Day 12: Free-time has a catch. It’s called focus.

My mistake was thinking I could juggle a couple freelance work projects while taking time off for creative pursuits. But work–no matter how much I try to curtail it–has a way of creeping and taking over. Maybe it’s my work ethic or maybe it’s the industry I’m in, but it’s been extremely hard to protect my me-time boundaries. Even when I’m not on the permanent payroll.

I spent the bulk of yesterday writing website copy and managing a design effort. Because it’s remote work, the schedules and workflow can be very disorganized. I got my stress buzz on early in the day and had a very hard time shaking it. Which…pissed…me…off.

Lesson: Schedule your personal time in just like you do your work and other commitments. Because free time is wide open, it runs away from you. You have to pin it down, keep it focused and capture it while you can.

It sounds so less romantic. A sabbatical on a schedule. Program my running time, my painting days, my writing days and reading time. But, it’s the only way to make it happen–to define when, declare it and do it.

This morning I finished a chapter in a great book about fate and circumstance. I felt the need to start my day but I wanted to read a bit so I set my iPhone alarm for 15 minutes. Yes, I couldn’t even trust that the next 15 minutes wouldn’t be interrupted by my thoughts, my day’s to-list and the smattering of text alerts that pop in unexpectedly. So I set an alarm to be my time guard.

Luckily, there are some things that are structured by outside forces. Like running, I try to do before the sun goes down. Catching the sunset from my river view is a must-do. Other people’s schedules dictate some of your possibilities. But internal creativity comes when it comes. After you feed it inspiration. When there’s nothing in way or everything in the way. Or sometimes when the dead of night nurtures it alive. How do you wrangle the wild?

I’m learning that to really take advantage of this freedom–my 30 days of me-time –I have to focus in fiercely. Because freedom, like happiness, can be fleeting. You have to fight for it. In the grand sense…and in the small, everyday spaces.

I’m flexing my muscles right now. Ready to defend the next 17 days…

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