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The Daily Grind and a New Direction

As with New Year, I use my Birthday – which is happily situated in the middle of the year – as a time to reflect on things past, and things future: What have I achieved? How is my health? Where have I been? Where will I go? Am I happy? Those and more besides, I’m sure you all know the drill.

Anyway, it’s bloody lousy all around at the moment.

A Typical Day

Upon reflecting, I feel that I spend a hell of a lot of time on my computer, and though I make a living online so a certain amount is expected, I find myself pretty much glued to the screen all day long.

Now that would not be that bad if I was productive, but this is not really the case.

I find that out of 12+ hours spent staring at the computer everyday, I probably only get three or four hours work in. So what of the other time?

Well a lot of it spent searching for something to do!

I’m sure you know the score, go to twitter open all the interesting posts that people of like-mind have written – being a member of the Dynamite Circle (DC) and following people such as Dan Andrews, Taylor Pearson, and the like, always gives me a good hour or so of reading (or procrastination) – especially when I start reading sources to the material written – and then on to Facebook, usually just for a few minutes; next to the Dynamite Circle, read every post –regardless of if it is of interest to anything I do – perhaps give a reply if I can be helpful. What next, shall I work?

Mmh, maybe see if there is a new tweet first, oh cool an article on how to live on the cheap in Chiang Mai – that is so relevant to me, I used to live there! Who knows I may live there again some day, though I feel that it past its prime a few years ago. Anyway I read the article, I know all that’s been written, but you know the author doesn’t seem to know half as much as I do, best add a comment or two. I mean, how the hell can they not know about that fantastic Basil chicken place on the corner? Why do they recommend a touristy place that costs twice as much and tastes half as good – this is gonna be a long comment; we are talking about Basil chicken here.

Strange, Basil chicken was something not anywhere near my mind before I started reading the post. Man, I’m hungry now; this Internet stuff is hungry work, staring at a screen all day, trying to earn a living.

I will just check up on the DC to see if anyone has replied to what I commented on, oh yes, great reply Travis, oh look, looks like David and Doug have just launched a podcast I will have to download that, give it a listen after I’ve had lunch. Oh, Corey has just got back from Japan and wrote a post about living there as a bootstrapper, always wanted to go to Japan. I will give that a read while I eat my lunch, damn time is flying today, best do some work.

WORK

Well, got about twenty minutes done on a growing guide to some obscure plant genus I’ve never heard of. MOZ gives it a keyword difficulty score of 35% and it gets a thousand visitors a month, so over a year it might make me a couple of quid. That’s the thing with making sites; you always need to be thinking long-term about anything you do, no instant payday in my line of work. I often think how nice it would be to offer SEO services, do some consulting. Mmh, maybe I’ll just put a spreadsheet together of how much money I might make if I was to take that route. I’ll do that now. Yeah, that looks feasible, wonder how to find clients…

LUNCH

Push the computer back a foot so I’ve room for my plate, read that Corey article while I feast. Mmh that Sushi looks good, why the hell am I eating a club sandwich again, I’ll have some BBQ fish later to make up for it health wise.

Browsing the net

Actively wasting time by browsing the internet.

Well that hit the spot, carbs made me a bit tired, I’ll have a coffee while I listen to the podcast, do a bit of multitasking here browsing through Twitter and Facebook in case I missed anything important.

WORK

Podcast got me really motivated did a couple of hours straight installing this new plugin and customizing the site, still not added any new content to the WWW today. Oh well, Rome in a day was not built, three year plan and all that – 1000 days to the successful business they say – I wonder if that is full on everyday? Or is it three years like this.

Damn, I’m bored now, will repeat the twitter, facebook, DC cycle. I’m sure the web is bigger than this, yeah, I remember…

Techcrunch, ah start ups; I wonder why they don’t just call them small businesses anymore, not as cool I suppose.

I have an health related App, I wonder if that makes me a Start up, according to Bizspark it does, well they let me join and gave me loads of goodies. Spent about 200 hours on that project, the MVP made me about $20, I’ve not touched my ‘Start-up’ for a while.

I will return to it one day as an interest project, because it is useful to people, maybe I should just give it away. I tend to do that a lot, spend hundreds of hours on MVPs that seem good ideas but slump, still at least I’ve not spent thousands of hours on them – mmh lets check on Google Play, no, no more sold. Damn I really liked that idea. Maybe, I will use it as a learning project; – I’m learning to code for iOS now that I’ve got a Mac, piece of shit that it is, where’s my backspace button FFS.

Actually, there is a lot I like about the Mac, even though I spend far much time looking for ways of doing things such as finding out how to find my hidden .htaccess files, oh I need to alter something via command prompt, I thought people liked macs because everything was easier, let my right click have some useful options FFS, I’m a big boy now I promise I won’t format the hard drive or delete iTunes…

WORK

Finish up, check emails again, didn’t mention that before, tend to delete them straight off my phone nowadays. Star the important ones, expect a reply within a week, can’t you see how busy I am.

WALK

Check the Internet, as above

DINNER

COMPUTER TIME

At last, do what I want to do now, just check the DC, two hours later, watch GOT/Fargo or similar. I only watch quality TV shows, cause watching TV is such a waste of time and I seem to have so little of it…

Wow, been on the computer 14 hours now, three hours work done. Oh, got a freelance editing job coming in, there’s the next three days gone, won’t be able to get work done on my own stuff for a while :-(

Still at least it brings some pennies in, my stuff doesn’t seem to anymore, don’t know why? – I spend all day working at my computer…

The Future: Making Changes

It never used to be like this. I’ve always been an hard worker, when I was doing my PhD I thought nothing of doing 14 hour plus days; when I was working in a factory saving up to go travelling for the first time, 12 hour shifts seven days a week were not a problem; when I first started doing my own websites and making Apps, 12 hours plus days of solid work were routine. But nowadays, I find a lot of the things I need to do are so repetitive and dull that it is easy to slip into the procrastination cycle waffle that I described above.

Anyway, if you managed to get through that waffle, which is similar to quite a lot of my days nowadays, then you will realise that something needed to change. To get myself back on track. Here is my new schedule.

7.02

Wake up, snooze, get up, bathroom duties, 10 min exercise.

Go to the café, order a coffee. I have until exactly until 8 o’clock to browse the Internet.

8 – 12 WORK

This is mainly writing at the moment, there are key articles that need to be done, that should bring money in.

I start by writing an article for one of my sites, usually about 1200 words, takes about three hours including research. Feels good to add some quality content to the web each day.

I then do some code-editing, site-enhancing, SEO etc. for an hour or so.

(Ok, it’s 12 of the clock, and I have done as much work as what I previously did all day long; that is it, I’m not going to do anymore work, I want to do four super-productive hours, if I do (much) more then I am pretty sure I will slip into days of procrastination, because the things that need to be done to make money are not the most interesting things on Earth TBH).

12 – 1 LUNCH

I relocate to the place by the beach, a 10 min walk, it’s 38 degrees outside, any further would bring on a sweat. Order food, listen to music/podcast/browse the web on the iPad (not the computer).

1 – 5 LEARN

I love learning new things. At the moment my main focus is on objective-C and iOS development (yeah I know about Swift). Now I’ve got a Mac I want to put out some IOS apps, hopefully they will make money, but to be honest this is more about the intellectual challenge.

So great to have a block of time dedicated to learning new things.

So great to have a block of time dedicated to learning new things.

Other things can go into this ‘learn’ time-period, maybe its time to learn Japanese, improve the guitar skills, go take some photographs. Anyway, the main thing is that I’ve set aside a chunk of my day specifically for this.

5 – 6.30 WALK

The temperature has normally dropped to about 30 by now, great time to walk down the beach and reflect on life.

6.30 – 7.30

LOUNGE AROUND

Do that pointless computer browsing that I used to spend all day doing, shoot off an email or two.

7.30 onwards, DINNER/Out with Friends

Usually take the iPad with me, read a book as I eat. Depending where I am, meet up with friends, go to the cinema, or just eat, read, then return home.

From this point on the computer is not allowed on other than for watching TV/Movies, SKYPE calls home, or listening to football.

READ/CHAT/SOCIALISE

Of course this is my schedule at the moment. I am currently at a quiet spot in Vietnam by the beach.

When I’m in the cities, I will often meet up with friends for co-working or just for a chat. The first one usually stimulates work so is ok, the second one doesn’t involve me staring at a computer screen so although not productive is also ok.

Days Off

I was thinking when the last time I had more than three days off work. Two years ago. I quite often work or work/procrastinate (as described above) for days on end, then do intense freelance editing, then get burnt out.

This has got to change, I will probably introduce ‘no computer days’ once a week; I’ve done that in the past, works better if it is not a zillion degrees outside and you can go outside and do a hobby, go walking, cycling etc.

Will have to see how that fits into my new schedule. Anyway it’s time to turn the computer off….

Tschuß

Comments

Comment from Dan
Time: June 18, 2014, 12:05 am

Hey Deano so great to read about your new schedule + hear that you visit DC so often (sorry about that!) and also was just checking your blog a few days ago and was hoping that you wouldn’t abandon it! I have been going through similar refining of my personal process hopefully will put it out soon as you have done.

Comment from David Hehenberger
Time: June 18, 2014, 10:58 am

Deano,

Happy birthday!

Glad you wrote another blogpost.

If this niche site project doesn’t work out you should maybe consider following your dad’s footsteps and becoming a comedy writer – this post was hilarious 😉

The new schedule looks great. I really like the learning part. I’ve got a couple of (highly interesting) udemy courses I bought a while ago that I still haven’t even started.

Thanks also for the shout!
Cheers,
David

Comment from Ian Borders
Time: June 18, 2014, 11:53 am

Hey Deano, totally understand where your coming from. I was on the brink of giving the computer up entirely. Shifted alot of stuff, cut back on consuming (though I did see David post this on Facebook and haven’t heard from you in a bit and thought I’d give it a read), quit listening to podcasts, cut my DC time to once a week or 2 (sorry Dan). Spending more time with the kids, shifting big parts of my day to hands on projects like making cheese and gardening, and even shifting my businesses around to suit my new-found lifestyle.

Change is good, Reset and refocus. Good luck brotha.

Comment from Deano
Time: June 18, 2014, 11:53 am

Hey David.
Funny? This is my life we are talking about 😛

Yeah, I’m finding it very effective. When you have all day to do something then it takes all day, or you keep putting it off and never get it done. I’m finding with four hours that I think to myself ‘got to get this done (on a deadline) and when I’ve got it done that’s it for me’.

Funny thing is after four productive hours I sometimes want to carry on, and I need to tell myself, no it’s the relax/learn/exercise part of the day now; need a that life balance, man. Thing is, if I worked them extra hours for a few days then I’d probably soon fall back into an all-day routine.

Great to get back to learning things just for the fun of them; having a dedicated time in the day for that makes such a difference; no need for guilt because you I feel that I should be working.

Comment from Deano
Time: June 18, 2014, 12:17 pm

Hey Dan, I’ll start with the DC, that’s a class A drug you’ve got there, nearly as addictive as that Blue Meth stuff.

I guess if I do a post on packing light and how I lived in Mui Ne on $450 during the high season then I’ve got the sort of material that will act as a drug to you :-)

I was thinking a little more about this today, and how when you start on something its so exciting and easy to work super long hours. When I was doing my PhD there was an end to things, and scientific findings/landmarks to keep me motivated through day long circadian clock experiments. But what when there is no endpoint?

Say I was making cat furniture for a living, I work hard at first as its a new project, then I get some success, another motivator. But then? After a few years, things are steady – things are dull, I have a nice house in Tuscany and drink Chianti by night, but where is the motivation to keep going for ever and ever?

I guess the thing is to start new projects, and repeat the loop of the adrenaline fuelled starting-up stage, but does the complacency stage kick in a little earlier each time? Instead of the 1000 day grind, have you now had enough after 500, employ someone to keep things plodding along? Move on to the next ‘start-up’, do you still get the same buzz?

Making time for learning, something that I have always loved, is something I should have got on top of a long time ago.

Comment from Deano
Time: June 18, 2014, 12:25 pm

Hey Ian,
Great to hear from you. I will probably be in your neck of the woods soon. Fly into Bangers on the 2nd. Yeah, with a project like Mergepay I can see how you can spend all of your life in front of the screen. Then spending any spare moment you’ve got cramming in the latest podcasts, catching up with tech, just means you are switched on all day long. If you relax by listening to business podcasts, I don’t really think you are relaxing and something will break eventually.

Seen plenty of pics of your food, it all looks so very tempting :-)

Great that you’ve got control of your life back.

Comment from Deano
Time: June 18, 2014, 12:29 pm

Today, after my work session. I sat at a table overlooking the beach, had lunch with no computer in front of me, and then listened to Django Django (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUCXZV96l9A&feature=kp) and watched the waves for 40 mins. So much better than eating a meal over facebook, don’t you think.

Comment from James Clark
Time: June 18, 2014, 1:40 pm

Great read, Deano! This read to me as if you were standing over my shoulder and describing my productivity of late. I’m going to have a look at my own schedule now. Hope all is well otherwise.

Comment from Deano
Time: June 19, 2014, 11:02 am

Thanks James,

Yeah, things are fine, just got a few weeks left on my Vietnam visa, then flying into Bangkok start of the month. Trying to decide whether to go North, Northeast or South. Life is so full of difficult decisions.

Loving the coffee shop angle that your blogging is taking you :-)

Comment from Kevin
Time: June 19, 2014, 4:59 pm

You mentioned this awesome basil chicken place, but didn’t give details – as someone currently living in Chiang Mai, I’d love to know! :)

Comment from Deano
Time: June 20, 2014, 12:15 pm

Don’t even know if it’s there anymore but I used to like the place on the corner of Sri poom and Ratchapakhinai. Roasted chicken, egg, and holy basil. My fave in CM was the Burmese food at the Swan on Chaiyapoom. Again, it’s a few years since I’ve been in CM, so may not be there nowadays/new owners/gone down-hill, but they were definitely great places to eat a few years ago.

Pingback from Nomadic News: June 22, 2014
Time: June 22, 2014, 11:19 am

[…] The Daily Grind and a New Direction – I met Deano in Saigon, and while he is not currently living here I swear he must have been peering over my shoulder and noted down my day in front of a laptop. […]

Comment from Dorika
Time: October 4, 2014, 12:34 pm

Deano!!!!! I have been thinking about you. Time to learn German again 😉