Finding YOUR creative business lifestyle: How many days per week do you want to work?
Creative minds do not function like other peoples’ minds. Instead, we are perfectly designed to be non-traditional, disruptive, consistently inconsistent, fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants, “look at the shiny colors!”, “I can’t possibly do that right now because I’m creating.” kind of people. Just because we square pegs do not fit nicely into the round holes, it does not mean that we can’t be productive people who can't turn a craft into a business. This series of blog posts is meant to help you appreciate and acknowledge your special creative personality and discern how you can find a creative lifestyle that works for you.
Today, we look at what your best creative work week might look like.
How many days per week do you want to work? I’m not asking how many days do you think your should work, that’s my driven, type-A dad talking to you. How many days do you want to work? Taking this honest assessment of your creative needs and your life balance is critical to finding the right creative lifestyle for you. Don’t worry about how much money you think you will make with this schedule. Do worry about how much you think you need to accomplish or produce in this timeframe. Just think about how you work best and what your “dream life” balance would be.
Do you need at least two full days to fulfill your creative urges and to complete your projects to your satisfaction? Do you need some free days to address the social or family obligations you enjoy? Think about the right balance for your creative soul first, and then consider your other obligations like vacation, family and down time. They are equally important and there is definitely a way to get enough of both.
I quit my last “day job” when I was getting married and went part time. This allowed me to work in a regular office setting a few days a week and make some good freelance money while working with my business partner to get our custom invitation business to pick up speed.
When I quit the day job for good, I was pregnant and was looking for a lifestyle that would allow me the liberty to stay with my baby. When my daughter arrived, I worked the same 2 to 3 days per week with my business partner, who also had a young baby. We worked together out of her house and when the kids grew, we hired babysitters to watch them so we could accomplish our tasks.
Later, when I opened my retail store, I created a similar arrangement with the woman who worked with me. This time, we would watch each other’s children at our own homes while the other worked and were able to keep to a 3 day each schedule. I loved this schedule. I had just enough time with the kids to feel “present” in their lives and just enough time with adults to keep me sane. Those early years with kids meant my creative pursuits were mainly from the pages of “Family Fun” magazine so I really enjoyed the more sophisticated work with my clients. It was a good balance for me.
Then my retail business was picking up speed and needed me to be present much more than 3 days a week. Slowly, I was picking up more days, leaving my third child, who was not yet in full day school to my mother or my mother-in-law to watch. It was necessary, but I will tell you that for me, it was wearing on my psyche. I didn’t see my kids as much as I wanted.
When I closed the retail store, I chose to set up my office and freelance from home. All of my children were now in school full time and I could work during those quiet hours while they were gone. I could be flexible with my schedule and take them to doctors appointments, join the class on a field trip and be ready to make dinner and be with them when they arrived home from school. Part time turns out to be the right mix for me.
What do you think is the best mix for you? 5 days a week? 3 days? 1 day? Don’t worry yet about what days and how long per day you will be working. Just start here and we’ll take a look at that next week.