In case you weren’t able to watch, Tonya & I were part of a panel on Higher Ed Live last week guest hosted by Joel Goodman talking about productivity, work hacks and balance.
That conversation made me think about coming up with a way to really improve my own scheduling and discipline as it relates to my work life. I work hard and I get things done, but a lot of times as a solo when you’ve got your hands in a variety of different arenas, I find balance is more challenging.
Another thing about blogging, is I feel that from the outside looking in, it seems like people blogging have all of the answers. When in reality, we’re just sitting on our end figuring things out and sharing ideas that might be (somewhat) useful to you. This little exercise is aimed at getting people involved.
So I’m unveiling a little project called 28 Days. I get this idea from when I had to go gluten-free for health reasons. The transition was relatively easy, I had no real support system outside of the web but managed to do it and haven’t looked back. I find take a month to really change your habits in progressive ways can lead to major dividends.
Here are my goals:
- Change my routine to get more productivity out of my hours throughout the day.
- Gradually wean myself off technology in my off-work hours.
- Track which sites I visit and for how long.
- Complete a book a week.
- Write a blog post everyday about my progress.
Some abstract goals and some measurable ones. This is less about talking though and more about doing. I’ve enlisted the help of the RescueTime Chrome App for the time tracking my internet usage. I don’t want this to become a pedantic exercise, but akin to training for a marathon after being a bit of an undisciplined runner. Hopefully it’ll spawn you all to assess your own goals and your participate in 28 Days along with me using the Twitter hashtag #28DaysSolo.
My recent talk with Eric Stoller brought to light the connection between consultants and solo practitioners.
We’re more similar than most people want to acknowledge.
- We’re frequently generalists.
- We do a lot of things by accident.
- We take risks.
- We live without comfort.
Sounds scary, huh?
One of the most profound things Eric told me when talking about being a consultant is that there is a strength in being able to let go of control in some areas of your work life. Being able to relinquish control, however, is more than just letting whatever will happen happen.
“The greatest decision I’ve ever made was the most risky thing I’ve ever done… and it’s not for everyone,” Eric told me when I asked how he started his career as a consultant.
That sentence – even though it relates to a consultant’s livelihood – speaks volumes about the work we do as solos. The uncertainty in any field can be exhausting, but it can be especially so for Armies of One.
“Being able to go with the flow in a professional sense, when professionalism, a lot of times is about maintaining structure,” Eric said, is necessary for constructing a successful career as a consultant. It’s also an important quality for a solo practitioner.
But how do we deal with uncertainty, especially when we’re often the ones who have to help others deal with uncertainty in the workplace?
One trick I’ve always employed in the communication business – after working for a company that had almost yearly layoffs and rehires – is realizing that I control only my own actions and behaviors. Others try to model the behavior they believe is appropriate in order to show others how to deal with the ambiguity. Others stick their heads in the sand and ignore ambiguity and change – and the possibilities that come with these challenges – until it’s too late.
Everyone has his or her own tricks to dealing with uncertainty. How do you handle the ambiguity and lack of structure that can plague the work life of a solo practitioner?