Working outside the box. Needing less Coffee.
Afternoon work on the balcony at home post surf.
It's 9.30am on a Wednesday morning, humpday as It used to feel like, and I've just got out the shower, itching to write this piece.
When I was 9 I used to wake up at 6am on a Saturday morning and head off to the skatepark on my own. It was my favourite time of day, despite the fact most friends wouldn't be awake for another few hours. It allowed me to get a good 2 hours of skating in before the place got busy. I had the space to myself, to practice, unhindered by busyness and judgement.
I had a Sunday paper round when I was 12 and loved being back home by 7:30 on a sunday morning. Work done, money earn't, and the morning cartoons still on TV for me to enjoy with a sense of satisfaction my sleepy eyed peers couldn't quite grasp.
The early morning obsession for focus continued right through my teens. I would get up early, especially on weekdays, and go skateboarding. Scoring an empty skatepark to methodically practice. Again the lack of crowds left with with a lack of pressure. There was no one to impress, I could just be what I was and skate.
Looking back it's no wonder that when I found myself a full time design job that I struggled to focus. I was turning up at 8:30 and trying, with coffee after coffee, to cram my mind into gear. Forcing a focus that had disappeared an hour ago. And so it continued. I moved from England to Australia, the increased sun cheered me up, I even started surfing before work. I could get up at 6, go surf, have breakfast, ride my motorbike to work, and sit at my desk with a nespresso coffee at 9am. Surely that was a perfect morning routine. It sounds dreamy, right? Well it was, but I still couldn't work. Again, coffee after coffee was used to cram my square shaped attention into the round shaped hole of 9am.
Occasionally I would have the courage and confidence to ask to do an hour or 2 of work at home and come in later. These mornings were great, but I felt bad. Felt like I had to prove that I had been out of the office for a legitimate reason. I again felt the pressure of a crowded skatepark, leering at me to perform. I wasn't myself. I couldn't sit and create like I needed to, I was trying to create while feeling judged. 50% of my attention on looking busy, 30% wishing I was somewhere else, and a meagre 20% left to working. That's not a good way to live. Work consumes so much of our life, if we could bring the 100% of our attention, if could take up less time, and leave us more time for leisure which we might even find ourselves in a better mood for. Less caffeinated, less judged, and more ourselves.
I work for myself now, as a freelance designer. I wake up at 6am almost everyday, and spend an hour or 2 working before I even have breakfast. I'm focused. Productive. Nothing is distracting me, nobody is judging me. I work how I want to naturally work, and it is much better. I can get through more work in a quicker time. Coffee just comes in as a pleasure rather than a need.
Don't you go waking up at 6am and start work because of this though. Just listen to your body. Feel when you have the most focussed energy and attention. When your mind feels least distracted. Then use that time for your most important work. Working when it's productive, and breaking when it's needed. Good luck.