The title says it all: I needed a change, and a new Day Job is helping to make that happen.
In sticking with my philosophy on keeping your Day Job a secret online, I won’t tell you much about my new way of keeping the bills paid here. Here’s a few things I will say about it, though:
- It’s in an office
- I do it during a regular Monday-Friday daytime schedule (9:00 to 6:00, with an hour for lunch)
- It pays more than my Secret Work-From-Home Day Job
- It involves using my writing/editing/English skills
- It offers several qualities that make it ideal for keeping up my creative work
Again, I won’t go into specifics, but I felt really good about my decision to change jobs—or change my main source of income, anyway ;-) I’ve been keeping tabs on job listings for a while now, and this particular post caught my eye, I got good vibes during the interview, and the offer was solid enough to make it worthwhile.
Since the new Day Job requires me to consistently be in the office during the day, it means I’ll be going back to my old schedule of doing creative work in the evenings and on weekends—including this entry, which I’m writing on a Saturday morning just after breakfast. I’ve been able to do this so far because the job’s been pretty low stress, which keeps my mind clearer at the end of the day to work on other things. Here’s a quick draft of my new daily schedule:
Monday – Thursday Schedule
7:45am – Wake up
8:45am – 6:15pm – Drive to work, work, drive home
6:15pm – 8:00pm – Relax, take care of small tasks, eat dinner, general down time
8:00pm – 11:00pm – Productive writing/work time
11:00pm ~ Midnight – Unwinding Time
Midnight ~ 7:45am – Sleep
One weekend day for creative work/other work, and one day for relaxation/fun.
Total Creative/Personal Work Time Per Week: ~20 hours
This is the new plan, which I felt pretty confident about before I started the job and felt REALLY confident about after getting adjusted to the routine. (Behind the Scenes Secrets Revealed: I write almost all of my blog posts in advance so I don’t have to scramble for Monday update deadlines, and by the time you read this I’ll have been at the new job for almost a month!)
I emphasize that it wouldn’t be possible for me to work this way if my Day Job required a huge amount of energy or caused a lot of stress. Instead, so far it’s offered a more balanced approach to work that keeps my mind focused but not overly taxed, so when I come home I’m not tired, upset over angst-filled interactions with coworkers, or losing sleep over approaching deadlines.
Being able to block out a solid 3-hour chunk in the evenings is also possible because of another major life change: last week I moved to a new apartment so I could be closer to where I work (a mere 3.6 miles to be exact!) and thus waste less time and money driving to and from my Day Job every day. You probably already know that I hate commuting with the fiery passion of a thousand suns, so eliminating that particular time-waster from my routine led to more unwinding time in the evenings before I sit down to an 8:00pm work session.
The new apartment’s definitely been good to me so far—and it’ll be even better once I finally finish setting it up ;-) It’s located in a small city in a residential, medium-traffic neighborhood within walking distance of downtown restaurants, bars, and convenience stores where I can pick up a gallon of milk or a roll of duct tape without having to drive a long way. When I was in Japan, I really appreciated living in a city where 95% of everything I needed was within easy walking distance, and likewise, the new place means less time in the car, less money spent on gas, and more exercise gained by walking, all of which are important to my quality of life. (Now if I could just push creative work to my primary focus, I’d be all set….)
I won’t lie—the transition hasn’t been an easy one. My first three weeks at the job involved a hectic mess of driving 45+ minutes from my old location, crashing with friends who lived closer to the city, and poring through Craigslist ads for apartments at one in the morning. Moving also involved packing my Volvo to the roof and then borrowing a truck for the big stuff, while the new place has offered a few challenges of its own:
That’s right—my bathtub has a window right above it, which means my morning shower was spraying water all over the sill until I jerry-rigged a curtain rod with a second shower curtain to block the water. It’s definitely working well so far, and the window carries the added bonus of letting in some natural light during those groggy work mornings when I need it the most.
I mention the window shower curtain less to show off my mad DIY skills and more to share a metaphor for how I handle life’s challenges—rather than seeking an impossibly ideal setup or caving in to situations that seem overwhelming, I find that a bit of practical workaround can make something that helps me get my shit done. The end result may not be Good Housekeeping-worthy, but it gets me where I need to go ;-)