Finding Time for Personal Projects

A cartoony logo that reads "Bust Your Ass: Universe"

People with full-time jobs are often compelled to work on side projects outside of their regular work schedules. These side projects might be “side hustles,” pivots to other professions, or creative projects with no immediate expectation of profit.

But entangled in the pursuit of these projects lies a dilemma: with limited recreational time, how much should you sacrifice towards propelling your side projects forward?

I’ve faced this dilemma throughout my adult life, and I still don’t have an answer.

Nowadays, I spend my Sundays writing these blogs and working on a longer-form story project from morning to evening. In conjunction with my day job, that means I’m working 6/7 days of the week. And if all work and no play makes Jack a dull, homicidal maniac (and it most certainly might), then, by all accounts, that work schedule is dismal.

Jack Nicholson's character in "The Shining" busting through a door with a menacing grim

Heeeeere’s chronically overworked and future-stressed Johnny!

I’m certainly and frequently frustrated by the time-investment realities of trying to make shit happen.

Throughout the last month, I’ve kept seeing mental projections of the Bust-A-Move logo that reads Bust-Your-Ass: The Game. Because if you’re trying to progress and accomplish goals, that’s what modern life on first-world, 21st-century earth feels like. A long, drawn-out, often unrewarding progression simulation. If you’re “fortunate” enough to have ascended Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, this is where you end up: a place of perpetual dissatisfaction and existentialism wherein your efforts never feel like enough (and perhaps I’ll expound on that in a different post).

But the alternative is to have abundant free time, but never finish that novel, that web series, or that short film. And as I’ve realized, it turns out that thousands of people — most people with creative leanings — are losing that battle of self-discipline every day.

Thankfully, my day job is tolerable enough that having less unstructured time doesn’t feel like an immense sacrifice. I’m not toiling away in the oil fields of Northern Alberta, so “cool down” periods of rest & relaxation are appreciated but not compulsory.

I’m always fascinated by how creatives (or anyone trying to accomplish something outside of their recurring obligations) maximize their output. Do they become their own drill sergeant and self-impose a strict, hourly schedule upon their lives? Or are they most productive after spending the first half of the day ingesting an assortment of heavy drugs like Hunter S. Thompson?

Perhaps the ideal balance lies somewhere in the middle.


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