Not your average 9-5 – and that’s ok!
I recently realised that the average 9-5 structured work day doesn’t work for me.
I’ve always been a night owl. Ever since school, I’d work late into the night when the house was quiet and I was uninterrupted. I always did my best work this way but others would see my late nights as bad time management. Trying to fit into the 9-5 had me exhausted. I was working late and waking up early and though I was doing good work; I was tired all the time, falling asleep in the day and not concentrating properly.
I’ve spent the last few years working from home and for the most part I manage my time well. I’d mostly work in the afternoons and evenings, and while I’d get my work done, I’d end up feeling so guilty for being side-tracked in the mornings and unproductive because society as a whole tends to push the view that if you’re not working 9-5 (even, and maybe especially when you work from home) then you’re lazy or unprofessional.
There are a lot of interruptions in the morning at home; cooking breakfast, couple of teas, instagram, emails, washing, dishes; by the time I’ve done these, I’m cooking lunch and sitting down to eat again. I’ve never been able to slot drawing straight away into this routine. I always need time to sink into the day, and I’ve always felt guilty about this. People around me would suggest waking up and sketching or writing before breakfast – and while I love the idea of it, if I work straight away in the morning I end up forgetting to eat until 3pm and don’t look after myself or my mind.
I noticed that my best work was done between 2pm and 10pm because there are fewer interruptions and obligations. When I thought about it – this was still the average 8 hour work day, just a later shift. I started to embrace it and all my guilt disapeared.
With the nature of drawing or painting – once I’ve started it’s hard to stop. I’ll plan to sit down and work on something for half an hour and 2 hours later I’ll still be there; completely sucked in. If I was supposed to eat in that time; I’ll be starving and frazzled. To have constant interruptions either means breaking up a detailed session of rendering or cleaning paint off brushes and my hands every 10 minutes to do another task. I can’t concentrate on the fine details or get stuck into a big section if I know I’m going to have to jump up in the next 10 minutes.
Taking Control and Improving my Workflow:
I noticed that my best work was done between 2pm and 10pm because there are fewer interruptions and obligations. When I thought about it – this was still the average 8 hour work day, just a later shift. I started to embrace it and all my all my guilt disappeared. I was able to take my time in the morning, organising websites, emails, setting up posts for instagram, cooking, eating, planning. It helped me stop procrastinating because instead of trying to do all these other things between working I was able to get everything done and then sit down to work and stay working for the rest of the day – with an hour break for dinner. It’s not perfect, because sometimes things come up in the evenings socially, but that’s easier to work around. And of course if I have a looming deadline all structure goes out the window and I just work every minute that I have to. But for the average day, this epiphany has been a blessing.
I’ve also found it much easier to use mornings for working on my website, organising my online store, social media (and writing things like this 😉 ) without it taking time out of my work hours – where I’d rather be painting/drawing. Keeping things up to date is really important to when you’re running your own business and once that’s taken care of in the morning, I don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day.
When I tried to work from 9am I’d end up working or procrastinating (equally as exhausting) most days from 9am-10pm and I’d get burnt out much quicker (from the pure indecision of what to do with my time). The thing to remember here is: setting your own work hours also means setting yourself down time. I work pretty much 7 days a week because I love what I do, and when I’m not drawing/painting for work, I’m doing it for myself. Knowing I have the mornings off to organise or just have down time has allowed me time to rest guilt free, and that’s really important.
This is what I’m finding works for me at this point in my life, it may change again (I used to be more 6pm-2am haha), but working it out and adjusting the work hours to suit my needs seems to be helping me immensely. Maybe it’s something you’ve been trying to manage as well. The way the world works is changing, and people are starting to realise how to take control of their time outside the norm. Figure out what works best for you and don’t apologise for it! Let the good work you do in that time be the only justification anyone needs.
Let me know what your schedule is in the comments and how it works for you!