We freelancers often hear and experience people saying they’re not busy enough or that they don’t know what more to do to bring value to their creative career. We know we will be occupied for months as and when the project is in it's full swing, but what when the vacuum comes over and we don't exactly feel creative enough, which is quite healthy and to be expected in the initial days of your self-employed career.
So, What about those idle times?
How we manage those idle work phases in our career is a matter of mindset and prioritization. The unpredictability of such career choices does limit our planning and even though living on its own terms sounds like a Rebel holding a Bottle of Thumps Up and soaring the "Let me Challenge the Life" quote, in reality, it doesn't work for long. If we truly analyse our procrastination nature and the time spent on those pleasure only task, the realization that a lot of unproductive hours went past with no plan met is scary as hell, especially when we had the fantastic opportunity to upgrade ourselves to bring in the cash flow we thought only our primary job is responsible for. I am glad to share there are a few fantastic investment options to grab your hand on which your older self will be very thankful to you.
1. Financial Education: There has never been a great era to live in like the present. Any kind of financial crisis or setback is quite the constant worry every freelancer has and hence educating yourself with regards to finance and how to make money work for itself is a one-time investment and duly the best gift you can ever think of. Setting a few days or a week or two, listening to podcasts, and audiobooks or simply grabbing a paperback or eBook is a great way to make the best of your idle time. Once you know how it all works, you will feel the much-needed superpower within.
As a part of the capitalistic world, where inflation and other basic needs are unavoidable and when payments are delayed for months, it's high time to get into the automation of saving (I at least keep a 6 months corpus aside as an emergency fund). Understanding various financial assets like PPF, Medical Insurance because the chances of breaking a leg are higher than dying. Life insurance, only in case you have dependents, and best of all Mutual funds, not because "Mutual Funds Sahi hai!" but to allow your money the opportunity to work for you and even beat inflation in the long run.
I only allow my expenditure only post I end up investing into my respective investment columns (PPF (Tax saving), Medical Insurance (Tax saving), Short Term, Midterm and Long term investment) every month, most of which are set on automation.
It's always advisable to seek a financial Consultant against one-time or retainer-based fees who is more than certified to guide you in the best way possible.
2. Re-analyze your spending habits: With the very need for instant gratification, we very often end up purchasing for the sake of it with no intention in mind or even if we do its extremely occasional that we will end up consuming the product or service. I love my athleisure wear and my need to buy traditional wear is so rare that I almost don't end up wearing one for years. It's great to visit those imported food marts and grab a pack or two of exotic sauce, cheese block, pasta or dark chocolate which end up moulding near its expiry date just because we don't know how to make it to the expectation we had during our last visit to that A la Cart menu venue.
The lesson learnt, is that spending habits need to be checked once a week or twice a month max. Now-onward, open your pantry or fridge (trust me it's a house full of junk, more than you think of) and go through all you think needs to be refilled or removed as required. It is great to keep a basic grocery list in hand which needs to be sourced monthly and anything on top of it should be in the minimum quantity to avoid wastage.
Similarly, the frequent rant about "Having nothing to wear" feels like a life crisis for many. Next time when you have the urge of buying that dress you eyed so hard during your last mall visit, go to the website and keep it on the wish list for a week and two to least fulfil the desire to buy and give enough time to yourself to find a reason to have it, I am pretty sure unless you are a shopaholic you will understand the exercise and for sure you can thank me later!
3. Learn to live alone: It can be rosy and exciting how to lead one's life on its own terms, but no one cares to understand the mental turmoil it comes with. The act of learning to live alone or being content crucial, especially if and when involved in the creative business. It is always advisable to give yourself a break much needed and journal down about all you have achieved so far. It doesn't have to be exotic, expensive or adventurous, as simple as having a two-day and one-night stay is enough to bring that anxiety and worry compounding in you, below the bar of your tolerance level. Blowing your steam off is worth it and never apologize for it.
4. Read Autobiography :
Reading more about world-changing personalities has always been on my list and It's entertaining to binge-watch all the series and movies showcasing the life of the biggest of the big, one must keep in mind that that creative license gives the freedom to edit the story as per the requirement to make the much-needed bucks and entertainment vs books and documentaries meant to stick to facts often authorised by the protagonist itself. If anyone wants to know the real them, books and podcasts are the way to go.
It will require a far stronger recommendation than imagined and decades of experience to work alongside Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and more and have the much dreamed in-person experience and learn all that they have achieved so far. If we shake our-self up hard enough we will realize it's a long way to go and I will encourage with every ounce in my body to chase the dream until met, till then read about them to learn from the best.
Remember, the best of the best are all self-declared bookworms.
5. Sleep better: In today's world, it's quite natural to get consumed with work for weeks and struggle to get back to our natural cycle. Having a good night's sleep is crucial to the vital functioning of the body and brain though don't shy away from those extra hours napping during noon if possible and never feel guilty about it.
Many will swear by hustle and work till you die, keeping aside all the science which strongly supports the art of sound sleep, I have personally benefited a lot. My creative juices have thanked me again and again and my body is set to run the second cycle to work for the next 4 hours post-lunch with no fatigued felt within.
By spending your idle time effectively, you can increase your productivity and find yourself feeling more fulfilled. Most importantly, you don’t need to compromise on your peace of mind thinking about those days spent with no cash flow in. Next time Look for those idle times you can “steal.” How do you spend your idle time? Do share in the comment if it’s not mentioned in this post.
A few recommendations:
Psychology of Money
Rich Dad and Poor Dad
Let's Talk Money: Monika Halan
Elon Musk: How The Billionaire CEO Of SpaceX And Tesla Is Shaping Our Future
Labour Law Advisor
CA Rachana Phadke Ranade
The Financial Diet
Myself, Shovona Karmakar is an advertising photographer and a product stylist in Mumbai, India. I have had an opportunity to work with upGrad, ICICI, Future Generali, Whisper, Pampers, Morningstar USA, Pepe Jeans and more. I live with my plants, and a few adorable fur babies and anyone can find me at the gym. Check out my other work at shovonakar.com