The 9-5: The Neverending Experiment
We are now at the first turning point. Our hero had set out bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in search of the promised land, and come face to face with a most fearsome adversary: his self. I stood, feet planted and looming, blocking my own path.
Sorry, I’ll step back from fantasy land. Here’s what the real world looked like (in bullet points for your organized pleasure):
- I started working from home on April 1st, 2014.
- I loved it, and was going strong until roughly the beginning of June.
- By the end end of July, I had been reduced to a frozen puddle of procrastinatory piss, never to melt again.
I won’t repeat the specifics, but you should stop here and read Part One of this journey if you haven’t yet to fully comprehend this tangled mess that I’m about to start tugging at.
Let us see If I can straighten some threads shall we?
So, end of July:
With the help of my beloved Kaity pants, I began waking up at 7:00 a.m. This was partially because I desperately needed to, but mostly because her walk to West Oakland BART was becoming unnecessarily inconvenient. Like a good little boyfriend, I committed to driving her there every morning. A successful experiment it was and soon enough a puzzle piece of a new routine fell into place.
On our way there we would always drive right past KiloVolt Coffee. It occurred to me that If I were to actually put on some real clothes and pack up my laptop before leaving the house, I could stop by on the way home and do some work. Another success, and another puzzle piece.
I did not account for this, but I was now awake and moving before my interstate counterparts, and had no actual work to do before the hour of 9:00 a.m. The thought of going back home and getting a couple more winks occurred to me in the beginning, but I did not buckle. Instead, I discovered blogs. “Hey, so ya, I work for myself. I wake up and reads blogs at a cafe in West Oakland. I’m cool and special and better than you.”
But seriously, I did what most people do when they are motivated to change something about themsleves; I searched out folks with the same problem and read about how they solved them. I read life-hack articles (ugh), I read organization and productivity blogs (uuggghhh), and I read freelance workflow manuals (uuuuuuuuggggggghhhhhh). I read and read and read and read.
At a certain point, I began to notice some themes. Every author began with my story. “Working from home does not look like you thought it would.” And the main two problems we faced were these:
- There are dishes and laundry screaming to be done, a TV that demands watching, and nobody to punish you for doing these things when you should be working.
- If you are lucky enough to find inspiration, but lack workflow structure, you will burn out. Fast.
They won my trust. They pegged me. But their solutions were all so custom to the own lives. They all incorporated the nuances of their specific life circumstances. Some swore working 4 hours, from 6:00 - 10:00, resting four hours from 10:00 - 2:00, and working 4 more from 2:00 - 6:00. Some preached working 6 hours a day 6 days a week, some 10 hours a day 4 days a week. But again, regardless of the specifics the themes were always the same:
- 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.
Reading is good, but never amounts to tangible shit. I must act. It was reassuring knowing I had begun finding pieces on my own, but the final scene of my routine-puzzle was still obscured.
I had a healthy list of methods to try on for size.
Let the never ending experiment begin.