When and How do you play?

7 years ago from , Illustrator/Designer

Hello designers. I wanted to ask this community about personal work mixed in with professional work. When do you allow yourself to work on your projects? Is it once a week? Every day? Is it a warm up sketch or a couple hours on the weekends developing an app?

I'm interested in seeing how people balance their time with the stuff that kind of fuels the flame. I find it so important to keep producing personal material or else my day job suffers because I emotionally fall apart. ;)

If you have any great blog posts about this subject, that would be great, too.


  • Chris Wiggins, 7 years ago

    I work on personal projects almost every day. I'm employee #3 at a startup of 5, so I work as much as possible on our product. I'll usually be at the office for 9-10 hours, then come home for dinner and work on my side projects for a few hours before I call it a night. Saturdays are my party days/nights, and Sunday is coding infront of the TV watching football and recovering.

    From an outside perspective, it's working around the clock. But I love what I do, and no one has become successful by towing the line.

    Disclaimer: I'm in my mid-late 20s and have sacrificed relationships and social obligation to be fairly commitment-free in order to pursue my interests. Everyone has their own path in mind.

    11 points
  • Ben WarmuthBen Warmuth, 7 years ago

    Since I spend my days working in design (Web/UX), I have to spend my weekends/evenings doing something unrelated otherwise, I burn myself out and get frustrated.

    So, usually I find myself playing one of two MMOs or playing a co-op game with a friend on my PS4. Other times, I'll work on writing a novel (slow going, but...sort of going). Or I'll go see a movie and have dinner with friends. Anything to get me not thinking about design.

    Basically, I've resolved to not revolve my life around work. Been doing so for a couple of years now and I think I'm better off for it.

    2 points
  • Brendon AvalosBrendon Avalos, 7 years ago

    I like to play music with my band as much as possible. When I feel inspired I work on fun stuff for myself or my friends. I enjoy making things and when the pressure of work is off it allows me the freedom to try new ideas and just have fun with design. I usually get stoned and listen to records, and fiddle around on the computer for awhile. I can't really handle over working myself. It becomes too stressful and takes a toll on me physically.

    1 point
  • Sebastian SellingSebastian Selling, 7 years ago (edited 7 years ago )

    As much as I love working with design (motion graphics, UI/UX, web-design, interior design, fashion - you name it!), I have a lot of rather big interests, close to passions, in my life. And I try to make room for all of them, not all at once, more like every now and then.

    Sometimes I play competitively in FPS games (CS, BF for those who care ;) ). Sometimes I'm deep down in the stockmarket trading stocks, following the news like a hawk. (Then again, stocks is an every day thing too)

    But I always fall back into design seeing as it's my biggest passion in life - and I do it every single day, either in thought or producing something.

    Much like Chris Wiggins I am one of the founders of our startup so naturally my waking hours are usually spent thinking about it, working on it or talking about it.

    But gaming and finance shall always have a place in my life, it gives me fresh perspectives and most important: It's fun!

    1 point
  • Andy SmithAndy Smith, 7 years ago

    Background: I'm employed full time as a marketing manager, and only freelance as a web designer/developer on the side.

    I allow myself to work on personal projects when I don't have any freelance work on the go. And at best I probably manage to get in about 1 or 2 night's worth of play per week. If I have a freelance client on the go, the above activities take a back seat.

    1 point
  • Alex BAlex B, 7 years ago (edited 7 years ago )

    I don't have set schedules for personal projects however I do spend a day or two when I feel inspired every couple of months on projects that interest me. I don't focus on completion but rather the tasks themselves, as I know from experience that I rarely complete personal projects and that leads to disappointment.

    Focusing on what I want to get out of doing personal projects has been really helpful for me. I want to feel fulfilled or creative or inspired, but the end result is often less important to me. Hackathons or other social events have been enjoyable to spend a day creating and brainstorming but without long term concerns or responsibilities.

    It's important for me to be dedicated during the work day on projects and research for my day job, then spend remaining hours on non work tasks, self care, gaming, socialising, resting.

    0 points
  • Jeff CouturierJeff Couturier, 7 years ago (edited 7 years ago )

    I try to draw every day, although life happens and gets in the way here and there. I have a Surface Pro 3 that I take with me everywhere, so I can draw on the train, while waiting for appointments, over lunch during the work week, on vacation.

    I make comics, and curate a comic creators group of both professional and part-time/hobbyist comic artists.

    In the winter I snowboard. In the summer I bike, kayak and camp.

    I play computer games in bursts. I'll find a new game and play for a month, get my fill and then not play any games for another 4 months or so.

    As for personal design projects, when they come up they tend to replace comic projects. So nights and weekends, mostly.

    0 points
  • Roma KuraevRoma Kuraev, 7 years ago

    It's funny how people in this thread divided in two categories: those who read the whole post and those who read only the title.

    0 points
  • Joe Blau, 7 years ago (edited 7 years ago )

    I usually play nights and weekends. If you have a side project that you're passionate about the word balance will never be part of your vocabulary. Most people will think you're crazy and you'll have to put off doing things you really want to do.

    0 points
  • Andrew ZimmermanAndrew Zimmerman, 7 years ago

    For the first 12-15 years in the field I did volunteer work and the occasional freelance job to 'stay fresh' and engaged with my daily grind.

    The past 4-5 years, I've generally retreated into my non-web hobby for emotional charging. There's still creativity and an attention to detail there, but I'm not as interested in personal web projects as I used to be.

    Professionally, I'm finding more joy in changing the how things get done rather than the details of what things get done.

    0 points
  • Elinor HäggElinor Hägg, 7 years ago

    I allow myself to work on personal projects a few hours every day. I used to get stressed out when work was piling up and I didn't have time for any excess designing but including private project-time in my everyday schedule did the trick for me. To me, my own projects are equally important as commission work.

    0 points
  • Savelle McThiasSavelle McThias, 7 years ago

    Personally, I enjoy the process of design. It doesn't matter what the subject matter is.

    Right now, I freelance and do contract work. If I am tied down and forced to work in a traditional job setting, I just start to shut down. As a freelancer working mostly on contract jobs, I can work any hours, at any location and not fall into traps like clock watching, which leads to guilt then to "emotionally falling apart".

    Honestly, now that I am freelancing, I work 10-12 hour days. I rarely enjoy "weekends" or even notice them, because I take breaks whenever I feel like naturally taking a break.

    My only personal project is me lol. I find inspiration in EVERYTHING from seeing how people approach door handles, to looking at the arrangement of candle displays in bed, bath and beyond.

    When I was a kid, I liked pulling apart my toys and seeing how they worked. So that's how I approach learning new skills. If I NEED to learn something, then I DON'T... I don't NEED to do anything lol. If I happen to think of a project I love enough, then I will naturally learn how to build and create it. Learning new skills (like a programming language) is simply just a result of my curiosity.

    My friends think I'm crazy, but if they didn't. I wouldn't be friends with them lol.

    0 points
  • Martin Tsiu, 7 years ago (edited 7 years ago )

    I have the same problem.Maybe just because I'm a fresher in UI field.(I taught myself for half a year,and I began to design just from September)I found that if I put too much time on work,I will too tired to do my side project.It's hard to keep my inspiration & good condition all the time.

    Maybe I should go to bed early everyday,then I will get a good condition in the next day.

    0 points