Last Thursday, as I lay facedown on the chiropractor’s table for my regular adjustment, my doctor’s business partner made small talk while he checked exactly how different my legs were in length this month. He was helping out, getting me set up with the electric muscle stimulation pads that would loosen my lower back and shoulders over the next 10 minutes, until my doctor could come in, perform his usual six to eight cracking maneuvers and send me on my way.
“Do you get the weekends off?”
The question wasn’t quite so easily answered as he might have expected. We’d been discussing the amount of time I spend sitting, standing, or lounging at a computer. Also the horrific cold that continued to plague me 10 days after its onset but that had not, thankfully, turned into either the sinus infection or walking pneumonia raging through the area along with the unseasonably unsettled temperatures.
“As long as I get everything done. I mean, I work for myself and I try to plan for that, because otherwise I might go completely crazy.”
He gave a knowing chuckle.
The fact is, 2018 was an excellent year for me financially. However, it cost about six straight months of weekends and evenings because everything opened up at once. Time costs health and emotional and spiritual well-being, especially when you work in isolation much of the time.
Just consider: I started this post around Halloween. It’s been on my to-do list to finish since then. For those counting, that means it’s taken two and a half months to find the time to write a post the content of which I already knew.
And that’s an indication of a real problem.
So there are some changes in the works. I am:
Closing the book on this blog as you’ve come to know it. Instead of fracturing my attention into the blog and other writing, I’m shifting my writing energy toward pitching and placing my work in paid or monetized venues. I’ll still link to anything that makes it into publication from here and I may make a post now and again to provide updates about changes in work, progress on books, or other major developments.
Scheduling to set hours. I like having a fairly routine start to my day. I like being done with work for others by late afternoon. And I need evening and weekend time to pursue my own endeavors, which might be as simple as reading a book (something I haven’t done more than once or twice this year). So I’ve done the math and figured out that my weekdays need to contain about six to six and a half hours of paid work, on average, most of the year, to make my revenue goals. Unless there is a vital reason to break that pattern, I’m scheduling that amount of work each day and then writing “-NO MORE-” on the next line in my planner. Business admin, sales efforts, and my own writing all happen outside that time. And by protecting the time I work for others, I protect the time I need to work for myself.
Rethinking technology. Until now, I’ve been riding the wave of hardware and software and apps and things and stuff like most everyone else who works in tech-adjacent fields. However, I’ve never taken the time to kill all of the interruptions. I’m investigating how to use the minimum number of tools to achieve maximum benefits—and how to use the tools to create a virtual workspace so I have a way to “leave the office.” Different user profiles on my computer? Working on it. Even the simple decision to set my phone to “nighttime” from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. means that texts, especially, don’t disrupt my downtime.
Letting productivity gurus lead the way. I don’t much care how other folks do things. They’re them and I’m me. Lately, though, I’ve been surveying suggestions from a few productivity folks who value both work and healthful living (emotional, physical, spiritual). While I may not follow all of their tips, I’m finding some encouragement for the rest of the steps I’m taking. It’s good to be reminded that rest and following one’s own interests are valid and necessary pursuits.
Changing the scenery. My work doesn’t require me to be in one place, so I’d intended my 2017 research trip to lead me somewhere new. Because it didn’t—at least as quickly as I’d hoped, I’ve felt a sense of suspended reality for more of the last 15 or 18 months than not. There have been exceptional moments with my folks, but beyond that, very little to mark the year. I look forward to the spring with a mixed sense of excitement and trepidation, because I’ll finally shift my base of operations two time zones west and a few climate zones south. By making some of these other changes in the meantime, I hope I’ll be able to better balance my work with new opportunities in my off time when I get there.
For now, thank you for staying up to date with my many ramblings. Stay tuned for links and updates as the year moves on!