Last year I cut back on how much time I spend on my day job to focus on spending more time doing work I love, with the hope that eventually it may turn into an income. I realise I’m extremely lucky to be able to do this, as my day job does pay very generously for a part time role (and which I do actually enjoy), but I’ve still had to make quite a lot of spending sacrifices and I’ve made sure I have a bit of a buffer saved up for unexpected expenses.
It’s now been a little over a year since I reduced my hours and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I now can’t imagine going back to doing the day job full time and not having time to be creative.
Several years ago I used to have a job where I worked from home the majority of the time, so for the most part I’m used to being disciplined about ‘work’ time and I do generally get done what I set out to do for the week. There are days that I struggle with this more than others, and sometimes I do just decide to give myself a break and have coffee with a friend for an hour or so, book a doctor or dentist appointment or catch up with some errands, etc. After all, if I was working for an employer on those days I would still get some time off.
What surprised me when I first started was that when I was working on new illustrations I had to keep reminding myself that what I was doing was good – that I didn’t need to feel guilty about spending a lot of time drawing because that’s precisely what I was supposed to be doing.
I think that because I enjoy drawing so much it doesn’t actually feel like work and that confuses my poor brain. It’s used to thinking that work = boring or stressful, not that work = fun or relaxing. But why shouldn’t it be? I know not everyone has the luxury, but if I can be doing work I love then it seems weird not to…
I’ve noticed some other benefits of spending more of my time doing what I love too. On the days when I’m working at home I’m managing to do more exercise as there’s no commute to fit in – mostly walking and yoga, and occasionally a run. And I’m also snacking less on the days I’m working at home as I get really absorbed in what I’m doing and am less bored.
I’m also in a better mood generally. I’m far less likely to come home in a strop these days and get upset about silly things around the house (I’m sure my boys must have noticed that I’m less grumpy after work!) and I don’t get the dreaded Sunday afternoon blues as I know the week ahead is going to include doing work I love. I’m particularly lucky that Monday is one of the days I work from home so the week gets off to a good start too.
I do a bit of freelance work for a couple of clients, and as most of you know I use Etsy to make money with my illustrations by selling cards and prints. Doing work I love hasn’t yet replaced my lost income, but the income from it is steadily increasing each month. I’m determined to persevere until it’s a ‘real’ income and do whatever I need to in order to be able to continue living my life this way 🙂