I don’t particularly like the idea of creating high expectations for the upcoming year, but at the same time, I’m also the type of person that makes New Year’s resolution every 3 weeks (or less!). So my list of things that I want to do or achieve is always endless.
During the past few years, my resolutions for the new year have been more connected to setting better habits for myself and my working routine.
These are the small things I’ll keep focusing on:
1. Creating a routine of regular free drawing in my sketchbook
I started being more self-aware and consistent with this practice during a long creative crisis I’d been through recently (I’ll write more about it in the future).
It’s not something that you do for instant online sharing, and it doesn’t have to be good or finished. It’s like writing in your secret diary, or when you’re studying something.
There’s no pressure to share what you do, no perfectionism involved, and it’s not necessary to be original.
You can use this time for yourself as training by re-drawing an illustration or a photo you like, you can use it to learn more about how your way of drawing works, or as a time to be critical of the aspects of your work you don't like anymore.
I try to do this every day, or at least 1-2 times a week when I’m too busy. Just 15-30 minutes or less is enough, but if you can do it for an hour or more it’s even better!
2. Regular exercise
As a person that spends most of her time drawing or sitting in front of a monitor for work, I have to remember the importance of exercising (or at least having a little walk).
So I started incorporating a yoga practice into my everyday routine.
If I have time I do it for 30 minutes or more. When I know I’m having a busy day I try to do it for at least 15 minutes. I started to be consistent in 2017 and now I’m trying to be even more consistent (I also try to be forgiving if I skip it sometimes!).
It’s less difficult than it seems if you start small. You can scratch out 10-15 minutes from your busy days, right? It’s simple, but it’s a game changer.
I like to follow Yoga with Adriene on YouTube, and her 30 days of yoga are the best way to start this habit. Another thing I did years ago, and then stopped, was going for a 40 minute run 3 times a week.
My plan for the next few months is to start this habit again, but I’ll take it slowly, no rush.
3. Airplane mode
I try to put my phone on airplane mode around 10-11pm so I won’t get any late or overnight notifications but I’m still working on it. I want to tune out after dinner and to watch a movie or read instead of ending up in a scrolling loop.
I love scrolling through Instagram and Tumblr, so I know it’s hard for me, but when I do actually do it I prefer the sensation to be quiet, of slowing down, and of being focused on only one thing.
I want to improve this for the mornings as well. I’ve gotten in the bad habit of staring at my phone first thing when I wake up.
My plan is to buy a little alarm and leave the phone away from my night table. When I wake up I normally go straight to yoga, but I’d love to incorporate some meditation and reading while instead of checking dog accounts on Instagram while having my morning cereal!
4. Notifications sound off
I deactivated all my notification sounds on my phone and computer years ago. I’m very compulsive about checking my email so it’s unlikely that I will miss new client messages, but I’ve left the email and message notifications on my phone screen just in case (at least they won’t sound).
No noisy distractions while writing, sketching, and drawing.
I’m sure it’s something that’s done by many, but if you never tried it just go for it, it’s really liberating! If I find myself in a procrastination loop, I can move my phone away from the table and nothing will bother me.
During stressful days I can be much more vulnerable with procrastinating, so at the very least the notification sounds are not there to increase my lack of focus.
5. Finding moments to check in with myself
As a freelancer, I often risk getting sucked in by client deadlines and quick assignments. Sometimes it’s inevitable. I’m also an author and I love to develop my personal projects, such as graphic novels, surface design, and objects.
To do so, I need to remember to check in with my priorities on a regular basis.
I don’t have a special time during the week (it might be a good idea to set up a day and hour, but I’m not there yet). I do it when I have a calmer moment: during the weekends, or after a deadline.
I try to look back at my notes and check my calendar to figure out where I can squeeze in other things I’d like to develop.
My plan for the next year is trying to develop a daily writing routine of 10-15 minutes minimum, as I already do with my yoga and my free sketching time. It can be writing about my personal life or just trying to go ahead with that story I’ve been postponing for way too long.
6. Having a hobby for no purpose
Last year I went once a week to a ceramic class at Lusesita. I didn’t go to the class with the idea of selling my creations or to incorporate them into my business, it was something I’ve wanted to try for a long time just for fun.
I’ve learned so much thanks to it. Even things that could be useful for my work-life.
I’ve developed more patience, it’s helped me to stay focused in the moment, to slow down, and to accept failure as a part of the process.
Why wasn’t I able to welcome all this in my drawing practice? They were great lessons and it reminded me of the importance of doing something different from your work, especially when your first hobby has become your job.
That’s all for now, I wish you a great new year, full of new possibilities and explorations! Do you have any good habits that you’d like to share with me? I’d love to hear what you’re focusing on and maybe incorporate them into these ones. Thanks!