Back when I was working in my 9-5 gig, I had a hell of a morning routine. It started with my alarm going off in my ear after inadequate sleep. I developed a little of insomnia around the fact that I knew if I went to sleep, I was going to wake up to that damn alarm and have to go to work. I’d rush through a shower and breakfast, throw on a shirt and tie, and head out on the road.
My work was in another county and in order to travel through Philly to get there, I had two options. I could drive all the way through West Philly and take the long route or take I-76 and take the short route. I’d usually opt for the longer route through West Philly because there isn’t as much traffic. If I decided to take 76 it was DEATH. You would be in traffic for an hour at the least going extremely slow. Ask people from Philly about 76 and how hated it is. There’s one specific spot around city ave that becomes pure chaos every day without fail.
I’d always get to work on time though, and I’d sit down and boot up my laptop. I get it on, try to relax for a minute after wanting to punch every driver in the face, and work extremely diligently for 8 hours. I worked real hard. I made that company a pretty good amount of money. I was a functioning member of society!
Let’s contrast this with what happened after I quit. I was a bit lost for a couple months and immediately fell back into my old ways of staying up late and getting up in the afternoon. I was too busy looking up different methods of making money than actually working on making any money.
Once I figured a few things out and started working, I sure as hell didn’t treat it as my job. I was lacking a few things. I certainly lacked discipline, but more importantly I was lacking fear.
On any typical day my routine was pretty bad. I’d get up around 12, and get something to eat immediately. I’d then boot up the computer and dick around on youtube for an hour or so. I’d grab a shower and head to the coffee shop. I’d pretend to do work there or get relatively little done in between distraction breaks. I’d head home around 7 and grab something to eat real quick. I’d then head to the gym from 9-10. Afterwards I’d come home and either finish some work or head out to a bar.
As you can guess, I got very little actual work done in this period. Go back and look at my posts from May, June, and July from last year. 5 posts total. I think those posts happen to be some of my best, but 5 is pretty low and not consistent at all.
What’s the takeaway here?
Fear is a great productivity booster.
When I was working in my 9-5 I feared losing my job. I didn’t want to be a loser who was unemployed. I wanted the money coming in so I withstood some horrible shit like sitting in 2 hours of traffic every day just to get it. I feared my supervisors writing me up for not being productive. As a result there was very little down time when I was on the clock.
On the contrary, when we are working for ourselves, there isn’t the ever present fear in the back of our minds. We don’t have bosses that can fire us or crazy commutes to handle. All we can rely on to cause panic is the bills adding up at the end of the month, but if you have a bunch of money saved up or money from somewhere else, that may not work either.
What happens if you don’t show up to work for a day when you are the boss? Nothing. When nothing happens, it’s not exactly something that will inspire fear for not showing up the next day.
If you haven’t made the jump to starting your own business right now and are still working on your 9-5, shift your fear to being the middle aged man still clocking in. That way you will start using the time after work to build your business.
If you have made the jump to starting your own business, shift your fear to having to give up the dream and going out and finding another office job just to get by. I’ve seen a lot of this. Go to any successful blog’s comments section and check out the links. You’ll notice a lot of them are to dead blogs or expired urls.
Once you start feeling the fear again, you should treat working on your own business as a real 9-5 job.
Get up early
- Have a light breakfast and coffee
- Shower and get dressed in professional attire
- Sit down at your desk and go to work for 8 hours. Give yourself an hour lunch.
- To make this more intense, drive to either a coffee shop or a rented office if you can spare the coin to get your work done.
By renting an office, there’s a lot of options that aren’t that expensive. You could check out Regis or coworking spaces like Indyhall in Philly. I’ve worked in coffee shops a lot and I get a lot of work done there, but there’s certainly something to be said of going somewhere like Indyhall surrounded with a bunch of like minded entrepreneurs.
I know going through the motions of a 9-5 routine sounds stupid if you don’t have to do it, but going through the motions for the right reasons can have a powerful effect on your productivity. I have personally done this many times, and each time something in my head clicks and I get a lot of work done.
Give it a try, and let me know how it works.
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