2013 Resolutions For My Second Year of Freelance Illustration

I have some big plans for 2013 and I’d like to share my resolutions. They are kind of new year resolutions because 2012 – my first year as a fulltime freelance artist – ends tomorrow and I have some pretty concrete plans for January 2013. Since I like to think my goals and habbits through before I talk about them, I’ll focus on one resolution on each post. This post will focus on some time management thoughts.

My first resolution is to begin my day with 3 hours of study, to work for another 8 hours for my clients and to relax the end of the day.

Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? It is not! Why not? Because of different types of traps you can get caught in. You want some examples? Easy task! My first year of freelance was full of traps:

  • You did 3 hours of studies but… you did not get everything done/you got disturbed by a phone call/you answer an email of a client/you start a chat on Facebook/you feel horrified and procastinate instead, so you decide to study longer – once only. Guess what will happen? Your day has only a certain amount of hours, your day is already filled with studies, work and rest periods. You will either work too short or cut out your very important rest periods. Working less is no option, cause you need to get your work done and you need to pay your bills from something. Shorten the rest periods, regardless if it is your freetime or your sleep, is neither an option. You’ll study and work less effective the next day.
  • You did 3 hours of studies and 8 hours of work but… you are in a flow and want to work longer/you think you need just another 1 or 2 hours to finish your client work/you get distracted during your work time by eating, having to go out with your dog, a phone call from your mum, finding and reading an interesting article, so you decide to add another 1-x hours to your work time. Bad idea! It will cause the same problems. Well.. how can someone manage possible distractions and remain strict with one’s 8 hours of worktime? Just add an hour of buffer to your timeplan. That hour should be enough for eating and some 10 minute relaxation/activation breaks. What if your mum calls you or your girlfriend want you to do something for the household? Well.. this is the big exception (no plan without exceptions): you might decide to talk to your mum or to do make your girlfriend happy, but you have to add another hour to your work. Having to add an extra hour to your fix timetable might motivate you to explain your mum or your girlfriend that you have to work now, but that you will take care of them later. You want to have some free time in the end of the day, right? So you can watch movies, read comics, doing leg studies etc. Adding an extra hour because you get distracted by others is not the same like adding x hours because of procastinating or working to long. At least not for me.
  • You went ill/had an accident/r grandpa died and you want to catch up the time you lost because of that. This will never work out. Your body has only certain ressources, you can not put the clocks back. You are already living on your limits when you study 3 hours and work 8 hours a day. Just contact your client immediately and let him know that you’re ill/whatever. Most likely he will understand your problem and also a possible delay, but he needs to know it right away, because it could affect the production timeline and maybe he has to give a part of your work to another freelancer to prevent getting in troubles with his own work. You might think now: hey.. why not work 12 hours instead of doing 3 hours of study? This might work once, when you’re lucky twice… but it will kill your habit of studying. And if you’re self-taught like me, you need to study much. You have to compete against all the lucky guys that went to ateliers and good art schools and got a degree – they are three or more years of 8-10 hours of study a day in advance. Even if you study 3 hours each day, you’ll need 9 years to catch up – maybe not in terms of quality (you’re improving while you work when you’re a freelance artist), but in terms of quantity. You and your art skills deserve that time.  Never skip the studies.
  • You need to work more than 8 hours a day if you want to be able to pay all your bills. Well… I hope I overcame this problems now. In the beginning of my freelance carrier I had to work for insanely low rates. But I worked hard, became better and have higher rates now. It should work out now. I should be able to pay my rent, my aliment and the obligatory taxes and insurances. I could not in 2012 and have to pay back a loan now. To be honest: there is no perfect solution for this kind of trap. Always finish 1-2 projects before taking on the next if your rates are increasing fast. But guess what? This sounds easy, but it is at least as difficult as studying 3 hours and working 8 hours a day. When you love what you do, almost every project is tempting and you’d like to say “yes, yes, yes” to very assignment you get offered. And then, there are also lots of freelancers that fear to get not enough work. At least the last trap is none of my problems – I always got more offers than I am able to accept.

What do I study in those 3 hours? At the moment I use Mike Biereks schedule that I got from Jason Rainville (thanks to both of you!). His schedule has a nice balance between sketching, painting, copies and application. The schedule is not depending on a fix time schedule, it processes different matters in rotations/circles. You can set time goals if you want, but essentially you’re done, when you’re done. I did modify the schedule for my purposes: less technology, more application. Here is the original version: schedule

Do you also struggle with your study/work/live balance? Do you have some other insights, opinions and solutions? Do you use a schedule for your studies? Share them! Scroll down and type whatever you want to say in the comment field.

Todays and yesterdays study: