Despite the obvious downsides to life as an office drone, there’s something to be said for the consistency of a set schedule and the security of a steady salary. The predictability makes it possible to establish a reasonable work-life balance and plan your life months and even years in advance.
Generally speaking, the same is not true for those working in creative-based or otherwise unconventional industries. You never know where you’ll be or what you’ll be doing two years, two months, or even two weeks from now. Whether you’re an architect, artist, bartender, or real estate investor, irregular hours and an uncertain future make it difficult to formulate a desirable work-life balance.
With that said, the very things that seem to make it hard to lead a balanced life with an unconventional career are what make it possible for artists and others to achieve work-life balance beyond their wildest dreams. The following outlines the personal objectives needed to accomplish this goal:
Stake your claim
Many creatives and others pursuing unconventional career goals go through life underestimating their true potential. Until artists and other creatives accurately assess their place in the world and stake their claim accordingly, they will continue to play catch up in pursuit of their dream. Confidence leads to success, which leads to better pay, better benefits, and better balance.
Harness your freedom
If you make your own hours – and many creative professionals do – you have the ability to map out your life to your liking. Take advantage of that ability in order to achieve a better work-life balance. As real estate developer and fine art collector Ziel Feldman say, careers outside the boundaries of typical nine-to-five office jobs lend themselves to more balanced living. That’s because these professionals have more freedom to decide their own hours.
The key to making your own hours is sticking to them. It might be tempting to sleep in an extra hour but that pushes your workday up an hour, and if repeated this leads to your schedule being thrown off track. Having the discipline to get your work done on time is critical. For example, real estate photographers need to be up early enough to take advantage of morning light. Otherwise, their photos will lack the stunning vibrancy needed to properly showcase a property.
Design your own workflow
Everyone’s workflow is different. Creatives and those in other unconventional careers often find themselves manically producing work one minute, and feeling like going for a walk the next. Rather than let it derail your work-life balance, optimize your workflow to better sync with your personal tendencies. That way, you aren’t caught off guard by the sudden urge to shift gears throughout the day. It’s simply part of your routine.
Account for interruptions
Working in a cubicle all day makes you practically immune to outside interruptions. However, most creative-based and other unconventional careers unfold in varying settings and situations, where interruptions are ever-present threats to productivity. Avoid this by accounting for the inevitable interruption. Start by taking steps to prevent them in the first place, such as using noise-canceling headphones and switching to airplane mode. Then develop a system for what to do if disrupted during your work. The ability to quickly pick up where you left off is key to reducing the negative impact of interruptions. Something as simple as jotting down a word before leaving your workstation can be the difference between five minutes of downtime and 30.
The wonky hours and quirky workloads of creative-based or similarly unconventional careers seem to make it hard to achieve a desirable work-life balance. However, it turns out it’s these very elements that make it possible to live the life you want while also experiencing professional success.