Healthy Habits For The Freelancer | Thomas Pitilli | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Healthy Habits For The Freelancer

teacher avatar Thomas Pitilli, Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (27m)
    • 1. Class Introduction

    • 2. Designating Your Hours

    • 3. Making Lists

    • 4. Keeping A Tidy Workspace

    • 5. Changing Your Environment

    • 6. 20 min Tip

    • 7. Importance Of Sleep

    • 8. Staying Hydrated

    • 9. Dealing With Stress

    • 10. Closing/Class Assignment

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

In this class, I talk about some healthy habits that have helped me become healthier and more productive throughout my freelance career. Although flexible and empowering, the freelance lifestyle can also be hectic and stressful at times. This class is geared towards anyone trying to make the freelance life work for them, while maintaining overall health and well being.

This is a super foundational class and I cover a lot of very basic tips that one can implement, especially someone who is very new to working as a freelancer. In this class we will cover:

• Designating work hours

•The importance of making listst

•Keeping a tidy workspace

•Working on location

•The 20 minute tip for concentration 

•The importance of sleep

•Hydrating yourself throughout the day

•Dealing with stress

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Thomas Pitilli



My name is Thomas Pitilli and I am an illustrator and comic book artist based in Brooklyn, NY.

I am currently series artist on the Riverdale monthly comic from Archie Comics and artist on DC Comic's upcoming graphic novel, Gotham High. I also create editorial illustrations for clients such as, New York Times, Playboy, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Scholastics, Scientific American, etc. 

In addition to my client work, I am an adjunct professor at Montclair State University, where I teach a class in Cartooning. I am grateful to Skillshare for offering a platform where I can share my knowledge of cartooning and illustration with a global audience.

Finally, I also enjoy creating images for prints and other merchandise in my Etsy and Society6 shops. See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Class Introduction: Hello. My name is Thomas Patil E. And I'm an illustrator and cartoonist. Welcome to my first skill share class on healthy habits for the freelancer. I've been a full time freelancer now for the last five years, and along the way I've developed some tips, tricks and hacks to better increase my productivity and focus as well as try my best to maintain overall well being. This class is for the person who's brand new at freelance or the 9 to 5 or who's thinking about becoming a freelancer. There are no specific tools required for this class, except for perhaps a notebook and a pen to take notes. I would hope that this class is just to get the wheels turning and hopefully point you into a good direction. Hopefully, some of these tips will lead you to develop some of your own tips. So before we get started, I think it's appropriate to share a quote with you. That has to do with habits and it goes something like this. You might have heard it before, but it's good. Habits are hard to implement, but easy to live with. Bad habits are easy to implement, but hard to live with. Something to think about before we get started. But without further ado, let's get started and jump right into it. Looking forward to seeing you in the first tip. All right, take care. 2. Designating Your Hours: All right, so this first tip is gonna be really, really obvious. And I don't mean to insult your intelligence on this, but sometimes we overlook the most obvious thing. So it's it's best to start with the most basic stuff, and we'll build up from here. But, um, this one is really just designating your work hours. Um, super important. Something that I didn't do when I was first starting out. And, um, if you don't do this, it's really easy to fall into the trap of working all the time and, um, and getting even less done in a weird way. So designate, like the hours that you ideally want to work. It's a framework, and it's a plan. It doesn't always go as planned, obviously. But if if, on average, if more than often you're working within a certain parameter of ours, it's long term gonna be really healthy for you. So sometimes you'll obviously go over. If you plan on working from 10 to 6, you know, some days you might have to work until seven or eight, but overall, on average, set out at the time that you would like to be working in the time of the day that you wouldn't like to be working as well, so that you could feel that time up with mawr, extracurricular things, personal life stuff, whatever it might be. So, um, it's obviously gonna be different for everybody, depending on if you're a morning person or a night person. Also, your client work is gonna dictate a lot of that to like. For instance, if you're a personal trainer, you're probably gonna be working in the morning before people go to work and you're gonna be working throughout the day. Whereas if you're a musician, you're probably gonna be working more so in the evening hours. So determine what works best for you as well as, um, the type of profession that you're in and, uh, writing this stuff down. You know, beforehand really, really helps. I I think one of the things that I didn't dio starting out was was write these things down and try my best to stick to them as much as possible, remind myself of these things and stick to them as much as possible. The other really great thing about being a freelancer is that all these these plans and these rules that you set their super malleable. You could change them. Sometimes it's seasonal. Sometimes it's twice a year. You will completely change up your schedule as to what is working best for you at that time and what's making you most productive. So, um, give this one a shot before everything. Um, if you if you if you haven't started off your freelance profession yet, write it all down like your hours What? When you're working, when you're not working, when you're resting, when you're not resting all that kind of stuff. If if you're new to freelance, um, it's never too late to sort of reorganize your day in your hours and try your best to stick to this so super foundational super basic. But I think it's really important to designate your hours 3. Making Lists : all right, so I'm sure a lot of you might already do this one. But this one took a while for me to actually implement. And it was only until I implemented it that I realized how helpful it really is, which is just making lists. I always have phone reminders which are super helpful, and my calendar and my phone is always full. Uh, and that's great, because it could send you reminders and all that kind of stuff, but that for some reason, the act of writing down a list on paper and then crossing them off every time you do one of those things, there's a certain satisfaction to it, and there's also I take them on My wall were on my desk where I could see them every day, and it's even more of a reminder for me. I don't know what it is. There's something about having written it down, and once I write it down physically with a pencil and paper, it seems like I can't not do it now on I leave it there until it's completed. And like I said, the feeling of crossing these things off of your list, um, it starts this like momentum going like you're doing things. And I put sometimes really, really small things on that list to just to get the momentum going as best as possible. So, um, yeah, I think calendar and phone reminders are really important to, but there's something to be said about physical lists. And like I said, I know a lot of you do this already, but if you don't, I didn't do it for years. And once I started doing this, I realized that my productivity went up. I also realized that there was a lot of things that I was thinking about that I was forgetting about because I wasn't writing them down. So now, anytime I have an idea or there's something that I want to complete that week or that month , I write that down immediately, and once I write it down, it's like I'll never forget it. So, um, lists are really, really important. They also don't have to be fancy. I use scrap paper, I repeat paper up, and once I've completed the whole list that I rip up the whole thing. There's something enjoyable about that, too, I don't know, but again, another really obvious one but super super helpful. And it took me a while to, ah, to put that into my routine. But it has helped quite a bit, so I suggest making lists physical lists as as often as you can. 4. Keeping A Tidy Workspace: are you one of those messy people like you could have papers everywhere and clothes everywhere, piles of books all around you and still be super productive. Um, if you are, that's awesome. But I'm totally not. I can't think straight if things are super messy. I'm not super, super clean and super super neat, either. But I need to have a clean as clean of a workspace is possible. It just does something to my mind. It's like it opens up all the doors and I can think and focus, and I'm also more inclined to sit and work longer and get less distracted when I have a clean and neat workspace. So I recommend that as much as possible. A lot of times, my workspace looks different at the beginning of the week than at the end of the week. Things get progressively messier and a little bit more chaotic as the week goes on. But I like to take that time, whether it's an hour or two or maybe on a Sunday and just tidy up as much as possible, put things in their place, throw things out, get rid of things clean my desk sometimes even just something that simple is like spring it down and wiping all the marks away from it. Um, it just it just creates like this space in my mind. There's, like, a direct correlation, and maybe there's like, studies on this or something. But there's a direct correlation between my physical surroundings and my mental surrounding . So, um, if you're one of those people who are like me and need a tidy space to think assed clearly as possible, I recommend doing this. I recommend working it into your routine as much as possible. Like I said, maybe on a Sunday you take out an hour or two just to, like, tidy up as much as possible, depending on how much of a mess you made throughout the week. But, um, if you're not, and you could thrive in a really messy environment than kudos to you, I wish I was that type of person. But, um, if you're not, this tip might be helpful. So, uh, yeah, take some time out and it doesn't even to be that long. Sometimes I might just be 1/2 hour just really quickly tidying up, but it could make the world a difference in terms of mental space and productivity and all that kind of stuff. So, yeah, give that one a shot. 5. Changing Your Environment: This next tip has really been a big one for me within the last year or so, which is changing up my workspace. I used to work, um, almost exclusively from my home studio here and, uh, only took a few years for me to realize that it was driving me crazy. Um, the same sort of routine and the same environment on also the feeling of isolation, especially when the weather is a little challenging, maybe in the winter time and things like that. So, um, my work has become increasingly mawr digital as the years go on. So I work from a sin teak tablet, for instance, and I realized that I could take that with me and work in different environments and change it up. And like I said, it's been a huge game changer for me. Um, just I work in public spaces at work, in shared spaces, whatever it might be, uh, the idea of having different people around me, different sounds, different environments. Sometimes it's too loud. Sometimes it's not loud enough. Whatever it might be, it really, really helps me, uh, just throughout the day, Um and it's more of like a mental thing, if anything, and I actually wanted getting more work done, I'm able to get get less distracted. There's something to be said about working around other people who were working, and I think, um, an obvious solution to this might be to get a studio outside of your home. But sometimes that's not within everyone's budget. So this is actually a pretty inexpensive, most of times free way of getting to work in spaces where other people are around. Perhaps it opens up doors for networking. Ah, and at the very least, it's just good to hear other people's voices around you and just not be completely isolated . Um, I've also found that there's something to be said about the, uh, the commute to and from work as it is there. There's a very decompressing aspect of that. When you're on the train or driving, or however you get to and from where you're going, there's that's missing sometimes in the freelance life. So a lot of times it's very easy to just get up out of bed and start working. But that decompression before you go in and after it makes the world of difference. I've also realized that it's really good for me now to separate my work life outside of my home, and then when I'm home, I could just do home things and relax and recharge and use my home. It's just a healthy sort of sanctuary, as opposed to a place that I'm just always working in. So if you can, if you're profession allows you to be somewhat mobile, I totally suggest that if you're a writer or a Web designer or somebody that could just work on a laptop, there's so many places, I assure you, within the city or town that you live in, that you can take advantage of and work outside of your home if that's an issue for you. So like I said, it didn't become an issue for me until, ah, few years into it. But, uh, doing this has made the world of difference. So in terms of productivity and overall just mental health and even just networking, it can open up doors for for your own business, you never know. So give that one a shot. If that's something you're interested in, it's definitely helped me 6. 20 min Tip: Okay, so this tip is called the 20 minute tip. Um, I made this one up, and I was sort of intuitively doing this for a couple of years every now and then. And then I came across a study that actually, um, sort of backed it up scientifically, which I thought was kind of cool. It's called the 20 minute tip because essentially, um, our concentration peaks at 20 minutes. Whether we're studying or working on a project or even listening to a presentation or something like that are con our concentration Will will start to wane after 20 minutes. And we started thinking about other things and drift away, no matter how interesting uh that thing might be or how captivating that thing might be. So I find with work when I'm trying, Teoh get a lot done in a short amount of time. Or perhaps I'm trying to focus on something that's a bit tedious. And maybe I'm not as interested in it as I could be Or, um, just just general project that I might be working on that I really want to dive into, um What I do is I implement this 20 minute tip and essentially, it's just working for 20 minutes. Really focused. So you're shutting everything off. Your phone is away from you on silent. You're not getting distracted by emails or text messages. If you're working on your computer, all your Web browsers, a hidden, um, the only thing that you could really see other than the thing that you're working on is the clock. And at 20 minutes, you want to completely stop what you're doing and take a break for like, 123 minutes on that break should be something that is completely opposite from the thing that you were working on. So you want to get up, maybe walk around, look at a book, uh, use the bathroom, whatever it might be. Have a drink of water. Um, whatever it might be, that's completely opposite from the thing that you were working on. So then you sort of re adjust your focus and your concentration, and then you go back for another 20 minutes, completely undistracted just working on that. And, um, I found that stringing along like stringing together 5 to 6 of these 20 minutes sessions, I get so much more done than if I were to do a straight hour and 1/2 2 hours on something because within that two hours, I've might have gotten distracted so many times. I'm gonna check email since text message, um, started working on something else, whatever it might be. Um, even though I think I'm focusing on that thing if if you're not playing this little game with yourself, um, it's kind of hard to maintain a strong focus for more than 20 minutes. So, like I said, it is kind of like a game, and it's it's actually really fun. And, um, But after a few sessions of those, you see how much you actually did it. It makes the work a little bit more interesting and makes it more fun. And you actually want it getting a lot more done, too. So, um, I definitely recommend throwing this one in there. Um, I don't do this all day long. That's not how I structure my day, but for specific areas and first for specific projects. It has definitely helped me in the past. I definitely recommend you give it a shot 7. Importance Of Sleep: I remember when I was in art school and I used to work throughout the night a lot. I was back then. I was like a real night owl and I wouldn't really get much sleep. And throughout the day, I would just get progressively more and more and more tired and sometimes result in like a three PM naptime that I didn't even really want to take. So as the years have gone on, I've actually become warm or of early Bird and I really value my sleep. It's like super super important. Any time you're doing any kind of focused work, whether again, whether you're a writer or an illustrator or designer or whatever kind of freelance profession you have, oftentimes you're actually gonna be, ah, lot more accountable because it's your business. This is everything comes down to you. So you really have Teoh be as focused as possible. And one of the things that I've found that helps me focus as much as possible is sleep. Um, I'm one of those guys that really need eight hours. Nine is cool. 10 would be great, but I don't even have time for that. But eight hours is like is really super helpful. Some people really only need, like, five hours, so identify like what person you are. Do you need more sleep? Do you need less sleep? But definitely don't cheat yourself out of sleep. It's super super important. Um, naps air cooled to, uh, every now and then a 20 minute nap. I don't think I ever heard anybody. So, uh, yeah, I definitely suggest getting as much sleep and like designating your sleep time. So if you've found that you are actually a night person and you like toe work, um, in the night hours, maybe, Ah, your sleep maybe wake up at, like, noon or something like that. But as long as you realize you're getting sufficient amount of sleep for your personal peak productivity and performance, um, I think that's like super important to implement into your schedule like Justus. Much as like your working hours and your nonworking hours, I would write down like how many hours you intend to sleep per night and and really try to stick that as much as possible. Probably change on the weekends and things like that. But as's faras, your work week goes, um, try to stick to that as much as possible. Over, uh, the long term you're going to see that payoff substantially. Um, the freelance lifestyle can easily burn you out. And if you don't take some of these precautions t sort of recharge, you could easily get burnt out. So sleep is like, that's how that's how our bodies recharge. And, um, and also like, how our brains recharge and build new connections and all this kind of stuff that I don't even really understand. But, uh, yeah, so I suggest factoring in a good quality sleep, identifying how many hours you need to sleep and really writing that down, adding that into your schedule, at least during the work week. So, yeah, give that one a shot and let me know how it goes. 8. Staying Hydrated : All right, so here's another really basic one, but super helpful. And I really don't mean to sound like your mother with this or anything like that. But you got to remember to drink water. I drink a lot of water throughout the day. Our brains air 75% water or something like that. That's how we feed it, you know, are you feed your stomach and your body with food and and all that your brain is with water and oxygen. So in order to focus and do a lot of your best work and stay alert and, um, not get super tired, you want to drink a lot of water? Um, in addition to breathing, you know, you want to drink a lot of water like other kinds of liquids don't count like coffee and soda and even tea and stuff like that. Like just straight up water really, really helps. Um, it also forces you to take breaks, which is also healthy because you're gonna have to use the bathroom, uh, at least once an hour or something like that. So, um, yeah, it's really healthy, healthy and super basic. But when I was younger and when I was just starting out, I used to not do that. And I think that's where a lot of the burnout kind of came from. And a lot of those like, um, getting sleepy in the middle of the day and all that kind of stuff. So I keep a water nearby. And when I when I worked remotely a keep a big bottle of water with me. Um, so I recommend that again. It's a really super simple one. But over the years, uh, that's that's one that helps me stay healthy as well. Sometimes when you're stressed out or when you're working and you're sitting down for long extended amounts of time, it's easy to to sort of get sick that way. So, yeah, water real basic. Uh, it could be your best friend. I just drank some right before I filmed this. So, uh, keep it handy and trying to implement that. A zoo much you can if you don't already 9. Dealing With Stress: No matter what profession you're in, there's gonna be some level of stress involved on freelance is no different than any other kind of job. Some people's profession is more stressful than others. But, um, when it all kind of comes down to you and it starts to you and it ends with you and maybe there might be slow periods, all this kind of stuff can be stressful. So I recommend having some sort of thing in your life that can combat stress as as much as possible. We're all human, and we all get stressed out. We all have our bad days, but to minimize those as much as possible and Teoh try to stay as stress free as much as possible, I think is definitely a healthy thing. So that's different for everybody. Everybody does it different. Some people meditates and people do yoga. Some people exercise, Uh, some people spend time with their family and friends, whatever it might be like, whatever you have to do to, uh, de stress and and sort of step away from the work factor that into your schedule, you know, maybe you don't work certain days like it's just like instead of maybe you work on Saturday and Sunday but like Wednesday and Thursday, Gio days, You know that you don't you don't work at all. And, um, you know, that's when you do a lot of your extracurricular kind of stuff. You might, you know, just completely unplug and walk away from from the work a little bit. I think all that's really healthy. It's different, very right. Some people, you know, need less of that time, and some people need more of that time. You just sort of have to figure out who you are. And, um, I think like early on, it's best to think about these things and sort of, uh, you know, plan around them. I didn't start thinking about this kind of stuff until the last year or two. So, um, it's earlier the better to to factor in some sort of like de stressor. Um, it could be even music. It could be, ah ha. Be whatever it is, Have something there, have multiple things and make sure, like you sort of make time for them just the same way you make time for certain work related things like make time for those things because, um, that's the stuff that ultimately is going to feed back into your work. If you're stupid, stressed all the time over the course of time, like your work's gonna sell for your client, relationships are going to suffer. Um, so this is definitely a good investment. And, um, whatever you love to do, whatever chills you out, whatever brings you some sort of peace, Just, you know, um, make that a priority for sure in your life. So this one is sort of like open ended, but, um, factored into your schedule sometimes without writing it down without sort of prominent promising yourself that you're gonna give it that time you might overlook it. You might not do it, so definitely factor this one in and, uh, and and see how it affects your overall well being. 10. Closing/Class Assignment: So congratulations, You made it to the end. That's all the tips I have for now. But I'm hoping that you got something out of that as far as a class assignment goes, what I would love for you to do is to pick one of these tips that I suggested and implement one of them a week, see what works and see what doesn't work. The only way to figure it out is to try it. Um, just pick one a week and see how you like it. If for that week it only did harm to your to your productivity and all that kind of stuff, which I highly doubt. But if it did and don't use it, if it did help, keep it and then try another one the next week and try to compound that as much as possible . Um, there's a great Ted talk by a guy named B. J. Fogg who talks about implementing habits, and the best way to do it is to do it really, really tiny. Uh, all these tiny little habits that build up over time. Over the course of a year or several years, you'll really see how these things have impacted your life. So that's my suggestion to you. Try to implement one of them a week and see over the course of a month over the course of two months how this might have impacted you positively. Um, I would love for you to let me know how this works for you. What tips work best for you. Sometimes it's like I said, those super obvious ones or the ones we're not doing, and Teoh consciously implement them could make the world of difference. So I'm hoping you got something out of this class, and I'm looking forward to see any kind of progress that you might have made. Let me know, Feel free to send me a message and email, and I love to hear how this might have helped you. So thanks so much for watching. I had a lot of fun sharing this stuff with you, and I'm hoping to make more classes in the future. So stay tuned all right. Until then, take care. Bye.