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It's OK to have one of those days.Wednesday this past week started like any other day. I got up around 7:45 to see my wife off to work, then went to the kitchen to feed our cat and dog before going to the living room and turning on the TV.
I fast-forwarded through SportsCentre, which I record every day at 4 am. I watch the hockey and soccer highlights and then usually skip through most of the other sports.
Once done with SportsCentre, I switched on a Canadian morning news show called Your Morning. As a designer, the show's logo drives me crazy, but I like the hosts, and they usually cover some interesting topics. It’s been part of my morning routine for years.
This takes me to 9 am when I normally start my day. But on Wednesday, when Your Morning wrapped up, instead of turning off the TV, I sat there as Live with Kelly and Ryan started. I don't usually watch this show, but I decided to sit through their opening dialogue. After 20 minutes of this, I realized why I rarely watch the show and turned it off.
I made my way to my office, which is only 10 steps away from where I was and sat down to begin my day.
I had an issue with a website the day before and had sent an email to the support team at SiteGround to see if they had any ideas.
I normally don’t look at my email first thing in the morning, preferring to wait until noon to read through them. But I checked it on Wednesday morning and found the anticipated reply email from Siteground waiting for me with the info I had been hoping for.
I made the necessary adjustments to the website and then sent an email to my client saying the problem was fixed.
With that out of the way, it was time to look at my To-Do list. I had seven things on my list,
- Design podcast cover artworks for client A.
- Design podcast cover artworks for client B.
- Start a new website for client C.
- Finish website for Client D.
- Create social media header images for Client E.
- Perform a podcast brand audit for Client F
- Read and reply to an RFP (Request For Proposal.)
None of them had a pressing deadline, and none seemed very appealing at the time. I couldn’t decide which one to tackle first. Instead, I decided to have a shower.
45 minutes later (I lost track of time standing under the showerhead,) I was back at my computer.
I saw my email program was still open and decided what the heck, and went through my inbox, which killed about 30 minutes and brought me to 11:30 am.
Looking again at my to-do list, there was nothing there that would only take the 30 minutes I had until lunch.
Let me interject here. I’ve been doing IF, Intermittent Fasting for the past couple of years. It’s a way of managing my weight without actually dieting.
The way I do it is to only eat between the hours of 12 noon and 6 pm. I can eat anything I want, within reason, of course, as long as it falls within that window of time. From 6 pm until noon the next day, all I have is water.
That means that by noon each day, I’m hungry. And the idea of starting a new project 30 minutes before my eating window opened was not very appealing to me. So instead, I decided to go for a walk.
We’ve had an unusually mild week this past week, and I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and get some exercise.
I walked around the block, a 2.5 KM loop or 1.55 miles for you Americans, before arriving back home in time for lunch.
During lunch, I turned on the TV again and switched to Netflix. I’ve been watching Suits lately and am really enjoying it. I was halfway through season 2, so I put on an episode while I ate.
This episode had a guest character that I recognized but couldn’t remember where I had seen before. You know how it is. You know the person but can't place them. It keeps nagging at you.
So when the episode was over, and I went back to my office, I opened up the trusty IMDB and looked up that episode instead of getting to work. The actor was Scott Grimes, and the show I recognized him from was The Orville, where he plays ship pilot Gordon.
That was one nagging thing satisfied. But now I was wondering when The Orville would return. So I searched for that. I couldn’t find any definitive answer as to when The Orville will return, but in my search, a couple of the websites I visited had sidebar mentions of the new Disney plus show WandaVision, which I had watched the first 4 episodes on the weekend.
The links were talking about all the Marvel Easter eggs in the series. Curiosity peaked, I clicked through to a YouTube video that went over episode one.
Now I’m not going to go over all the videos I ended up watching, but needless to say, YouTube is a rabbit trail, and I was there for much longer than I planned on.
Luckily, I had set myself a 10-minute reminder for a video chat I had scheduled at 2 pm with a new podcast artwork client.
After refilling my water bottle, I set up my equipment and launched Zoom. The guy showed up right on time, which was nice. Plenty of them schedule a meeting and then show up several minutes late.
Anyway. These meetings normally last between 15-20 minutes, where we discuss things about the podcast they’re starting. Things such as what their topic will be? What makes them qualified to talk on this topic? What is the purpose of starting a podcast? Who is it for? What format are they going to do (Solo, interview, mixed)? And so on.
As I said, these meetings normally last between 15-20 minutes, but this guy seemed very eager but also very naive to all things podcasting. So I started asking him questions that had nothing to do with the artwork he was hiring me to design. We ended up talking for 45 minutes before ending the call.
It was now 2:45 pm, and I decided it was time for a snack. I stuck my AirPods in my ears, started up a podcast and when to the kitchen to find something to stuff my face with.
I chose a 30-minute podcast and decided to finish it before getting back to work. When I finally did, the first thing I did was open up Facebook and check in on the Resourceful Designer group.
I read through the various posts, leaving comments whenever I deemed them. Then I checked a few other groups I belong to before saying enough is enough and shut it down.
Then it was back to checking my email and replying to a few. Then checking in on the Resourceful Designer Community on Slack.
Right around this time, Andrew, one of the members, asked an innocent question. “How many browser tabs do you have open right now?” Of course, I had to check. The answer was 51.
I then decided to go through them all and see what I could do to lower that number. I read several articles I had been saving so I could close the tabs. I made bookmarks for a few of them and saved a few to Evernote for later review.
I managed to get it down to 37 open tabs before I heard the garage door open, indicating my wife was home and it was time for me to end my workday.
My to-do list still had seven unscratched items on it.
Why did I tell you all of this?
I shared this story to tell you that it’s ok. It’s your business, your entitled to do what you want with your time.
I didn’t realize it at the time. But when I left the TV on that morning, instead of turning it off at 9 am like I normally do. It was an indication that I was not in a creative mood.
The projects on my to-do list, projects I’m very enthusiastic about, I might add, didn’t appeal to me that day. I didn’t feel like working, and that’s OK.
Creativity is not something you can turn on or off at set times. If I was under a deadline, could I have created something for my clients in the state I was in? Absolutely. I’ve been under that crunch before and have always come through.
But knowing that none of the items on that list were pressing gave me the freedom to say, nope, not today. I’m just not feeling it. And that’s OK.
Looking back at that day, I managed to solve a client's web issue first thing in the morning. I build a great foundation for a client relationship by turning a 15-minute artwork meeting into a 45-minute strategy session. And I managed to catch up and read several articles I had wanted to get to. So the day was not a total loss.
Did I do any of the to-do items I had planned for the day? No. But once again, that’s ok. It’s your business. You’re entitled.
Don’t feel guilty when you have one of those days. We all do from time to time. Just don’t make a habit of it.
If you start feeling this way more often than naught, it might be a good idea to seek help. It may be a sign of mental health issues. And that’s not something you want to brush under the rug.
The stigma of mental health has come a long way in the past decade. There’s no shame in asking for help.
But if it’s something that happens once in a blue moon, don’t worry about it. As I said, it’s your business. You’re entitled.
Take a day to sack off, and then double down and get back to work the next day. You deserve it.
In case you’re wondering, today is Friday. Two days after this happened. And I’m happy to say all seven items on that list have been scratched off. I obviously haven’t finished the new website in two days, but my list only said to start it, which I now have.
Even the most disciplined of us are entitled to a personal slack off day from time to time, including you.
I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form.
I want to help you.
Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org