i want things to happen very quickly, and unfortunately that’s an unrealistic expectation. so, i need to develop systems to ensure that i don’t get ahead of myself. one of those things is making a considered effort to slow down. another is giving myself projects that i can complete very quickly, or in a day. if i divide a project up into these specific chunks of constructions, suddenly i’ll have a big final product at the end.
i always forget this, the fact that what we do with our lives is what we do with our days. routines, then, help dramatically with my ability to finish a huge task. i know i will spend a little time every day, and this gives me comfort and allows me to envision the final project. for example, if i write a book, i need to know that i will write 600 words a day, and i need to know that i will have time every day to do that specific thing.
right now, i lack direction because i don’t clearly see my end goal. so i am gathering information and trying to build up my plan. it is loose, there are a ton of tangents, but i know that if i make at least one thing today, i’ll be that much closer to having a fully fleshed out final project a year from now.
every day, we have the power to choose how we look at things. our perspective has the strongest influence on how we make decisions. so, it makes sense that we should shake up our perspective every once in a while to look at our problems from a new angle.
i like doing a weekly “zoom out”. this means that i take a step back, and consider my plans in terms of a ten-year strategy. a zoom out could also mean imagining where my plan fits into the global economy. it could also mean seeing how i fit into the general schematics of a city.
changing your perspective could also mean zooming in. you’re smart, you can probably find a number of creative ways to alter your worldview. the point is, if you feel stuck, it can help to change your perspective. if you don’t know how to do this, talk to a friend, pick up a book, or listen to a podcast. being open to the thoughts of someone else is by definition taking a different point of view. this, oftentimes, is all the push you need to realize what you’ve been missing.
there are some large companies that are able to communicate “soul” really well. in a time when large, seemingly heartless organizations are taking control, brands that bring a human touch to their operations stand out. the first one that comes to mind is trader joe’s – i recently spoke with employees that love what they do. one of the reasons is that trader joe’s manages to make grocery shopping a fun experience.
aoc, too, brings an authenticity to politics that resonates with people. further, on twitter, whenever big companies tweet like they’re people (see netflix), it brings a lot of joy to their customer. tech companies tend to lean on profitability and scale, and are often in conflict with soul. however, google with its bright colors and twirly hats brings some fun and whimsy to the brand. why is this important? it makes the company feel a little bit less like the monolith it is.
if you run a company, it’s important to recognize that soul is really really hard to maintain. chasing profits scares it away. and sadly, curating soul means that we scare away sustainable business practices sometimes. i invite you to find a way to balance soul with your business so that it pays you while also preserving your humanity. because your humanity is invaluable.
we all know 9-5 does not make sense, and my question is where we are headed next. what’s wild about companies like lyft is that it operates on its own schedule. artists, filmmakers, web developers, and more have the opportunity to work on their own schedules and don’t have to be tied down to a specific place or schedule. not only is this exciting, but it also is collectively powerful since it gives our workforce considerable agility.
as i interview young people who make a living online, it becomes clear to me that there are common challenges: time management, motivation, marketing, health care, etc. while an employer usually took care of some of the more managerial tasks for us, we now are burdened to make these structures for ourselves. my job, at least for the time being, is to help my peers figure out how to be their own boss.
the formal job market is posted online and has a series of clearly defined hoops to jump through in order to land the position. the informal job market exists in the background, and the key to becoming a part of it is being curious and testing assumptions.
i got a lot of my jobs just through shaking hands and asking questions. people often will grumble that certain industries heavily depend on “who you know”, and they’re not wrong. jobs are created by people, and it pays to know the right people.
what’s thrilling about finding work in a loosely organized field is that you can open yourself to huge opportunities if you play your cards right. the hard part is that there is no handbook, and at the end of the day we all have to eat. they key is knowing your strengths in both formal and informal spheres, and using them to your advantage to get where you want to go.
people are different, and the way people work varies as a result. i am a morning person, my girlfriend is a night owl. our productivity levels heavily depend on the differences in our personalities, upbringing, and values.
i’ve noticed that i get a lot of my writing done in the morning. in the evening, after 6pm, it is incredibly difficult for me to write. however, it is a great time to study. studying requires long instances of uninterrupted silence, which is more easily found when the day is done.
on the bus, i can get very little done. but, this is when i either listen to a podcast or a playlist. i can scroll through twitter and instagram, or take a moment to just think. the best part is identifying this window (and others) in a mindful way.
by identifying my morning hours as “office time”, evening hours as “study blocks”, and bus time as “focused play”, i now can sort my to do lists into the scheduling slot that works. i know that if i need to research health insurance plans, i might get the most out of it if it do it in the evening. if i need to write an e-mail to a client, i will do it in the morning when i’m writing anyway.
your system may be different from mine, but identifying the cycles of your work allows you to name them, and to categorize the tasks you can reasonably get done. and this is a kind of superpower.
you may be trying to get your shit together. i know that at least for me, i try to solve all my problems at once. as a result, i end up not solving any of them. “this is the day i change for real!” i’ll say, and then a week later i will be right back where i started.
instead of implementing a lot of discipline, try keeping a journal of when you implement a little bit of discipline. “today, i am going to wake up on time without hitting snooze.” one goal, no more. if i can do this for a week, i’m already better off than i was before. and then i move on to the next goal.
this is kind of a tortoise-and-the-hare lesson, but maybe in a way you haven’t thought of. we are made of little victories, and the key is getting enough of them to realize that you have made a huge change by the end of a year or so.