Daily lessons in self-help and productivity from a creative with a day job.
It’s true that the best way to help yourself is to help others. I have phases where I obsess over maintaining procedures for personal growth until I get burned out. While it’s always on my mind, I force myself to look outward, stop being afraid, and try lending a hand to others. I talked to my Mom today and I shared a few things I had been picking up on self care and changing your mindset. She valued that information and said she would try it. It made me so happy to know I was reaching out and offering some value to a person I love so much. It made for a day full of optimism, because I shared and communicated. This is what it’s all about.
I pushed myself to the limit yesterday, but every now and then, that is what we have to do to make progress. I stayed up until 2 am to finish a major chunk of the script I’ve been avoiding for months. I hope to finish the second half in the next day or so. Giving up sleep is a trade off I often can’t afford, but last night, it was worth it. I proved to myself I could commit to a deadline. I marked it off my list, and now I am compelled to get the rest of the week taken care of.
Reach out and find your people. Those who believe in you and want you to succeed. We artists need to find each other and lift one another up. There’s enough of us out there. Make art, make haste.
A Productivity Exercise for a Working Class Creative.
When I stop writing blog posts, I’m at home ignoring the internet, being a father and husband, as well as watching Schitt’s Creek. Since my last post, I’ve ruminated on the following. Life can have compartments, but they’re stitched onto the same satchel. A satchel I can still load up with all of my favorite priorities and motivations. After all this time of people telling me this, I have concluded for myself that organizing and compartmentalizing are two different things. Most of my life, I have prevented different areas of my life from touching in order to prevent cross-contamination. This is such a childish, desperate argument to keep track of life. Nothing works better than bits of your life clashing into one another like a personalized hadron collider of feelings, tasks, and all other life happenings. Each part of your life strengthens the other. That is what I am after, and what I want to achieve. I’ve solidified my theory that life can be broken into four manageable areas of focus: The Self, The Emotional Home, The Nuts and Bolts House, and Community.
Self. If I want to do something that will keep me physically healthy, emotionally strengthened, creatively or intellectually fulfilled: This is where it’s going to go.
Home. The emotional well-being of the relationships in my life, from my wife and son, to the rest of my family, friends and loved ones. This means commitments, following up, being attentive, and present. Always be present.
House. A house with walls and a roof is a practical thing. I imagine that any task or responsibility to keep the house intact is more of a nuts and bolts endeavor. To keep the house going, we gotta pay bills, do chores, schedule appointments, and probably plan for the future, if possible. The adult shit.
Community. Showing up and reaching out for the causes and things that make your community better. Volunteering, sharing, and giving, are proof that things are going well, and it’s a natural extension of all the other shit going well.
Made sense to me. I drew up a new spread reflecting these ideas and it turned out to be just four checklists alongside my usual spread. It worked surprisingly well last week, and yesterday, I noticed I could clearly see where the imbalances were occurring, and what areas I needed to invest time and effort into. Will report again this coming week on this system of productivity. Wish me luck!
What do I want to do this week? Aside from husband/father duty:
Get the script draft done tonight.
Publish Creative Drive Episodes (backlog from last week).
Our Kid’s Asleep Episode coming soon feat. a friend!
The goddamn cat boxes.
Put the phone down.
Looks like a plan. To be a working class creative is a give and take. More to come. Much love,
A breakdown of my recent productivity attempts as a creative with a day job.
The road to self care and self control is paved with revamping and paving new roads. Yes, that sounded worse in my head. Over the last month or so, the experiment of bullet journaling has been a pretty triumphant and challenging one, but I’m getting some shit done!
Recently, I settled on a format for my quasi bullet journaling experience. While the Ryder Carroll method is extremely specific about intent and productivity, the more I learn of its methodology and idiosyncrasies, the more I realize I am prioritizing a mere planning method rather than a fuller journal for accountability. As I keep learning, I’m sure I will adopt some more of the Ryder Carroll concepts, but for the time being, as I seek survival methods to not drown in tasks and responsibility, I’m choosing to do something that works for me and my needs, whether it follows official bullet journal doctrine or not. Therefore, I’ve settled on a temporary layout for a weekly spread that has been guiding me pretty well throughout the last month or so.
Taking into account what is important to me and what I need to keep track of, I feel this has been a decent start into my journey of organization and commitment to personal betterment. This is what made sense to me and how I structured it:
Leftovers: A little space for all the shit I forgot to do or couldn’t get to the week before.
Monthly Outlook: To know what day of the week is what number and all that because I never know anymore…
Weekly Outlook: Provided enough room for the events, appointments and tasks in my life. I also left some room in the margins because I’m regularly having to measure my blood pressure now because thanks genetics and stupid horrible life choices in my 20s. (mostly sitting too much, nothing big).
Habits: Designated a space for habit tracking for the most important areas of my life and where I need more discipline:
OUTPUT (SPECIFICALLY CREATIVE OUTPUT & COMMUNITY EFFORTS)
Notes Section: A section for practical daily notes and memos. (This is where I hit a stumbling block. I need more space for the creative notes, so I am currently wielding another notebook everywhere I go. I shed the agenda already, so hopefully in the next few weeks, I will be able to consolidate all my work / life / creative road maps into one well designed and customized journal for me!) For now, this notes section is just for real world, adulting stuff and the unexpected chore/task/expense/deadline.
Assessment: Considering how much happens in a week, I think it’s prudent to look back on what works and what can be improved upon. While some aspects of this may lean more toward the actual bullet journal philosophy, I don’t need much to know what went wrong and what I need to do better, so I made just a little spot for it at the bottom and labeled it as I pleased: VICTORIES & NEEDS WORK. Then do better next week. Easy enough.
What I am surely missing is the big picture stuff I have coming up on the horizon. Long term events and important dates, as well as personal, career, and family goals. This is why a monthly or long term spread is necessary for me as well. I started one for December but it just looked too lackluster, much like a clunky calendar. I’ll revisit this when I have time, but for the time being, the weekly spread has been the most successful part of it all.
It’s been such a blast diving into this world that I feel I have found something I truly love, and that is the process of documenting and arranging information on a page. It calms me down and puts me in a state of hope. It’s all about seeing yourself doing something different, fighting stasis, and seeking a new way to better yourself. I’m not a completely new person and I don’t think I will ever be, but I am definitely feeling more in control of my life and where I want to take it. I’m very much committed to start designing more of these layouts down the road and making them available for anyone who may want to balance work / life / creativity. It’s also been so inspiring to browse and analyze the various ways people cleverly build and shape their chore lists, worries, and hopes into one place on paper. It says so much about their priorities and life story. It’s fascinating!
How do you keep your shit together? Asking for a friend.
Every Sunday, I will define my weekly goals into achievable directives.
Do. Make. Execute. Even if it’s shit, just get in the rhythm of producing instead of pondering.
I’ll talk about the self-care sometime soon, but in terms of creativity and community outreach, there’s a lot you can do in ten minutes. This, I am certain of! The problem is I daydream too much. I tend to posit and keep it all in my head. I must get the word out, I must think out loud, in order to find what will work for me. I hope laying this process out in the open will help you stray readers out there who may be struggling to juggle life, work, and creativity like me. I’m noticing a sea change: Since I’ve been bullet journaling, I’ve been able to take a look at my days and notice how much time I waste during my weekdays. The usual excuse is that I’m too tired from work, or some unforeseen errand came up and now the day is ruined and all is futile because we creative folks are dramatic. Yes, this has been my whiny state of mind for a while now. The hard truth is that all of that time does not go into work or quality time with family either: It ends up washed down the drain on Reddit, reading someone else’s opinions and journeys. There’s a fine balance to be had, and honestly, I am doing awful at it. It’s unacceptable. So in the weeks and months of recent introspection, I forced myself to see what my days actually look like: Where is all this time going? So here I have another experimental plan of attack to attempt in the coming weeks: Use ten minutes on your break to communicate your passion for the arts, reach out to collaborators, and advocate for your creative process every day of the week.
10 Minute Writing Sprint (Poem, Flash Fiction, Monologue, Notes for that BIG Novel, etc.)
Share a new Creative Prompt on IG
Write a Blog Post (Noteworthy Links from the web, creative status report, posts like this one!)
Record the Creative Drive Podcast (~15 mins at lunchtime but still counts).
Give shoutouts to artists you care about on your social media platforms.
So much to do. If we look closely, there’s enough time, even for a working class creative. Let’s see how this pans out.