As a freelance illustrator at the start of this creative career there are a lot of things I struggle with. And there are a lot of things I’m happy with, and learning, figuring out and getting better at. Which keeps up the confidence I can do this thing!

One of the things that is pretty high on the list of things I’m trying to deal with is my work pace. Because I’m not a steady paced worker. For years I did the 8.30 to 5 work thing. And it always felt a little like having to fill up the time, instead of just working without the clock dictating if you’re done or not. I’m usually a pretty fast worker, and like it better when you’ve got a task to do and when it’s done it’s done. Instead of making it last the time you’re supposed to be working. But those days are over, it’s being my own boss time now! And that comes with new challenges…

I’m learning to let go of this expectation I have of myself to be working the standard working hours. Get 8 hours done every day. Like you see all those super busy and succesfull fellow freelancers do on social media! (Yeah that’s just the highlights I know.) And that’s just not me. I’ve always been the kind of person who doesn’t appear to be doing much for a while and then gets super active for another while. I work on several things at the same time, I’m squirrely and all over the place. But I get the things done in my own way. Quality is good, people are happy. I already did this with homework, with university projects, at work (when possible). I need a bit of pressure it seems. And in the time before the deadline the task ahead is being mentally prepared, analyzed, processed in the background. So usually when I start to do, I’ve already thought of what and how and all that. I show up prepared. Not to say it’s always just an easy executive phase that’s left!

Now I still work like that, only it feels different. Whereas earlier I’d be sitting at work, at a desk, being (or at least appearing) sort of productive even during those not so active hours, which made it feel like I was still working anyway… Now I spend that background processing time differently. Doing laundry, going for a run or walk, reading a book, working on personal projects. Writing this blog. And all that feels very much like not working. I still get into a productive flow after a while, where I make the things I’ve been thinking about for the actual work projects I’ve got going. People are still happy with the results. And when I really look at what I’m doing, there’s a lot of time going into my business. It’s just not always obvious work stuff.

While it’s the same process, just a different shape. A shape that’s definitely better for my mental well being and makes for a happier me. And I guess that’s what matters most in the end. If it works for me, than it’s a good pace. Regardless of whether it is in line with expectations, is super efficient or succesfull, or how other people do their freelance thing.

At this pace I can keep going for a while. So it’s good.

What kind of worker are you? Steady pace? Sprinter? Bit of both? Let me know in the comments below!