If you've never worked for yourself, I'm not sure it's possible to imagine what it's really like.
You probably overestimate some parts of it and underestimate others. It's not quite the same as when you're vacationing and your only prerogative is relax and see sights. You have responsibilities that need to get done, but no one's going to tell you when or how to do them.
Today I wanted to talk about my favorite and least favorite parts of this equation.
My favorite part, by far, is that I get to control the amount of craziness in my environment.
If I want people and noise and craziness, I can go shopping on a Saturday or out to a bar on a Friday night. If I want quiet time, I can go out when places are empty.
I love going to a cafe or restaurant at not normal times. Between 10AM and 11:30AM, and between 2PM and 4:30PM... I get the place all to myself.
For instance, here's a historic restaurant here in Kuala Lumpur:
Notice how it's completely empty? Yes, I had an entire room in this beautiful restaurant to myself. Light classical music is playing, I had a pot of strong black melaka coffee, and later some rice and spiced chicken. They let me do my thing and work for a few hours in a notebook, because the place is empty and I'm friendly. Beautiful work environment.
Compare this to what normal people have to go through twice a day during rush hour in Saigon -
I mean, that's just inhumane. That's awful. That's terrible. Once or twice a month I forget to pay attention to the time, and wind up in rush hour somehow. Afterwards, I count my blessings that I get to make my own schedule.
I think that's the most underrated benefit - I go shopping mid-day on the weekdays if I want to get groceries, and I don't have to wait in line. No traffic. Things like that. How much life energy do people usually burn stuck in traffic and lines? Far too much, I reckon.
Probably the most challenging thing about making your own schedule is that it's very easy to get off track.
There's no one with a whip to crack to make sure you stay on track. Lately, I've been working on a large deal with people back in the USA, so I've had a number of calls around 2AM and 3AM, throwing my sleep schedule out of whack. I'm now basically in nocturnal mode - up in the late afternoon, evening, and night, sleeping in the early morning, waking up in the afternoon.
That sucks. I prefer early to bed, early to rise. I can handle late to bed, late to rise. But right now I have neither - my schedule is basically the complete opposite of anything sane.
Nothing's going to force me to get back onto a normal schedule. I can work and function like this, even though it's weird to have breakfast a little before normal people are having dinner, and have dinner in the middle of the early morning. If I want to get off this schedule, I'll have to artificially force it by scheduling appointments in a way where I have to be awake/asleep at different times, or willpower my way through a very low sleep day before going to bed early.
And no one's going to give me a hard time if I don't. If I work on junk for a week instead of anything important, there's no short term consequences or alarms.
I love it and I wouldn't trade it for the world, but those are the two biggest ones to look for if you're going to start making your own schedule. After you make your own schedule for a while, I reckon it'd be difficult to shift back into normal-schedule-mode and be forced into two hours of rush hour per day, shopping for groceries in the evening when there's long lines, and doing errands on the weekend when everyone else is out. I love being able to choose how crazy I want the environment, and go out at those times.
The flipside is you really do have to apply a lot more discipline and willpower to keeping something resembling a sane schedule. That's actually one of the main reasons I started developing my time/habit/life tracking - having a start-of-day routine and an end-of-day routine helps keep me grounded, and the tracking lets me see where things got screwy if my schedule gets out of whack.
I'd recommend this sort of life to anyone who can handle it - the benefits are immense - but be prepared to apply a little more willpower and energy towards keeping your schedule on a track you want.
After Day Two was off the rails entirely, I wanted to rest and recuperate a little, so I set my benchmarks low. Okay, I'd rather gear down and be Conan the Barbarian with a big ol' sword, but it didn't work out like that.
Here was my plan, emphasis added --
Wake 5:30PM (7 hours sleep… hmm). GGW call scheduled for 6PM.
GGW call concludes… 7PM?
I have always had trouble in getting up in the morning. I would rather stay up late, finish up my work, and then go to bed. I remember always getting up little groggy, and my eating and social schedules were total out of whack. My health was deteriorating with increasing cholesterol and TGL numbers, and my productivity was not stellar either.
I was a tenure-track professor of engineering at that time, and work and more work were the only things that occupied every void of time of my day. I knew things were not going in right direction, but I did not know any better either.
Thankfully I did not have any morning classes, until then. I was told that next semester during winter I would be teaching an 8 am class. Now as this was supposed to be a semester long ordeal, I did not want to take any chances. I could not miss a class at any cost. I had three months to prepare before the semester, and I started to train myself to become an early riser.
Slowly, but steadily, I changed my waking schedule to 4 am. No matter how much work I had, or how wonderful the program was on TV, I would slip between the sheets by 8 pm. I just promised myself- I would do this work in the morning when I get up, or I would watch this TV program first thing in the morning (yes, I did that).
That worked perfectly for me. Very soon I realized I had plenty of MY time in the morning. I could do some yoga, meditate, work, and eat a healthy breakfast in the morning before the day would even start. I could see the crack of dawn every morning from my window. An experience that one can enjoy everyday!