Saturday, 31 August 2019

Dreaming Bigger #4: Making it Work

We all want to do a job we love, right? Well, the internet can help you. From the virtuoso guitarists of Fiverr to the game developers on DriveThruRPG, it’s never been easier for someone to start making money from their hobbies.

There are pros and cons to this approach - see this article for more. But that’s not what this post is about. Today I’m wondering - regardless of whether we want our creative endeavours to be our job…  is there value in pretending that they are? Let me explain…

Keeping Track of Time

At my first full-time job out of uni, the timings were pretty strict. We had to log exactly how much time we’d spent on each project every day, down to the quarter of an hour. It made sense for the work we were doing - our clients were being charged by the hour. But it could sometimes make my workday feel restrictive and stressful.

I worked there in different roles for just under two years, so the idea of logging hours on a time sheet is now inextricably linked to the world of work in my head.

I now work in a similar role at a different company, one where there’s less emphasis on when and for how long we work on different projects. And yet, I still can’t help but log my hours, even though no one’s really checking them.

And the funny thing is, I think it helps. It’s something to do with satisfaction in my work. If I log my hours, I can go home knowing exactly what I spent my time and effort doing, and how much progress I’ve managed to make in the time I’ve devoted to it. It feels like a silly impulse, but it does make me feel productive, efficient, and good at my job.

Funny, then, how I only just worked out I could do this for my creative projects.

Seize the Means of Productivity

I’ve been trying it on a trial basis over the summer. I’ve got a little spreadsheet where I can write out my projects, and log time for the different tasks I complete towards my bigger goals. I think it’s helping so far: I set a target for how many hours I think I can devote that week, and I’ve found myself wondering where I can fit in an extra half hour to make my quota.

It’s funny - I’m not doing this for anyone but myself, yet I feel like I’ve let someone down when I don’t make my weekly quota. I’ve said in a previous post that my own success doesn’t motivate me a great deal, but one thing that does is the chance to prove myself. And my favourite person to prove myself to… is me.

What’s more, the segmenting of my creative time into hourly or half-hourly chunks is helping me find time for my other, less productive hobbies. If I’m already on my way to meeting my quota, then I can definitely give myself a break to read a book or play a video game.

There are other things I do to help my creative projects feel as important an urgent as work: for instance, I have now finally embraced the to-do list, after years of avoidance and apathy. But as my hour-logging system leaves its beta stage in time for September, I feel positive that it seems to work well for me, and maybe it will help you too!

Until next time, thanks for your attention!

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