What do I do with my time?

**AN: This is an un-cut piece I wrote as a submission for ‘An Invisible Work Day And The Gig Economy’, a standalone-issue zine covering experiences of different self-employed people and the impact of the Gig Economy on our daily lives.

Some famous person once said, “If you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life”, or something to that effect.

Whoever that person is, it’s their fault why I do what I do — which feels like nothing.In reality, I do a lot. I find as the years go on, it gets more and more difficult to describe what I do to people. Especially older people. My go to is “Oh, I’m a freelancer”, which just means I’ll do about anything for money. If they pry further, I move onto what I actually do.What is that? I write.I’m not a writer though, oh no. I’m a painter. Actually? Yes, actually.

Does selling my paintings make any money?

Not at all! Selling fine art is probably the most difficult thing to sell online — nobody wants originals anymore, they’re only looking for prints and custom work. So naturally, I do that now. I sell my prints and small works at local art shows and craft fairs. The craft fairs turned into its’ own entity entirely, causing me to branch out into digital illustration, apparel design, and open an online store to sell year-round. This is how I make a large amount of my income. Funnily enough, selling my own merchandise was enough to market me to other indie artists and small businesses as an artist-for-hire. These clients were asking for branding and logos, so I started doing that too.

A dirty secret I have is I spend a lot of time on content marketing — it’s easy to feel like it’s your only job, when really you should be making content to market. But that’s the thing, people need to see your content to buy it.

I spend about half my work-time on social media, which is very embarrassing for me to admit. I don’t enjoy the dependence my career has on my online presence, but the reality is that I get half of my online sales through my fans online which is something too valuable for me to neglect.

You may think painting an abstract painting on a four-foot canvas and writing web-copy are nothing alike? And you would be correct! Writing is still difficult and probably always will be. It’s dragged me miles from my comfort zone, forcing me to form thoughts into words, rather than images.

As a result of my many hats, my daily life can vary widely.

If I had to give you a snippet of my day, it always starts with walking my dog — he gets me out of bed at an acceptable hour every morning, like the good boy he is. We go for a walk and I take the time to sort my thoughts out for the day; what I’ll be writing, what I’ll be working on, clients to follow up with, invoicing, and whatever other administrative work I can get done that morning. I have trouble with taking breaks. I’ll work way past breakfast and lunch, until almost supper time before I even get hungry. It’s a horrible habit, but it’s so difficult to break that kind of concentration. If I do manage a to get a break in, it’s with some home-made cookies and dairy-free milk while I read or listen to music. My afternoons are filled with great natural lighting; warranting product photography sessions, fine art videos, and painting in my airy living room studio space. Social media management takes up more energy than I would care to admit, and a lot more time.

The clean Canadian breeze flows through my living space as I clean and cleanse my home in the late afternoon sun — the outside air always leaves my sheets feeling so fresh. It sounds dull, but it’s one of the best things I can do for myself regularly.I love what I do and the only thing I would change is the ability to stretch time! There’s so many projects I still want to work on and people I want to work with, and I feel like so many other self-employed or creative people can relate to that. We’re never satisfied I think it’s important for today’s ‘Renaissance Man’ to take the time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labour, a thing I certainly struggle with myself.Enjoying the work you do is great, but you need to be able to enjoy moments without work even greater.

That’s why self-care has become a big part of my life, my writing, and my artwork. I enjoy my time snuggling with my dog under the Kotatsu while I peck away at my keyboard for my next article, but not nearly as much as baking cookies with my partner and playing video-games together on a Friday night. You know what I mean?

We could all use a bit more time.

I hope you enjoyed something a little different. If you did, you can support the creator and purchase a copy of the zine here.

Until next Sunday,

—J