The Monday Hangover No. 5

Posted: February 2nd, 2009

Routines are made to be bent (but not broken)

Well, here I am in Barcelona, Spain and I somehow managed to find some pirated access to Super Bowl coverage over the internet. It’s also just past midnight on Monday morning and the game just barely got underway. It’ll be a long night but, what the hell, I’ll type away here, too. After all, its not every day you can blog and watch football… starting at midnight.

Usually I’m in bed at this time. In fact, I make sure to get a good night’s sleep Sunday night to prepare for the Monday grind. I honestly can’t even remember the last time I stayed up late on a Sunday, even without the boozing. I had to even twist my own arm to stay up and watch this game in shitty internet quality.

You know what though? I’m glad I have routines that keep me in check. I get plenty of sleep on weekdays, save the late nights for the weekends, no happy hours… and my freelance career thanks me for it. Eventually, I guess you have to break out of your old college habits which might have allowed you to pass Chemistry but won’t you help pay the rent.

With that said, I think its time for for a little change-up. Routines help you make it to where you want to get to but they can also eliminate your spontaneity and eventually the passion you have in your work. Think about it… you are driven by your habits, good or bad. Sometimes, though, we are just too consumed by them. Can you remember everything you did at work last week? If we were that passionate about it, shouldn’t we remember?

OK, don’t get me wrong, here. We actually need good habits and  routines to succeed so let’s not throw them overboard just yet. The hardest part is even developing them, too. After all, we all should know (or at least have an idea) a good habit takes three weeks to develop and a bad habit can be learned on the spot.

Despite their importance to us, would it be SO bad to stray from them and go back to the old college habits, albeit just for a night (or four hours for me right now)? Now some people can handle doing the same productive routine at the same exact time every day of their lives and not even care. I firmly believe for the majority, routines eventually get stale and give you a feeling of “missing something” out of work or your career. At least for me, I finally realized this tonight.

So now, as I break my routines by boozing it up late on a Sunday and staying far past my normal midnight bedtime, I am happy at myself for doing so. I may not quite feel this way when I wake up, but from now on I’ll allow those little temptations to stray away from the essential routines and accept the consequences… a little piece of mind.

Go Cardinals!

What Does Freedom (At Work) Really Mean?

Posted: November 5th, 2008

I remember all the way back when I was sixteen years old, I had at the time a job which I thought had the greatest freedom that a job could possibly have. To an extent it still holds true to me today. You see, I worked in a rather rundown cheesesteak shop (without a sign I might add) inside a large shopping mall. The pay was borderline free for my employers here but I had it made.

I worked alone most times, made myself a sandwich when I felt like it, called my friends, gave free food to my friends once in a while and cut out early nearly every day I worked. Don’t tell mom but I even drank beers from next door in the back room. I probably would have worked there for free if they would have inevitably fired me (which they didn’t).

Although this wouldn’t fly in today’s place of employement (that sandwich shop did close down by the way) we still have an idea of what kind of freedoms are ideal for us in the workplace. Can you picture a drunk tank where you can clock in and sleep until you sober up? How about just coming in whenever you feel like it, having a two hour lunch or having a beer while you’re at a meeting?

It would seem our perception of freedom in the workplace is derived from wanting to skirt the rules our so-called superiors set for their employees which is true in a sense. Workplace freedom is, however, the desire to break free from the CONTROL that our employers have to place on us in order to for us conform and do our jobs.

Though I hate to use political references, you can view this employer control as a kind of socialism where your freedoms (to come in late, drunk, etc.) are suppressed for the productivity of the whole, which is the company. The downside to this is that it is totally necessary for a company to survive. OK, maybe there are exceptions like the Google campus, but we all can’t work there, can we?

Then there are the freelancers who would be the democratic adversary to the “socialist” company. A freelancer’s freedom, however, isn’t what you’d expect. Sure, you can expect to sleep in and wake up hungover once in while but what you would actually consider freedom in the workplace actually becomes a distraction to the freelancer.

Control for a freelancer is not placed in the hands of another but within himself. It is ironic that this complete control often drives new freelancers to quit and go back to their jobs. After all, YOU have to look for your own work, manage your own business and make sure you are making ends meet and then some so you can continue. This is all on top of the actual work you do. This added responsibility often drives people to quit freelancing or to not even start at all.

The truth is freelancing does have it’s learning curve and there are certainly going to be times where what you are earning will become an issue. The way to deal with that control, however, is to use it to your advantage. In other words, learn the ropes, take your punches and keep on rolling. I’ll admit that it’s easier said than done but when the end of that learning comes near you won’t regret it. Only then you’ll see what freedom at work really is.