Work-life balance. These days, it feels like everybody is obsessed with this simple, three-word phrase. A quick Google search will result in millions of articles touting life hacks that will help you optimize your life, improve your productivity and do more in less time.
Even creators aren’t immune to the pressures to ‘have it all’. Even though the life of a creator can seem glamorous and dreamy on the outside, you still have to deal with a lot of the same challenges that any professional faces. Finding time for work, life, creative pursuits, and everything in between can still be a struggle whether you’re working for yourself or somebody else.
At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong way to be a creator. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for work-life balance. What works for somebody else might not work for you and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that whatever you’re working on isn’t important, valuable, and worth pursuing. Sometimes, you just need to try things out and see what works.
There’s no right or wrong way to be a creator; there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for work-life balance.
In this article, we share advice from and for creators who work currently focus on their creative pursuits part-time.
How other creators do it
When it comes to figuring out your part-time schedule, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just put your own spin on it. A great place to start is your daily task, figuring out what you can automate or replicate so you can save your time and energy for the most important projects on your plate.
For example, Patreon creator Matt Payne has a full-time job as a director of a small non-profit. However, he also makes time to create part-time as a landscape photographer while also producing a podcast for and about landscape photographers called F-Stop Collaborate and Listen.
Between his job, where he works Monday to Thursday, and his podcast, which he records on Fridays, evenings, and on weekends, Matt doesn’t have a lot of free time, so he uses shortcuts where he can.
“I’ve set up a lot of email templates on Evernote. I re-use the same type of wording for each podcast’s liner notes and I use Acuity Scheduling to get guests to schedule with me,” says Matt.
By using templates and apps to cut down on repetitive tasks, he’s found he can spend more time engaging with his patrons whether that means writing thank you letters, sending merch, or creating content.
How to find a balance
Even with all the time-saving apps in the world, you might still find your work creeping into other aspects of your life. That’s why Patreon creator Rob Kovacs of 88bit finds it helpful to block out one day a week that he devotes solely to creating. He also schedules in time for self-care.
“Self-care for me is exercise, yoga once a week, cooking my own meals, getting a good amount of sleep, meditation,” says Rob.
For him, creating this “time budget” helps him figure out how much of his time and resources he can devote to his creative work, while still giving him time to take care of his physical and mental health.
“How much time can you set aside that might take away from your regular job to devote to your Patreon? Factor in how much you can get back from Patreon and treat it as part of your job,” says Rob.
“That’s the goal, right? It’s a risk at first for sure, but a risk that must be taken. Your art deserves that kind of commitment.”
Making a schedule
So how do you go about building a work-life that actually works for you? First things first, think about how you would like to spend your time and what your ideal workday would look like. You can start by writing down the time you would like to spend on each of your most important activities, categories or projects.
From there, you can use your calendar or time tracking app to see where your time is actually going and make adjustments accordingly. For instance, if your goal is to spend 50% of your time on your creative pursuits, make sure you’re scheduling in at least three hours a day to get this work done.
You should also keep in mind where, when and how you’re most productive. Are you more of a night owl? Then try to get your less creative tasks out of the way earlier in the day. Do you get distracted working from home? Maybe look into working from a local coffee shop or a part-time membership at a coworking space.
Lastly, make sure you’re being realistic about how much time you actually have each day for deep work. If you know you have 10+ hours of calls or 5 recurring meetings a week, it’s probably not realistic to schedule huge blocks of deep work every day.
While balance can be a positive thing to strive for, remember that the perfect work-life balance doesn’t actually exist. And stressing about it surely won’t make you more productive. Instead, try to focus on what you need to feel healthy and whole throughout your life and career.
Does going to a yoga class once a day or taking a cooking class once a week make you feel fulfilled? Do you need to meditate every morning or listen to a podcast every evening to destress? Once you know what matters most, you can start setting boundaries around those activities so that you can be fully present both work and at home.
You might not find your flow right away and it will probably take a few weeks or months or even a year to get your schedule right. But once you do, you’ll be able to find a healthy balance between all the aspects of your life.
But when you do find your flow and can build a sustainable life where you have space and freedom to create on your terms when you are currently Well, it doesn’t get much better than that.