OK, I know it's not summer yet, but in Houston, summer always stretches its own definition into a few extra months. Today it finally felt like the sun was beating down on us, giving way to an inevitably stifling next few months. How will I be coping? Lots of water and ice cream, because duh.
I was inspired to talk about a few tips that I keep in my pocket to balance my "9 to 5" and blogging. To be fair, it's not exactly a 9 to 5, which is why I keep it in quotations. Sometimes it's 7 to 7, sometimes it's 3 to 11, sometimes I work 6 days a week as opposed to 5. It all depends on the rotation that I'm on and whether or not we get admissions at 5 in the afternoon (lol please no). So it's as good as full time, but it's not always the most reliable schedule. My friends in medical school understand this, and usually ask questions along the line of "how?" How do I take pictures so often (and does it involve a constantly doting Instagram boyfriend)? When do I find time to fit in photography, planning, editing, and writing amongst studying, cleaning, errands, and other important life stuff? These are all great questions, and I thought I'd clarify some things I need to do in order to balance the two.
1. Know what Comes First
My "job" is my priority, therefore it must come first and foremost. Part of coordinating two conflicting schedules is understanding this and knowing how to triage your desires. I put in a lot of time, effort, life force, energy etc into getting into and doing acceptably well in medical school. There will be a payoff, and regardless of what I choose to do with medicine in the future when I have more choice and flexibility, its current demandingly demanding demands come first. Therefore, I'll always try to get my work done for school. If it's a particularly busy week or month, obviously photography and blogging will fall to the wayside. At the same time, I'm not the type to go out of my way to take on extra responsibilities. Also, I probably don't study quite as much as I should (to be fair, no more shelf exams). Knowing that work/school comes first allows me to fit in the rest of my interests around that schedule.
2. Say Goodbye to "Free Time"
Blogging takes quite a bit of time. Blogging and constant Instagram updates take even more time. And I love doing it, otherwise I would not spend the time it takes to plan outfits, look for cool and relatively secluded places to shoot, shoot the photos, edit the photos, etc. Even engaging on social media to promote yourself takes time. That said, I spend much of my time on weekends dedicated to working on the blog in one form or another. I'm totally OK with that. I love working on a skill or project that has a longitudinal role in my life. I'm always inspired by other creatives, and I enjoy striving to develop my own personal style or furthering creative skill. I have always loved having a creative outlet, and having something to work on gives me the discipline and guidance that I need to not let my creative interests fall to the wayside, which has happened years up before this point.
So yeah, my weekends are pretty much dedicated to the blog. This is especially so if I'm off one day out of the week. The great thing, however, is that even if I do fun things, it's something I can document and work into my blog. Blogging and fun things are not mutually exclusive, which is another reason why it's so enjoyable!
Keep in mind, though, that the constant pressure to document everything can force you out of "the moment." If I ever feel like this, I simply take a break and cut myself off. I don't have to be shooting every single day, because I always...
3. Keep a Reserve
Do you ever have one of those weeks where everything goes wrong, and you have no time for anything? Let's say you're working over time and can't catch the sunlight, or it's tax season, or you're just busy. An important part of balance, so you don't drive yourself crazy, is to give yourself some leeway. For example, I always have extra photos and posts that I take during more relaxed weeks. Every time I decide to document an outfit, I always try to shoot as many different photos as I can. As for daily IG posts, I plan everything 1-2 weeks out so that if something comes up, I won't be forced to take breaks or stop-and-start, because consistency is surprisingly important on that medium!
Always have a backup. It's a rule that's as old as time, save when you have a surplus so that you may survive when you are in a drought.
4. Work Independently
Or at least, be able to. People always seem to assume that my boyfriend takes all my pictures, which is confusing to me. For one, we both have busy schedules, non-overlapping schedules, and you're deranged if you think I can drag him from his weekend and weekday engagements (Frisbee, frisbee, and then more frisbee) to come shoot with me. Sometimes it works out, but those are rare occasions, and if I had to depend on someone else to get everything done, things would get done inconsistently. I know that's not the case for everybody. There are bloggers out there who have photographers whose passion and work is photography. They make a great team, support each other, and build each other up with commitment to a common cause. But even my friends who are hobby photographers have crazy busy schedules and are kind of married to medicine (re: Tip #1).
I use a tripod and a remote, and edit everything myself. And yes, I am proud of this fact.
5. Deal with the Uncertainty
I think when I'm balancing a job/school with blogging, there's always a part of me that struggles with the fact that maybe I could be doing better or advancing quicker if I had more time to dedicate to the blog. It's an aspect of being a perfectionist, the idea that I'm only giving 50% of my time to something that means a lot to me doesn't sit well. And the small chance of monetary compensation does give me more pause than if it were a hobby--people make careers out of blogging, and I tend to wonder, unreasonably, if working is keeping me from realizing some hidden gift that could project me to the same accolades, etc etc. And there is the question of, if I'm only half-assing it, why bother doing it in the first place?
However, the truth is that many people are in my position and are successful. Additionally, I should feel lucky to have a stable career path and still have time and energy to dedicate to a creative outlet. If I am creatively stuck or plateauing, I shouldn't blame the lack of time, but should learn from those who are in a similar situation as me who have succeeded despite the "odds."
There will always be these thoughts, and though I can't always stop them, it's important to understand that just going out and doing what I enjoy is enough. I don't have to be the best to deserve to be able to do it, and just because I have other responsibilities doesn't mean I should accept doing things poorly.
Hope these help if you're in a similar situation! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Maxi Dress: NastyGal
Lipstick: Colourpop Bumble