Today's Post is by Lori Woodward, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. She also writes "The Artist's Life" blog on American Artists' Forum. Lori is a member of The Putney Painters, an invitational group that paints under the direction of Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik. Find out how you can be a guest author.
I'm a female professional artist who constantly struggles to run my business efficiently. Lately, I've been applying a project management tool called Scrum to organize my work activities and it's simplified my daily process into digestible morsels. Scrum - a rugby term, where the players pass the ball back and forth on their way to the goal, is now the name of a methodology geared for software programming teams. I won't go into the history of it and how it's used for software development, we'll skip all that -- getting right to how I am using it to organize my art and business tasks.
My husband is a software developer; when I asked him for help in managing my art business, he suggested that I use Scrum techniques to help me meet my goals more efficiently. What I discovered -- Scrum helps me simplify and focus my activities so I don't feel overwhelmed.
Scrum is designed for a team of players - one or two project leaders and a work crew of 5-9 developers. The problem with applying these techniques to my art business is that I'm the work crew, the project manager, and the project organizer. Additionally, I am the shipping department, the advertising department, the writer, bookkeeper, and a part time housewife. It doesn't take a genius to see that I need to work 24 hours a day or hire help.
If it takes a village to raise a kid, it certainly takes a team to run an art business.  Personally, I don't think I'll ever reach my goals if I try to fill all of the roles listed above - and mind you, I'm trying to do all of them perfectly.
So What is Scrum and How Can It Help Artists?
Scrum divides interests and work roles among several individuals. There are two types of players: Chicken and Pigs. The creators of Scrum came up with this analogy based on an old joke about a chicken and pig who decided to open a restaurant called, "Ham and Eggs". Obviously, the pig had a serious commitment to the project, while the chicken was only marginally "involved".
I, as the artist who must create my body of work and succeed or fail on it's quality, am the pig. If the paintings fail to sell, I am ultimately responsible. My art dealers are chickens. They provide the eggs, (space/venue) but they don't live or die on whether my art sells. My framer is a chicken - well almost anyone but me is a chicken. They are marginally interested in my success, but I sink or swim by my own efforts.
Scrum is a simple way to organize tasks into short, 1-4 week sessions (called sprints). I'll explain more about them in later posts. If you can get someone to be an accountability partner - who doesn't have any control over you but is a living person to report to, that will help you stay on track. He or she just listens (and is a chicken)... you file your task list with that person on a regular schedule.
Each day, you write down the results to three questions:
1. What did I do (or achieve) today?
2. What am I planning to do tomorrow?
3. What, if anything impeded my progress today?
Your accountability partner's job is to help you dissolve impediments... period... if you can't find someone who is willing to take on that supportive role, then you'll have to resolve these roadblocks yourself.
As my artwork continues to improve and I gain recognition, I plan to hire as many people to help me with the business side of my work as I can afford. Then when I have time to fully focus on my artwork, I'll finally have the time to fully develop as an artist. Hiring others will also create jobs and so improve the economy!
More to come! Next, I'll show you how to design your next "Sprint"... usually that means an art project, painting, or series of paintings.
I think the reason why I am attracted to spending so much time on social networks is because I'm escaping the fact that I can't do it all by myself, so I spend hours in denial online. This does nothing to get the tasks done that will make my art successful, but it acts like a drug to mask the feeling of being overwhelmed (at least it does for a few hours).
 We artists rarely hire the people we need to run a smooth efficient business because it costs money. What business does not cost money to run? I've noticed that male artists either have spouses to handle the biz end of their art sales, or else have no problem hiring the best framers, bookkeepers, and agents/gallery owners to handle their sales.
 I think two smart and loving parents can raise children... I don't buy into the village thing. In Africa, many of the men have many wives and a ton of children. I am using this analogy because I really do think that we artists need to cut down on the work we have to do to get our product to market.