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Productivity During A Pandemic

Posted on in Articles · Creative Advice

We can all say that the situation we face today is very strange and very difficult on everyone.

Schools have been closed, the world went into lockdown, most people are working from home and that’s a happy situation, since not everyone has that luxury. Out of nowhere we found ourself with tons of free time, and now with the question of how to use this time in the best way possible. There is a constant struggle of how many things to do or how to relax more since we are never going to get this much “free” time.

As a creative designer, I have also found myself having the same dilemma. Working from home it’s not new to me at all, since most of the time I work from home, but being productive in this period was the biggest problem I had to deal with.

I am a recent graduate, I was planing to quit my side job and officially start my own freelance business this year, but we know 2020 had a bit of a rough start and that changed my plans. At first I thought I’m going to go back on all the projects I have planned to do for a while and never had the time for, but is it that simple to just start?

Illustration by Antonia Ioana Oana

I realized I was staring at the screen of my computer for over an hour without actually doing anything “productive” and then I fell into the abyss of feeling guilty for not doing anything with my extra time. Putting extra pressure on us because we are not able to do things it’s very counterproductive; It’s a very vicious cycle in which is very easy to get lost.

Lucky for me (few times in a lifetime) the fact that I tend to be a control freak, comes with an advantage this time. I decided to create a routine for myself, in order to get back on track as much as possible.

Illustration by Antonia Ioana Oana

I started by cleaning my house a bit to create a nice environment for both working and just relaxing at home (you have to be careful with this, excessive cleaning can be a way of postponing actual work so you don’t want to fall on that extreme). Next step is very important, every morning after I wake up, I open the windows in every room, to freshen up my house. Since we are not going out that much, it’s vital to get some fresh air. Another game changer for me was when I started training at home. For about 2-3 weeks now, I try to exercise in the mornings, I know it’s very cliché to tell you to do that because you will feel better, but I promise you it will make a difference in how fast you will start with your daily activities. Now, I’m not a pro when in comes to food and cooking, so I’ll leave that to specialists, but just remember breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Try to eat some food and not rely fully on coffee.

What’s next?

Illustration by Antonia Ioana Oana

Ok, so now getting to all the artsy stuff. Promoting yourself is essential for a successful business; and thank God we have the internet there to help and support us. Regardless you’re working in a design agency, or as a freelancer it’s great to know how to present you and your work. I started by updating my social media profiles with all the recent work I’ve done. It’s important to do that, because this way people can see what you’ve been up to and it can be a way of getting new commissions. Instagram is one of the most used platforms for artists and  designers nowadays so I always like to make sure everything is up to date there, it has a more personal touch and you can easily keep in touch with other artists.

Next on the line is Behance, professional oriented platform for creatives, which for me brings a lot of inspiration for new projects and how to present them; and last but not least I also update my website, which will always be under construction, since I often find something to improve or change to make it look better. Once you’ve done all this you’re already further than staring at the screen of your computer; so well done.

Now for when there aren’t that many projects going on it‘s crucial to keep busy, to stay curious and to keep learning, improve your skills and stay relevant. I know that not having an actual assignment to work on can actually be very unfavorable but I have some tips that helped me. I decided to create accounts on few freelance websites like fiverr, up work and freelancer in order to try to get some assignments to work on. I uploaded my works on them so clients or recruiters can easily see what you can do. I also created a Etsy shop, for all the print media, wall decor and other accessories I’ve been creating.

Try to set working hours to make it easier to get things done. I know that most creatives don’t like a 8am-5pm program, but maybe creating this kind of routine will allow you to get things done and also relax. Play some music in the background, listen to a podcast or anything that gets you going. Write a list to plan your day, prioritize task and don’t forget to drink water.

It’s a situation we never faced before, in consequence we need to accept it for our own safety and try to make the best out of it. We need to stay positive and to keep going forward, but also relax and enjoy the time we have with our families.

Antonia Oana

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Antonia Oana is a Romanian illustrator and graphic designer based in Amsterdam. She does illustrations, 2D animation, visual indentity, set design and art direction. Follow Antonia’s creative journey on Instagram @oana.antonia.ioana and visit her portfolio and online shop at www.antoniaoana.com

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