Showing Up: Creative Timing for Freelancers | Lisa Griffin | Skillshare

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Showing Up: Creative Timing for Freelancers

teacher avatar Lisa Griffin, Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Dreams & Goals


    • 3.

      Time Charting


    • 4.

      Creative Scheduling


    • 5.

      Finding Flow


    • 6.

      Freelance & Family


    • 7.

      Class Project


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About This Class

Are you a freelancer that struggles with balancing work and family?

I am a mom and freelance illustrator, who has worked from a home-based studio for over 10 years. It can be a challenge to find a healthy balance between work and family. In this class, I will discuss how I have pursued my illustration career around a growing, active family.

You will learn how to:
• Define and prioritize your goals
• Practice "time charting" to record how you spend your day
• Recognize where time is being wasted
• Plan ahead for better creative flow

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Lisa Griffin



I’m Lisa, a freelance illustrator who creates whimsical art for children's books, gifts and stationery. 

Through a mixture of sketching, illustration and business classes, I want to encourage other artists and illustrators to pursue their passion for art. 
It can be difficult to find time for ourselves in this busy world, so I've designed classes that are easier to fit in a hectic schedule. Making time for art is important to level up skills and develop your style  - so keep that pencil moving and have fun CREATING ART!

Visit me on Instagram (@lisamgriffinart) where I post cute illustrations weekly. 

Freebies and class updates! If you want to s... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Welcome : Hi, My name is Lisa Griffin, and I'm a freelance illustrator. I work out of a home studio in beautiful New Hampshire, and I do this while surrounded by three very active Children. I will share with you the methods that I have used over the past 10 years to develop my freelance design and illustration career while having a fulfilling family life. In this class, we will discuss how to define and prioritize your own personal goals and discover where you have any time wasting habits. Will also talk about how to work with intention and more flexibility, and finally will discuss how to attain better creative flow. 2. Dreams & Goals: let's begin by finding out what our dreams and goals for the coming year will be. So here's where we prioritize and define our dreams and goals for the coming year, and what you see on your screen is a worksheet that I've provided for you in the class. It's the dreams and goals worksheet, and I would ask that you print it out and then build this top space with any thoughts that you have for the coming year. These convey be work related, family, personal, whatever comes to mind. I encourage you to put it down on the page. I did this ahead of time, and these were some of the aspirations I had for the coming year. Now, as you can see, some are big dreams, summer small. Some could probably be attainable pretty quickly, while others will require more work. The goal right now is to read through everything that you have put on the page, and we're going to see if any of these items in particular are calling out to you. Maybe it's something that you had done or try to do a few years ago, and it just didn't happen. So maybe you want to attack it again this year and see if you can complete it now. Whatever it is, I just say, Take your time. Read it over a few times, see what speaks to you. And we're gonna draw out three items from the group that you have on the page. Now, these three items are going to become your priority goals for the year. So I chose thes three things in all for different reasons. But these were after looking at this a few times and thinking about the ideas I had for the coming year and where I wanted to go professionally. These were the three items that really motivated me, that I was excited to get down, to work on and see where they would take me. So once you found the three goals you want to focus on this year, you now need to assign a deadline to each of them. Because, as you know, and as a freelancer, I'm sure you're very familiar with deadlines. Well, when we put something on the calendar with a deadline, it's you're saying to yourself I have to get it done by this certain date, and the same goes for personal goals or personal projects for ourselves. With the three items that you've selected, you now need to decide which item will you be able to accomplish in the smallest amount of time? And then obviously which item will take the longest, which will be the most challenging will require more work in effort. So when I looked at mine, I was able to decipher that in three months time there's a conference that I really would like to attend. So I put that in three months Lot, and the item that would take the most of my time to finish is a picture book dummy that I've been working on. So I put that one in the 12 months lot and the one that would fall in between. That would wouldn't be super easy to do and wouldn't be crazy challenging to dio that item I put in the six months lot. Now most of mine, actually, all mine are professionally related. You might find that some of yours it's a mixture. You might find you selected, maybe one that has to do with the home. Another might be a personal goal, like maybe running a marathon and Maybe the 3rd 1 is more professionally motivated and that's OK. This really is going to be specific to each individual. 3. Time Charting: in this part of the class, we will talk about time charting and if we're making the most use of our days. So how do you spend a typical day? I want you to be honest with yourself and keep track. Document how you spend each day for one week. Keep a notebook nearby. Take notes. Make marks If you're feeling really productive at a certain time of day, if you have low energy at another. If you know you're a slow starter in the morning that you're more productive in the afternoon. Take note of that. If you have scheduled things you need to do during the week, whether that's ah, exercise class, whether that's carpool getting kids back and forth from school making dinner, keep track of each of those things. Other things you need to keep track of our where you're procrastinating. Are you avoiding sitting down at the desk or being in the studio? Are you turning on Netflix? Are you surfing around the Internet? This is important to discover, because thes air time wasting habits are you distracted by your phone. Digital media is huge nowadays, and it is a very big distraction. We need to make no of any of these items in our schedule. So once it's down on paper and you're actually seeing the minutes that turn into hours that could be used in other areas of your life, you know where you can be more productive. We discover any of thes time wasted habits. And if they are attached to a digital distraction, we then can figure out better ways to make use of our time as well as to cut the cord on some of these digital items, or at least during the time we're trying to be productive. The problem being that emails, texts, alerts actually pull us out of what we're doing. And it takes our mind an average of 20 minutes to reset and refocus on that original task at hand. This adds up to be significant time throughout the course of our day, especially if you're working on a personal goal. A lot of times it's easier is the freelancer to sit down and work on that paying gig cause you know you're earning something. You know you have that check that will come in the mail once it's completed, while your time charting the other important item to remember is to know how your energy levels are. So are you more of a morning person versus a night owl? Do you feel happy and energized as soon as your feet hit the floor in the morning? And at what part of the day are you the most tired? For me? I am a morning person, and I hit a a low or hall, probably around three o'clock in the afternoon. Which makes sense, because if I've been very productive and active for most of that morning, I would have a dip in energy come the afternoon. So keep track of that. You're so really look at the hours, see where you're happiest, where you feel most focused and productive. And that's where you want to do the crux of your creative work in the afternoon, when you're less energy or my example where I have, like, less energy, that's where I might do a load of laundry or do some dishes. Or that's actually where I like to hang out with the kids. When they come home from school. I'll sit down with them and have a snack, and we'll talk about their day so That's how I want you to analyze your own day and see when you can take advantage of those peak times. This is the included download that I have available for you in the class. You can still take notes in a notebook. I found that very handy, but I did this worksheet myself, and I did it for 14 days, just as, ah, small experiment. And it was really amazing what I found. So ask yourself some of these questions, use this pie chart and fill it in. You know, with the hours you slept on a given day when you woke up. If you had to run any errands when you sat down and did some work, and after you've kept track of that for several days, you'll start seeing patterns, and then you can see how can I adjust this schedule to make it more beneficial to me? How can I put in more family hours? How can I put in more work hours? Where was I wasting time and be honest with yourself when you're filling this in and when you're evaluating it? 4. Creative Scheduling: creative scheduling is all about carving out time for you. You already defined and prioritized your goals for the year. You've done time charting. So hopefully you've discovered some high energy times the optimal production time of day in any time wasting habits. So what next? Now you need to take action, carbo time in your day and show up. So using that time charting what did you discover? Did you find out that you are more of a morning person than an evening person? Did you see those time wasting habits that you can eliminate, or at least pared down? Did you discover that you actually had a little more time in your day available for your work As a freelancer, we have to be flexible, but more importantly, as a freelancer who's balancing family, we have to be accountable. We have to make as much use of the time in the day that we have is possible. I'd like to share with you how I did this when my Children were little. I've been a freelancer over 10 years now, and I've always done so from my home studio. I actually began when I was pregnant with my first child, and we now have three Children. The reason I want to give you this background is because if you're in this situation now, where you have very young Children at home or even a a baby, I understand it can be difficult. What I did in those times was I absorbed those little bundles. You know, I definitely cherished that time. And then I would work late into the evening that when they were sleeping, I would work while they napped. I worked on weekends when my husband was home and available to help out. I just worked in these sporadic bursts because those hours do add up, and it's certainly better toe work for an hour a day than not at all. My client base was smaller than so. I mainly focused on building my portfolio, maintaining the relationships I had and networking, and this did lead to progress. It led to people talking about me word of mouth referrals. It led to a better portfolio that was attracting more clients so that hard work and effort did pay off. I did this without owning a smartphone as well, which it's so funny if you bring that up now. It seems like we can't even remember what life was like prior to that. But I thought that was an important feature to note. This was all done without the use of a smartphone. My creative schedule now is different. The kids are older, so they are in school during the day. And luckily for me, I am more of a morning person. So I'm making best use of those mornings. The house is quiet. I can do really focused work, and then I'm available to them when they come home in the afternoon. My typical work week is a six day week. I like to take calls and meetings in the afternoon when that's feasible. That way I have those uninterrupted mornings. My client base has grown because I have more dedicated time in the studio. I have been able to grow that base and as well as I've been doing this for well over 10 years now. So through word of mouth through going to conferences through just social media efforts, it's grown. So I do have to delegate more time now between those paid assignments and my personal projects. That's a balance I didn't have to deal with as much when the Children were much smaller. And certainly now the digital distractions. My iPhone is not within reach when I am doing my focused. When I my focus work, when I'm working with intent on something, I just can't be interrupted by dings and alerts. So if it's out of reach, if I'm not seeing it or hearing it, I can just focus on the work at hand. And creative flow comes much easier to me now because I have that dedicated time. I would encourage you to start small, plan out small daily tasks. I really believe that setting these Mahler tiny daily goals for yourself helps institute this sense of purpose. You feel accomplishment as you cross items off your list and know that each item is getting you one step closer to that bigger goal. And also remember, everyone has fear. Everyone starts to doubt what they're doing. Doubt their purpose and the negative thoughts then spiral. And that's typically what leads to procrastination. That fear makes you want to just get up and walk away or sometimes run away. But if you can get a handle on that, if you can refocus your thoughts and energy and think back to why you started in the first place. What your motivation is. Why you want to reach that goal. It'll help you plow right through those negative feelings. I plan out my month with daily and weekly tasks, and I record these in a regular, spiral bound weekly planner. The one I chose has a note section and big chunky blocks for the days of the week that allows me to scribble away and right in all my tasks. I approach it with several daily tasks and then three large weekly ones, which will require more time. I find working this way, it's manageable. There's flexibility to it in case something pops up. And like I said, I love just scratching through an item on my list. It feels so great. It's such a wonderful sense of accomplishment. At the end of the day, I update my planner. I do not leave the studio until I've taken the time toe look over what I accomplished for the day and what I need to do the next day. This way, I go to bed with peace of mind, knowing when I arrive in the morning with ready with that fresh start that I can do so, knowing exactly where I need to begin. I've included a few examples of what daily tasks could be. So as you can see, it could be something like course we shopping the laundry, visiting the post office. It also could be focusing on a personal project like creating a new greeting card layout or sending approved off to a client. But they are more simple tasks that can be done in shorter periods of time. Weekly tasks require more attention. They're a little more intensive. That's why I only assigned myself 2 to 3 of these a week. I know they'll require more time and energy and focus. I have talked at length about creative scheduling and how I've used that in my freelance career and in how I balance family with work. Ultimately, you need to do what works for you. So when you plan your creative schedule planet around your life, you can try out some of the items I've suggested, tweet them, tailor them to fit your life, your family, and remember to be flexible. Things can change week to week, and that's okay that's life. But just remember, remember that Follow through. Show up for yourself. Even if you only have a few minutes one day. That's OK. Show up for those few minutes and don't give up. 5. Finding Flow: how do we focus and find our creative flow? Creative flow is often explained as a fully immersed state of mind. Where time seems to stop, you completely lose track of the outside world, your happy feeling in control and highly productive on a single task. That sounds pretty perfect, right? You could achieve so much if at the snap of your fingers, creative flow was there. You were in that mindset, but it doesn't always happen that way. So how can we go about finding better creative flow and the best thing we can to who is to Instead of multitasking, which so much of us do nowadays? We need to focus on a single task. You cannot achieve creative flow if your mind is running in eight different directions so focused on a single task, remove any distractions from around you and avoid any interruptions, which often the distractions. Being a phone is also an interruption because it will ding in it, alert you when there's an I am or a text or a message. The other item you want to consider is to focus on when your energy is at its highest. So if that for you was in the afternoon. That's when you should try to schedule a few hours to really sit down and focus. So you confined your best creative flow, my days in the studio. What I'm hoping to have that highly focused production time and achieve creative flow. I have a very standard prep in the morning. I find this works well for me because it almost helps light go on in my head that says, OK, we're get we're preparing. We're getting ready for a really intense production period. And to do this, it's first. I know what one goal I want to focus on, and it's typically a weekly task that I've already chosen for myself. That I knew ahead of time would be more challenging and require focused. And then I'll have my tea, my breakfast, do a quick yoga practice, and I sit down to a very clean and Uncluttered workspace. Doing all these things allows me to arrive in the studio feeling relaxed and ready to work . I don't keep my phone nearby. It's across the studio, so I also don't use it for any timers or APS. I have heard other people have great success with that. But when I did try it, I found it really distracting to me. If I was working, I wanted to write that wave as long as it would last, and I d I didn't want a buzzer after 30 or 45 minutes to say, Okay, you're done. Take a break. So instead, I just rely on knowing when I'll need a break. In that way, I can just stay focused. And in that happy place for as long as possible, you set up for creative flow. You need to ask yourself, What do you want to achieve? What is that goal that you're you want to attain and then really, honestly evaluate that goal? Is it too easy? Is it to difficulty for you right now? You want to find that middle ground, and it should match your skill set. And the reason I say that is because with creative flow, it's already difficult to train your mind to focus on. One task were very much yes to multitasking, especially as a freelancer and apparent where well versed in wearing many hats and that doesn't work with a flow state to keep your mind on that one single task finding something that is not overwhelming to you, where you'll just stop and quit or board where your mind will easily wander is key. Take a look at your surroundings, and are there any distractions nearby that you can eliminate? Do you have a creative routine and place that could be lighting a candle that could be going for a walk To really get those juices flowing and coming back to sit down and focus on your work at hand and make sure you have at least an hour to set aside. That way you can truly work with intent without interruption. 15 minutes is not feasible. In order to achieve a true creative flow, you need to think like an athlete. And I love this analogy because I'm not a runner, but it speaks to me. You are not a sprinter, you are a long distance runner, and that means endurance is key. You need to find that creative rhythm you need to show up and pound the pavement, and you need to ask yourself, how bad do I want this will meeting that goal really affect my life in a positive fashion? And if it does, if you have that desire to really make it happen right now, you will. All of these things are within your control. 6. Freelance & Family: finding balance through freelance and family. I wanted to leave you with a few final thoughts. Namely, your dreams and goals are very important. Don't be afraid to show up for yourself. One little change in your schedule, hopefully through something you discovered with the time charting will make such a big difference. Those minutes, those hours, they add up. And it's all about progress when you show up when you devote the time to yourself. When you take those little steps, it accumulates and you'll be amazed at what you can accomplish. Everything I've shared here with you throughout the course of this class, their items I've developed over years in years of working from home. So my thought is that you really need to take what works for you because this is all about you. Take what you need and leave the rest. Design a schedule that works around where you are today. I say this from experience in the hopes that it will help you maintain a sense of humor and flexibility when it comes to your work. Life balance every summer vacation. So the months of June, July and August I have to tailor a whole new schedule creative schedule because it's summer and the Children are home a lot more. I have clients that are taking vacations. I take vacations. You just need to rule with it. Keep tabs on what works well, what you can do to improve your routines and Crete creative timing and know that it's a work in progress through consistent time and effort. You will see progress. Be stubborn about this. Don't give up. Be kind to yourself on the days that don't work. Know that every day won't go exactly as you had planned and then let that go and show up the next day. Put in a few extra minutes, if you can. And if not, just hunker down and keep going. Know that when those bumps in the road occur when we have those bad days, can we treat any of them? Has a learning experience, laugh it off and move on? If you're at the start of your career, I just encourage you keep going. Keep plugging away through consistency. You will see that client base grow. You will see your work improve. If you're feeling stuck or you have creative block. I hope you can revisit why you began this freelance career in the first place. Get back to those core values and see if that can re sent to you and give you that burst of energy that you might be searching for. Their have been struggles in my own career. I attribute my longevity to just having a stubborn streak that's a mile wide. That and I think just a love of what I do in the benefit. While there are challenges to working out of your house, there's the greater benefit of feeling that I am here for my Children when they need me, even if it's a time where I have to be behind a closed door in the studio. I am here and they know I'm here. They feel that presence. So just continue on. I really hope that I've shared something with you or motivated you in some way that you can tailor it to your own experience. Seeing what can be accomplished in the course of a 10 year career, all while balancing family life and working from home is amazing, and I'm I'm hoping to encourage you to do the same if you haven't already. I've been able to grow my illustration career. I've published picture books with some wonderful authors and publishing houses, and now I've begun to dabble more in art licensing. It's extremely fulfilling, and my kids air here watching my dreams come true. I would like to share one personal story with you about how our Children really do notice things that were not even aware of. My youngest son went to school one day and told his teacher that his mommy had won the Cal Takata. And if you're not familiar that Cal Dukat is the highest award that someone in Children's publishing can receive, it's given to a book Children's Picture Book once a year and to clarify, I did not Win the Cal Dukat. One of the stories I worked on as an illustrator was awarded, but it was a mom's choice award, so I had to explain to the teacher a little further. We were all very excited that Mommy had won an award. It unfortunately, was not the Celtic Ott. So I share this with you because I do believe that it is so important for our Children to see us working towards our own dreams and goals. And if we can believe in our Children, why can't we believe in ourselves? 7. Class Project: for the class project. I ask if you'd like to share one of the downloadable sheets that you completed or if you have a new project that you were able to finish as a result of this class. Share that too. Thank you for taking time out of your day to try out this class. And I really hope it left you with some ideas and motivational inspiration for how you confined creative timing in your own life. And please, if you're on Facebook, feel free to request a link. I created a private group so that we could continue to offer support to one another as well as share progress.