As my days vary easily from an 8 hours to 16 hours, 5 – 7 days a week, keeping organised, creative and sane is a massive priority for me.
My job is a mix of acting as a CEO, Managing Director, Producer and Creative. After a long period of time, doing so many varied tasks, it gets taxing on the body and mind.
Although you’ve probably heard all of these before, here are my tips for sanity through long varied days.
1/ Scribbling Everyday. Although legendary artists say ‘draw everyday’, sometimes this is not realistic in my line of work. How and ever, it’s essential for me to keep on my toes creatively. I get asked for my opinion around the studio constantly and I need to be able to give a valid opinion to contribute to the debates and conversation that happen here in Giant. So the new rule for myself is not to ‘draw everyday’ but to ‘scribble everyday’. I scribble down shapes, compositions, characters etc. This allows me to do some ideas generation a little bit more easily when I’m under pressure from other tasks. Because it’s a scribble, I don’t get disheartened from starting scribbling, nor do I get disappointed when I don’t finish the piece as a drawing. It’s a disposable piece, with no pressure to create. The other thing I’ve started, is to preempt exhaustion on certain weeks. I’ve created a library of multiple character silhouetted shapes, so that I can just scribble multiple personalities over the templates. Sounds remedial, but it keeps me going when I’m clutching at straws at the end of a lengthy production.
2/ Observation is key. I spend a lot of time in transit these days, approximately two and half hours depending on Darts and buses. I also travel to a lot more events in Giant’s name than I used to. With notebook and camera phone at hand, it’s always good to record special conversations and happenings that surround you. Although most people I see whilst on public transport look as if they’re ready to turn into Michael Douglas in ‘Falling Down’, you never know when a moment observed is going to turn into a great story or at least the foundations for one.
3/ A Food Journal. I only started this journal idea/method recently. It was obvious that I was eating junk and comfort food excessively to get me through long hours each day. I’ve been gorging since college. Everyday, I’d say to myself, NO JUNK FOOD!!! Everyday, I failed to uphold my convictions. Not only that, but I was getting frustrated when I was hitting lows and needed a junk food fix in order to restore balance and finish the day out. This is more common amongst artists than I thought. Although junk food can keep you going for horrible hours, it can’t offer you good starts or finishes to the day.
To resolve the matter, I started reading healthy food blogs and dietary blah blah blah blah…….Yeah, that is how I felt after trawling through tons of internet nonsense. However, a couple of websites did encourage me to keep a food journal to record what I was eating for analysis. Instead of analysing what I was eating, it had another effect on me. I wouldn’t eat junk food as I was too ashamed to write it down in the journal. I know the difference between good and bad food, I was just choosing to ignore the problems. So from day one of the journal, I’ve been eating lots of salads, legumes, veggies,seeds and nuts. It also has me eating breakfast again which has been out of my diet for years. I feel good, as well as less stodgy throughout the day.
4/ Fit body fit mind. This one is an obvious pointer. As up above, good food and exercise go hand in hand for some additional energy needed throughout the week. Not only to work but for the old noggin’ to function creatively. Everyone knows this. The only problem is that I hate exercise. So I resorted back to playing football, see this post for more tales of my failings – http://danielspencer.ie/blog/?p=1527 . And now I’m playing footie as well as going for the odd jog and hike throughout the week. Still I feel exercise is a bit of a boring task to do. The only appealing thing I like to do is get off of public transport half way home in order to take a long stroll home to clear my head, however I need a better solution personally for actually getting fit. The fact of the matter is I’ve let myself go over the past decade and yeah…..I’m paying for it now!
5/ Wear what’s suitable for the day. Be smart about your clothing, no matter how stupid it may sound, self image motivates. If you look the way you want to function, then you’ll be able to function more like how you project yourself. In the office, I wear shorts and tee, I’m comfortable, casual and set for working a really long day. At meetings, it’scasual wear or a suit depending on the meet and if somebody says to me ‘gentleman’s evening full of whiskeys and gin’ I’d knock on St.Vincent’s finest 3 piece suit.
6/ Do something bizarre that interacts with others for a few mins a day. Whether it be helping a granny across a street, doing an unexpected doodle for a work colleague or just becoming the clown for others to laugh at. If a good deed helps others smile, it’ll make you smile and keeps your insanity at bay. You can always smile and laugh at Youtube videos, but having other people to laugh with, makes you feel a thousand times better.
7/ To do lists. To do lists, to do lists, to do lists. Yep, there is only so much retention that my brain can take in one day, so I need to write a to do list in the morning, generally a to do list after lunch and definitely a to do list before I go to sleep. Once you start ticking off tasks, you’ll be accelerating our work load throughout the day. I think writing a to do list before the next day is essential, it allows your sleeping mind to accept the problems for the next day, as well as create some unconscious solutions for your problems
and lastly for today
8/ Make time for folk. No matter how busy you are, always make some time for the people you love, whether it be friends, family, or partners. They’ll be the people to pick you up when you’ve hit rock bottom. They’ll also respect and support you a lot more if you do make that extra effort to show that you miss them and need them even though you’re up to your eyes in work. Whether it be going for a mid week drink with a mate, bringing the family out to dinner or surprising your partner with an adventure trip somewhere. The people you make time for are the foundations for your success.
Hope the tips are of some use, they personally keep me from falling into some messy Paprika dreams.