When the summer started, I was excited. I had a plan in my head: this will be the summer of PRODUCTIVITY. I will exercise and eat healthy! I will enjoy my beach vacation! I will figure out all the last minute details with the wedding! I will take two grad classes! I will take on commissions for weddings and work on my own pieces for mine!
Sound like a good idea? At the time, it seemed like it was. And to be honest, now that we are in the beginning of August, I have actually checked off most of the items above. I have successfully finished six credits of graduate school, crossed off many wedding to-do lists, and I've been SOMEHOW eating well and staying on a decent regimen the past few weeks. I even am in the process of working on pieces for not one, not two, but three weddings! But you know what I didn't do? I didn't really relax on my beach vacation. Thats because I ended up bringing some work with me. I didn't really plan ahead or expertly manage my time. Even though the jobs were completed and my clients were happily satisfied, I thought there was more I could do to set aside some more 'me' time. Here's what I now vow to do in the future wedding seasons:
set a mental deadline
I always feel blunt when I ask brides this question. "When is the ABSOLUTE latest you need this by?" I like asking this question, because then I push that date a week or two earlier. THAT is my deadline. Especially with calligraphy, there is nothing worse than saving a project til the last minute. And if you haven't noticed, calligraphy is not an art for the rapid paced. I account for the time I anticipate, and that mental deadline then goes into my phone calendar. This isn't a one way street, though - make sure that your team, collaborators, and even clients are working with you to make the dream happen! Sometimes it is tempting to say "yes!" to a rush order, but if other deadlines are looming near, then it isn't fair to yourself or your clients to take on last minute jobs (especially if you take pride in quality work!).
evaluate your priorities
This is a go-to for anyone, creative or not! Sometimes a ranking system works best to prioritize all of the things happening in our lives. I figure out what can wait, what can't, and what is absolutely the most important when I am trying to prioritize my to-do list. A pencil and paper checklist often works best for me. Obviously, time-sensitive tasks or high-priority jobs are going to go ahead; they are often a little more stressful than other jobs. It's simple - hustle and get it done, and then you can enjoy the fun tasks for later (like sorting your pens by color or re-designing your new website...hehe).
reflect: why are you doing it
When it comes to creative work, doing our thang can be blissfully fun. But when we add deadlines and monetization to the mix, some of that wild & free bliss can dissolve because there's a higher bar of expectations not only for ourselves, but our clients. Burnout is a real thing, and I believe that pausing to reflect every once in a while is a healthy thing. "Why am I doing this? Why did I start?" are always good questions to ask ourselves. If the answers don't add up, it's not the end of the world - maybe just a signal to gear down in some of our creative efforts. When I am in a rut, I look to some inspiration through social media (perhaps my favorite pins on Pinterest, or an instagram account I like). I think the best kind of inspiration is physical and tangible, though - so I enjoy walking through a well-curated boutique, or enjoying an evening stroll outside. Relying too much on social media for inspiration can be detrimental because it often results in comparison ("why can't I do that!?") rather than introspection into your own "why."