If you are a freelance artist, or any other kind of artistic introvert, your lifestyle probably hasn't changed much in the past couple weeks due to the COVID-19 lock-downs. But now, many Industry Studio artists have been challenged to adapt to working at home. We recently posted our latest blog on teaching and e-learning from home, it covers how teachers and students specifically can transition into this new lifestyle as easily as possible.
We’d like to share our thoughts directly on the process of working from home as a freelancer, where a typical “9-5 job” becomes somewhat of a myth. Because Wacom works directly with many freelancers and studios, they know a thing or two about the tools of the trade. So even if you aren’t an artist, we hope you find the following tips and resources highly valuable for your personal work-style.
If you are anything like me, my workflow is easily flipped upside down if anything is changed within my routine. So when I’m distracted from doing work, I have to find ways to stay focused and creative. There’s nothing worse for an artist when something breaks that “flow state”, it’s that period of time you’re just in the zone.
We’ve gathered what Wacom and some of the most influential artists working today have shared about keeping an effective schedule. Here’s just some of the effective ways to stay productive and organized during the work day at home. We’ve also linked to similar helpful resources at the bottom of the blog.
Create a Work Environment. Getting appropriately dressed helps you feel more obligated to work. Create a designated workspace just for work or school. Some of us might not have a lot of space to work with, so finding a corner of your bedroom or kitchen, faced away from distractions, like a TV, can still be very beneficial.
Follow a Schedule. Set fixed hours for yourself, and school hours for kids (if you have them). Keeping a consistent routine with the same lunch and coffee breaks helps prevent mental fatigue. Just pretend like nothing has changed and go through your normal routine. That means “commuting” to work in the morning, “dropping off” your kids to school, and making them packed lunches.
Keep Organized. Keep your room or workspace tidy and clean! Make Post-It notes or to-do lists with at least 3 goals you want to accomplish that day. Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals for yourself. Keep track of your progress and promise yourself a reward when you’ve finished everything on the list. Also, set rules together with the people you live with. Have your housemates keep the noise down during “working hours”.
Stay Social. Just because we are social distancing, doesn’t mean we cant communicate with each other. Set virtual meetings with colleagues, or chat during scheduled breaks. Check in and hold each other accountable on you goals.
Get Active. Depending on the status of your locdown, make sure you leave the house, at least to the front lawn if it's allowed; get some sun and take a walk. If that’s not possible, at least stretch and maintain a healthy posture during work. Walking around your house during breaks can also help facilitate blood movement and also prevent eye strain.
Do What Works For You. Everyone is different and it’s hard to create a practicum that works for everyone. So if you cant live by a strict schedule, then make sure that when you are in a creative or motivated state that you make the most of it. Are you a morning or night person? Choose to do the important work within that time. Make a To-Do list with the most important things on it, and make it a goal that you get those done in the day, at the very least.
Making healthy habits can be a challenge, especially if keeping a normal schedule was already difficult for you. Unrestricted hours where you are only held accountable by whether you hit a deadline or not can lead to dangerous bouts of procrastination and then overexertion.
Overall, there are three main things you want to focus on during the drastic lifestyle change:
Personal and professional deadlines.
Keeping your personal life intact.
Avoiding burnouts and RSI (Repetitive Strain Injuries).
Not having to commute to work or even getting dressed will really test our self-discipline. Some of us might start sleeping in and waking up later and later, a sure fire way to waste your entire day. And with all the distractions in our home, “taking a day off” will be a much easier trap to fall into.
And once we’ve procrastinated to the point of no return, we’ll have to cram an all-nighter to get your work done. This means all your chances of taking health breaks to get up and stretch, or give your eyes a rest, go out the window. And this will even further ruin your sleep schedule, turning you into a nocturnal animal (speaking form experience!).
Eyestrain and bad posture will quickly catch up to you; some of us aren’t the young, indestructible, whipper-snappers we once were! Turning down your screen brightness when in a darker environment will keep the harsh light out of your eyes. Color temperature, as some know, can also cause eye fatigue and have a negative impact on your sleep patterns. Switch your screen to warmer tones at night and early morning, unless you really need to get a piece done involving specific and correct color matching. Windows has an internal setting to change the screen temperature, but for Mac, we can recommend the program f.lux.
And again, it can't be stressed enough, take breaks to walk around and stretch!
Even with your (almost guaranteed) odd sleeping hours, you should try to get a total of 8 hours of sleep if you cant get them consecutively. Whether you are a coffee person or not, now is the time to show some restraint on the energy drinks. We can get to dependent on supplements to make up for our bad habits. Depending on coffee for that all-nighter of work, because you decided earlier to sleep in, will only double down on the procrastination and horrible sleeping patterns.
Your physical health and hygiene are easy to fall by the wayside when time start to blur and melt together in isolated times like this. Don’t forget to take showers and brush your teeth! Just like getting dressed in the morning, you'll stay focused an sharper if you don’t start smelling like a garbage truck. And you’d hate to need an appointment for a trip to the doctor or dentist as soon as the quarantine is lifted.
Make time for your own work. Your personal goals are extremely important to your personal and artistic growth in your career. You have extra time (if not wasted) you can devote to that dream of yours you keep putting off. Plus, your potential new audience also has their own extra wealth of time that they could spend consuming your content.
Here’s where we shamelessly plug Wacom tablets because we honestly believe they are the best choice when it comes to creative hardware. So if you’re a digital artist, you most definitely had a tablet at work, but which tablet is right for you in your home office. This might depend on your profession, skill level, and physical space.
The Intuos Pros are tablets without a display, but have enough features for professionals to use one on a daily basis. They all sport customizeable Express Keys, a Touch Ring, a Multi-Touch surface, and the Pro Pen 2.
Of the Small, Medium, and Large sizes, the Medium is probably the most popular among artists with limited desk space, but who still need something comfortable and big enough to match drawing on regular sized paper.
Working at home might mean you’re working by your bed or in the kitchen, so it gives you the benefit of extra working space without sacrificing a professional experience. It's easy enough to put right next to your laptop, keyboard, or the corner of your desk when not in use.
This 13” entry-level Pen Display is only $400. You can plug it into certain Android phones, but works with your laptop whether it’s a Mac or a PC. It's a great display for the cost that many beginners or students will find very appealing to their budget.
The Pen isn’t quite on par with the Professional tablets, but with 4K pressure levels and a 1920x1080 screen, that ain’t half bad.
The standard Cintiqs come in a 16 inch and 22 inch. They are Pen Displays similar to the Pros with the exception of Touch screens, 4K resolution, and laminated screens. They are perfectly good for quality work, but if you’re working with images required for print or industry production, then you’ll want something with better color gamuts and higher resolution to match the other professional monitors you probably have.
The Cintiqs Pros come in multiple sizes, ranging from 13 inches to 32 inches. The 13” and 16” will suit any skill level, but are probably a better fit for junior artists who need professional gear but might be lacking in space or funds for a larger display.
If you’ve got the space, go for the Cintiq Pro 24 inch, (and if you’ve also got the funds, go for the 32 inch). Every detail of your 3D render or illustration is packed into the large 4K LCD display (3840 x 2160 px). Including, superb color accuracy (99% of Adobe® RGB coverage). When paired with a Wacom Ergo Stand or a Wacom Flex Arm, the Cintiq Pro 24 and 32 allows artists to tilt and angle their display to suit their working style and ergonomic needs.
Coming in a 13” and 16” models, the MobileStudio is a portable computer with the processing power to run multiple demanding applications simultaneously. It has Wacom Pro Pen 2’s advanced pen performance, a 4K resolution display, up to 85% Adobe RGB coverage (CIE1931) and high-performance graphics options.
Its features include customizeable ExpressKeys™, Radial Menus, and multi-touch. Also, upgradeable RAM and Storage through a consumer accessible back plate. It’s ideally built for professional artists who are constantly on the move. An all-in-one creative solution with the power to match.
To make your home office a bit more professional, you might want to add some extra gear to your setup. Whether its a quality charger, hard drive,or a second display, turning your setup into a streamline workstation will really make this lockdown go by much smoother.
Chance are that if you’ve moved home from your office, your work has supplied you with an extra drive. We ca’t stress enough how important it is to back up your personal files though. LaCie and G-Tech make incredible and trustworthy drives that we sell to the Entertainment Industry in bulk daily. These days they are also relatively cheap compared to what they use to be, you can pick up 2TB for close to $100. Backing up your own system and files is detrimental in this uncertain world. Few things are worse than losing months and months of work, that amounts to a cost 10 times over the price of a small drive.
You’ll be sitting at your own desk for awhile, which means probably one outlet to share between your devices for hours on end.
Moshi makes an awesome portable wireless charging pad called the Porto Q. You can power your Phone up to 2 times on a singe charge and even your AirPods will work on it.
The ProGEO USB-C is a 42W high-output charger that lets you simultaneously power your USB and USB-C devices.
If you just need a cable, they also make a 10ft USB-C to Lighting Cable if you need your phone charger to reach that one pesky outlet around the corner.
Having an extra screen is highly recommended, we also mentioned it in our e-learning blog. It boosts productivity with the amount of work you can access and see at one time. Each computer and monitor combination can have a different video connection requirement. Luckily, Moshi also makes multiple video adapters that will go between your computer and monitor.
Your computer will be getting a lot more mileage these days, protecting the screen isn't just important to keep it from damage, but also makes it easier to clean, eliminating those germs we are trying to avoid. Moshi has a wide collection of screen guards for many apple products on their site, including keyboard covers.
It can be difficult talk to so many people on a Zoom call at once. Some of them might be lagging, and some can be louder than the others. This can result it painful feedback or an annoying echo coming from one of the many call attendants. We recommend a nice pair of headphones. Whether it's your Apple AirPods or Moshi’s headphones, it can make a huge difference when in long meetings all day or listening to your playlist without disturbing your roommates!
We’ve covered a lot here, but hopefully you’ve had some extra time to read through it today. No matter what solution or advice you go with, we hope you are safe out there and make the most out of this time. If you’d like some more info about our store and the Drives, Tablets, or Macs we sell, please don’t hesitate to call, email, or message us on Facebook. Keep reading for some of my favorite resources and artists I turn to for advice on productivity and creativity in times of stress.
Some other resources from creatives sharing their own experience working from home, or material about productivity in general.
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