But this time, I’m being a little selfish. This post is about me and how you can help me.
I’m doing it anyway. Why? Because I want your opinions. I’m also doing it in hopes that my story isn’t so weird and unique that it precludes others from finding value in the advice you might give.
Part One: In which I imagine beating the crap out of some guy…
I was in a store, efficiently grabbing a specific item before I rushed back to my car. This other guy was in the same small shop, wandering around as if he was mildly confused. The clerk engaged him:
CLERK: Are you finding everything okay?
GUY: Yeah, not really looking for anything.
CLERK: Just let me know if you need a hand.
GUY: Don’t worry about me. I’m just killing time.
And at that moment, I wanted to go nutso on the guy. Have you seen High Infidelity? Remember the scene where John Cusack imagines what it be like if he and his record store homies went crazy on Tim Robbins? I was right there. I wanted to find a window air conditioner and heave it right on top of the guy.
The audacity. And I don’t mean that in a good kind of Obamaudacity kind of way, either.
Who in the hell did this guy think he was? Killing time. It makes me sick.
- Why does this guy have extra time when I can barely find a second of it?
- Why does this guy have so much extra time that he feels he can waste it with impunity?
- Doesn’t this asshat realize how extremely precious time really is?
Killing time? You might as well be killing yourself. And rubbing it in the faces of all of us who’d like a little more life.
I can’t think of an expression I despise more. And I certainly can’t think of a practice that seems more wasteful, sick and twisted.
Part Two: In which I discuss the value and importance of time…
Time is valuable. In fact, I think one could make an argument that time is the only thing that’s truly valuable. After all, it’s a prerequisite for Everything else you do, want or experience. You can run out of money and coast for a while. If you run out of time, that’s it. Adios amigo.
Sure, there are exceptions to the rule. Most of us have at least a few things we could imagine dying for. We’d take a bullet for our family. Some of us willingly take the risk for country or God. But really, aside from those outlying moments of heroism or idealism, it’s all about time.
Upon further reflection, I realized that I wasn’t just hacked off at Mr. Time Killer just because of his wastefulness and failure to value the most precious of precious things.
I was jealous, too.
Because I don’t have enough time.
Part Three: In which I discuss my lack of time…
No, I haven’t been diagnosed with a terminal illness. I just have a life that currently doesn’t afford me enough time to do all of the things I want to do.
I’ve tried the work/personal life separation thing in an effort to increase available non-working hours. It failed. I failed. We failed.
I’ve recognized that I have no choice personally but to integrate all of it into one big time-stew lacking definition and clarity. I’m okay with that. In fact, I like it. Love it.
However, I still don’t have enough hours, people. I need more time. I have a baby who’s growing up fast. I have another baby who’s going into first grade. I have gray hairs, slowly worsening vision and occasionally experience heartburn after spicy meals. Time is not my friend right now. I need to do some things NOW if I’m ever going to do them.
Yes, go ahead and say it. It’s true, after all.
I’m having an ever-so-slightly premature mid-life crisis.
Fine. But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong about this.
In fact, I’m convinced that I’m so damn right that I’ve done what a billion other people before me in this exact same situation have undoubtedly done: I’ve made a plan.
Only I’m going to be different from the bulk of my predecessors because I’m going to make my plan work.
Part Four: In which I reveal my incredibly simplistic plan…
My plan is simple. I’m not going to kill time. I’m not going to waste time. I’m going to free up as much time as possible to do the things that matter most to me.
I don’t sleep much. In fact, I don’t sleep nearly enough. That’s probably why I have Exploding Head Syndrome (not made up). It’s also one reason that my 40 year-old midsection is destined to be considerably bigger than the 20 year-old model. They say that messed up sleeping patterns encourage that kind of unwanted growth. The nachos don’t help, though.
In any case, I don’t log a lot of pillow time. So I can’t steal another moment from the Sandman to free up more time in my life.
When you take sleep out of the mix, I’m generally doing one of two things. I’m either working or I’m with my family.
You can see where this is going. If I want to free up more of that precious time to do the most important things, I have no choice but to take the time from work.
And this, in all honesty, scares me.
Part Five: In which I reveal my workaholic nature…
I have a work ethic worthy of a Soviet propaganda poster. I’m a machine. I produce. These tendencies have been at the very foundation of my freelance career from Day One.
My ability to work like a team of dogs has always been my trump card. I’ve never worried that other writers are more talented than I am. I’ve never worried that they can work for less than I can. I’ve never worried about a damn thing when it came to making a living in this business because I’ve always known one thing:
I will work harder and longer than anyone else will. I will crush them while they sleep, if necessary.
That’s been such a part of my freelancing that it’s become ingrained in so much of what I do. I know a lot of you have 30-, 40- or even 50-hour work weeks. I laugh at you (not really, of course)! I double up on that range every single week. At least.
Unfortunately, this is a major undertaking. My wife is a teacher. I’m not earning optional income here. The idea of cutting my work hours in half (approximately) raises the ugly specters of poverty, repossessions and general brother-can-you-spare-a-dime despondence.
- Focus on the things that pay the most
- Increase rates
- Improve efficiency
- The things that pay the most aren’t the most fun and that matters
- Sure, I do that all the time and will continue to do so
- I’m a well-oiled machine these days already
Part Six: In which I beg you to solve my problems by offering sage advice…
So, here’s what I want from all of you freelance writing geniuses who visit this website and others, collecting wisdom and ideas, synthesizing them into a larger portrait of the Best Ways to Do Things.
I want you to dump your brains right here in the comments section.
I want your best piece of advice (two or three or four pieces will work, too) about how I can slice my work week in half without earning appreciably less dinero.
Oh, but there is a rule for this game: I don’t want anyone to even mention the topic of rates in their advice. There are a number of reasons for this, but the biggest is the fact that we all know you can make more by charging more. I want to see some less-frequently discussed pearls of wisdom.
Well, what are you waiting for? Give me some advice. And give me the good stuff.
I’m sure someone else is out there thinking about this stuff, too, so don’t feel like your wasting your A game on me. Some perfectly decent and innocent soul who wants to cut down their work hours will appreciate the advice, as well.
Let ‘er rip! Best piece of advice gets a free order of nachos.