Put Your Work First

Put Your Work First - making time for your “wants” amidst all the “shoulds”

I think we can all agree that now more than ever it's hard to find time for ourselves—whether that means getting your portfolio website up-to-date, finding the time to exercise, or making the time for that project you've been dreaming of starting. When our jobs and responsibilities and the world come knocking, our stuff gets pushed aside.

“I'll get to it next time,” you tell yourself. “Someday when I have more time.” But it never happens, does it?

I have some difficult news to share, which I think deep down you already know. You will never have more time. The 24 hours in your days are what you make of them, and if you let everything else come first then that's exactly what will happen.

So what can you do?

David Duchemin had the right idea when he said, “Guard your time fiercely.” Our time is a finite resource, and I'll argue that it's the most precious one we have. So be extremely intentional with how you spend each hour of your days. 

Make time for the things that matter to you.

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I've been attracting a lot of wisdom around this topic recently, from Jess Lively's thoughts on consciousness and living our lives on purpose instead of by default to Scotty Russell's podcast episode (inspired by a talk from the Design Inc fellas) on “if it's not a hell yes, it's a hell no.”

My advice? Put your work first.

I've found the quickest way to overwhelm and burnout is to only make time for the things you have to do. You tell yourself that you'll get around to the fun stuff once your to-do list is done, but every time you cross off one thing three others show up to take its place.

I've found the key is to prioritize what you want to accomplish among all the things you need to get done. This balance has become crucial for me as I buckle down to complete and launch my Illustrator Essentials course, and need to make time for it amidst my client work.

First thing in the morning, before I even check my email, it's time to focus on my work—for as much time as I can spare. Then once I've made progress on my own work, I'll dig into everything else. And you know what? Somehow it all gets done. Only this time, I own my day instead of the other way around.

This is your one precious life. Make time for the things that matter to you. You owe yourself that much.