How many times have we looked at our creative friends or celebrities on Instagram, and sighed at the fact that their life seems to be just so picture perfect?
How many times, whether you are a creative working from home or not, have you compared your life to those you see on social media? Can I just remind you, most of what you see is NOT real. Yes, the beautifully laid out desk with colour coordinated accessories is real in a sense that it exists but it’s not real if someone spent half an hour setting up the perfect light, looking for the right angle and arrangement of items just to get that one ideal picture, and then post-processed it or used filters to create an image suitable for a magazine.
In reality, our desks and lives are a lot more messy. We don’t always have the perfect light or the right angle, and we can waste far too much time trying to achieve the unattainable just for a few tens or hundreds of likes from people we’ll never see in reality.
1. Messy hours
Our working hours are not 9–5. We can make our working hours be 9–5 but our minds do not always agree with that. Our brain may work on a constant overdrive at midnight, but we might not be able to get up as early as office and other workers or to start productive work at 9.
It’s hard to set exact working hours when your emails keep coming in after 7PM, or when your client calls you at dinner time. It’s not easy to work on these boundaries and many of us struggle with it every day. It takes a lot of discipline to follow a healthy working schedule, because you just end up saying to yourself, ‘just this one last edit…’ far too many times!
Our schedule always depends on what projects we have on, which may be a crazy busy month shooting and editing weddings nonstop, but it could also be a quiet period with hardly any work. And when the latter occurs, there’s nothing harder than making yourself get out of bed early! You just want to stay under your cover until things fall back to a normal working order but we all know that’s not the best way to lead your professional life!
On the other hand, our messy schedules allows us to plan around things like doctor appointments or awaiting special deliveries during day.
So, when dealing with one us of, remember it can be hard to plan spending time with us over the weekend because many of us are on jobs, and our summer may be extremely busy if we’re shooting weddings, but on the other hand we may be up for a spontaneous lunch or coffee, because we’re our own bosses!
Ideally, we’d want to always go to our “home office” dressed the way we would if we worked in an office alongside other creatives. Not only does it put you in the mindset of “this is work now”, but it might also make us feel better if we’re wearing something other than PJs or a hoodie and leggings.
But, when you’re working on your own at home looking after your appearance may become an exclusive treat that you afford only a few times a month.
For women, it may just be an ideal option — we have enough time in the day to put a face or hair mask on while we work on our projects, if we’re not expecting any clients on the day, and we can let our skin breathe having our faces free from make up.
So, what you see on Instagram — female entrepreneurs working from home in a nice outfit, blowdried and styled hair as well as full make up on… it’s not always the reality. When we have a lot of work on, there’s not always time for any of that. Don’t be fooled looking at social media, that’s not how you should look and you definitely shouldn’t strive for it, because what you should focus on is feeling good about yourself daily, with or without all of these things, and your business.
Don’t forget that. Happiness and business.
Stop feeling low looking at heavily styled and post-processed images.
Focus on what’s important.
3. Eating habits
Now, the way I see it, I imagine most creatives working from home will fall in one of these categories:
- The Lazy One.
You will become so immersed in your latest project that you’ll simply forget to eat. If you live on your own, it gets worse because you won’t have someone reminding you that you need to eat, as you would if your partner came home for dinner. You’re probably too lazy to go out for lunch, too. I usually fall into this category. But, I am trying to be better and have lunch at lunch time not at dinner time, and make sure I have a few healthy snacks in the house that I can grab when I am starting to feel hungry but it’s not really a meal time yet. Also, don’t forget to drink liquids! Have a cup of tea or a bottle of water on your desk and keep refilling.
- The Comfort Eater.
Opposite to the previous one, the Comfort Eater will stack up with snacks when they know they have an important deadline coming up, or simply keep filling up their snack bowl every day, keeping it within an easy reach on their desk. It’s far too easy to forget just how much you’ve eaten when you keep reaching for that one more piece of chocolate or granola bar, whilst dealing with a complicated or a boring project. It’s almost like procrastinating with social media. If your day goes quicker when you have something to snack on, it’s best to plan for it weekly, rather than running to the local corner shop for a supply of sweets. Have healthy snacks all ready for the next day, and your waistline won’t suffer!
- The Sensible One.
Someone who knows just how easy it is to fall in bad eating habits when you’re all by yourself day in, day out, so they plan for it. Meals and snacks are thought about early enough, so there are no surprises. Don’t we just wish, we’d be this sensible?
- The Spender.
Someone who’ll find any excuse to take their laptop into town and have a nice lunch and a cup of coffee alongside. Sometimes it’s nice to escape the routine and work from a coffee shop or a lunch bar, but it all comes at a cost (literally). Don’t spend all your hard earned money on eating out everyday!
- The Mix.
Of course there’ll be someone who’s a little bit of something, depending on the day. You might be “good” when you’re working from home, but end up binging on party food when working a wedding. Or you may struggle keeping a good eating schedule when you’re on your own, but eat healthy when you go and treat yourself to a nice lunch in town.
4. Social Life
When you look at celebrities or the so called “Instagram celebrities”, or even your own friends on social media, it might seem that all creatives do is:
– spend their days taking photos for social media
– visit exhibitions and galleries
– go to parties meeting other creatives
– drink coffee and read fashion / design / interior books
– meet clients over lovely lunches
Reality is, most of us don’t have a lot of time or money for that. We may have our meetings or occassional invite for an opening night of someone’s latest project, but that’s only a small part of what we actually do. Most weeks we may end up spending it all by ourselves writing a book, editing a video or wedding photography, creating a graphic design order for a client or building a nice website. And sometimes it can actually feel quite lonely when you don’t have a colleague to go out for lunch with, or a group of work friends to have a Friday drink with.
In fact, when 9–5 workers finish their week, our work may actually pick up and we may have to keep declining invites for a Friday night out, which might make it seem that we’re anti-social, but reality is that our work life is just a tad more unpredictable.
But to make up for that, we do get to meet crazy, inspiring, artistic, hard working and extraordinary people! I have met quite a few along the way, and wouldn’t change it for anything!
5. Lifestyle & Finance
OK, so it may somtimes seem that the lifestyle and social life is quite glamorous for creatives. But, even if we do deal with clients who have a more lavish lifestyle it doesn’t mean that we suddenly have all of that, too. You will not be able to afford Louboutins and a spacious loft in the city centre à la Carrie Bradshaw from Sex & The City, whilst you’re working as a freelance writer for a magazine. It takes a lot of patience, money and effort to get the business going, and it can take years for it to actually take off.
There’s nothing wrong about creating a life and an environment that inspires you, but there is no need to beat yourself up for not having the same lifestyle as other creatives in the same field as you. They may already have an up and running business and spare cash to spend on it, or they may simply come from a more wealthy family, making things a lot easier.
Be mindful about this and don’t fall in the trap of spending what you don’t have to show it to others whose life it actually has no impact on. Focus on your skills and talent, not on impressing others. The money and the clients will follow!
So, as a creative working from home, how do you make it work? What are your tips and advice for others?
Does your other half support your daily grind?