There can be 8 days in a week. Perhaps 9 if you’re crazy. Or 3 if you’re lazy.
What am I talking about? I’m on my second coffee for the day and it’s 9am. I’m having trouble sleeping, but that isn’t really my main concern. The main concern is the juggling act of working on the road. The balance of working on client jobs back home to keep the funds coming in, the priority of me building my own software – which is why we left Australia in the first place, the desires to experience the places we’re living in, but most important, of being a good partner to Amy.
Back to 8 days a week. Or whatever it is I mean. I guess there’s what’s considered a standard week – 7 days. For many, that’s the 9-5, 5 days a week. But when you’re working 7 days a week at 9-5, you’re pushing the definition of a work week. And if you’re doing 7:30am to 7pm? Well, that’s where I feel I’m working 8 days a week. But who cares, I’m tired and wired – I’ll crack on…
I can go for weeks with a handful of hours per night, and I feel like I can get up, be chipper and find focus quickly. Most days I’m starting to stir around 6:30am and I’m often out the door at 7:30am, to a local cafe. Ideally I’d go to a co-working space and settle in for the day, but I’m not signed up to a 24hr joint at the moment (bit costly). So, I have a couple hours to kill.
The first couple hours is a good time to do remote client work. Email, planning, client communications and so on – given we’re a few hours behind Australia, the earlier I can be in touch, the better. That said, at 6:30am when I start to stir, I always check my mobile for notifications (managing social remote means I must, but also on the emails as well).
As the day goes on, it’s usually time to move from my temporary coffee space to the co-working space. They open 9:30/10am, and I’m usually the first one in. When I get to a good chair and desk, that’s when it’s time to really work. Not to undermine my client work, but it’s one of those necessary and required things I have to do. My real work is building my own software. Solving problems I’ve never run in to, while having to do it all alone.
That’s probably the toughest part about working remote, but more specifically, working alone. That’s the life of a ‘digital nomad’, right? Working in a team is seriously great – almost regardless the competency levels around you. There’s always helping – be it you with them, or them with you. And through helping others, you also learn yourself. Trying to explain something to someone else often means you need to re-frame it yourself. You also get a chance to have random collisions, odd and unexpected interactions – water-cooler talk. Honestly, that’s where innovation happens – the crossing of paths.
But I don’t have a lot of that. Not with any continuity, at least. This digital nomad thing is a transient life, with people coming and going. Meet someone awesome, they are gone in a week. Meet someone awkward and uncomfortable, it seems they are around for a month. Either way, good and not-too-good people are a revolving door – as are we to them. It’s great for networking, but hard for finding real friends (which we’ve been lucky enough to make a few, must be said).
I’m going to try chronicle my progress a little more. I’ve had weeks on weeks where things are flying and seems every wall can be blown over with a minor breeze. Then there’s times where I’ve had a problem that seems un-passable. For example, spending a week on one bug that’s actually in some release-version software I’m using. It’s usually after a few days of zero progress – unable to find a solution – I’m seriously doubting everything I just wonder why? What they hell am I doing. You know when you look in the mirror too long, as if your eyes have an answer? It can be pretty lonely.
But these past few weeks haven’t been that. They’ve been good. Really good, actually. I feel like my back-end development work, seemingly continual scanning through console logs and JSON responses is starting to have a real web-look about it. And it’s so rewarding. Just last week, I deployed my pre-alpha software to a test server, and it’s been running all week. The times of anxiety and stress – of personal questioning – feel like they have disappeared. For now, at least.
It’s kinda like a really tough hike. At the time, you think ‘what the fuck am I doing, this is hell’, and then when you’re done, you think ‘that wasn’t so hard’.
It’s exactly like that. Only I don’t really know how much further I’ve got to go. Rough idea, I think. But it’s all about the journey, yeah?