You are going to have to ask yourself, at every turn: is this project making me smarter, or making me stupider. Is this job stoking my fire, or burning me out? How do I top this? How can I learn from this? How do I produce my best work in this kind of environment? Should my next set of projects build up from what I’ve already done? Or do I need to branch out, go sideways, and push myself to try something new, that I’m less comfortable with.
Think carefully about how you spend your time, because your work isn’t like other people’s work. There isn’t a hard line between uptime and downtime. Your brain is always working, and what you experience in your downtime influences the quality of what you do when you’re on task. Be mindful of what you’re getting out of the time that you spend. Does your downtime refresh and recharge you? Or does it narcotize you? Does it spark new ideas? Or do you find yourself thinking, “well, there’s three hours of my life I’m never getting back.”
Ringling College Commencement Speech, 2011. Thanks to Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing.