Ah, the social life of a freelancer: 10-12 hour days, to happy hour, to networking event, back into another 10-12 hour day the next day. All these pieces are totally necessary, but we all know how a bad day at work can put a big dent in our career. That last cocktail and a poor night’s sleep can seriously hinder creative ability and ultimately make the difference between a great shoot and one that sends the client looking for another option. It’s what people talk about when they talk about the most successful: reliability and consistency.
How can we maintain continuity in our practice with such variable schedules? It’s hard enough trying to find the time to throw the undies in the washer or get through my tower of snail mail that slowly builds as the week goes on. Here are 3 things I do to help me stay mindful and focused no matter how hairy the day gets.
1. Be physically active, damn it
I know that lugging gear around all day and running from meeting to meeting can feel like a workout alone but let’s be real, craft services and catering does a great job of keeping us plenty fed most days. More so than that, however, is exercising with intention. Being physically active and physical training are very different. My routine is climbing (usually in the gym) and yoga. These two activities are both so mentally intense that it doesn’t leave room to think about other things. They are a holistic approach to fitness that tunes your critical thinking and mental wellness, but also your physique. Double whammy!
Rather than getting fixated on a specific schedule that you’re bound to break due to some unexpected job or meeting, try to set loose goals for yourself. I say that I will make it to a combined 3 climbing/yoga sessions per week. Ideally I would do more, but part of creating successful change in your life is setting realistic goals to keep you feeling accomplished. Maybe start with 2 days a week and work up from there. You’ll start to crave it, I promise.
2. It’s true, you are a giant bowl of pasta (if that’s what you eat)
Unless you’re a marathon runner, lay off the carbs. Carbs weigh you down and, like their nasty cousin sugar, may produce short term energy but will make you crash hard. Look, I’m not an animal. I’m not asking you to give up carbs all together. Just be watchful and think about slowing down when you hit that second piece of focaccia.
On shoot days I try to stick with light proteins like chicken, quinoa, fish, and beans along with hearty greens like arugula and spinach. Quick tips for cutting back on carbs: wraps instead of burgers, stay the ef away from pasta mostly, snack on nuts and other good fats like avocados. It’s good for your brain…no seriously…check it out. Going on a low fat diet could actually decrease your memory and cognitive abilities! Just make sure it’s the good stuff, not red meat.
I hate to break it to you, but if you look inside yourself, you’ll know it to be true. That third cup of coffee isn’t doing you any favors. Not only can it cause some pretty gnarly problems with your body that are sure to distract like shakiness (hope you have some room for a faster shutter speed), heart palpitations, but maybe the worst side effect of all — rambling thought and speech. How embarrassing is it when you just can’t stop rambling, each moment getting more outrageous and incomprehensible?
3. It’s all in the breath
There is a HUGE connection between breath and mood. This Harvard study found that certain breathing techniques can actually force you to relax. There’s an old Catholic saying, “If you have time, pray for 1 hour each day. If you don’t have time, pray for 2 hours.” Taking time out to center yourself and relax can actually save you time in the long run. You’ll be more productive and perform better! Everyone wins!
Every once in a while you get a client that you feel really resonates with you, like they are on to something big. I had the pleasure of working with Spire recently on an all new lineup of images from lifestyle to product. I was so thrilled about what they are doing that I worked a device into the estimate for myself. Spire clips to the waistband of your pants and tracks the vibrations of your diaphragm, alerting you when you’re feeling tense, and offering guided breathing exercising and mediations to help you recenter your focus or calm. At the end of the day Spire tallies up your moments of focus, calm, tension and tracks your activity as well.
The most important thing for us as freelancers is that our clients leave happy. Our reputation and our future depends on it. Stay on top of your physical and mental state to keep yourself at rock star status.
And check out these rad images for Spire!
Prop and Wardrobe styling by: Joanna Andreoni
Hair and Makeup by: Nessa Nemir