The most valuable thing we could ever have is time.
Just a note, although I've wrote this from a self employed perspective aimed at other self employed or freelance individuals, I honestly think that this applies to anyone who wants to do something in their life, even if it's just as simple as to visit a certain place!
I recently wrote a blog post about time on the Monster Trunk blog where I talked about what time means to me personally and how it influenced the Time Flies tshirt that I recently released on the Monster Trunk store. I really wanted to delve more into the topic from a self employed/freelance point of view too, and talk about how we can best use our time as freelancers. This is not some click bait 'top ten ways to manage your time' etc., (although I am going to write it in a list format to categorise each part), it's just real talk about ideas, I feel that, most people don't like to think about because these ideas leave no room for excuses. I'm also going to put a little paragraph at the end of each point to talk about how I'm starting to deal with that current issue myself.
We all have the same 24 hours.
I listen to podcasts by successful creatives daily, and one thing that they will always say is 'we all have the same 24 hours' which definitely wakes me up a little whenever I hear it. I think that this has the biggest effect on us (sometimes even subconsciously) when an artist is posting daily work to instagram, or when Youtubers vlog on a daily basis, it's easy to look at what they've created and think 'I wish I had time to do all of that!' when in reality, you have no more or less time than they do. The difference is that they know how to use their time efficiently, which I personally think can take a long time to get a handle on, but obviously it can come quicker to others, probably when they have a super determined mindset. You have to set goals, know what you need to get done in a day or a week and get it done, without letting anything else get in the way, and I think in today's world that's where most of us fall down, because there is so many distractions to deal with. I think this tends to have a bigger effect when you've only been freelancing for a couple of years.
The key things that are helping me overcome this right now, is firstly, to remind myself first thing every day that 'we all of the same 24 hours, it's what we do with them that matters', it kicks your mind into reality and sets up a positive outlook on the day, even if you do start off negative, you should keep coming back to it and it'll make you feel bad that you're still wasting time. I think it's also super important to make sure that you set yourself up for the day positively, so I usually write my to-do list the night before so I can just crack on when I wake up, I also use a pomodoro timer which is so helpful for staying focused and limiting distractions.
'I don't have time to do that project that I want to do'
This one is simple, but again, people don't like to hear it because there is no space for excuses, make time. If you want to do something but feel like you don't have the time, then sacrifice something else that you use your time on, and if there is genuinely nothing you can sacrifice then it obviously isn't that important. I can also assure you that I'm not some great person that has all of these ideas nailed down, if you've read my posts before you'll know that they're more of a diary or message to myself, while I'm working through these experiences I like to record them and share them with anyone else who might be going through the same problems! This year I set myself a couple of personal projects and I couldn't seem to get any work done on them for months, because I was trying to work on them after client work or after I'd been at my part time job all day, and I was always super tired, sometimes stressed and I just wanted to be able to chill for the night, so I had to make the shift or they just simply weren't going to get done and I'd have to deal with that.
I now usually get up between 5-6AM (more 6AM lately as I think I need to slowly ease into the 5am starts) and then I work on personal projects for at least 1-2 hours even when I have shifts at my part time job (which leaves me out of the house for at least 10 hours). I also cut out a lot of gaming, I used to feel like I could justify playing games while I was having a break and playing lots on a night, but it was just distracting and procrastination. So now I usually work til around 6-7PM, eat and have a bath and then play games for 1-2 hours. Obviously this isn't for everyone, but if you are really passionate about a goal, then you'll find a way to make time for it.
Stay in the present.
It's very easy in today's world to wish for everything and want everything that everyone else has, everything that they usually worked the majority of their life for. But at the end of the day, although it's good to think about the long term to some extent, I personally think it's more important to stay grounded and be happy with what you've got. Some people are obviously in much worse situations than others, but if you're fortunate enough to have the internet, a home and a computer to be able to read this then you should take a moment, right now, to appreciate what you've got, because being able to make yourself happy with what you have is much more effective than what money or materialistic things can offer you!
I currently get up and on most mornings (I'm trying to make it every morning) I write in my diary 3 things that I am grateful for. It's a pretty common thing to do, but I know that a lot of people still think that it's stupid or ineffective. It won't work for everyone but it's well worth trying! Some of mine can be big ones like 'I'm grateful to have a girlfriend and family who love and support me' or 'I'm happy that I can make a living doing what I love' and sometimes they can be super simple like 'I'm happy that I can afford food' or 'I'm happy that I was born into a country where I can take the opportunities I want to'. They're quick and easy and really allow you to appreciate what you have even if it's just that you're able to get up and drink clean water that morning, because some people don't have that luxury and it's easy to forget things like that when it's not on your mind everyday.
I mentioned at the beginning of the post that I'd written another blog post over on the Monster Trunk blog about how time influenced the latest tshirt I released. The main reason I wanted to revolve this tshirt around time (you can read much more about it on the blog) was so that I, and others who need a bit of motivation first thing, could throw it on in a morning, see the back while they're putting it on and get a flash of a quote that will make them feel ready to tackle the day and to do what makes them happy.
I've added a couple of photos of the tshirt below, it also comes with 3 new stickers linked to the time idea which I also created with some positive messages. If you'd like to buy a tshirt or take a look around the store you can do so here.
I could probably go for ages with this subject but I'm going to leave it there! I hope you liked this post, although I guess it was a bit of a negative post in the sense of you're not going to live forever, I hope that all in all it has a positive effect if you're reading this. If it does, hit me up on Twitter @aldersaur and let me know, even if it helps one person I'll be super happy!
Thanks for reading!