One of the things we talked about in the February session of my e-course was finding the delicate balance between work and life. It's something that I personally find myself struggling with a lot for various reasons.
When I first left my day job two years ago, I felt compelled to work constantly because I needed to focus all of my energy on building a solid business and really establishing myself in a community of truly talented illustrators. But even after my business became a bit more established, I still maintained my crazy long work hours. Working all the time just became a habit of mine partially because, of course, when you do something that you truly love it doesn't really feel like work at all.
But then came this past holiday season, where I worked 12-16 hours a day 7 days a week from about October to mid-February. My little cottage business was jumping and hopping like never before and although I was and am thrilled to my toes to be doing so well, I also ended up feeling quite exhausted by the end of it.
Even so, I continued to push this ridiculous work schedule on myself as I tried to keep up with my shop and my freelance projects. Yeah, I'd take a day off here or there, or at least part of a day, but I still felt a bit tired and perhaps over worked.
Then a few weeks ago, I decided to stop being so tough on myself. I had become my own worst boss, demanding long hours, few breaks and ever-improving work. I reminded myself of my motto for this new year: work smarter, not harder. And added a little addendum to that: work less.
So in the past few weeks, I've been fair more lenient with myself. If I want to take an hour in the morning to take a long walk with the dog, I do it. If I want to take the afternoon off to read a book on the back porch or watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I do it. I've given myself more time to do the things that aren't work: reading, cooking, exercising, gardening, spending time with my sweetie and just learning to relax again.
I've also given myself some time to draw, doodle and paint, not for the shop or for freelance projects, but just for no reason at all, with no end product in mind.
The result is that over the last few weeks I've felt more productive and creatively refreshed. I feel happier in general.
I realized that a lot of the time I was forcing myself to do more work I was just sitting here starring off into space or wasting time on Twitter or Facebook or randomly surfing the internet. Now that I'm in the habit of giving plenty of time away from the drawing desk and computer, when I do sit down to get some work done I'm far more productive than ever before. I actually work less and manage to get more work done than before, now that's a strange surprise!
Of course, I always harbor a tiny bit of guilt, because as with any business, there is always something to be done here in my studio. But the lovely thing is, whatever needs to be done will be there later or even tomorrow. As long as I'm meeting my deadlines and still being creative and productive, I've promised myself to continue this practice of slowing down to enjoy my lovely little life!
Little Bird Sings About Love.