Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Things I've Learned

Since I wrote my last declarative post about pursuing art full time I'd like to say that I've been working full steam ahead, waking up early to run 5 miles and painting all day only emerging from the studio for a salad then diving back into the art. Truth is I make a sucky boss for myself and I still sometimes doubt that I'm doing the right thing. It's hard when you don't have money to...oh I don't know...buy FOOD and you know that you aren't contributing yet to the household income. It makes me feel desperate and worried that things like cars not held together tape will never be a part of my future. I want a house and kids in a couple of years and I worry that I can never have these things if I'm an artist.

I like working from home a lot more than I did at the beginning of the year, but I feel like I'm now just starting to get the hang of it, and I still slip up a lot. When I don't wake up until 10:30 and I think that I'm going running in the evening so I don't shower, then I waste too much time on the internet, and Mike comes home to find me un-showered, depressed, feeling fat cause I didn't run, and guilty that I didn't get more done, it's hard not to feel like a failure. Sometimes when I slip up it feels like it's reaffirming my conviction that I suck at this and I should get a "real job". It's hard to get out of this negative downward spiral sometimes and I worry that I'll end up back where I was earlier this year: eating egg white burritos in my pajamas watching endless episodes of "Intervention" congratulating myself on not being a meth addict.

The art and what to do with it when it's made I think will fall into place with enough research and work and that I just need to take things one step at a time. Without enough time to work with though I know I'll never get anywhere. My problem is time, more specifically time management. So I tried researching on the internet how to be more productive at home, listened to motivational speeches while prepping my boards, and read about time management skills. While things aren't great yet, they are getting better. Take today for example. I woke up at 6am, got out of bed finally at 6:15, did a yoga tape, showered, ate breakfast, did too much puttering on the internet, and am writing this blog post as my wax heats up. Was today a perfect schedule? No. Am I still ready for the day at a reasonable hour and am wearing real pants? Yes. You gotta celebrate the little things. It's taken me a long time to figure out how to work from home and I still sometimes forget, so I'm writing out a list of the things I've discovered that help me working as a full time artist from home. It's the advice I wish I would have read when I started this, and maybe it will help someone else.

-Set an alarm like you're going to work. Don't just set it to "see how you feel" and give yourself an option to turn it off. It's early, you're going to feel tired. Unless you're really sick get out of bed.

-Make the bed. If you're working from home it's tempting to get back into bed when you get tired, and constantly walking past a messy bed in the middle of the day makes me feel that I'm living like a delinquent cave man (maybe your thing is dirty dishes or towels on the floor).

-Have a reasonable schedule. Maybe you're one of those people that can wake up and just get stuff done and waste no time. If so I hate you. Plan a schedule that includes all things you want to do during the day and give yourself a reasonable amount of time to do them in. Too idealistic of a schedule might give you something to strive for but it can also make you feel like you're failing.

-Exercise. Do it in the morning, in the evening, during your lunch break, just do something. I've discovered that I'm in a much better mood if I've run or done yoga in the morning and it makes my whole day feel better. I don't care if it's hard core weight lifting, jazzerise or a walk around the block, you gotta move.

-Get outside at least once a day. I work in a basement and some days it feels like I'm in a cave. Sometimes several days will go by without me leaving the house and I wonder why it feels like I'm going crazy. Going on a run, a walk, a trip to the store, or even just meeting someone for coffee during your lunch break can ease the cabin fever.

-Carry a timer with you. Maybe this is just me, but sometimes my half hour breakfast will become an hour and a half without me even noticing. Using a timer keeps me more on schedule. I also use it for when I'm working so there is an end point in sight. When you work where you live and live where you work sometimes it's hard to leave things behind and move on in either direction. Which leads me to my next tip...

-Work when you're working and play when you're playing. Sometimes I end up doing neither really, and I end up in a zombie state where I'm not really relaxing or doing anything fun because I should be working, but I'm also not really working. I'm plorking.... I know I need to work more on this one so I that can actually enjoy my free time without feeling guilty.

-Get ready for the day. For me this involves not always working in lounge pants, sometimes putting on make up even though no one else is around, and wearing jewelery just for the hell of it. I miss getting ready and picking out outfits to go to work, so I'm trying to create studio friendly outfits that are cute and still functional. I don't know why a little mascara makes me feel like my day has started but it does. Find something that makes you feel good about yourself and do it even if no one but you notices.

-When you do screw up, don't let it ruin the week. If you do over sleep, don't get anything done, get way off schedule, or mess around too much, try not to let it ruin your whole week. This is something I'm still working on and I know that one bad day can send my into a guilt spiral that can suck a whole month down with it like a whirlpool of uselessness (a black-hole of non-productivity?). I'm trying to let those bad days go and start again the next day reminding myself that I'm trying to form good habits, that it takes time and it won't happen overnight. I wasn't perfect when I tried art the first time but I kept trying and screwing up and trying again until I got better. While I'm not perfect at this yet I think that I am getting better, or at least I'm trying to be more positive about my mistakes.