The key to not overloading yourself when you have a tough schedule is as simple as tricking your brain. I work an office job during the day and then come home and professionally work on my art and comics. Clearly coffee is required!
If you get behind, your brain will shut down, you will get depressed, and start procrastinating. I avoid this by planning flexibility into my week and not putting too much pressure on myself to do specific things on any one particular day.
– First, I decide what I realistically want to get done this week.
– Then I designate after work days for work and fun.
I cannot stress to you how important it is for you to plan fun into your day and week. Moving from an office job into more work in the same day is tough. You will not be able to do it every day for very long without chewing your arm off like a squirrel.
Examples of daily fun for me can be sketching during your dayjob’s break or going to get a fancy Starbucks drink.
At this point you are probably groaning at how un-fun that sounds, but I can assure you that you have to be able to dedicate a good part of your life to your business if you want it to work. Some days, Starbucks and a sketch is all you get, but because you are so great at planning and time management, your output keeps going and you can do awesome things later. For example, like affording that trip to Disney World or those $300 boots.
I speak from experience. Nothing is handed to you, but the rewards can be great.
I work full time and I have a 2.5 hour round trip commute. All of my art stuff is done at home after work.
I have a loose guideline of work/nonwork days that I follow to get the acceptable minimum amount of work done, but I often exceed it because I am not always in a state of panic with this method.
– Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday: At least 2 days from this group are work days. One is a fun shopping/errand day. If I feel too tired on Monday, I will just work on Tuesday and Wednesday, or work extra long on one of those days if I can’t work on 2 days.
– Thursday and Friday: Thursday is almost always a work day. Friday almost always is not because I am too tired and I have a vocal lesson after work that day. (I sing too! Yay!)
– Saturday: I have learned that I rarely will work much on Saturday, so that is always a fun day unless there is a convention coming up. Even then, I tend to take my fun days seriously, so I probably won’t be working on Saturday even then. I need my one day to go out and have an adventure or I will go nuts. This is the day I can go to NYC, the zoo, an amusement park, or something else. Often I just take a 4 hour nap because I’m so drained.
NAPS = SERIOUS BUSINESS!
– Sunday: Sunday varies. Sometimes I work, sometimes I go to the supermarket and buy the 5 frozen lunches (Oh joy…) that I will be eating that week plus snacks. Sometimes there is a nap involved.
In this way I can shift around the days that I work and still get everything done without feeling like I have to do X on a particular day. Artists know that if your mind doesn’t want you to do X today, you’d better be able to switch to Y because no amount of coffee will get X to come out. This is why I always have my Index Cards of Doom on hand to redirect me to the next highest priority if I experience a brain freeze.
The second I stopped planning hard tasks on each day was the second I was able to do more work that was better. I hope this can help you as well.