August 14, 2008

A day in the life......

A number of people have asked what, exactly, I do all day.

I have a job I love. I work at home, I write a lot and I'm my own boss. A lot of people are jealous or envious of that and I can tell you now there's is no reason to be. There is a perception that work-at-home folks have an easy life. We get up when we want, work when we want, go and play golf when we want (actually that bit is generally true...), and we generally don't work as hard as office based folks.

Well, rather than take you through a typical day let me try and paint a picture of my life as it relates to you, the reader.

I subscribe to a number of newfeeds and blog feeds which talk about productivity and so-called 'Life Hacks'. A lot of what follows is a direct result of my implementation of the ideas found there.

Early start

The first thing to remember is that I like to get an early start (6am when possible). Sometime's it's not easy. Sometimes I really want to stay where I am an keep the duvet on. But I try my best to get up when the alarm goes.

Standard routine

The day starts with a standard routine regarding the computer:

I run a Mac (as those of you who read my 'Mac musings' series will know), and this gets turned on just after I get up. First thing that happens then is Morning Coffee. Note that I have put that in capital letters. This isn't a cup of well made java, rather a Firefox add-on that preloads a set of pages I want to read (you are using Firefox as your browser, right?). One click and I can load up all the key pages I want to go through in a morning. These pages change on a daily basis (thanks to Morning Coffee's functionality), but include BBC News, Aint-It-Cool-News, Google Adsense, Google analytics, a couple of forums, Dilbert, and Wall Shadows (a site run by Algo, a friend of mine, that talks about films and philosophy - it sounds wierd, but go!)

I also do a quick check of e-mail at this point (but only to see if there is anything of great interest that needs an immediate response). The productivity guru's swear by not checking your e-mail first thing and I agree with this. However, I justify this by saying that it's only 5 minutes and it's just a skim read.

Yahoo! Answers

First job of the day is Yahoo! Answers. I run several web sites, one of which is about free video editing. As a means of promoting this I spend time most mornings at Yahoo! answering questions related to video. 90% of the questions are along the lines of "What free video software can I get?". In fact this is such a popular question that I have dedicated a complete page at my site to people coming in from Yahoo! It seems to be working - I have answered nearly 200 questions and 2 out of 3 are rated best answers (approximately 1 out of 4 are either still open or not rated yet). I'm quite pleased at that.

Site Build it!

My free video site is hosted by a company called Site Build it! who are the best all-in-one web hosting and site development service. Read more here. One of the things I like about them is that they provide a good number of management tools to help run your site. I check these next. This includes things such as visitor stats, search engine rankings, inbound links etc. I can also check who has signed up to my ezine or left a contact for me through the site.


Then I get down to writing. Apart from the free video editing web site I also run three more blogs and a business process consultancy company. On any given day the focus is usually on one of these things. At the moment I am finishing up and starting to promote my ebook "The Perfect Process Project" which will be released next week. The Process Cafe is used as my process blog so I'm adding entries to that in support of the launch.

I also recently got my private pilots licence and started a blog that talks about that. I'm looking to extend my flying skills by doing what's called 'difference training' to allow me to fly more powerful planes. There are entries related to that at the Flying Cafe.

Of course there are these entries on the Musings Cafe that need to be done as well. This is a 'catch-all' blog that has entries which don't fit on the these blogs and which I want to write about. See my posts on environmental tips for an example of this.

I also work on building the business process consultancy business. I spend time on Linked-in answering questions relevant to my area of expertise, connect with folks in that area, answer forum questions from related groups and ensure I keep in contact with business associates from past and present. At the moment I am prepping for a pre-sales meeting with a company in the healthcare industry so I need to spend time researching the company and putting together the presentation.

Basically I write every day. It could be a blog post or two, it could be a complete new entry on the latest free video tool to come out. It could be a new chapter in the ebook or a particular white paper on BPA or process facilitation sessions.

So how does this work in reality? Well, getting back to the productivity guru's, they recommend finding the best time to write and write as much as you can in that time. I find that first thing in the morning works for me, before the neighbours are up and before I start to feel tired as a result of waking early! For example, this particular document was started at 6.20 in the morning.

I do realise that I could actually be more productive and I'm working towards it. One of the reasons (as espoused by Leo of Zen Habits) is to declutter your workspace. My workspace sucks. I have papers, cables, documents, 7 hard drives, 3 computer carcasses, boxes and two CRT computer screens around where I work. I really should find time to move that clutter out and get back to something nice and simple. Although, to be honest, when I'm writing I don't find that stuff like that distracts me. I find that if I'm looking for something though, (like a note I made on a sheet of paper about a new piece of video software) I can spend longer looking for it than I would in a decluttered environment, but that's about the only downside.

Wonder what that says about my mind....?

Work breaks/ distractions

The only problem with writing is that occasionally I can get outside the zone. Sometimes it's a matter of not being totally committed to an article or a post I'm writing (that happens if I have a half-baked idea for a post and not enough research into it). So occasionally I need a distraction. I've talked in the past about my cats (one of whom loved to sit and watch me write before he was killed by a passing car), so I do like all things feline. So when I came across icanhascheezburger I was overjoyed.

"Cheezburger" is a site dedicated to funny pictures of cats and kittens but captioned using 'lolspeak' which is the internet chat speak language. I don't spend a huge amount of time on this site, but I can occasionally drop in to see what's just been added.

funny pictures

Generally my writing environment consists of no interruptions. By this I mean no IM (I turn Adium off when writing), no e-mail (I close the email notification noise/alert and just let the mails accumulate in the background), and no phone (generally I send all calls to voice mail). One thing I have found incredibly useful (and infuriating at the same time) is the use of a Mac product called Anti RSI. As the name suggests it's a small application which will work with you to combat RSI. Basically you define work chunks which could be, say, 10 minutes at a time. After 10 minutes a message is displayed with a 15 second countdown. You cannot remove the message and countdown unless you leave the keyboard alone completely. Then, every 50 minutes you can set a ten minute break. It works really effectively to let you work has hard as you can for a while but still remind you to stop typing and give your fingers (and mind) a rest. The infuriating thing is when you are right in the middle of something interesting or inspire) and the message pops up. it can make you lose your focus and concentration for a while! There is a similar product for windows called Workrave

Now that I'm down to one kitten, he can be a little clingy. There was a time when they would go out first thing in the morning and return for food and an afternoon nap and that was it. I would see nothing of either of them other than that. Moe would occasionally come back and sit on the window sill to watch. But now that he's gone Zeke likes to spend time with me. He'll come in during the morning and walk around on the desk, on the keyboard, on my lap and in front of my face. Generally he'll then insinuate himself into my space and settle down across one of my arms, or something. It's very difficult to write with a cat asleep on your arm!

I said I wouldn't take you through a typical day for me and It seems to have ended up doing just that. But there's a reason for this. There are lots of people out there who work in their own routines every day. Some of them work at home like I do, some of them are in an office, some even go out and spend time at the local Starbucks tapping on their laptop.

But however you do it, I think it's worth remembering the following: What I do is not so different to a standard 9-5 job. You work in an office (So do I, but in a different type of office). You are producing in the hope of earning money (so am I). You are trying to get as much done with as little effort as possible (so am I). You are distracted occasionally (so am I).

Where it differs is that I have a lot more freedom about where and when I work. I can work hard all morning, go play golf in the afternoon, and come back and work in the evening if I want. You can't. Although you do get a regular paycheck at the end of the month. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't....

0 comments (See Policy

Post a Comment