist statement, paying for any subscription services or publications you maintain, paying for your web hosting service and domain name, keeping any required business licenses current, and paying for annual membership in museums/arts organizations.
Single Event Tasks: One task that costs some artists money is a failure to timely pick up her unsold art from a show. Many venues charge a storage fee when this happens and it can mount up quickly. By including this task as if it is a one-time appointment, with an advance reminder, those fees should be avoidable. The same approach works for show application deadlines, which sometimes have a reduced fee for early entry, so by being reminded of that date, you can save money if you apply by the early deadline. Some other similar examples include calendaring when tickets become available to museum shows you want to attend (when we get to do that again), upcoming shows you want to apply to, and classes/workshops you plan to take. An example of a potentially more significant single event item to add to your calendar is your lease expiration date, if you lease studio space. If there is an option to continue the lease, it must be exercised by a date certain or between certain dates. Calendaring the date by which the option must be exercised and reminders in advance should help you avoid missing out on favorable terms already negotiated if you want to remain in the space.
When to Calendar: For some artists, it will be most efficient to figure out all their annual tasks to enter in their calendar, with whatever frequency of advance reminders will be helpful, all at one time. For others, it will be more effective to make calendar entries as each annual and single event task comes up. Whatever the timing, using the calendar on your cell phone, tablet or computer to keep up with deadlines on the things that need to get done even though they are not exciting or creative likely will save you time in the long run, can save you from late fees and other avoidable expenses, and may even take a small weight off your shoulders that frees up some of your creative energy for artistic pursuits.