Welcome back to another episode of the Bold Artist Podcast. Do you ever feel like you are in your studio wasting time, and time is just flying away on you, and you're not being very productive? Well, today I'm here with my co-host, Charla Maarschalk, who's the founder of Bold School, an online space to learn bold color painting. And we're gonna be talking about artists and productivity, and ways that we can harness our most energetic selves, and apply it into the studio to get more done, and to stop wasting time. So, to start it all off, I just wanna share a little bit of the backstory because, uh, this conversation all got started when I was telling Charla about a recent podcast that I've just discovered, even though apparently it has millions of followers and listeners, it's new to me. And it's called the Huberman Lab Podcast, where, um, the, the host of the show is a neurobiology and ophthalmology professor who teaches and shares about all kinds of fascinating things about the human brain, creativity, how we function, our work, our, our life, really, he just unpacks a whole lot of knowledge in these very in-depth shows.
And so I do recommend it. If you have an interest in, like, jumping into some really deep talk about how our brains and creativity work. But, in a nutshell, I'll tell you a few quick things that I learned, and it, it just really has to do with how our, our brain and productivity work at different times of the day. And Charla and I got talking about our productivity and how our days have these ebbs and flows of energy based on what we've eaten and whether we're on caffeine, whether we got good sleep, and we began to talk about deep work versus shallow work. Now hang tight with me because even though I've kind of unloaded just a whole bunch on you, I think you're really going to enjoy today's show because I think it's gonna help explain to you why sometimes we are not productive at all. We really, really drag ourselves through the day and through work, um, as an artist. And then other times, we're just so full of steam and energy. And so let's start off, Charla, by I'd love for you to, to share with our listeners, um, what you were telling me about deep work versus shallow work and what that even means to you as an artist.
Yeah, I think it's like starting off thinking about when I was young, when I was like in university or even in high school, and I would do art, I would make art, and I could like concentrate for hours. I could stay up late at night and work if I wanted to. When I was young, like while into my thirties, I, I called myself a night owl. I loved staying up late. And when my kids were little, they'd go to bed and I'd go, I was a photographer at the time, and I would go onto my computer, and I would learn, I remember learning, um, go wanting to, to get deeper into learning how to use Photoshop, 'cuz I had, I knew how to use Photoshop really well, but I just wanted to be better at editing. And I remember learning how to use Photoshop until 12, 1, 2 o'clock at night getting up the next day and taking care of my kids.
And, and I loved it. I, I was thriving, you know, in that time, but I can't do it anymore. I was, I've been a night owl my whole life. And now I'm, I'm thinking in the last few years, I'm like, what, why has that changed? What has changed? And how do I, I, I can't work at midnight anymore. So, when do I work? I don't know when to work. And so I started learning about productivity and, and how to make a make, uh, productivity happen because I'm no longer productive at midnight. I am not I'm sleeping. And the night owl identity that I once had is not there anymore, nor am I an early bird. So, I don't know what I am now. I'm actually turning into an early bird bird. But I'm digressing.
You're three, you're, 3:00 PM. Three to 3:30 PM bird.
Yeah. That's what I got there a half hour, 20 minutes. Um, but I started learning like when you're young, you can do anything, but you also have way less responsibility. So, when you're 18, it doesn't count. And even when you have little babies, it doesn't count because life is just not like that for very long. So, how do you figure out how to do your best work? Like life is busy.
You're serious. You got a lot going on. You're an artist, and you're taking that seriously. So, you're also running a business. How do you figure out when you do your best work? Well, I still hear even artists who are in the middle of their lives saying things like, well, I go in my studio, and I can't leave till that painting is finished. And I'm like, you can't do that.
You're like 40, 50, 60. You're not gonna have 12 straight hours of product, productive, deep work. And what I mean by that is, is good work. You know, like you are in not maybe not in flow because it can mean you're learning, you're producing, or you're you're, you're, you're doing something that's very productive. It doesn't have to be, well, it can be a million different things, but in an artist's life, let's talk about making the art, like sitting at your easel and painting a painting, a real painting that maybe is gonna be in a show. You can only do your best work at certain times of the day of the week. And for everybody it's a little bit different. And I think that there's an, also an ebb and a flow throughout your weekend, throughout the month, throughout the year, even depending on, you know, in Canada in the summer, we have long days.
So, I can do deep work longer in the day because the sun is still really high, but mid-winter the sun's gone by three, four o'clock and all of a sudden you start getting tired, you know, like. So, there's ebbs and flows in when deep work comes. But it's important to recognize that it's a very rare situation where you can go a full 12 hours straight and be super productive.
So, we wanna think about the difference. It's not that you can't work for 12 hours, but recognizing when the deep work happens. And for me deep work would be creating art. Or, because I run an online art school, would be creating an art class, or editing an art class. Um, shallow work could be checking emails, just like cleaning out my inbox or maybe updating social media where I don't have to do a whole lot of writing, or I don't know. I'm not really thinking of any off the top of my brain, but there
We don't do shallow work, Charla.
I don't know if we do shallow work.
As, as an artist, it could be like tidying your studio, right? Like maybe your studio just needs to be cleaned up. That's work that you can do when your brain is fried. You can't think anymore. You just need to, like, actually will help purge your mind, and purge your thoughts to clean your studio. So, knowing when to clean your studio, not to procrastinate from your deep work and do your studio, but clean your studio on a day when you really need to be moving. When you not don't wanna engage your brain, or you wanna listen to a podcast and clean your studio. You know, that would be more of a shallow work, and I'm not getting technical into these descriptions.
Right. And I think, you know, hopping over to the Huberman Lab and having a listen to neuroscience specialist.
Yeah, listen to Huberman.
to, well, really shed some light on that. But, um, from, from a consumer, you know, consuming that content and, and digesting it in my own life, I found it to be really helpful. And one of the things that I noticed, um, that I heard on the Huberman lab had to do with the timing of the day, as I mentioned, of the timing of the day of your meals, your nutrition, your sleep, your caffeine intake, and beginning to recognize your times of optimal energy. And I've always called those. I made up my own kind of saying, and I would call it my prime mind time. I'd say, uh, don't talk to me kids I'm in my prime mind time, like, my mind's alive right now.
And I gotta apply it to all my important mind work, you know, where, um... So, uh, people have said to me throughout my life, Marijanel, you are so productive. And I, I tend to live just this energetic, productive life in all that. I do my work and my play really. And, and they'll say, well, like, how do you do it? One, one lady told me that she thinks that I must like, have a caffeine, like IV drip. She's like, do you, like, just drip caffeine into you? And, um, and no, not really. I actually kind of time out my caffeine to work for me. And I realized like, um, that I have have recognized patterns of energy, and I've also recognized certain days, I'm just not gonna be productive. So, I'll be productive with those things that you said. Like, I'll just kind of mindlessly clean the kitchen and do the things that don't require so much creative input.
And I do those on a day that I feel like that's what I, I need to do. But when I wake up in the morning, and I know, okay, we've engaged in that productive, or like, we're engaging in that energy. And I, I push through, I will just feel that the rhythm of, um, the productivity and I chart it. So, that's another, I guess, suggestion that you and I were talking about of just like putting out there to the artists that are listening. Like, take some time to mindfully, look at the patterns of your day and your week. And do you recognize a window every day that your life around you, like your environment, would be conducive to studio time? Um, and I'm talking perhaps to those who aren't in your studio from nine to five as a full-time job, but those who are more hobbying learning, trying to find the time, trying to be productive, looking for the, to clear the space in their life, look for that pattern of that time every day or every week that would fit. But also that suits your energy and your ability to go into deep, meaningful work when you're in that space, like, that time space.
Yeah. I think it's important to be really, when you're charting your time, because this is really the only way you're going to figure it out, because I actually don't think it's as simple as saying I'm a night owl or I'm an early bird. I think we need to be really honest and charting your time for a whole week, even, um, like do it for a month. You can start making changes within that month, but do it for a long period of time and start to see the differences so that you can find, you know, like when your creative time is. When do you, when do you really like to create? Because it could be an odd time. It could be from like 11 o'clock in the morning to three o'clock in the afternoon, which is in the middle of the day. And it could only be in the middle of the week.
Um, or maybe it's only Saturdays for certain different reasons. And find out when your creative time is. When you're super revved up and energetic, you might think that's a great time to work, but actually it's gonna be really hard to sit still and, and go into your mind. An energetic time of day is when you probably should go for a walk, take your dog out, go for a bike ride, go to the gym exercise. You know, have that to be your active time of day. I used to think that if I was energetic, I should work, but too much energy at your desk is going to probably cause you to crash or, or, you know, just get too overwhelmed with all the things you need to do.
Actually, on the Huberman Lab podcast, I think it was about episode number eight, he spoke of, uh, study showing that our creative work comes out best when we are just slightly sleepy. So not, not like yawning, and exhausted, and ready for bed sleepy, but just that time of day where you're just, uh, a little bit, um, coming down from the energy.
And he said, what happens, and I'm not sure if I'm relaying this correctly, but our brains are just beginning to slow down that when we go into flow, and we go into the deep work, um, we're not so distracted and, and bouncing all over the place, but we can go into like, just sink into it better. So, yeah.
So, he was saying that he finds, like he has a window of time in late afternoon that he can go into some of his best creative writing because he can, he's just calm enough.
He's got a lot of productivity behind him already in the day. And he is just at that spot where he could create right now. I was, I was interested in that because I have also been doing a lot of studies and writing, but I was trying to do it first thing when I wake up. It's when the house is quietest. I can have that cup of coffee. My, my cat climbs all over me, and is totally a distraction. But I find that sometimes what is my obstacle is that I'm thinking too much of the head, the, the day ahead of me already. I'm already looking ahead thinking, oh right, that has to go on my to-do list. And I have to remember that. And don't forget to pack that this morning because we have a podcast day. I had this little alert come up, pack your batteries, 'cuz I needed to change batteries in different, you know, devices around here.
And so I couldn't do the creative work I wanted to 'cause I was distracted by the day ahead. So, in learning that, um, I have been considering attempting to set a writing window and that kind of, that kind of work to, to try it later in the day when my day is already wrapping up and less is on my mind, and I'll see how that goes. And so that that's an example of writing, but for those who are looking to paint, if you look to see where your mind is, and your energy levels are, and try to match it so that you can have the most productive time... And I'll tell you this, I've learned that if I hit it right, kind of like striking gold, if I hit it right with my plan for creativity, like the hour in which I turn off the phone, and shut off the distractions, and I'm fully engaged, I can get way more done in that hour than I can in five hours of trying.
Yeah. And that's deep work.
Yeah. There you go. That's deep work.
Right. That's where the word of deep work comes from. 'Cuz when you hit it, right, when you hit your energy, you get a deep workout.
When you hit your creative space, you get deep creative work. And when you hit your productive, you know, like administrative time, you can just like really get through a lot. Kind of like the other day we were, uh, on here having a meeting, right. And I had, I had to run out because somebody came to the house. And you, you, when I came back, you were like, you know what? I just did in those 15 minutes you were gone because it was an unexpected work moment.
Tell them what I did, Charla. Charla left the meeting. What did I do during that time?
You ticked off your whole do list in 15 minutes that I was talking to somebody at my front door.
I actually went to the store.
I have a store around the corner, and I'm like, she's disappeared, and I can hear them talking. They're gonna be awhile. And I actually,, like locked up the studio, and ran to the store, and bought a case, whatever I was getting, and came back. And I was sitting here when you got back, I'm like, I went to the store.
I just ticked off my whole To-Do list.
This is why I'm productive.
Yeah. And it, but it was a good example of your energy and the time just, like, they, they met up in the perfect scenario where you were able to do it. But I bet in another situation, those things wouldn't have been able to get done.
Yeah. I'd be like, I'm gonna put my feet on the desk and wait for Charla to get back.
But um, you had actually formulated a really helpful list. I know that when I read the list, I was like, ooh, I need this, like, a copy in my office, and a copy on the fridge. Um, but you actually made a really practical list, Charla, of, um, how to manage your schedule and your time in some really easy steps. Um, because you know, as artists, we're often business owners, a lot of us listening are moms. We have really busy lives. We run out of this inspiration. And we're trying, you know, we're trying to manage it all. And then here's Charla and Marijanel saying, pay attention to your productivity. And you're like, Ugh, I can't even, I can't pay attention to
I can't even think about that.
But what's your, can you, can you just share with us the list that you have that I, I, there must be something on it.
Like, yeah, it's more like, um, a reminder list than practical steps to take. But I think it's kind of like the, on that list I have, it's, it's kind of like a reminder to me. This stop listening to the myth that says that inspiration is you have to create art when inspiration hits. And I, I have a YouTube video about this where I say, stop letting inspiration run your life. Because we, we can't just stop when inspiration hits, when an idea hits our head and run with it. We have to learn how to harness that idea, how to let it percolate, how to think it out, how to know if that idea is worth pursuing or not. And then pursue that idea in our most creative time or productive time or whatever that idea is, you know, stop letting inspiration run your life.
Most of the time when inspiration strikes, you can't get in the studio. And then when you get in the studio, it's not gonna hit for 12 hours straight. So, you can finish painting. You know, like, so that it's just a myth all around. I don't think it really works at all. Now, sometimes inspiration strikes. Everything meets up at the right time in your life or in your day. And you, you can make that work. But it's, that's why I think we love those moments. It's almost like when you enter into flow, you love that moment, but you have to know how you got there. And that's a process of, of understanding. And I think the way to get it, like we already said is to chart out your week, to chart out your month, to look for the patterns in your day, and the consistent times of day, where you are focused, and you are able to work. Or, the consistent times of day where you're energetic, consistent times of your week. Think about if you're revved up, and you're energetic, then that should maybe be your time to exercise.
It could change within the week. Are you feeling sleepy? Like I've been starting to get up early in the morning, which I've never done before in my life. But this past year or two, I've been pushing myself to get up earlier, and it's working, and I find I'm really reflective at that time of day. I'm, I'm tired. I'm, I'm not very energetic. I am not going to the gym when I get up at 5:30 in the morning. It's just not where I'm at. So, it's a good time to be reflective, to write, to, to journal, to spend my time with God. All of those types of things, you know? And so you, as you chart your week, and, and your patterns, you'll kind of see all of those things. In the meantime, you gotta make sure that you're eating and your sleeping. Recognize your kids need you. Your spouse needs you. Your friends need you, and you need them. So, you've gotta make time for them and figure out when, when is the right time to do that. So, is that you're ready when inspiration calls. Right? You're, you know, when it's gonna call and you're ready when it does. Um, I know I'm contradict, counter, counter. What am I doing? I'm contradicting myself to some degree, but not really.
Yeah. Be ready for inspiration, but don't let inspiration run your life.
Yes. So, you're ready when it strikes, but don't let it run your life. A big one is to stock your studio so that when you're ready, when your creative time hits, you can go into the studio, and you're ready to actually work. 'Cuz the worst thing you can do is when you have certain creative blocks in your week, where you are, everything is just falling into place to create. When you get in, and you don't have the brush, or the paint, or the canvas. Or, in other scenarios with your business or life, it's just like exercising, if you don't have your runners, sneakers, you can't exercise. So, be ready so that you can work within these blocks of time, uh, and get the most out of them. And then one of the things I learned recently, I think I, I do this in my life and then I listen to a podcast by, uh, Craig Rochelle.
Who talks a lot about leadership, and has really validated some of the things that I, that I've taken on in my life. And he talked about, allow your brain to be challenged in new ways, outside of your main thing. So, you're an artist. If you're an artist full time, or if you run a business, or whatever it is that you do, allow yourself to be challenged outside of that. Do something different, because it grows different pathways into your brain. It, it, it challenges you in new ways. For instance, and I think it's probably one of the easiest things to do, is, is to talk about exercise. Um, if you, you learn something new. So for me, I was learning archery. I took up archery last year. And it starts teaching you things about life, right? Teaching you how to learn new skills in new ways.
The, the perseverance that it creates, maybe if I wanna really be a good rcaher, I actually need to start working out to build muscles that I can hold the bow and pull it back. You know, there there's so many things then that you get excited about, and you get challenged about, and you can even use as analogies in your art world, and in your art life. But it grows you, and makes you more of a, um, a deep person, with deep thoughts, and things to talk about outside of your one main practice. So, it, it just creates a new space for you to create in, and it helps you. Um, it's because we can't work 12 hour days on one thing and one thing only. We need to be able to fill our time with the right things. So, challenge yourself in these new ways so that you can fill these other blocks and not just go sit in front of the TV and watch Netflix. Because that's what I do a lot when I don't know what to do with my time or my energy. It's, it's nighttime.
And I'm like, I don't know what to do. It's dark. It's after dinner, I'm tired. I'm just gonna watch Netflix. Well, there's probably a lot of things I can do in that time. That would be much better served. So, looking at how I can challenge myself in other ways really helps my productivity in other areas of life. I look forward to those things. So, I wanna get my work done. Or, you know, vice versa. So, I think those are things that it's, it's like my, my list that I remind myself of so that I can keep my schedule, like, my not schedule. I hate that word. And I know some people don't like routines, but I do kind of like the idea of routine. I get excited about routines.
Yeah, me too.
And so, I wanna keep a routine. My routines change throughout the year, but I wanna keep my routine fresh and actually happening because my routine can quickly become Netflix and sleeping in, and then getting depressed 'cuz I'm not doing the things I wanna do, you know? And I don't like that routine. So.
And so this list helps me keep it fresh.
And I think that in listening to you, and you sharing the list, I'm reminded of purpose again. And just knowing our purpose really helps us to prioritize our time and to, it helps us just to stop wasting time.
Um, so I mean, not only are we charting our energy and paying attention to what I call my primed mind times where primed mind, times where I can put, you know, the most into my deep work, but we're also knowing our purpose. And that's something that we talk a lot about here at Bold School and something that we really share about inside of our Bold School community. We have a Find Your Why workshop that helps artists to find purpose and direction. And almost I'm gonna say in every single class and in every single resources that the Bold School offers, it's all about message. It's all about purpose.
It's all about helping you find your why as an artist. And in this talk today, um, sharing about our, our artist productivity system, a little bit about our schedule, about helping to, um, chart our weeks and our energy flow, it really is to help you find your why, and to stay on point on message, and get the most done in our lifetimes. So, we thank you for joining us here on the Bold Artist podcast and for sharing your time with us, we hope that you're inspired that you feel productive, that we've offered you some really good tips on starting to manage and schedule your time. You can find us on boldschool.com. Please sign up for our newsletter, get on board, getting our updates and check us out on Instagram, @boldschoolinc. And of course you can listen on all audio apps, including Spotify and on YouTube, the Bold School channel. Until next time, keep creating.