Business has been good this year, and it's been keeping me very busy, especially now. Gary tweeted yesterday that The Fleece Station has temporarily been renamed 'The Panic Station', which isn't far off.
I'm trying to figure out how to manage my time now, and it's tricky trying to balance meeting deadlines with working as I mean to go on for the next few years. I'm glad it's the kind of job I never have to retire from, I want to keep making pictures and stories until I keel over. Shirley Hughes is still going strong in her 80's, and Alistair Cooke kept telling stories on the radio until a week before he popped his clogs.
I guess, since I plan to be doing this for a long while, I don't want to delude myself into thinking that if I spend insanely long hours at the studio and neglect Stuart 'just for awhile, until I get ahead', that this is a healthy thing. (I might not always have a lot of work, but not having work and trying to get it is just as much a full-time job as having work, so I'll always be busy.) Confession: after illustrating nine books, I missed my first deadline ever, it was really embarrassing and I felt terrible. Fortunately my editors were very nice about it and managed to arrange things so the publication would stay on schedule. But I don't want to do that again, or at least, not very often. My friend Rian Hughes claims he's never missed a deadline in his life; that's amazing, but I don't know if it's something I want to aspire to at all costs. I mean, relatives get cancer, friends have breakdowns, life happens, and sometimes those things have to come first. But I don't have children or pets (just other people's children and pets), and that gives me a lot more time to spend doing what I love.
I haven't had any time this year to watch telly (which I don't mind very much) or much time to go to the cinema (which I mind a LOT.) I'm still reading books because that's part of my job and they're nicely portable. My mother in the States keeps telling me over the phone that my dad is really worried that I'm working too hard and not giving Stuart enough time (which keeps it fuzzy who's actually doing the worrying, my mom or my dad, but it's nice of them all the same). I had dinner with a well-known children's book creator about a year ago, and he scared the crap out of me when he recounted all the school visits he'd been doing, and how tired he was. I want to do that kind of stuff, but I don't want to kill myself with it either.
The other thing is, if I don't play around and do silly drawings in the mornings and ramble around London, my work goes even more slowly and all the fun goes out of it and my pictures look stiff. So that kind of play isn't time-wasting, it's really important. Blogging takes time, but it also helps me sort out my head, remember what I've been doing with my day and practice connecting with the people who are going to see my work, so that's important, too.
Basically, I need to learn how to be a complete power house during my set working hours. I'm really going to try to focus on that this year, making blocks of time where I refuse to do anything else than the work in front of me. My friend ellenlindner has a one technique, where she sets an alarm clock for an hour, and doesn't answer any phone calls or do any e-mail until the timer goes off. Maybe I should try that one.
Does anyone else have any tips on being efficient at work? I need all the good advice I can get.