One of my favorite teachers in college used to say, “when you look back on your life, you’ll remember the times you were the busiest as being the happiest of your life.” I think that’s pretty true, and it’s especially good advice for people pursing non-traditional, creative careers. The trap of not working a 9-to-5 is that you just don’t have enough going on during your days. This can get depressing, and doesn’t do your career any favors either.
The secret to avoiding this trap? Give yourself a schedule.
There’s lots of ways to do this. You can make lists or download a productivity app to keep track of your day-to-day tasks. That’s great, but you’ll also need things to add to those lists. What’s often frustrating about having a non-traditional career is that sometimes there are lulls in things you actually need to do. Here’s a few tips for keeping your schedule busy, so you can keep yourself happy.
- The “one thing” rule. Even if you don’t have a lot going on in your career, you can absolutely come up with at least one thing you can do every day. Whether it’s writing an email to someone you’ve networked with, sending out your thank you postcards to casting directors, or spending some time working on that script you’ve been thinking about. You’ll be amazed that once you complete one thing, you’ll often find other things to add to your list.
- Set office hours. Give yourself a timeframe each day where you’ll be at your desk. Even if this is broken up by an extended lunch break or a long drive to an audition, giving yourself a set work time during the day will help you to get more accomplished. It will also allow you to relax after your work hours are complete, which can often be difficult for people who don’t have a set schedule.
- Get physical. Getting into a workout routine is good for you for many reasons. Working out first thing in the morning gives you more energy during the day, and you’ll feel instantly more accomplished. I started doing the Tone It Up program a few months ago after a friend told me how much she loved it, and I have to say it has dramatically changed my productivity each day. Not only do I feel healthier, I’m motivated to get more done in every area of my life.
- Keep in touch. This is important, especially if you often work from home. Schedule time to connect with friends, whether it’s an in-person coffee date or a skype with friends who live far away. It’s easy to go months without talking to people if we don’t specifically make time for it.
- Pinterest (yes, really.) Crafting, cooking, and home decorating projects are great ways to fill your need for creativity, and they’ll give you a feeling of accomplishment. Plus, you’ll end up with beautiful creations (or great additions to someone’s Pinterest Fails board!)
How do you create a schedule for yourself?