What is your ideal work routine? What does a good day look like?
The best days start without my phone. This rarely happens given my work. But when it does I wake up with a clear mind. A splash of water on my face, then a glass of it to get me awake and hydrated. Breakfast is usually fruit, yogurt, granola, and coffee. I make the most of the morning by listening to a podcast while painting or doing mixed media work.
After lunch, I focus on the client-side of things. I either head out to a cafe to meet friends or have friends over at my place. Lots of times I end up working alone, too. By 3 or 4 PM, my condo is bathed in golden light. It usually inspires me so much that I end up shooting still life or self-portraits. The day ends with a bike ride or a run with friends. That or I stay up to watch Terrace House or YouTube vlogs.
What does your space look like? How do you make it personal?
I moved out at the beginning of 2019. Having my own place was THE goal since I started working. Long before I found an apartment I already had Pinterest boards full of decorating ideas.
My little corner in the world has a lot of wooden furniture, baskets, and books. Plants, some of them dead, to be honest. I’m lucky to have three working surfaces: a dining table, the work desk I’ve had since college, and a breakfast counter. By the windows, I have a rocking chair perfect to sink into when reading a book.
It can be a mess but it’s nice to know the mess is all mine.
What activities help you get into the "flow"?
A few months ago I did an exercise from this book called Designing Your Life. For the exercise, I had to track every single activity and pay attention to my energy level and engagement during the activity. Engagement being how much the activity got you into the “flow”. I noticed that I felt it most when I was taking and editing photos or making mixed media art. Those were the times I lost track of time. I’d find myself making decisions intuitively which is rare for an overthinker like me.
For days when you lack drive/motivation, how do you get unstuck?
When these days happen, I let them. I let myself lay on my bed. I let myself watch whatever will entertain me in the moment. I try not to be too hard on myself.
I found this idea on Reddit before. The concept of “Non-Zero Days”. It’s the idea that as long as you read something or worked out, your day is non-zero—a.k.a. productive.
Whenever I feel guilty about being unproductive, I make sure to read or exercise. Or make art. Sometimes you just have to show up. When I see the light getting nice in my condo, I jump the gun, say fuck it, and get random things to take pictures of. Both my body and mind just keep moving.
What is your biggest struggle right now?
These days I struggle with insecurity. Scratch that. I’ve been struggling with insecurity my whole life. It’s something that has followed me around growing up. I’m constantly trying to unpack it.
I have this bad habit of comparing myself with my closest friends. Though I try to be supportive, deep down I feel threatened. It makes me wonder where these thoughts come from and how long I’ve had these tapes replaying in my head. So far what has worked is being aware of the thoughts, leaning into them, and questioning them. (Go to therapy, kids!) It’s also comforting to see how people in the creative community are supportive. I’ve gone further collaborating with my friends than by competing with them.
What lesson did you learn recently that you would like to pass on to others?
Anyone who can afford it should go to therapy. This is based not only on the shows I’ve watched (Couples Therapy and Queer Eye) but based on my life and my friends’ experiences.
Even if you don’t think you need it, even if you’re not in extreme emotional pain, therapy will help.
It’s such a good way to find patterns in your thoughts and behavior. After seeing a therapist two years ago, I realized my bad habit of burning out and getting into a depressive state. She even helped me navigate my way through family issues. Today, I have a healthier relationship with myself and my family.
Story and photos by Sara Erasmo