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From Novice Naturalist: Got any advice for staying focused while working at home?
A: First and foremost you have to find what works for you, and part of that is to put it into practice and see how you feel at the end of the day. Are you stressed? are you relaxed? Here is what works for me…
I am realistic. I am realistic about my time and my ability to use that time to do something with it. I have been working at home to supplement my income since I began college, so about 16 years. I did some work in high school but it wasn’t significant enough to take up a good part of my time. At the end of the day I want to be able to sleep well and not feel burnt out. So to me this means that there are some projects that I will turn down, like long term (as in more than 6 months to several years) projects, or projects where I would not feel a connection to. This also means I turn down a lot of opportunities, like serving on boards or consulting jobs and such. I found through trial and error that even though the job might mean I would travel a piddly four times a year, it took it’s toll out on my other projects in brain power and time away from the practice.
I’m realistic in how many hours I can work in one day, and in the whole week. I know that when my husband is around I get practically nothing done, we are best friends so we chat and catch up together and goof off. So that leaves me with the hours that he is at work , and a couple of hours in the evening after dinner and before our almost nightly movie or show. I like to have two ‘levels’ of work going on, so I can switch between the two to keep me interested. For instance…as soon I wake up I make coffee and check my emails and orders. I then fill out the orders. If there are no orders to fill then I move to the next ‘level’ of project, usually a illustration project. I space out the hours I do illustration because though it’s important to get in the ‘zone’ staying there might burn you out. I make myself get up every hour to do some random housecleaning or to watch 15 minutes of a show on tv or to make a cup of juice or coffee. This way you can see your project with ‘clean’ eyes, and you can still get things around the house done.
I love post-its, and lists, mainly because I love to cross things out as DONE! This helps me sleep better at night and makes me see that I am getting something done, be it a personal project or a commission. Even making a checklist for the steps in a project is a good idea.
When I work I always have a ‘set up ‘ ritual. This is a must if you work at home. This puts your mind into work mode so you are not thinking about anything else. For me the ritual is environmental. I have a certain playlist of music I play that is not loud enough to be annoying. It consists of music that enables my imagination, therefore it has no words, or no words in english so I’m not really paying attention to it. I always set up a cup of something to drink. I always dim the lights in the room if I am working on computer illustration, and if it’s old school drawing then I arrange the lighting so that my drawing is the center of my lighting universe. If I’m beading I usually do it in front of the tv (which is weird I know but it works for me!) and my beading ritual is to arrange the beads I will use and the tools I will need in easy range. Basically you want to have a ‘ritual’ to mentally prepare you for work mode. Always do this before you work, and after a while it will become automatic.
When I was younger I paid attention to how I ‘felt’ about a project, how my own personal excitement about it affected how well it went and how well it turned out. A lot of people don’t really respect their feelings about a project but when it comes to anything artistic, it will matter. As I got older I realized that it doesn’t mean I should reject projects that are mundane, it just means that I have to work to identify a little more and find something interesting about it. For personal projects I keep a journal of my ideas, and i always choose one that excites me.
Hopes this helps!
Questions from Anonymous: I love your Lichen oil. It smells fantastic. Do you make it with essential oil from lichen?
Answer: No, in fact it has nothing really ‘natural’ about it, besides the skin loving base oil I dilute it with. When I began looking at making fragrance oils I had to decide wether or not to use synthetic skin safe scents (chemicals that are neutral that synthesize a specific smell) or essential oils and resins (oils that are distilled from actual plants.) I chose to use synthetic oils for a few reasons:
1. I was raised to see anything relating to plants as medicinal. That our interaction with them is medicinal in nature. A plant contains a massive amount of chemicals that react with human systems (not just the smell) , and this to me is very important and should never be ignored.
2. Because all plants are medicinal, some people will react badly to them. By using synthetics skin safe oils I reduce the amount of people that will react badly to them.
3. There are more synthetic smells than natural smells. Sounds weird but true. For instance I use a ‘smoke’ smell for my noon fire scent and a ‘carnation’ smell for my Wolf scent that are simply not found in nature. So this gives me more of an opportunity to get it just right! Lichen alone contains 11 scents to produce the one single smell that changes into several notes. Something almost impossible to do with just the one essential oil from lichen.
4. My scents are unique and specific to my experience, the smell of lichen is incredibly unique, sniffing a wolf pelt is incredibly unique, and I needed the complexity that synth oils would give me so that other people could experience these things consistently and not differ from batch to batch. Did you know that one of the notes in my Lichen scent is actually ‘dirt’? I would not know how to even distill that scent! lol
Hope these answers helped! I am looking forward to future Q and A sessions!