A Life Organized Visually

A life organized visually by Jen Hewett

As you’ve probably figured out. I’m a highly visual and a very tactile person. I’m also fairly busy, juggling a lot of projects and tasks at any given time. But I’m not naturally organized, which means that I’ve had to create organizational systems that work with my, um, creative nature in order to stay on top of things. I have never found a digital system that works for me, so I rely (mostly) on a few, very Luddite, paper-based systems.

I posted a photo of my studio the other day, and received a number of comments about the to-do list that hangs on my studio wall. And my most popular blog post ever is not about my work (I don’t take it personally), but about how I kept myself organized when I was working a number of day jobs, as well as keeping a studio practice.

So, I thought I’d write a post about how I’ve been keeping myself organized and motivating myself to get my work done.

Jen Hewett's to-do list

This is how I structure my to-do list these days. It’s pretty straightforward – I hang two sheets of paper on my wall, dividing each sheet into two sections. One sheet is for tasks/projects that need to be done either that day or that week; the other sheet is for tasks/projects that aren’t pressing, but which are on the horizon, as well as projects I’d like to work on someday.

I write everything out on post-it notes (I have a color key for different projects and different aspects of my work), and then move them around as I complete tasks, or as deadlines change. This system keeps me super focused on a daily and weekly basis, while still allowing me space to think about the long term. I always have a bunch of dream projects hanging in my “Someday” quadrant. And I do have a lot more tasks/projects on my plate right now; I’m just not willing to share them publicly yet!


Three-month calendar to schedule projects by Jen Hewett

Ah, my Paper Source calendar. I hang three months at a time on the back of my studio door. I’d hang the whole year up if I had that kind of wall space! I note important dates – classes, launch dates, photo shoots, due dates, etc. – on here (using post-it notes for things that are flexible, and writing directly on the calendar for confirmed dates). I’m often working on more than one project at a time, and I need to be able to get a big picture view of my schedule each month. I do copy everything into my Google Calendar so I can refer to it on the go, but I rely mainly on my wall calendars.


Calendar by Lisa Congdon

This is my workout calendar (a gift from my friend Lisa; now sold out), and yes, working out is related to my work. I injured my neck and upper back (from poor desk ergonomics at my first job after college) when I was in my early twenties. That injury is mostly healed, but printmaking is very physical work. In order to prevent flare ups of the old injury, and to maintain the stamina needed to print regularly, I have to keep myself physically strong. I go to the gym at least five days a week, crossing off each day that I work out on my calendar. It’s a great motivator – I don’t like seeing many unchecked days on my calendar, and I often challenge myself to see how many days in a row I work out (my record is 21 days in October 2015).

By the way, Jerry Seinfeld uses a similar system to motivate himself to write every day. It’s a great way to build any type of habit.

And with that, I’m off to the gym. Happy organizing!

23 thoughts on “A Life Organized Visually”

  1. This is so great!! Thanks for sharing! I also need to see what I’m doing re: projects and deadlines. I love the idea of putting up as many months and using sticky notes, so thanks !!! Plus, office supplies rule.

  2. Thanks for sharing your system. I love your use of post-it notes. And seeing three or four months on the wall must really help you keep long term goals in mind. And a separate workout calendar is brilliant! :)

  3. This is a great system quarterly system for organizing and staying on track where you can see the big picture idea. I love the colorful posit notes, for capturing information reminds me of the concept maps I create when I start my own projects. And you keep a separate exercise calendar that’s part of producing projects, trumps it all.

  4. Michelle, this is such a great post and I know artists sometimes struggle to find their own way to creative solutions for staying organized! I will share this with my readers (I’m a Professional Organizer and Artist-most of my clients are artists!). You’ve created a beautiful and functional system. Bravo!

  5. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.
    I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something
    like this. Please let me know if you run into anything.
    I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to
    your new updates.

  6. you are really a excellent webmaster. The web site
    loading speed is amazing. It seems that you are doing any unique trick.
    Moreover, The contents are masterpiece. you’ve performed a wonderful task on this subject!

  7. I simply want to say I am all new to blogging and site-building and truly enjoyed you’re blog. Very likely I’m going to bookmark your blog post . You amazingly come with great article content. Cheers for revealing your web-site.

  8. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to this fantastic blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to fresh updates and will talk about this website with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

  9. Youre so cool! I don’t expect Ive check out anything such as this prior to. So wonderful to find somebody with some initial thoughts on this subject. realy thank you for beginning this up. this web site is something that is needed on the web, a person with a little creativity. useful task for bringing something brand-new to the web!

  10. The next time I read a blog site, I really hope that it does not dissatisfy me as much as this. I imply, I understand it was my selection to read, however I actually believed youd have something fascinating to state. All I listen to is a lot of whining regarding something that you could deal with if you werent as well active trying to find interest.

  11. This is very interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger.
    I’ve joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your excellent post.
    Also, I’ve shared your site in my social networks!

  12. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter
    a blog that’s equally educative and amusing, and let me tell you, you have hit the
    nail on the head. The issue is something which not enough people are speaking intelligently about.

    Now i’m very happy I came across this in my search for something relating to this.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top