an article or random bits on the subject(s) of business, career, creativity, design, entrepreneurship, graphic design.

On Down Time

I’ve been thinking on the subject of down time and the importance of resetting. This is most likely because I’m so completely horrible at striking that balance between work and real life. That’s the curse of the creative, though, right? I mean it’s hard to put down the whipped cream can when you love the whip-its.

It’s very hard for me to turn this off—my love of design and the creative arts. Maybe you can sympathize. We are a fortunate group in which our work can be our hobby and our hobbies our work, all while making money doing the things we love. What a great time to be a designer.

The need to reset and refresh is more important than ever. Building a freelance business or small studio is tough. It’s a grind. Long weeks and lots of hours for extended periods of time are murder on our creativity. In order to do our work in the most efficient way, we need to remain at the top of our game, and that requires brain power. When we’ve run ourselves down that brain power is at a premium. Without clear decision making the direction of your business and the quality of the work begins to suffer.

In order to do our work in the most efficient way, we need to remain at the top of our game, and that requires brain power.

Again, I’m by no means very good at creating that restful separation. I always schedule too much, take on too many projects, and have a crazy strong desire to be involved in everything. Those are all traits that have served me well, but does little for my piece of mind. Most times I push myself forward for weeks or months and then crash out for a few days to try and bring myself back. Not the best habit, but like most things in my business, I’m constantly working on it.

I’ve finally gotten to a point where I’m trying to take the majority, if not all, of a weekend day off a week to simply read, take care of family stuff, and if I have to, work on low priority work items. I’ve also instituted a mandatory three day weekend once per quarter for a bit of a longer get away. I’ve found that scheduling these for the upcoming year helps to prevent me from just ignoring the time and not taking it.

There’s still lots of work to be done to strike the balance, but these methods are a start. If you’re like me and hate to be away from the action and creativity of your workspace or day-to-day activities, then consider a few micro breaks. You will probably never be the type to take 3-4 weeks of vacation a year, but smaller breaks can give you a reset that helps keep your mind clear and your studio on track.