So I quit my day job about a year and a half ago to pursue this whole art-as-a-career thing. I'd spent the last 16 years working for someone else, and decided it was time to take that big leap into the unknown to see if I could actually make ends meet doing something I love. I had a lot of support from the people that care about me, which has been wonderful. I've learned a lot of important lessons stumbling along, and I'd like to take this moment to share what has been the Most Important One Yet.
Get a planner! Maybe it's your handy electronic companion that chimes to remind you it's time to eat. Perhaps it's some lovely, worn, leather-bound, refillable pile of pages passed down from your dad. Whatever you choose to use, actually use it. I went from having to wake up at 6am every day to get to work by 7:30am to work work work til noon to inhale my lunch for about half an hour to work work work again til 6pm to drag my weary bones home by 7pm to eat something more to stare at the tv or computer for a bit to eventually crash around 11pm or so just to wake up and do it all again the next day to (pausing for a breath) having absolute freedom to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. It was jarring, and to be honest, I think I spent about 6 months staring off into space. And those were 6 months that my savings were being consumed without much attention to replenishment.
Without the predetermined routine set by regular employment, I was lost. I finally dragged myself out of my stupor and picked up a couple books about making your craft into a business (thank you, Meg Mateo Ilasco). In Craft, Inc., (highly recommended!) she suggests keeping a time journal for a week to see where one's inefficiencies crop up and how to go about managing one's time. Her suggestion of breaking up things into manageable tasks proved helpful.
I decided to start my year with a fresh new planner that I would use to the gills - to write in breaks, and tasks... to create my own routine of starting the day with a walk with my pup + coffee, then on to the business of the day for a couple hours (email, shipping, etc.,) followed by lunch, leaving time for creativity in the afternoon, and then actually committing to a stop time. It is really easy to just hole up and totally forget to have a life! This is also a really easy way to burn out. Having my trusty planner also gives me items to check off, which is oddly satisfying.
So, there you have it - my tip for a Tuesday. Find yourself a way to be disciplined about your work life, and your social life will thank you for it!
BTW - one of our EBA team members has a lovely planner in her shop!