Achieving A Good Work/Life Balance as a Freelance Illustrator (Or At Least Trying to!)
The concept of achieving a good Work / Life balance has always felt difficult for me even before working freelance. I think a lot of it has to do with motivation and your own personal attitude towards working. In my family, both my mum and my grandmother are known to be workaholics in their careers. My mum works scarily long hours as a Head Teacher and until recently my nan was working 40+ hours a week at the age of 68 as a carer. This is not because they have to, but because they want to. I, too have that workaholic bug where I get great satisfaction of building a great career and working my backside off. Creative industries are competitive, so even when I’m having a slow week without any upcoming projects or deadlines I will be either updating my portfolio or learning a new skill such as working with new software. Partly it is because I enjoy working, but as many illustrators may agree it can feel a bit daunting trying to stand out from all the great talented creatives out there.
With all of that in mind, I ALSO have a part time job working in a school which makes the balance of work/life even harder! On the days i’m working in my studio, my time feels much more precious. I will be working longer days trying to finish work before my PT job the next day.
Here are some positive things that I do to balance my life out. You might do the same things or have your own ideas – I’d love to hear about them!
Take At Least One Day Off.
If i’m being honest, this isn’t always easy to do and i’ve ignored this rule often! But if you do not have any looming deadlines you should take a day off of work a week…or even better, a whole weekend!
Last October I went away to Brighton for three days and I can’t tell you how much better I felt getting away from my desk and forgetting about it all for a bit. You will generate new, exciting ideas whilst feeling refreshed. You might also produce better work after a break!
Most people I know work at a desk for a living. When i’m working my energy might wain at points during the day from lack of movement. There are many studies about how Exercise is good for your brain and productivity, whilst getting you away from your desk! Whenever i’m feeling stressed about work I get up and go to the gym. Then when I return, I have worked out all of my negative energy and feel a lot more positive about tackling work. Exercising is also a great way to switch off from work when you feel like it is all you can think about! It does not have to be a full blown gym session, it could be a light jog around a park or even just a walk to the shops to get some milk.
Treat Yourself To Nice Things
Give yourself a break! If you’re anything like me you work your hardest and give yourself a tough time wanting to be better/achieve more. You should treat yourself to at least one nice thing a day. This could be anything from an extra 30 minutes in bed to a slice of cake from your favourite cafe! I’m a tea addict and i’m always trying new teas which is great to have whilst working too. I’m a little bit obsessed with Bluebird Tea Co., A company that blends the most delicious and interesting teas around (I strongly recommend their Strawberry Lemonade tea!).
Spend time with your Friends/Family
I know this one sounds obvious but it is still important to get a better work/life balance. When I am at my desk, my job feels like the most important thing in the world at the time. But when you take a step back and spend time with people you care about, you switch off and talk about your favourite B movies and the latest cat YouTube videos rather than photoshop layers or the variations of your ink outlines.
Get A Hobby
Up until recently I didn’t really have a hobby. I was feeling very stressed, overworked and I couldn’t switch off. Before I became a freelance illustrator, drawing was my hobby. I have fond memories of drawing in front of the TV when growing up. But now it is what I do for a living, which is amazing but makes it difficult to switch off from work! Having a hobby gives you something to do other than work and creates a passion about something else new. My hobby is Needle Felting. It is something that I had not done before but is still creative.
Find A Pot Of Gold At The End Of A Rainbow
A great way to achieve a better Work/Life balance and possibly eternal happiness! It’s slightly unrealistic but will make you very rich (Don’t forget to share the wealth with the person who gave you this tip!)