Thursday, February 03, 2005

My Magnificent Time-Management Skills

I know there are self-employed people out there who get up at 4:00 AM, are at their computers, lathes, ovens, potter’s wheels, or whatever by 4:30 AM; put in six solid hours of productive work by 10:30; go out and play 9 holes of golf; come back at 2:00 PM and do a couple more solid hours of work; and then head out at 4:00 PM to get sozzled at Happy Hour. I know, because when I started my own business, I read about such people in a book about how to make $85,000 a year* as a freelancer written by Robert Bly.** I only looked at the book long enough to read that bit about the golf and the Happy Hour. No need to buy it.

I figured that with no meetings to attend and no hawkish bosses breathing down my neck, I should easily be able to arrange such a pleasant schedule for myself, swapping out the 9 holes of golf for a nice long walk or an extended lunch with a self-employed friend. I failed to take one thing major thing into consideration: I cannot roust myself out of bed any earlier than 7:00 AM and most days it’s more like 8:00 AM. Now, I’ve been solvently self-employed for just over seven years, but I’ve never had a day that unfolded as promised by Robert “I Have No Magnetic Properties” Bly, and he implies that every day is supposed to play out like that. Who are these mythical early-rising freelancing beasts?***

In the early days, I always wasted some time checking e-mail far more often than was necessary, but I was never much interested in surfing the ‘Net. But now. Now there are blogs. Why not just check a few while I have my morning coffee? Bing! It’s 10:00 AM. How did that happen? And I have my own blog. No need to tell anyone reading this how much time can be frittered attending to the care and feeding of one’s blog.

I do manage to get all my work done and meet all my clients’ deadlines, but I’m often still working at 7:00 PM. That ain’t right! If I had the will power to not randomize and get off task I could probably finish all my work each day at 2:00 PM and have the rest of the day to read blogs to my heart’s content, vacuum, climb Angel’s Rest, paint my toenails, or bathe the cat. It’s totally within my control to have such an enviable schedule. Not many people are that lucky, I do realize. And all I’d have to do is get my arse out of bed while it’s still dark out.

But how can I do that when I never get to bed before midnight? And how can I get to bed before midnight when I don’t stop working until 7:00 PM? I have to eat dinner and unwind after my fatiguing day of time squandering. It’s a vicious cycle, but it could be easily broken if I had but one pennyweight of self-discipline.

Resolve: I am going to get up at 5:30 AM tomorrow, shower, and get right to work. It would increase the quality of my life so much. See if I don’t.****

*That was in 1997. The newest edition lures hapless wanna-be freelancers into buying the book by promising $100,000.

**Not the loincloth-wearing, drum-beating Iron John Robert Bly but another one--one who owns a pair of putty-colored Sansabelt slacks.

***I know. Get out the really tiny violin. When I was an office drone, I got up early like everyone else, but it’s a different matter entirely when you’re free to start your workday any time you please.

****This is not the first time I’ve made such a resolve. I've done it hundreds of times. When the alarm goes off, I tell myself I’ll get up in five minutes and then fall back asleep for two hours. It won't happen this time.


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