I’ve talked a lot about how the Stop Working Late experiment has changed my life. I was walking out of my office today at 5:00 and it really hit me that everything about my days are so much different than before. I thought it would be interesting to take you through a typical work-day in my life, both before and after this experiment.
I should mention that I work from my home office most days, and not all of my days are the same. This is less about one specific day and more about the new patterns that are emerging. The changes are pretty amazing.
6:00 – 7:00 AM[twocol_one]
Still asleep because I was up late working.
Waking up without an alarm. Making tea and breakfast. Writing for this blog.
7:00 – 8:00 AM[twocol_one]
Alarm goes off. Hit snooze. Too tired to get up.
Having breakfast with my wife before she leaves for work.
8:00 – 9:00 AM[twocol_one]
Finally get out of bed. Stumble into my office and start struggling through my inbox while drinking a Red Bull. No breakfast.
Brew a new cup of tea, walk into my home office and start working on my inbox. Feeling good, rested, sharp. The work feels effortless.
9:00 AM – Noon[twocol_one]
Working away, feeling tired and a bit hungry. Ask myself, “Did I have breakfast?” (No, I didn’t.)
Kicking ass and taking names! I feel so productive and focused. Most of all I feel happy and energized.
Noon – 1:00 PM[twocol_one]
Have lunch at my desk, without stopping working.
Taking a real break for lunch. Either making some healthy food and eating it on my deck or meeting a friend at a restaurant. Sometimes I’ll take my dog for a run.
1:00 – 5:00 PM[twocol_one]
Work, work, work.
Work, work, work. Hey, some things never change. 🙂
5:00 – 6:00 PM[twocol_one]
My wife gets home. We spend a few minutes talking about our day…and then I head back into my office to work some more.
At 5:00 on the dot, I shut down my computer, get up from my desk and walk out of my home office, closing the door behind me. I hang out with my wife and we talk about our day and make plans for the evening.
6:00 – 8:00 PM[twocol_one]
Work, work, work.
One of my favorite things to do is to cook a fantastic meal with my wife. If we don’t do that, we might go out to dinner and a movie or go for a walk with our dog.
8:00 – 10:00 PM[twocol_one]
Work, work, work.
Relaxing, reading, spending quality time with friends and family.
10:00 – 11:00 PM[twocol_one]
Work, work, work.
11:00 PM – 1:00 AM[twocol_one]
Finally quit for the day, feeling guilty and tired. Go to bed. Pass out.
Zzzzzz……… Sound asleep, probably dreaming about things that aren’t work-related.
While I was writing this, I felt sad for the guy in the left column. The truth is that I wasn’t always like that–sometimes I was better, other times I was worse. I pulled 4 all-nighters in the month before this experiment.
Most of all, I’m happy to be the guy in the right column now. I think he has a bright future ahead of him.
This blog isn’t just about taking on a wacky challenge every month.
It’s about envisioning a more ideal life, and then building it one piece at a time.
I started this project because I was unhappy with the status quo, and I chose to start with the Stop Working Late experiment because it was the biggest pain point in my life.
Going forward, I’m going to continue my new habit of quitting work at 5:00. I might not be as rigid about it as I was during the experiment, but the benefits it’s brought to my life have been incredible, and I’m not ever going back.
View all posts in this series
- January 2012: Stop Working Late - December 31, 2011
- My First Week Without Working Late - January 6, 2012
- Stop Working Late – Week 2 - January 14, 2012
- How To Stop Being a Workaholic - January 28, 2012
- Stop Working Late: Before & After - January 31, 2012
Wow I can really relate to this cause I’m currently living the left column! But unlike you I do not have enough income to take a step back right now. In fact, most months we’re still short money and in the last two months with two sick cats we’ve amassed over $4000 in vet bills too.
So I’m not sure how to implement your strategy because literally if I step back we won’t be able to make our bills and pay our mortgage each month. I work 18 hrs a week at a part-time job. I teach photography classes usually one evening a week or on the weekends (both days 9-4pm). I take on retouching (photo editing) for another photographer as well, usually 10 hours a week. I take on private tutoring (usually one or two, 2 hour sessions a week). Plus I’m trying to build an online class so I can record it and make more passive income. Between all that if I stopped at 5pm every day I’d have to cut out either one income making activity and be short for bill payments, or quit working on my web site. I just feel stuck doing what I’m doing. I see that it will improve but likely not for a year or more at this pace. If I slow down it will take even longer.
John Muldoon says
Hey Darlene. Great questions.
First, I hope your cats are ok! I know how stressful it can be, emotionally and financially, when you’ve got sick pets.
I should say that the rules I set won’t work for everyone. You’ve got to figure out some rules that work for you based on your own goals and priorities.
Also, my income dropped significantly in January, but after three months, my business revenue actually doubled. (I keep meaning to write a post about that.) I was pretty surprised when it doubled, but it makes sense in hindsight. Because I had less time to focus on work, I organically focused more on high-value activities and high-value projects. It wasn’t an intentional thing, but it could have been if I had the foresight.
Maybe you could do a different experiment, where instead of you focusing on a time-based goal like I did, you could analyze everything you’re doing right now and see how much you’re bringing in from each source.
I bet you don’t make the same income per hour at your part-time job as you do teaching classes or retouching or tutoring. Ask yourself whether you could scale up the more lucrative activities and cut back on the less profitable activities.
Keep building your online class, and expanding your reach. That stuff will pay off down the road.
Either way, let me know how it goes!
We actually lost one cat (I blogged about it in October) and the other is mourning her buddy and not doing so good. We may have to make the same call this week for her too. Thanks for asking.
As for scaling back less lucrative activities, yes that’s true but it’s steady income and I get discounts on camera stuff (camera store). It’s also a connection to part of my teaching. So I’m not ready to give that up yet. Not a good idea.
Thanks for the suggestions.
John Muldoon says
Sorry for your loss.
It sounds like you have a good grasp on what to do. There’s nothing wrong with putting in a lot of hustle. I did that for years and it was probably why my business worked out. I think it’s also important to intentionally question the things we’re doing from time to time. Trying a change in a small way (monthly experiment, 2 hours a week) might lead to a new insight. Then again, it might not. 🙂
Joseph Randall says
Hey John, that’s awesome how you changed up your life. I was attracted to your site because I too am looking to experiment with my life. I think it’s awesome to create a vision for ones life and actually bring it about. Almost like magic if I may say.
Your post has inspired me to move forward with my experiments. I hope you continue to experience success.