Time management has never been my strength. I like working at my own pace, and the certain working structures, like deadlines, tend to annoy me rather than motivate me. It’s no wonder I’m excited about leaving a job with a typical standardized nine-to-five schedule. I allow myself distractions and breaks and often procrastinate.
Despite this, I am motivated to succeed, and that’s probably one of the only aspects of my personality that has helped me thus far. Given the above, I am a bit concerned about how I will work once my only boss is me. When J.D. Roth began working on Get Rich Slowly without the distraction and time-suck of his day job, he found that working outside of the home in a separate office was helpful in keeping him focused — I remember reading this at one point but I don’t know whether it is still the case.
A friend of mine, another business owner, plans to begin renting office and warehouse space in the new year. He offered to set up a place for me to work there, and I might have taken him up on the offer if his office were closer.
My biggest concern at the moment is that I am used to writing at night. I usually begin around 10:00 PM and don’t finish until 2:00 AM, and that’s after answering emails and doing other management activities from 5:30 PM to 10:00 PM, with some breaks for dinner and sanity. Once my schedule changes in the middle of next week, I will see for the first time whether I am capable of writing during more convenient hours. I hope I am, because I plan to increase my writing volume for Consumerism Commentary as well as for a number of other websites.
In a perfect world, I would have time every day for eating three healthy meals, exercising, and practicing hobbies — in addition to working — with classes once a week. Of course, all of this will need to be balanced with time spent with my girlfriend, and if I can manage it, more of my other friends. I’m not going to be able to manage a schedule like this without a well-defined structure, even if it is a flexible structure.
One thing I find I have to remind my friends, many of whom are envious of my ability to leave the corporate world behind, is that this is not going to be a vacation. I work hard now, and I’m going to be working even harder soon. The motivation isn’t going to be the problem, but it will be a test for me to see how well I can do on my own.
I’m thirty-four years old, young to some, but old enough that I’ve come to accept some of my weaknesses rather than stressing myself over making improvements to my life that would only have incremental value, if I’m even successful at changing my personality. Time management is one of these weaknesses. It’s a trait that corporations love, so much that they’re willing to pay for training. Skills like these help their assets (employees) produce efficiently (more work for less pay), so I understand the bottom-line implications for encouraging good time management skills.
Another concern is my work environment. As I mentioned above, working outside of my house might be a good idea to save me from distraction, but I don’t like the idea of traveling to an office and back every day. I’d like to reduce my driving for the near future, and there’s nothing in walking distance. I don’t have a proper desk. I’ve been waiting to own a house before upgrading my furniture, so most of my writing is done in my living room, with a notebook computer placed on my coffee table. I shouldn’t even mention that this is in front of a television which, when I’m sitting in the living room, is more on than off.
Working from home every day is going to require some isolation from this distraction, and my health and the long-term stability of my body would benefit from a better sitting position.
These changes to my structure and environment will not be instant next Thursday, the first day I’ll be working solely for myself. Changing my process will be a process unto itself, and I’ll need to set some ground rules to ensure that I’m making the most of my time and producing the best work I can manage as frequently as possible.
Updated January 3, 2011 and originally published December 9, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.