Happy New Year!
I hope 2018 is shaping up nicely for you so far. I had a little belated New Year break with family, so for me this is the first day back at work and I’m trying to fight the gloomy January weather by thinking ahead to ways I can improve my work and life this year. I don’t believe in making arbitrary resolutions, but there definitely some things I need to sort out, and January seems like a good time to do it.
It mostly comes down to Wellbeing
As I’ve thought about some of the things I want to try in addition to book illustration (more blogging, youtube videos, organising an illustration group, upping my productivity to create more items for my Etsy store and more artwork to license) I’ve realised that in order to achieve any of this, first I have to look after myself better so I have the energy to be as productive as I can. By sharing these thoughts, I hope I might help other freelancers who struggle to have all the energy they need.
Drink more water: we’ve all heard it a million times. And whilst I’m better than I used to be, I’m still pretty bad. To help things along, I’m going to fill a big bottle of water, leave it somewhere prominent in my house (I’m not keen on fridge-cold water) and aim to empty it at least once a day. Along with hot drinks, this should make a big difference to my liquid intake.
Create a stricter bed/wake up time during the working week: Sometimes I keep working/watching/staring at a screen well into the night for no good reason and all it does is make it harder the next day. Stop! And it can be hard to get up early when you work from home, but for the sake of routine I’m going to be sticking to a more defined schedule from now on, to see how it effects me.
Developing a schedule for the working day to include do regular food breaks: I’m not saying I didn’t have any schedule at all, but it wasn’t very defined. I think it will help my energy, productivity and mental health to be more strict with this. And as I often forget to eat, this should sort that out too!
Speaking of which….eat better and more regularly! I actually eat quite well, but I don’t do it often enough, and sometimes ignore hunger pangs because I want to keep working. It’s silly, and something I need to address. I’m considering bulk making salads that I can dip into for quick meals. Maybe I’ll start sharing recipes!
Building in free time where I stop work and don’t feel guilty: Like many freelancers, I struggle to switch off, and spend a lot of time working inefficiently because I’m tired, or not giving my best self to friends and family because I’m thinking about work. Since I’m particularly bad at this, it’s really important to define time off.
Make time for hobbies: Similar to above, I find myself tempted to use all my time for illustration. But much as I love it, illustration is my job, not my only interest. I’m considering choosing one day, or a couple of mornings/afternoons a week to dedicate to other activities like baking, gardening, and sewing.
Exercise: I’ve partially got this covered already because rain or shine, I have to take my dog for a walk at least twice a day. When I’m busy, it can be hard to fit this into the day but I’m aiming to think about dog walks as breaks to look forward to, rather than frustrating time away from my desk. I’d like to try another form of exercise too though, probably yoga.
Meditation/mindfulness: I keep slipping off the wagon with this one and it’s not good. I know that a few minutes meditation each day has positive effects on my general wellbeing and ability to deal with life’s stresses. I’ve probably tried all the mindfulness apps going. My favourite so far is Simple Habit, and I’ve just downloaded Calm. I’m going to build this in to my day in the morning, when I first get up and have some quiet time on the sofa with my dog.
So those are the most important things I need to work on but I’ll probably find more along the way. And if I manage to achieve a good routine, maybe I’ll share it with you, because I know it’s something a lot of freelancers struggle with. If you have any tips or ideas on this subject, I’d love to hear them!