The Essential Skill All New Business Owners Need (Otherwise There’s No Fucking Point)

The World Domination Summit 2013I recently spent three weeks in the US.

I rode the train from Portland down to San Francisco and back up again, made friends, saw mountains and lakes and forests, hiked across the Golden Gate Bridge (yes, I’m calling it a hike because it’s fucking long — very deceptively long), met online friends for the first time, happened to arrive in SF just in time for Pride weekend, hung out with old friends.

Attended the kickass World Domination Summit, was inspired — so massively inspired — by all the brilliant speakers, met even more awesome people, made more new friends, spent the night in a cabin in the woods, drank coffee in a lodge on the side of a mountain with a spectacular view.

Edited articles from a pub bench while drinking cider on a warm summer evening, ate ALL the delicious hearty American breakfasts, stayed with my friend in Modesto (holy shitballs, it’s hot there), and sat with my window OPEN (okay, not the actual window, but you know what I mean) for the whole time on my flight home, watching the sun set and rise again an hour later.

In short: fucking fantastic.

And then I got back to Edinburgh and was all, huh. What now? Flatlined, boring, back to normal life. And it got me thinking.

Seriously guys, what’s the point in starting your own business if you’re not going to take advantage of the life it allows you to lead?

Like, I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. I could power out all my work before noon and spend the rest of the day strolling through the Pentland Hills. I could take an extra day off, make a long weekend of it, and go camping with my buddies. Jesus, I could visit a tourist hot spot in Edinburgh every day and not run out of places to go for months.

Yet somehow I seem to end up staying in my flat for days on end, flitting between trying to work, checking Facebook, checking Twitter, maybe doing a bit of the easy work, procrastinating a little more, and then finally getting my work done at the very last possible moment before deadline. And it’s always stressful and never fun, and it’s not even made better by the fact that I at least spent my procrastination time doing cool shit. Because I didn’t.

And that’s not why I chose to do this. And I doubt it’s what you had in mind when you decided to your own business, either.

I started my own business so that I would enjoy my life more. (And so that I never had to listen to anyone else again, obviously.) I specifically chose to start a writing business because, well, a) I’m fucking good at it, but also b) because it would allow me to live location independently. It’s the reason I was able to spend three weeks swanning about the US and still keep the money coming in.

But then I got back to Edinburgh, and normal life resumed. Ugh, normal life. But hang on, isn’t the whole point of this business so that I enjoy my normal, regular, day-to-day life?

My New Commute

My new commute.

I’ve hired a desk in a co-working space now. I get to see and talk to other people regularly, and put clothes and shoes on every day, and walk through the Meadows on my way to get here. I’m fuck-tons more productive. It’s only just the afternoon and already I’ve finished my client work for the day, and look at me! Now I’m writing a blog post!

And when I get home, you can be god damn sure I’m going to boot up the old PS2, load Final Fantasy II, and storm Fynn Castle to restore peace to the nation. GUILT. FREE.

Listen, I’m in Scotland and it’s raining and cold. Today is not the day to hike in the Pentlands. And sometimes playing video games is precisely what I want to do, which is totally cool. I’m not saying you need to go have a grand old adventure every day. But how about making room for the things you love doing, and the headspace to enjoy them whole-heartedly?

Because otherwise, what’s the fucking point of it?

How about you — do you have this problem? Have you figured out a way to separate work and play time, and to really enjoy life? Let me know in the comments down below!

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    13 Comments

    1. I use calendar a lot to remind me of everything I need to get done. At some point I ended up with entire weeks completely blocked by work. Then I started to actively create nop blocks (from the geek dictionary: no operation) where I just can’t schedule anything. It’s been working so far. :)

      1. Hey Henrique! Nop blocks, eh? Definitely sounds like a good idea to not cram stuff into every hour of the day.

        I’ve started using Trello (omg it’s amazing) and my calender to help me stay on top of things. So far so good!

    2. Hi Karen

      Oh I SOOOOO know what you are talking about – those days when you sit at home and get SOME productive stuff done but fritter away the rest of the time either mired in your inbox (you never know what you could be missing!) or stuck on Facebook :-(

      Funny thing is, when I started out 10 years ago I actually scheduled acupuncture appointments for the afternoon followed by cinema trips (love the feeling of coming out and it’s still daylight!)

      Next week I’m meeting a friend (from Scotland!) for lunch on Tuesday (horror!) in London. Note to self: *do not feel guilty about taking a “day off” it’s your own time*. I think old “office” habits die hard – yeah even after 10 years of working for myself.

      I use Harvest to track time and diarise everything which works pretty well. It’s those non-productive times when I could be doing something fun that I could do with working on. Time to schedule some “playtime” in my calendar me-thinks!

      Love the re-design by the way!

      Kate x

      1. Hey Kate, good to hear from you! Long time no speak :) my trouble is not so much office habits, because I’ve never worked in an office… but it’s definitely a different mindset when you have to decide for yourself when you’re going to do your work!

        I’ve been using Trello to keep my shit organised and so far it’s working fucking beautifully!

    3. Wow! [I’ve been saying wow a lot since WDS.] Thanks, Karen. Gives me a slightly difference focus and reinforces some things I’ve started doing. Oh, and I would definitely date your blog posts if I wasn’t married. ~8-}

      1. Awesome, thanks Michael! What things have been reinforced that you’ve started doing? :)

    4. And in answer to your question, I’ve been working from my home or workshifting since 1981. I still find it easy to fall into the routine you wrote about. Post WDS and the various things I heard [not sure a learned them], I’m getting out of the condo every day with work or a book to interact with the world. Also, you’re post has caused me to revisit the idea of joining a coworking site here.

      1. I’m just starting to realise how important it is to get out of the house everyday. Well, I say just starting to realise, when what I actually mean is “starting to do something about it,” ha!

    5. Just ran across this post again. Divorce pending. Going location independent. Watch out! Have passport, will work anywhere.

    6. Thank you, great post. I have done basically a whole lot of research for my new business which is good.. but I could bounce from post to post all day and all night.. and in the meantime I still have clients work to finish! So that is it.. off to it.. procrastinating is so so easy especially when it is actual work related learning and brainstorming but in the meantime I am not earning any money which means I will be up all night.. again.. kind of as you said, defeats the purpose!!

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