What if you didn’t have a boss?

If you could wake up every morning and do whatever you wanted, what would you do? How would you spend your precious time? Would you create something new? Would you relax? Would you spend more time with family?  If you wanted to start a business, would you have the tenacity to hold yourself accountable to accomplish your goals?

These were the questions I wrestled with before I set off into the great unknown. I’d spent years preparing for the jump. Nicole and I launched our first game while working full-time jobs to test the waters. I fastidiously tracked our expenses, to make sure we’d have minimal disruption when our household income got cut in half (temporarily, hopefully).

But still… the questions remained. You just never know what will happen until you take the plunge, or jump off the cliff, or <insert third metaphor here>.

This post is for anyone wondering what it’s like on the other side.

I left the corporate life six months ago, and I’m just now rediscovering an excitement and a passion to work. I really underestimated the time it would take for me to both decompress and adjust from years of reactive work (doing XYZ because… my boss and/or stakeholders told me to, to be successful, to make more money, etc.) into more proactive and personal work. It’s a weird feeling to wake up in the morning excited to start the day.

I should point out, that if the benchmark of success is financial viability… I’m still in the red. But, every day I’m building a path forward.

The two biggest changes

Fewer external motivators

In the past, deadlines had to be met and stakeholders needed satisfied. I went from a job where at least half of each day would be spent in meetings, to a typical day with zero meetings. Parkinson’s Law is an old adage that essentially states that “work expands to fill the time allotted to it.” With seemingly endless days, and no deadlines other than the ones I set, my work is now motivated purely by internal efforts. Planning and project management skills become vitally important to ensure that work moves forward efficiently and successfully.

Time to Exercise

I used to try and squeeze in time to exercise at the end of the work day. With a young family and a demanding job, it was a real challenge. One of the benefits of setting my own schedule is that I can regularly set aside time each morning to exercise. Finding motivation to work out in the morning has been hard because I’ve never consistently exercised in the a.m. But, the benefits of starting my work day mentally alert and bristling with energy after a workout have been great.

My Current Schedule

It’s interesting that my natural routine has settled around 7 hours of desk work. I’ve worked far more in the past, and I anticipate this will probably change as the business grows and demands increase, but for now I’m just enjoying discovering a personal baseline that’s comfortable and enjoyable.

  • 6:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.Family Time – Generally spent chasing my children and yelling things like “If you don’t put your socks on right now, you’re going to school without them!”
  • 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.Exercise & Personal Time – This includes working out, taking a shower, packing a lunch, and getting to my office… with occasional personal items mixed in. I compress this down to one hour when I need to.
  • 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.Business Items – The remainder of the morning is usually spent on general business planning, finances, advertising and sales, social media tactics, website enhancements, etc.
  • 1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. – Lunch / Research – Typically, while I eat a quick lunch I might listen to a podcast, read a book, or do some other knowledge building effort.
  • 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Game Design – The afternoon is dedicated to working on game design. Anything product related fits here. It could be building prototypes, working on designs, brainstorming new ideas, etc.
  • 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Miscellaneous time – Often, I use this time to plan my schedule for next day, but it’s also available for overflow of any work that needs done.
  • 5:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. – Family time – This is the primary block of quality time I spend with my family.
  • 8:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. – Personal time (family / hobbies) or additional work – Typically, this is time with my spouse (without kids), reading, watching TV, or taking care of additional work as needed.
  • 10:00 p.m. – 6:00 a.m. – Sleep – Unfortunately, I need around 8 hours of sleep to operate at my best. I’ve tried my fair share of nights with less, and while I can pull it off for a while, it always catches up to me.

Do you think it’s possible to launch a successful business without putting in 12+ hours or work every day? Sometimes I wonder! Let me know what you think in the comments.

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