10 Productive Things to Do in Your Extra Time

Even if you’re a networking meistro, there will often be times when you have little or no commissioned work coming in. It’s easy to take this as a confidence knock or grab the chance for an un-scheduled holiday, but this free time can be used productively to further your career.

From working on your dream project to learning new skills, your time is your own to use as much or as little of as you choose.

Here are ten ideas to put to use in order to use your extra time productively:

1. Make a Plan

Back when you started out, was there an end goal you had in mind that has got lost among the day-to-day work? Perhaps you have a new goal but it seems far away or almost impossible. Now time is on you side, why not make a plan of action for the next week, month or year to help you get closer to achieving it.

2.    Do What you Dream of Doing

While you’ve been knuckling down and working hard for other people, has there been something in the back of your mind you’d love to be doing? Now is the time to start that graphic novel, draw that comic or create that amazing typeface. Even if it is out of your usual area, your personal work could spark off new ideas and techniques to use in the future.

3.    Learn a New Skill

Whether it’s on the computer or using paints, is there anything you’ve ever wished you knew how to do? From making vector badges on Illustrator to how to paint snow, there are tutorials available online to help you do almost anything.

4.    Try New Ways of Self-Promotion

Aside from social networking, there are many other ways to promote yourself and drum up business. Try contributing an article including links to your work to an article site, create an exciting item or product to give away in a competition, or send out promotional postcards to your contact list.

5.    Contact Someone You’d Like to Work With

Send out an email introducing yourself to an artist or writer you’d like to collaborate with, or get talking to an organization or company. You may not set up a job straight away, but you can establish a dialogue and get your name out there.

6.    Write a Guest Post for a Blog in your Industry

A great way to be seen as an expert in your field, a guest post including your link will provide ongoing traffic to your site. Show off your knowledge to the community and get your name and links on sites with high visitor numbers.

7.    Re-Visit your Portfolio

If you’ve just come out of a busy period, chances are you’ve not had chance to update your portfolio in a while. Is there anything missing from it – a new skill you can show off and market yourself with, and does the work already in it still really represent you as a creative?

8.    Do Some Research

Although it’s a given that you’re interested in the field you’re working in as a creative professional, it’s worth taking the time to immerse yourself in the work of others. This is useful not only as an opportunity to check out the competition but also to see where your field is heading. See who’s new and what’s popular and what you can take from that to boost your own work.

9.    Try Creating Stock Images

There are numerous sites out there you can submit your work to, and not only will they keep you in the creative mind set, but you could earn a little money off them too. Check out what’s trending in the news and what gaps there are in the market to make your work more likely to sell.

10. Give your Workspace a Clean Up Blitz

Remember that idea you had a few weeks back? You wrote it down but it’s now lost in the mess on your desk. Organize your workspace and not only will you find all sorts you thought you’d lost, but when you start your next project everything will feel a lot less hectic.



  1. This is a good list. I will add some things, go to a museum or gallery to see what’s going on.
    Get in touch by hand written mail , with some people that you have not been in touch with. Read the book-How To Sell Anything to Anybody. Read Sarks book The creative Companion, see Alan Bamsberger’s art business website. Ask to have a show at one of your collector’s homes. Make some small drawings. Remember, art is a business. Think of non-traditional ways to sell your art.

  2. that’s just what I needed to hear- or read- ten ideas and there is surely one of these I’ll pick up – thanks for “nice advice” 🙂

  3. As someone who works in the self-help arena, I like this list; particularly points 5 and 9.
    I have employed both of these ideas in past month and the result has amazed even me!
    Thank you for sharing. Your list has reinforced my ‘positive doing’ thoughts 🙂
    Will re-tweet it now.

  4. This is a great list – thanks. Another one I do is to create and print out postal labels on Word or something, with an image/address/web etc – as much info as you want on it . Stick them on everything you mail out.

    Not only does the postal assistant see, the postal deliverer and the recipient also see. All for free!

    Also,stick sellotape over the printed area….as I discovered a blurred mess on rainy trip to post! 🙂

  5. Number 5 “Contact Someone You’d Like to Work With” is a good one. We are all willing to help and guide others, all we ask for in return is, don’t waste our time.

    Put yourself out there, you never know what the response will be.

  6. I have only recently discovered the Red Lemon Club after setting up a publicity and event management business for artists, designers, photographers and charities in the North East of England, and I have found the advice and tips available on the site invaluable and inspirational. Thank you! What a discovery!

  7. I am productive everyday ON PURPOSE!!!!
    I am working on getting sports orgs to sponsor visiting artists in Denver schools. For five thousand dollars, scholl could have a number of visiting artists in for a half day.
    My ten productive things are- I send illustrated letters to my collector base every quarter, I make colleges, I make sculpture from found objects, I make five small drawings each week, I book home shows of my art, I read my art books, I coach artists on business/survival techniques, I look for ways to get some press in the news paper, I read the NYT for new ideas to maintain my art life.

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