Last week, I decided it was high time to do something about the number of hours I work. I found myself wanting to take a crack at some random guy’s noggin just because he was stumbling around in a store, admitting to the cardinal sin of “killing time”. I guess that kind of weird jealous rage was what professionals in the world of nuttiness might call a “clear signal”.
Luckily, the guy was spared from a beat down. I was in a hurry and didn’t have enough time to work him over. Okay, the fact that I wasn’t really that upset was part of the deal, too.
In any case, my thick skull was finally penetrated by the indisputable fact that burning the candle on both ends is rotten and that my approach–tossing it directly into a steel smelter is even worse.
So, took advantage of this handy platform to write a long diatribe filled with elements of my personal story that couldn’t really provide much value to you. I tacked on a plea for ideas at the end. My goal? Work half as many hours without bringing in less bacon. I wanted your tricks, tips, hints, ideas, theories, recommendations, commiserations and maybe even a few ninja kicks in the ass. The only rule? I asked that no one talk about increasing rates as a means of decreasing workloads. That seemed to easy.
Oh, and I promised a free order of nachos to the person who gave me the best chunk of time-sparing wisdom.
That post generated over 40 comments and I think only one of them was from me. Almost all of them contained great advice and those that didn’t tended to provide equally important context.
My comment, which came only after 20+ FWJ readers decided to contribute, was simply to encourage even more input (which I received).
It became pretty clear to me that the ideas you provided could serve as the core of a great text about creating an efficient and streamlined freelance business. A few bigger themes emerged and they were coupled with concrete recommendations and examples.
All in all, it was an incredibly valued idea dump and everyone who added $.02 or more created one of those great situations in which the comment discussion is 100x more valuable than the actual blog post on top. Kudos to you all.
Anyway, I wanted to do two things before walking away from that post and implementing those good ideas. First, I wanted to write a “wrap” post about the recommendations, noting the prevailing themes, providing my reactions to them, etc. Second, I wanted to give away the free nacho prize.
You’ll note that this post is labeled “Part One”. You’ll see “Part Two” next week. I’m going to use “Part Two” to break down all of the advice, to provide kind words of thanks to the geniuses who provided it and to come up with what I hope to be a few Marvelous Insights of my own.
This part? Two things are about to happen. Keep on reading.
Community. It’s an extremely over used word in the social networking field. It’s been overused in the blogosphere for half a decade or more. Everyone is always talking about building communities, community management, community participation, community this, community that…
Usually, it’s more jibber-jabber than reality. We use the term “community” to refer to even the least tightly knit groups. We’ve drained much of the power and meaning from the term by tossing it around as convenient shorthand whenever we’re talking about anything that involves more than one person.
Occasionally, you actually see community in action and understand what it can mean.
I know this has nothing to do with my quest to work half as much without losing money, but it’s probably one of the biggest lessons I’ve seen in real community.
I asked a whole mess o’ people–most of whom wouldn’t recognize me if I bumped into them on the street–to give me good advice. Yeah, I dangled the magic of nachos as a reward, but no one (I hope) was actually excited about the joke of a prize. On a superficial level, there was nothing, absolutely nothing, for them to gain by providing me with a recommendation. In fact, they spend valuable time doing it.
Yet three dozen or more people did do it. They took the time and effort to comment and to offer something meaningful.
Now, we can make the somewhat cynical argument that people contributed because they’re trying to boost their own name recognition or because they hope to grab a little comment link traffic, etc. And it’s true that being an active participant in a larger “community” can have some pragmatic benefits along those lines. I have a sneaking suspicion that most of the people who spoke up weren’t really concerned about that, though. Some are already well-known and well-read amongst the FWJ population. Some didn’t bother to even leave a link. They seemed sincerely motivated to provide people interested in maximizing efficiency with some good advice.
They wanted to share for the sake of sharing. And that is a big part of what community and social networking in general is really all about.
And none of that happens without Deb Ng, who’s grown this site up from square one. Her dedication, constant adjustment and all-out effort to create a quality space for freelancers is a big part of why this works. It may seem ironic, but online community really often starts with a significant effort by one person.
I’m making a big fat point of this because, as most you know, Deb sold Freelance Writing Jobs to SplashMEDIA. She’s still here, handling the transition. However, in July, the new crew is gonna take the controls.
That makes this a perfect moment to thank Deb for a job well-done. It’s also a reminder to the new ownership that they’ll be filling some big shoes and, if they can pull it off, they’ll have one really great community on their hands.
After a great deal of consideration, I’ve decided to extend an invitation to all who commented to join me for nachos at El Torreon in Overland Park, KS if you’re ever in the area. Just drop me a line and we’ll hook up for our nacho date–on me. I don’t cover the margaritas, though.
Knowing that few of you will venture into the KC suburbs for nachos and pleasant conversation any time soon, I’m also specifically awarding a plate of my favorite vice to Brad.
Interestingly, Brad didn’t really give me any advice about how to reduce the amount of time spent working. Instead, he reminded me of how some folks wouldn’t mind being that busy and made me think about f-ing obnoxious it probably is to publicly gripe about having too much work in the midst of an ugly recession. Thanks for the reality check, Brad.
Here’s the comment:
Well I would say to run around in circles as long as possible before your circle gets taken away from you.
Being an IT guy I’m used to running around in circles.
However since Dec 19,2008 when the president of the company I worked for decided they made a mistake in hiring me because I had 4 years experience and not 10 and laid me off, I would love to have a run around in circles experience again.
I like thousands of other people just realized that my last unemployment check that I just spent on food and other household necessities will be my last for a while until Congress and the Senate can work together to pass an unemployment extension bill.
I wish I had a job with people driving me crazy again. I have been unemployed for almost 2 years with no hope in close site. I’m going to school in hopes that an increased education will increase my employment opportunities.
I would love to have someone asking me stupid technical questions right now. When I go back to work someday I’m going to be smiling a really big smile the whole time and saying yes sure I can help you with that and be glad that I can.
Brad, drop me a line and I’ll take care of your cheesy, chippy needs.
Back next week with “How You Made My Life Easier, Free Nachos and Other Delights (Part 2)”