I love volunteering, especially in the areas rather natural to me, as it really feels like I'm offering something worthwhile to people who really appreciate it. I guess it means something special also to be in tune with your own value system and not just etching out a living but attempting to do something for the 'greater good'. That means a lot to me personally. So I love volunteering my business services.
However, personally, I crave balance, and this is at times a fight in me, as I am a passionate person and can get very 'involved' with whatever project is in front of me. But because I choose to volunteer my time as well as run a business there are some things I simply must do on an everyday basis to survive and thrive in the lifestyle I've created.
It all boils down to balancing my time.
Wish I had more hours in a day sometimes, and especially so while volunteering! But by no means am I a stickler in time keeping. Some days I love that I'm a borderline workaholic achieving much while other times I love that I can spontaneously push the whole lot aside to do something fun with people on a moment's notice. I've seen I can keep the pendulum fairly even but still working at it, and am grateful for a lifestyle that allows me to work with my variety of needs rather well!
That leads into my first highly effective daily habit, which is ..
1. God time
My days usually start early. It is common to find myself wide awake from anything onwards of 3am each morning. I know! Crazy, but when I'm in 'work mode' during the week, I'm up with Adam. I'm one of those who's raring to go as soon as the brain registers it's awake!
Because of the earliness of the hour I have the luxury of spending my first hour or two with God. I like how doing so sets my attitude for the day ahead. I found out early on in my faith that I liked to write out my conversations with Him, it keeps me focused. I'd read a little, write a little, and back and forth we'd go when I realise He'd be talking with me about whatever was on my heart at the time through whatever I was reading in the moment.
I don't keep the books I write in, after 3 months it's full of chicken scratching, abbreviated words and poor spelling that it'd do my head it to decipher it! But its become a very practical means for me to talk things out with God, to process, and to write out His response to me through reading His Word. It helps in my everyday living.
The benefit of crafting out this time with God seems to give me an extra edge to the day - The hours are far from wasted time and because of it my productivity increases, my enjoyment of my work increases, ideas and creativity come faster and I often times 'feel' more keenly the promptings of the Holy Spirit. On the flip side, this noticeably decreases if I get work heavy and opt out to spend time with Him first thing, so much so that it seems to only takes two mornings before I'm back on track with Him again. It's all about maintaining a relationship and our friends don't like being ignored.
Speaking of friendships ...
2. Eating well mixed with companionship
The best part of volunteering is the friendships I create, it's always about the people :) I fall in love with them so easily and the small team at Misty Mountain Health Retreat is no exception. While I make friends with everyone I've, in particular, made close friends with Misty's chef, Leoni and her hubby Wayne. I don't even mind Wayne's 'ribbing' at my Kiwi accent - much.
It's been my experience so far to eat with the other staff while working for a ministry, which is something I love! I have two sides to me - I'm a very social butterfly basking in the light of the company of others while also equally loving the flip side - where I very much need and enjoy my own space, company-free. I get a lot of thinking, planning, and working done. However, I've noticed that if I don't make an effort to reach out to others I can become a recluse, which us rather weird for me as being alone used to freak me out. I guess with the lifestyle I live and the maturity of years things change over time. But I love people and when invited, 9 times out of 10 I'll drop what I'm doing to enjoy the company of another.
Meal times here at Misty are our communal social stimulation time, and a very much looked forward to affair by yours truly. It's usually filled with raucous laughter as we share stories and adventures with one another, I admit to being the instigator of many a story that has left the table in stiches - a merry heart is good for the soul and all that ;)
Both breakfast and lunch take about an hour each and I totally indulge in the two hours of friendship building. We eat twice a day together, 7:30am and again at 1:30pm. The food is amazing! A plant based vegetarian fare, and with it being so healthy I've found I'm not at all hungry or thinking of food again till the next morning! Something I'm learning more about as to why! For those who think this is weird it's in fact wonderful on your digestion and also your purse ;) further, I LOVE that we don't have to gather again and eat as I can just work on - lots of productive hours between lunch and bedtime! A great and needful balance to my day ahead.
But first there is my ...
3. Volunteer time
Each morning from around 8:45am - 12:45pm I work for Misty. I sat with Mike (the business manager) when I first arrived and we created a list of things he'd like to have designed while I'm here over two months. I work Monday to Friday 4 hours a day with a total of 20 hours a week. When I work with a ministry they receive a detailed contact to read over and sign listing all the ins and outs of working together which includes me being able to work for myself. It Sets the mood and boundaries for both sides rather well.
At Misty, my office is also my bedroom - it's a convenience really, easily situated by the main office in case I'm needed for an emergency design job and only a "Hey Tania, can you come here a minute?!" away. And by convenient, I mean, I can fill my table with all my illustration paper and not have to clean it up when work is over. There is a sense of order in it - really!
Once my four hours are up, it's time to work with my ...
4. Clients Projects
Whereas the morning is devoted to volunteer time and afternoon is alocated to my paying clients projects. The two main chunks of my day that I fit everything else around. So far this year I've a fairly hefty project with a Christian Publisher in New Zealand illustrating a series of children's books, it's been really exciting to sink my teeth into and also amazing to see it all happening. Still have to pinch myself it landed in my lap!!
I have to break my client work into bite sized pieces also, achieving a little every day to meet deadlines - e.g. I commit to work on two pages a day for a book illustration which can take anything from 2 to 4 hours. On top of this I've other illustrative project needs I fit in between also. I do my best to balance these and have learned to communicate along the way, clients like updates.
One of the encouragements God gave to me as I began this journey of volunteering and working for myself was "If you will volunteer your business to My ministries then I will keep you in paying clients". Well He's kept His promise and I've never been without a paying client yet - I've come to expect them and all without advertising myself. I enjoy all my clients work as I find it varied and interesting and everyone has been gracious if I have travelling days.
But there is still more I need to fit in, which leads me to ...
5. Business time
This is an area that seems to constantly hum in the background of my thinking all day. I love designing and illustrating but I equally love planning and growing. The process of building Drawer Full of Giants is very exciting to me, and to put into action the direction given me in the morning time with God is the most exciting thing ever.
Not only do I need to maintain things like the general upkeep of bookwork (could be WAY better) and social media (learning more effective ways to share) it also includes study, research, up-skilling, thinking, planning, processing, acting on ideas, designing, talking with people, business coaching and writing (lists, blog posts, contracts, website, processing ideas, and book ideas). The list goes on, it's amazing just how much can be going on. This stuff is like glue to me, it propels me forward and I thrive on it.
I see my business and God interwoven. He's the CEO and I'm the General Manager so to speak. I've experienced personally how He's very willing in giving me very precise details should I ask for it. When I was new at the whole idea of 'doing business' I knew I needed to know something about marketing myself, but I couldn't afford such things so I turned to God - surely being the God of the universe He'd know a thing of two about marketing?! He totally gave me a plan one morning in a flash of inspiration which I wrote down in relish. But I wasn't convinced. This was a new experience for me so I happened (providentially) across a woman in marketing a few days later who offered to give me a complementary hour of her time to go over my God-inspired marketing plan. She read it through, took off her glasses and looked me in the eye and said "I don't even get big businesses come to me with this much detail! It's a perfect plan!" And she further encouraged me with some small areas to iron out and wanted to keep in touch.
I left her office on a high - I realised God could be trusted with such things as the very details I needed to learn about and run my/our business. I was hooked into the idea of turning to Him in a more profound and practical way. So I'm now of the frame of mind that He can guide me in everything and it intrigues me just where that will lead.
Two other very important daily habits I manage to achieve is ...
6. Drinking plently of water
I forgo drinking anything other than water. I don't touch coffee, tea, or sodas as a general rule, yet will have a hot chocolate if out with friends in a social setting, but while working and on my own I'm only ever sucking on my bottle of water. I have next to me at all times my liter water bottle, and will drink up to 3 of those a day - so I'm plenty hydrated, which keeps my brain working nicely and off course my kidneys, not to mention I've got great skin!
After all this excitement in a day I've finally reached my ...
I've given myself a self-imposed curfew of 9pm - bed time, no ifs or buts! Oh OK, I'm one to break my own rules from time to time, but I'm not highly functional at the bedtime end of the day, so it's always to my determent if I push it out. I'm looking at my clock now and its telling me I've 45 minutes left, my body is alive but my brain wants to zzzzz...
Though I'm very pleased with my routine I still need to balance even more. I wish I was perfect, don't you? Because in a perfect world I've have all my bases covered. Yet I fight in these two areas. There are no doubt more but I'm only thinking about what I need to maintain while I volunteer and keeping to the subject at hand.
In short I'm haphazard in maintaining a daily activity level. If my work load is not so heavy I enjoy taking a walk or going to the gym in the early mornings, before breakfast. But I admit that this is the first thing to 'go' if I've got a lot on my mind and eager to get the day started. I'm actually attempting to balance this - two steps forward, one back so to speak. I love being more active, but I admit that it's a huge push. I've recenlty learned that interval training is the most ideal for me. And at each meal time I have to walk up a small hill to eat - insentive right there! Makes me enjoy my meal all the more, after I catch my breath.
2. Down time
I'm not allowing myself to have a daily down time, it's like prying it from my cold lifeless body - and I know I need it, but my mind is wired all day to think and create ideas, so even if I stop I'm still processing. That is if I'm on my own, for me, down time includes others - if not, I'm working.Lately I may not get it on a daily basis but I've started to take every 2nd weekend to leave my environment and go explore and enjoy myself while couchsurfing - I'm enjoying planning out these excursions and have loved the new people I meet.
There you have my 7 highly effective daily habits while volunteering.
If you're intrigued to know more about having a designer/illustrator work with your ministry, feel free to send me an email with any questions you may have. If you'd like to invite me to work with your ministry I'll be happy to send you the relevant information outlining the ins and outs.
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