One of the toughest things about being an artist is maintaining a balance. A balance between studio time and work time, time and money, work and rest. Socializing and time alone.
Balance can be difficult on the best of days, and as an artist, it seems that every week is different. There’s not only different things going on at work, but different things going on in my studio practice and in my social engagements. Some weeks, it seems there’s too many openings and events to attend, and others, there’s too much work, and yet, in others, there’s a lot that needs to be done studio wise.
This makes it difficult to schedule. As my job doesn’t have concrete hours, it seems every day is different. It is sometimes a difficult job to allot enough time to each segment of my life (work, studio, sleep, relax/ hang out). Time management and flexibility is a skill I am still working on- I strive to be as efficient as I can, working at my job and in the studio when I can, and still maintaining downtime to relax and re-energize.
I currently have a little system, although I need to reevaluate what is working and what is not. I have a few days a week that are scheduled specifically for my job responsibilities, and those days I usually need to be at the office, although some days I work from home. On days when I am not required to be in the office, ie, studio days, I try to be in the studio from 9-5, no matter what I’m doing. Unless there’s something going on, I’m usually in a good stride by 5:00, and so stay there to keep working. I’ve also realized that I am much more productive if my computer is not in the studio- that way I have to actually break my rule and go upstairs to get distracted in the internet. (This is also why I still have a CD player. Well, that, and the fact that all my favourite music is from the 90’s.)
Other days need to be flexible, as my work week can change drastically from one week to the next, depending what’s going on. These days, I try to work from home as much as I can, starting ideally at 9, so that when I’m done for the day, it’s studio time.
I find that on studio days, checking my email first thing in the morning can change my plans. If I check my email, I often end up working (job). This is not good, especially since I have relatively regular hours for work, and studio time, unfortunately, gets cut into when things get busy at work. And, quite honestly, I love my job, but if it kills my art practice, I may have to re-evaluate.
Checking my email before going to bed is also NOT a good idea, as, all of the sudden, I’m “just taking care of something,” instead of winding down and getting ready to sleep. And the reality of it is, 90% of the time, that “something” can wait for the next morning without consequences.
Socializing is also important, to relax, and for mental health. Openings and art events satisfy most of that requirement in my life, because that’s where my friends and colleagues are. Coffee dates are great for connecting one on one with a special friend, or someone I haven’t seen in a while. I do have a certain group of mostly non-art friends that, when I hang out with them, my face and stomache hurt afterwards, because we’ve been laughing so hard. There’s nothing better than that.
I think this breaks down into four points. It is important for me to work hard, but to also remember to take time off, where I’m not thinking about work, or I will get burnt out. It is also important to schedule studio time, no matter how busy I am, as that’s what I’d rather be doing, and often, I find that’s what energizes me. Social time is crucial to release stress and to have outside stimuli in my life. Rest is critical to rejuvinate and relax.
If anyone has any tips for balance, I’d love to hear them!