One of the difficulties when working for yourself is knowing when is “enough”.
Over the first few weeks of the year I’ve had the pleasure of rehearsing, performing and recording music with great people. Then last week I suddenly spent a couple of days being very busy in a non-musical way. A lot of incremental progress happened on various projects that I needed to move forward, yet I didn’t immediately have much to show for it. Did I do enough? Was this a good work day? Was I lazy? I don’t know, because I don’t know anyone who’s doing a similar mix of activities – that’s almost by definition a part of being an artist: creating unique work happens by developing unique processes and then following where they lead. And that sometimes makes it hard to stop even though I’m exhausted. There’s always another small task I could get done so I’ll have a cleaner slate the next day, always another email to get back to, another file to prepare.
On the few occasions when I’ve had part-time work in corporate contexts it was easier to get a feel of how you were doing because you saw how others were advancing, when they were taking breaks, how they would feel about the quality and quantity of work they got done – even though a lot of that may have been just busywork. Fixed working hours obviously help, too: baring any emergencies, you left when time was over, not when a project was done.
Over the past few years I think I’ve become better at working solo, but I’m still learning to be kind with myself, and to not long for comparison or outside confirmation that much. As long as I make sure I’m working on the important stuff and not just the urgent (and that’s a ratio I’m aiming to improve), any amount of progress is worth being happy about.