I’m sure, by now, you have settled into the new normal, you have stocked up on provisions to the best of your ability, you’ve considered your pet for employee of the month at your new office, and if you’re living with a partner or roommate, you’ve come up with an imaginary co-worker to blame everything on. Your office is a stable and friendly environment now that Sarah is taking all the blame for the dishes.
As a creative freelancer, the most valuable resource has always been “time.” Oh, how I always dreamed to just have enough time in a day to work on the projects I am assigned, as well as any personal artistic ventures I’ve left on my “Someday” shelf. So what happens when the assigned projects slip away as companies shutter their operations, your “Someday” shelf suddenly becomes your “Right Now” shelf, and you have all of the time in the world?
The first and most important thing to consider is the idea of prioritization. In a completely unstructured environment, priorities become the most important structure you can have. Make a list of your immediate concerns and goals for the foreseeable future and order them based on importance. This will help you at least compartmentalize the issues so they don’t get overwhelming.
I imagine money will fall at the top or near the top of that list, and as it should. For us creative professionals, with a lack of work comes a lack of money, and it’s a great idea to start thinking about that right away. You will not be able to create transcendent art if your mind is overcome with financial stress, so take a moment to do an inventory of your most valuable skills and start researching how you can apply them remotely. Can you teach a class via Skype? Can you send out some emails to old contacts and drum up some business that way? Can you create and monetize a podcast? If you at least begin to work towards financial stability in these unstable times, it will give your mind peace to focus on other projects.
Next, take some time for self-care. Don’t just dive head first into your personal projects and manically work towards finishing as many of them as you can so you can call yourself productive. They won’t be your best work, and you’ll drive yourself crazy! Take a moment to get in touch with yourself, maybe start a journal that you write in every morning, maybe find 5-10 minutes a day to meditate and get your thoughts in order. Once you have given yourself some time to adjust and adapt to the new normal, you will have a much easier time feeling productive when it’s time to work.
Finally, without structure, there is madness. Give yourself some structure. Decide when you will work on what. Maybe devote the first few hours of your day to job hunting and drumming up financial leads, and the second half of your day to creativity, and the evening for yourself. If you are more creative at night, then take the morning to take a nice healing walk, come back, work on business, and end the night with your personal ventures over some boxed wine and frozen pizza.
The most important thing is to not let yourself get overwhelmed by the amount you have to do, the amount of time you have, and the stress of maintaining your life. Take each minute, hour, or day as it comes and find your groove without forcing it. You will adapt. You will find a way through it, and you will come out more disciplined on the other side.
Now go tell Sarah to stop leaving her shoes all over the office, and finally hang that nice headshot of Mr. Sniffles on your wall, he’s worked hard to earn employee of the month, and he deserves the recognition!
About the author.
Greg Berman is a stand up comedian, writer, and actor in Los Angeles, CA. Although he spends most of his day as an artist creating content in any and every medium, he also moonlights as a copywriter and data analyst at night, in order to make enough money to feed his dog. A dog, he’d like you to know, that eats better than he does.