Back and searching for balance

When you’re freelance, the need to chase work can take over. Towards the end of last year I began to realise I needed to give more attention to space and balance. I can’t complain that I had work to do, it’s an economic necessity. But it can very easily get to the stage when you’re working flat out and regarding any downtime as lost earning potential.

I did some really interesting and rewarding stuff last year. But I wasn’t reading up any background material, learning any new skills or widening my horizons. I was also neglecting my running and not giving myself time to think or to just be at leisure. In short, all work was making me a dull and slightly manic boy.

I’ve started this year by trying to focus on getting the earning part out the way early – I’m up at 6.30am to do the Daily Finance early news anyway. That means I can read, research, socialise or whatever afterwards. I’m already told it’s making me a more rewarding person to be around. I know the pattern will change throughout the year. There will times when I need to work flat out. But hopefully I can retain the balance.

There are, as always, loads of things I want to do. I’m awaiting delivery of Adobe Creative Suite 5 in the next few days, so I intend to brush up on my Photoshop and InDesign skills and get to grips with Dreamweaver. I’ve used Rapidweaver to build my website and I’ve been messing around with Tumblr, but Dreamweaver is where it’s at if you want full, non-templated control. That all takes me further into design rather than sticking with editorial, which is my background. I can’t see the time when I’d legitimately be able to call myself a designer, but as someone working in the communications field it’s not something than can be ignored. My gut feeling is that as it becomes more difficult, even impractical, for those of us in the media industry to classify ourselves on the basis of specific job titles, it is going to become more essential to broaden our skills base.

Blimey, that was a bit involved. The other thing I want – need – to do is keep things simpler. There’s the possibility of more sports book projects on the horizon. And I really should apply myself to writing the novel I think I’ve got in my head.

As ever, I hope the need to earn and the benefit of doing things I like coincide. I’m up for invigorating new challenges this year, so bring them on. Right now I’m going to finish listening to the excellent new British Sea Power album, then go and do something else I want to do more of this year – cook nice food.

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