Hey there, folks!
Today I’m going to share an unhealthy habit of mine: biting off more than I can chew. I’m not talking about food (well okay I do that too sometimes), I’m talking about productivity. I like to think that I’m Super-Katie, and I can do all of the things! Laundry, dishes, errands, drawings, journal comics, watercolors, blogging, scripting, writing, and editing! And then if a holiday or an event is coming up? Knit some gifts, draw some personalized drawings, and bake some sweets as well!
But the reality is that there are only so many hours in the day, and I can’t do all of the things. On some days, I can make peace with that. Others, not so much. On a bad day, I can get really down on myself for not accomplishing everything on my massive checklist of to-do’s. I start thinking about my aspirations to be a full-time independent webcomic artist, and I become disheartened because I never feel as dedicated as some of the artists I admire. Unfortunately, some of these artists suffer greatly to make their artwork into a career. Some have incredibly painful back problems, lots suffer from wrist strain, most don’t get enough sleep because they work other jobs, and I remember a time when a few I followed were offering character commissions at very low prices simply to afford groceries. Somehow I internalized that to mean that unless I was in pain, malnourished, or struggling to get by, I wasn’t a dedicated enough artist. Thankfully this didn’t stop me from eating or sleeping, but it did make me feel rotten about myself.
The problem with this mentality is that it actually prevents me from being productive instead of motivating me towards accomplishing my goals. I make all these lists and come up with all these things that I “need” to do in order to be successful, but I always end up falling short of those self-imposed expectations because they’re unrealistic. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t hold myself in comparison to someone else’s success, because I’m not them. And, that being the case, I can’t hold myself to their standard of productivity because they aren’t me – they have an entirely different set of needs than I do.
My personal set of limitations and needs are:
- Sleep! I need sleep or else I turn into the crankiest of bears, and I end up too groggy to do anything useful anyway.
- Food! Just like sleep, I get super grumpy when I haven’t eaten. I also tend to get strong headaches if I haven’t eaten, and sometimes I even get dizzy.
- Recharge time! If I’ve been doing one task for a long time, I need to remember to take frequent breaks to get up, walk around, maybe refill my tea, and do something different for five to fifteen minutes. It helps reset my brain so that I can come back to the task feeling fresh.
- Education! I didn’t get to take any creative writing classes at my university (the class was mostly reserved for English majors), and neither did I get to take any illustration or sequential art classes (my art department was snobby and uppity as HECK and didn’t consider illustration or sequential art to be “real” art), so I’m a bit behind most folks who are out there in the webcomic world. That being the case, I feel the need to take time out of my day to improve my skills for art and writing. I love our story so much that I really want to improve as much as I can so that I can feel like I’m doing justice to the story.
- Time with my lovie! This is very important to me. I need to spend time with Aiden in order to fill up my love meter, so that I can tackle my creative projects filled with the knowledge that my sweetie loves me and believes in me! </lovey_dovey_schmaltz>
- Self-Care! This one’s complicated. Lemme break it down for you.
The term self-care gets thrown around a lot, usually in reference to a day of treating one’s self to something relaxing or enjoyable, but what does it mean according to therapists? GoodTherapy.org defines self-care as: “one’s ability to take care of the activities of daily living, or ADLs, such as feeding oneself, showering, brushing one’s teeth, wearing clean clothes, and attending to medical concerns. Physical self-care, such as sleep and exercise, is also an ADL” (http://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/self-care). So while it’s important for my mental health to take time out for fun, it’s just as important to make time for the things I so often put off. I’m terrible about calling to make an eye doctor’s appointment, and I’m more likely to try to shrug off a cold or an ache than to get it checked out, but these are things I’m working on.
However, I have recently taken some steps to improve my quality of life, and I gotta say I’m pretty pleased with myself! I go to a chiropractor regularly to get my back issues worked on. I go to a counselor regularly to get my emotional health worked on. I’ve taken steps to make my eating habits healthier. And, while I’m not exactly exercising right now, I’m at least doing some research into how I can make the loathsome task of exercising a comfortable and positive experience for me.
I’ve come to terms with the knowledge that in order to make art that I am happy with, I need to be happy while making it. I do my best work when I am healthy and in a good mood, so it stands to reason that part of my responsibilities as an aspiring webcomic artist should be to care for myself. As much as I’d love to get all umpteen items on my to-do list checked off, I need to practice patience and self-awareness, and sometimes that means that I am left with unfinished business.
How do you manage your time? What things do you struggle to balance? What are some self-care tasks you’re really good at and what are some that could use some work? Thanks for reading!