Redefining Productivity

🔖 life 

After nearly 5 years I’ve left my position at Las Cumbres Observatory. During my time there I got to work with scientists on interesting problems in Astronomy. I wrote a lot of code, most of it open source. Without going into too much detail, it was most everything I wanted in a job and probably the best one I’ve ever had.

I can go into details about why I left and my thoughts on full-time vs part-time employment in another post.

For now I’d like to start the new month, and my new “career” by laying out some goals and how I’d like to achieve them. This is for my own benefit: a soft of self evaluation to nobody in particular except myself.

Redefining productivity

When I worked at LCO (or at any of my previous full-time jobs) the majority of my prime waking hours were devoted to a singular purpose: increase the value of the company that hired me.

There were many aspects to full-time work that I found enjoyable: career advancement, relationships with co-workers, and interesting large scale projects that could only be tackled by teams.

I could say that I never stopped being productive in the traditional sense: adding value and making money.

My personal feelings on what it means to be productive in life have changed, however. I feel like I can do more. Now that I’m not employed at a full-time job, I’d like to see if I’m capable and disciplined enough to rise to the challenge.

What I hope to achieve and how

In no particular order:

Still gotta make a living!

I need to maintain a positive income/expense ratio. I hope to achieve this with freelance work as necessary. Eventually, I’d like to launch my own sass that can turn a profit. But more on that later.

Improve my relationships

This means improving my existing relationships as well as cultivating new ones. I’d like to spend more quality time with my wife. Now that I’m more free to travel, I can visit distant family and fiends. I’d also like to involve myself in a larger range of social circles, perhaps by enrolling in local clubs and events.

Intellectual stimulation

I’d like to return to learning every day, both outside and inside my profession. This means tinkering on side projects and trying out new technologies. I’ve taken classes pass/no pass at community college before, which I very much enjoyed and would like to do again. Also, reading and writing.

Maintain my baseline fitness

Exercise is super important to me. I feel better both physically and mentally the more I get. The usual 30min/day rule has never been enough for me. My goal is 9 hours of activity a week. Activities include cycling (obviously), running, surfing and walking. I use Strava to try and track my time. Though that hasn’t worked very well for the surfing…

Create my own source of income

The most difficult goal on this list. I’ve kicked around (and started) many ideas for sass products/businesses over the years. I’ve yet to turn a profit on any of them. Now would be a good time to really focus and see if I can make it happen.

Get better at fixing stuff

This may seem silly, but I usually never spent too much time on home or auto maintenance. I always wanted to use my weekends for other things, so I’d usually pay someone else to do it. I had more money than time, which is a good problem to have. However, there is something innately satisfying about doing it yourself. And it makes you more helpful to others.

What I achieved this week

I’ve only been “on my own” for a week so far. But I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job at working towards my goals:

  • I’ve continued to work on the current freelance projects I already have.
  • I’ve sent in an estimate for another project.
  • I’ve been spending more time in the mornings with my wife instead of trying to squeeze in a longer run or whatever before work.
  • I’ve surfed a lot during the day when nobody else is out! 🏄‍♂️
  • I attended a tech dinner with other freelancers.
  • I started a mailing list sbfreelance for freelancers in the Santa Barbara area. I hope this will help us all network.
  • I signed up for YNAB to help track income/expenses and to budget.
  • I fixed a malfunctioning faucet which had been bugging me for months.
  • I wrote this.

Things I could have done better:

  • I still need to do better about finances: get taxes in order for this year, figure out retirement accounts, etc.
  • I could have spent more time looking for additional work in case my current contracts fall through.
  • I could probably have a little less anxiety, it’s only been a week.

My goals for next month:

  • Keep up with current jobs.
  • Generate at least one more solid job lead in case I need it.
  • Visit a family member.
  • Visit a distant friend.
  • Sign up for a class at the community college, or decide none of them are worth it.
  • Generate at list of 3 sass products and seriously consider if any of them could make a profit.