Making time and getting it all done.

February 27, 2007

When you’re self-employed, the slower times are kind of tough I’ve noticed. Even when it’s busy, it’s hard to fully connect with everybody else– for example, I was sitting at a restaurant on the weekend with some non-art friends, and the conversations turned to work! It’s hard to get into that conversation in a way, because unlike jobs where you punch the clock, you have a whole other set of parameters, and a different vocabulary. I listened but I couldn’t really empathize– when I have bad work days, it’s usually because drawings won’t come out right, or because a client is dragging me by the chain. And not just that– just looking at how work days are for the self-employed shows you how potentially open-ended everything is.

Last week I wrote up a schedule for my partner and I– he isn’t at all art-minded and keeps a 9-5 job, but we were finding that we wanted to make time for certain things– housecleaning, exercising, etc. So after we allotted time for those things it got me thinking. When you’re self-employed, a schedule can be really important, especially if you’re like me, working out of the home– it can get really insular and too easy to think, ‘oh, I’ll do some work later.’ At least, when I do that, the work doesn’t get done, and I’m scrabbling to get it done at the last minute. Time management is even more important when you’re the one calling the shots. There’s no one constantly looking over your shoulder, and it’s really too easy to slack. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to work 9-5– you need to pick what works for you.

I think the best thing to do is figure out when you do your best work at. Me, personally, I have to wake up around 8am to attend to my dog and to get up with the mister– so I don’t sleep in much. And when I wake up, depending on the day, I try to allot one to one and a half hours attending to the internet business I need to (emails, checking in with peers, researching ideas, writing this blog)– unfortunately, it’s really easy to be sucked in, so I set a timer on my Mac.  I used to be a night owl in college, but it’s lessened since I’ve left. These days I’ve found if I don’t start working in the morning, I’m kind of screwed. (Though sometimes it varies– but largely, if I don’t start working in the mornings I lose that work feeling)

So this is essentially my workday schedule, though it’s never set in stone, because things always pop up and I have to juggle…

8:30am : get up

8:40: walk dog, feed

9:00 : check internet

10-10:30 : start work

noon : lunch- no more than an hour, usually 1/2. I try to read these books I recently got to get some more art research in

12:30- 1pm: back to work.

5:00 (on tuesdays, thursdays, fridays, and sundays):   go for an hour long tricycle ride (recent purchase– I consider this important to my sanity to get out and exercise and get some fresh air to think and let my brain stew! the other days I’ve allotted to going to the gym, so I give myself a break)

6:00 : wait for the mister to come home, prepare dinner or go to the gym

evening : do any sketches or minor work if a deadline is approaching, read, etc. free time!

before bed : try and do some reading for more research.

It sounds kind of easy, right? I mean, when you count those hours up,  it’s only like six hours of strict work. But you also have to realize that any 8 hour job has lags and slow times, and lunch, and you also have to factor the time you spend doing paperwork, writing clients, mailing postcards, etc. If I can get six solid hours of drawing in, I consider that a bonus. And if there’s something coming up, I make sure to allot all the time I need for it. It did sort of work out being 9-5 for me, but I think if you do your best work at night– schedule around that. If you like to sleep in, hey go for it– but I know if I do, I’ll feel lazy. Somehow the weekends feel nicer when I do get to do some sleeping in because I keep myself to this schedule.

Another thing I do is write a list of what I want to get done. If left in my head, I’m near guaranteed to forget something– and if I write a broad list for what I need to get done soon, I can work out what I can get done today. When you break it down into digestible sizes, things get done a lot easier. For example- I have one job due on Friday, and I need to start screenprinting for a convention and an unrelated art show in April, and I need to design a logo for my Etsy shop. So today I am going to pencil the job and work out the roughs for a print, and hopefully start inking a layer as well. This evening is free for the most part for me, so I’ll be going into overtime and try to get the logo worked out as well! Tomorrow I’ll ink the illustration and color both the logo and the illo, and Thursday I’ll finish the layers of the print and try and expose at least one. If the illustration doesn’t need edits, I’ll be trying to get all my layers exposed and everything set up to print on Saturday. Bingo, much more manageable than 10,000 things to do in my head– it feels a lot more manageable. And if I wind up getting ahead of schedule, even better.

Well, my timer’s about to run off– so I think it’s best to get to work! Here’s hoping you have a productive Tuesday!


5 Responses to “Making time and getting it all done.”

  1. My girlfriend and I discuss this topic quite a bit. She is religious in keeping a running to-do list in her Franklin Planner for both work and personal tasks. So when the weekend comes she gets way more done than I do.

    I go in spurts with keeping to do list, but when I do it does give me more focus. This especially helps when I land a freelance illustration job and need to manage my time between my 8-5 fulltime job, the client and my personal life.

    Regarding the planners – my girlfriend likes the daily planner and carries over the to-do list each day. I prefer monthly or weekly planners to get a bigger picture of how to manage my time, and partly because I’m too lazy to keep a daily list.

    Good idea on the internet timer!


  2. I love keeping a to-do list. It allows me to see everything that i need to do and prioritise. Plus, I really feel like I’ve accomplished something when I cross the completed items off. Day planners are great – but only if you look at them. My fiance keeps trying to use a day planner because he’s constantly double booking himself, but once he’s written something in it he generally doesn’t look in it again.

    By the way, I’m loving this blog. Keep it up.

  3. I hear ya, its often hard to keep track of all you need to do.

    That being said, there are always little tricks you can pick up to help you along the way.

  4. […] 9 to 5? It’s not always that easy […]

  5. This is very nice and informative post. I have bookmarked your site in order to find out your post in the future.

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