The 9-5: It Even Works for Freelancers. Whodathunk?
I am now become Tinkerer.
Each day a tweak, each day a discovery.
There was no good method vs. bad method, only an experience and a lesson.
I look back at August of 2014 and can see the shift. That is not to say: a.) that the shift occurred all at once, or b.) that the way in which I’ve shifted has landed me at a permanent destination. If anything, the most profound aspect of the shift was that I identified the needed pieces of my healthy routine, and I started to understand all the ways in which I could reorganize them to keep things fresh but still maintain my efficiency.
I am sure I will forever be shifting, but that’s ok…I can now pivot without resistance…without that wave of massively confusing demotivation.
As I mentioned toward the end of Part 2 these fundamentals weaved themselves into my daily strategy:
- Change your environment at least once a day (cafe, library, park, etc.).
- Track your time (measure your improvement by improving your measurements).
- Isolate the number of tasks you can consistently accomplish in a day, and do not make to-do lists in excess of this number.
- Find a colleague or confidant in your same work situation and speak with them often.
Now, here’s what the typical day, with these concepts integrated, looked like:
I would wake up, put on gym clothes, pack up my laptop, and drive Kaity to BART. On my way home I’d stop at KiloVolt, slug a double espresso and crank out tasks until my laptop battery died. I would quite consciously leave my charger at home, and being that my old macbook’s battery lasted no more than 3 hours from complete charge to depletion, this was perfect. 3 hours was right at my work-sprint threshold, teetering right on the edge ofmental burnout. And the lack of power supply psychologically reinforced the need to sprint; there would be no lollygagging whilst under the gun of power failure.
Once the juice was gone I’d pack up and run to the gym for a 20-30 minute workout. The same battery principle applied here as well, for you see I have yet to eat and I’m running on espresso fumes. BUT! I’m still going, and that 20-30 minutes was similarly right at that threshold of physical burnout. And again, the under-the-gunnage would eliminate my corner-cutting lollygaggish tendencies.
Lunchtime was now a well deserved, clearly defined time to eat and chill. So I would eat, and I would chill. Sidenote: I made a separate commitment to myself to watch all of “Vimeo’s Staff Picks” every day. The time it took to watch all of each day’s short films was almost always under an hour, and therefore, was a nice chunk of relaxation with a bit of productivity well-disguisedly sprinkled in.
More coffee and back to work I would go, usually (but not always) around 1:00p.m. - 2:00p.m.. I might have mentioned this when describing the cafe tasks, but I found it nice to separate laptop tasks from desktop tasks with the separating of my environments. To illustrate: I would reserve my morning/cafe/laptop work for emailing, phone calls with clients or that fabled colleague/confidant, social media managing, and ceo-mode task overviewing and planning. Then in the afternoon I would tackle the processor heavy tasks: video editing, motion graphics, VO recording. Really anything that either required robust computing needs or my being connected to my external hard-drive arrays.
Then, right at 5:00 I’d pull the plug.
I had to frequently force myself to do this. But as we saw in Part 1, I’d already reaped the sown seed of hurtling blindly forward. At first, I’d think “But I’m in the middle of a task, and I if could just take 15 more minutes to….” and I’d feel weird and on edge and confused. But I was convinced my sanity depended on it, and I would shut her down nonetheless.
Two incredible things happened as a result of this forced, and very uncomfortable protocol:
- It was SUPER easy to get going in the morning. I knew EXACTLY where to start because of the burned imprint of where I left off. I was hungry to finish the evening’s task, and once I did, the rest of the day’s work just flowed out without the need to jump-start the “motorvation”.
- I got really really REALLY good at finishing the last item of the last task right at the stroke of 5:00p.m.. I mean…it was surreal. The end-game became this surgical execution. And it wasn’t a mad dash to finish either, no corner-cutting blitz, it was truly and honestly a well completed task. I had developed a seasoned understanding of short-term deadlines and was becoming more and more versed in the subconscious reverse-engineering of tasks and projected time estimations.
So, this is where I am now. It is worth noting that I arrived at this “where” some time in late August last year, and though I’ve moved to yet another new city and state, this general process remains intact…a whole goddamb year later! Some of the pieces have shuffled; the cafe is now the very first thing, and now exercise happens at the end of the day, but the essence of the day has remained unchanged.
A good friend of mine recently phrased at me, “Win the day at all costs!”. That is the mission, and the evolution will doubtlessly continue. This is just fine with me. I’ve never journeyed such a joyous journey. Contentedness is littered all along this road and the ultimate destination is far from my mind. Its importance pales in comparison.
I’m happy to walk and work this way fah evah!