Work. It’s a blessing and a curse. If you’re self-employed, you want to be flooded with work so the checks keep rolling in and your business will grow. But if your job is being creative, it can suck you dry of any and all inspiration you may have wanted to save for yourself.
This happens to me sometimes. Lately, its been happening a lot. There’s a bit of inner struggle. Today i felt supremely satisfied with what i put out into the world. Every client was happy. Emails full of positivity flooded into my inbox. i was checking off items on the to-do list left and right, and i was enjoying myself! But as the world outside my office window grows darker and darker (its pushing up on midnight as i write this), i realize that my view for the past 15 hours has pretty much been this…
My desk is a tragedy. A total mess. i’ve barely moved from this spot since 9am. And i realize that another day has passed where i didn’t refinish my kitchen table, didn’t make that camera strap cover i’ve been planning since i got my new camera for christmas, and didn’t sew the new crib sheets i’ve got planned for our newest little addition, who’s scheduled to arrive in a mere 7 weeks!
My creativity has all been channeled toward my clients and i’ve got none left for me.
i don’t mean all this to sound whiny. i am immensely grateful for the blessing of abundant work coming my way. i’m just seeing it as a teachable moment.
So i hopped on Google and did a little web surfing and came across this post on the Zen Habits site. i know its made the rounds on the blogs. But if you haven’t read “The No. 1 Habit of Highly Creative People”, i certainly highly recommend it. SO many of the main points resonated with me. i’d have to say, though, that it wasn’t the No.1 or even No.2 habit that struck me most. Nope. The item that really made me pause was in the “other habits” section, all the way at the bottom of the post, and it was an observation by actress, Felicia Day that went like this;
When I am most productive I am the most ruthless with my schedule. I will literally make a daily checklist with, “one hour gym”, “30 minutes of internet research,” and “drink 3 glasses of water” on it. For some reason being that disciplined creates a sense of control that I wouldn’t have otherwise, as a self-employed person…
YES! That is me! That is what works for me!! How could i have let something so simple escape me? Twitter and Facebook have effectively sucked away my ability to stick to a ruthless to-do list. Social media has also made my sales skyrocket in the past year, so no offense to Twitter and Facebook.
But i realized i need to get back to being accountable to a timetable that has ME on it!
Now, i know full-well that this type of strategy may not work for most people. But i’ve tried it in the past. i used to live by such intense to-do lists. They kept me motivated when no boss or supervisor was there to do it for me. And i was always deeply satisfied at day’s end to see all my check marks lined up down the margin. So, tomorrow i’m on it. My nutty, over-the-top, 30-minute increment to-do list is going to include at least 1….maybe even 1 1/2 hours dedicated to my OWN creativity.
i’ll eventually work my way up to more…..baby steps, baby steps.
i think that the way to keep loving the pursuit of my art and also to continue to appreciate how blessed i am to do it for a living is to step away from the business end of it more frequently. i just need a daily reminder. Who knows? If i do well, i may have a personal creative project to share in my next post, instead of just a neglected item on my “ME” to-do list.