When you work in a traditional style office for nearly a decade, you get used to a certain rhythm. You wake up at the buttcrack of dawn, put on your business casual clothes, pile into the car, fight traffic to whatever extent your commute dictates, arrive at the office, and then you don’t leave until it’s time to head back home (save for maybe during lunch, which I rarely took outside for 2 main reasons: 1) I’m cheap as hell when it comes to spending on myself; and 2) I preferred to eat at my desk while I caught up on my reading so I could go the hell home earlier). Then you fight traffic again and your night unfolds however it unfolds before you pass out and do it again.
Now that I have a schedule that is necessarily different every day and have no office to which I’m required to report, I’ve seen the world in a brand new way. And I’m proud to share that day people are a strange lot.
I used to see them sometimes on the 16th Street Mall Shuttle – these people who didn’t seem to be beholden to the grind of corporate filing cabinet servitude – and I’d wonder what they did.
What are you doing just… OUT like this? Aren’t you worried about people walking by your office and seeing an empty chair?
I realize just how myopic and solipsistic this is – everyone’s life is not your life, Jon – but the safety of routine breeds this type of thinking, which is why it’s been so refreshing to experience the world in a different way. I see more than the standard array of upper-middle class white people dressed in Dockers and collared shirts having the exact same types of conversations about the exact same things.
When I work at any of a half dozen coffee shops in the downtown area, there are entrepreneurs like me, grad students working on long papers, burned out hippies, stay-at-home moms in yoga pants, hungover stand-up comics, trustafarians, and, yes, office folks absconding for a few precious moments, all flitting in and out.
What’s really fun is seeing a coffee house conduct its business during off-hours. Sales reps bounce in and out. Things are restocked, machines cleaned, supplies re-organized, sidebars between staff members add flavor to the ambient noise of the place. It’s fun getting to peek behind the curtain, which I suppose is a fitting joy for someone with a podcast such as mine.
The best part of working for myself is setting my own hours. There are times where I’m out and about handling my life at a time when I would have normally been at my desk being perhaps productive (although productivity sometimes felt secondary to being merely present, which is true of many office cultures, and also absurd), and the fact that I’m out feels very transgressive.
Ooooohhhhh, I’m not supposed to be out now. Look at me! I’m a bad boy!
What’s most amazing is that it seems like I should have more consternation about what is ultimately the counterpoint to the joys of making your own schedule: you end up working weird hours. For instance, earlier this week I sent draft copy to a client at 9:30 at night. I traded emails with a prospective client right when I woke up at 6 am on another day. You’d think I’d be fretting about this, but I don’t.
I’m one of the “day people” now. I work when I need to, whenever that happens to be. And I’d love for you to come join me while I’m out and about. Hit me up anytime.
Love your insight, Jon. Great writing, as I would expect from YOU, Mr. Wordsmith!