Success, defined by a sandwich

I’ve been working a lot more lately. I realized at a certain point that I was no longer having the freelancer issue of not enough work. I’ve had plenty of work to be doing (yay!) but I have been struggling to find the time to do it. I’d gotten so used to only having 10-15 hours of work a week that I had filled up my time with other things. So when I started getting 20 or 30 or sometimes even 40 hours worth of work a week, I found myself starting to fall behind, and straight up missing out on money that could be earned. That was the worst part – knowing that I could be earning more money, and I just… wasn’t.

But why? I’ve been so worried about money for years, and for the first time ever, I can earn as much as I have time to. I don’t have a huge emotional attachment to money or define my success by it, but I do recognize its value in the things it allows me to do (or the things it prevents me from doing when I don’t have it.)

So really, it was coming down to how I was using my time. That elusive resource. I needed to find more of it to devote to work and earning. But where?

I started paying a lot of attention to exactly what I was doing every day, and how much time each activity actually took. Like budgeting or dieting, finding more time meant some lifestyle changes. I had to sacrifice some things (midday yoga or guitar breaks) and just go of others (my neat-freak tendencies.) For a couple of weeks (and sometimes still) I wonder how normal people possibly work a 40-hour week and still have clean clothes in their closet, fresh produce in their kitchen, a current oil change in their car, and get to the gym 3+ days a week. Without that extra 5 hours a day, when do people do these things? Being a grown-up is hard.

I’m still working on finding the balance. I’m learning to plan more, so I only have to go grocery shopping once a week, only do laundry one night a week without running out of clothes by Wednesday, (no, I do not have a large wardrobe,) and I haven’t really gotten on a solid new gym schedule. But I have added 6 hours a week to the amount of time I’m billing, and that’s awesome.

Perhaps the biggest shift I made was giving up on trying to work at home. I used to love working from home and always wondered what other freelancers were talking about when they said that they couldn’t do it. But when I started paying attention to my time, I realized that as much as I loved the ability to go meditate or play my guitar or squeeze in that load of laundry, those were the things that distracted me. Then I read an article about how people in an office setting lose 15 minutes of productivity for every 1 minute they stop to say “hi” to someone, because of the time it takes them to get back into the groove of working. I realized I was probably losing hours every day going in and out of the work groove. Not to mention the hours lost by just wanting to tidy up my work environment instead of working in it.

So I have started to establish a steady rotation of coffee shops (hello Rooster & Moon!) and coworking spaces (Creative Density, whatup?) that I visit every week. I also realized that the hour I used to spend going home to make a sandwich instead of buying one was actually resulting in a net loss of money. For the first time in my life, I’m earning enough that it is more reasonable for me to buy a sandwich and work through lunch than it is to stop what I’m doing to make one.

Is this what success feels like?

For the moment, for me, it is.

How do you balance your time? Freelancers, what are your tips for finding the time to work?

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

GABF newbie? Here’s what you need to know.

I blog about a lot of things here, but one of my interests that I haven’t written about on this blog is craft beer. So, add it to the list. Today the Great American Beer Festival takes over Denver (well, really beer madness started taking over about a week ago) and there’s a ton of buzz about it. I’ve talked to several friends in the last few days who are going to GABF for the first time this year, and realized there are some things that are helpful for newbies to know. So, here you go:

1) Make a pretzel necklace. I know this sounds kind of ridiculous, but trust me, you’ll want one. Grab some twine or ribbon (don’t use dental floss- the salt on the pretzels shreds it) and string as many pretzels as you can on it. I highly recommend adding some string cheeses as well, and possibly some beef jerky if you’re into that kind of thing.

Why?

For one, the pretzels serve as a palate-cleanser between beers. For two, pretzels and other salty things taste good when you’re drinking beer. For three, it serves as a snack and something to get in your belly while you’re trying a bajillion kinds of beer. Also, EAT BEFORE YOU GO. Convention center food is mediocre at best, and you’ll want to have some padding in your stomach. If you don’t feel like cooking, a fleet of food trucks will be parked outside the festival this year. But you can’t leave and re-enter, so get there early and get food first.

2) Plan transportation home that doesn’t involve you driving. Bike, get a cab, have your little brother come get you, walk, take the bus, take the light rail, but don’t plan to drive.

Why?

Even if you’re not planning on getting drunk, you probably will. Four hours is a long time, and the little one-ounce samples may not seem like much beer, but if you’ve ever done a power hour you know that you can get plenty drunk on little shots of beer. That’s not to mention that most of what will be at the festival will be big, often strong beers. Especially if you’re usually more the coors type, we’re talking about more alcohol than you’re used to in your brews. Also parking downtown will be expensive and a pain in the ass. Ride your bike. But lock it up well. Or better yet, get a bcycle for the night.

3) Be ready to wait in line. The line at the door forms early and wraps around the building. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of beer for everyone, but be ready to stand around for awhile. Also recommended to get there before the session start time.

Why?

Because this festival draws people from all over the country, who have waited all year for this event. The GABF is, in fact, the definitive annual beer competition. You may be going just for fun, because your significant other wanted to, or because you kind of like beer, but a lot of the people here are SERIOUS about this event.

4) Drink water. There are water stations all over throughout the event. Stop, grab a cup, and chug it, at least once an hour if not more. Just do it.

Why?

Because we all know that drinking dehydrates you. Four hours is a long time to go without drinking water regardless, but it’s even more important when you’re drinking. A lot of people don’t want to drink water because they’re worried about getting their money’s worth of beer tasting, or because they don’t want to have to stop and pee (you’re going to have to anyway, at some point) or they forget to because they’re already consuming liquids all night. But the thing to keep in mind is that you’re trying a lot of different kinds of beers – you’re basically mixing all night long. You will have a headache tomorrow if you don’t hydrate like crazy.

5) Don’t drop your cup unless you like LOVE being the center of attention.

why?

At GABF when you drop your cup, everyone within 300 yards of you will stop, point and yell “ohhhhhhh” like you’re a second grader who just swore on the playground. Also if you hear lots of people shouting, this is probably why.

Those are my tips for absolute must-dos for beginners. I also recommend having a plan of action – knowing which beers you want to try and which you don’t want to wait in line for, but chances are as a newbie, you’ll have fun just trying whatever looks good. That’s a valid strategy too.

HAVE FUN and come visit Island K if you’re there Thursday or Saturday night, I’ll be there volunteer pouring. Happy sampling!

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Living Every Day as Though it Were My Last

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. My 30th birthday is later this week and it’s been giving me pause. It’s a good time to stop and think about things, kind of like New Year’s eve. Except instead of looking at the next year I’m looking at the next decade. And the past one.

It always seems like life passes so quickly. But then I think back to 10 years ago, and everything that has happened in that period of time, and it calms me down. I have a lot of time. All the time in the world.

…which is not to say I’m going to stop trying to live every day like it was my last. I heard someone use that phrase on the radio the other day, they were saying that 9/11 is a good reminder to live every day as though it’s your last, because you never know when it will be. Which caused me to stop and ponder, what the hell does that mean, anyway?

Really, if it was my last day and I knew it, I’d probably fly somewhere I could stick my toes in the ocean, go skydiving, eat all of my favorite foods, and round up all of my favorite people in one place. But I can’t do that every day. And most of us will never know when our last day will be. I have come to the conclusion that “living every day as if it were your last” really means not to do anything you’d regret, or wish you could go back and re-do, or change. It means to be nice to people, don’t go to bed angry, tell the people you love that you love them.

But it also means not to concede the things you want. Make the choices that are what you really want out of life, every day. Live with integrity.

As I’m writing this, I’m thinking that these things sound a lot like The Four Agreements: Don’t make assumptions. Don’t take things personally. Be impeccable with your word. Always do your best.

Really, that last one sums it all up. If you’re always doing your best, then you’re already doing the other things.

So I will live every day like it is my last by doing my best.

How will you live every day as though it were your last?

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post