That New Job Smell

A friend of mine has to get up early to head to work everyday, and makes a habit of stopping at a local place to get breakfast at 7AM to ease into the day. This sounded very interesting to me.

As a freelancer with tendencies to stay up late, my daily working hours tend to fluctuate with the particular mix of projects I have going on. As a result, I’m always constantly fighting my sleeping rhythm to keep some semblance of normal waking hours. Complicating my working rhythm is the ongoing effort to be more social, meeting friends at normal times after work. The net result is that I’m almost always tired during the day, which affects productivity and keeps me up late. I also like seeing the sun, however briefly, for at least part of the day. The net result: I don’t really feel good about my working schedule, because doesn’t synch my social life, sleep cycle, and working energy in a productive manner.

So, on Monday I’m going to start a two week rhythm-establishing experiment. That is, I’m going to:

  • Wake up every day at 630AM
  • exercise (that’s new, too)
  • shower
  • head out to the same place every morning to grab a cheap cup of coffee
  • Review the day’s work to be done, and compare to the previous day’s progress
  • Map out the course of the day, with some immediate tasks (probably using the Emergent Task Timer)
  • Head home, and do a 4-hour work block
  • Eat lunch
  • Do a second 4-hour work block
  • Eat dinner
  • In bed by 1030PM

The theory is that since not having a daily schedule (my 2006 experiment) didn’t quite yield the results I wanted, training my body to be awake at predictable times might be the way to maximize my productive juices. Also, I’ve been playing this game called Harvest Moon, which is a farming role-playing game for various console gaming systems. Every day my in-game alter-ego has to wake up at 6AM, hoe, seed, water, and harvest a variety of crops throughout the year for profit. On top of that, there are festivals to attend, search mines for treasure, fish, and make various farm improvements. You can raise chickens, sheep, cows, train your dog to fetch balls, so they can win prizes that impress various woo-able girls. It’s a lot of work; in fact, there’s no way you can do it all in a single game “day” because your character becomes fatigued and will pass out. As I played the game I got the distinctly uncomfortable feeling that I was learning stuff about life that I should have already known.

The last time I did anything like keep a regular schedule was when I worked in Boston, and I was very keen on maintaining a working rhythm for reasons of energy. The morning and evening drive would sap a lot of my energy, and ultimately I found it wasn’t workable because I ended up not having any time to do my own things.

As I thought about the old job, I remembered the extra sharpness that a new job tends to bring to one’s self, so for fun I am going to pretend I have a new job:

So I’m working for a company run by this guy Dave Seah, and my primary job function will be to get his business and design processes running smoothly to improve both workflow billables and customer service, to replace the ad-hoc system that’s in place now. I’m sure I’m going to be horrified by what I see. My secondary job function is to build the tangible assets of the studio, both what can be “seen”, and in terms of “packaged process” that can be readily shown or applied to client businesses. At the moment, the assets are scattered all over the place. An overall consideration is that the systems I put in place support—not impede—the creative process that is at the heart of the practice. Mr. Seah hates accounting, but he’s accepted that a certain measure of this (I’m thinking daily review, at minimum) is necessary. Lastly, Mr. Seah wants to regularize the workflow and project management such that no one has to burn the midnight oil every single night. Steady, measurable, profitable progress is more highly valued…we want people to go home every night to spend time with their family and friends, and to feel good about the progress they’re making in terms of the project work and their own growth. The challenge will be to maintain a high level of creative energy as well; innovation and original thinking is so very highly valued here. Creative energy and methodical process would seem to be mutually-exclusive ideals, but I’ve got some ideas.

Oops, it’s 1045PM already, and I’ve got to get to bed. I’m working Monday to get a head start even though it’s a holiday.