A friend of mine shared a conversation he had with a filmmaker for Netflix. The filmmaker said that he focused on spending 40% of his time on paid, commercial work, and 60% of his time on his own creative projects.
Ironically, the creative projects were what led to most of his clients anyway.
I’ve been thinking about this story more and more as I find myself in a similar position.
About 30-40% of my time is spent with Unreal or independent clients. The other 60-70% is spent on a mashup of personal writing, course creation, filmmaking, podcasting, website development, etc.
And sometimes it feels frustrating.
I’m spending the majority of my time on things that are not paying me anything.
Sometimes, the story gets even more aggressive.
I should just take a well-paying, 40 hour per week job and do the creative work on the side.
I’ve settled into thinking long-term and being patient. But I won’t lie — it’s a constant balancing act to ensure that I am spending enough time generating actual cash flow to allow myself to create over the long term.
I should take the job, right? Keep doing creative work on the side and bide my time?
But I started thinking about it differently. I’m not just biding my time and slowly building up the reach of my writing.
Actually, I’m buying my time and investing it into creating a bigger, broader body of work.
Said another way, I’m my own biggest client.
Instead of renting that last 60-70% of my time to someone else for immediate cash, I’m basically investing the equivalent into myself. If I could have made $6,000 last month from client work, I instead invested that $6,000 in opportunity cost into the belief of what I’m creating for the long term.
That means I can spend more time creating right now (e.g. that 60-70%), but that comes with the understanding that I’m living lean while I do that.
Earn more now and move slower towards my ultimate vision? Or earn less now, and hopefully arrive more quickly?
I’ve taken the second path — I’m going to keep buying my time.