Last weekend, Shelley and I disappeared up to the Hunter Valley, using a getaway voucher my friends at Netregistry and Nett Magazine gave us for our wedding. Never have we both needed a weekend away more. Added to the obvious relaxation in being in the countryside surrounded by donkeys, cows and not much else, the lack of a wi-fi or a mobile phone signal meant that I couldn’t breach the ‘no work’ rule even to check email or chat to friends. Shelley loved the technologically-deprived me; no tweeting, blogging, email or SMS. She has insisted for too long that I work too hard, but I’ve never believed her.
To me, when I come home and start work on a blog post or interacting with others on twitter, it’s fun. These are things I enjoy doing, hobbies or interests. I choose to do them. But, as Shelley rightly points out, they have contributed to my success at work and often overlap quite considerably with my professional life. Thinking this through, I realised that I very rarely stop working – I am always ‘on’, primed and ready. Virtually every hour of the day is tied into self-education or related activities from which my employer can extract benefit and I can improve my career. After all, my current role is a direct result of building my own website and hours of tinkering with the web as a supposed hobby.
How do I cram so much in? And does this make me a sad obsessive?
A Day in the life
6am – Before I’ve even boiled the kettle, I sit at the PC and check the emails that came in over night. I also review blog stats and subscribers, moderate any comments on my latest blog posts, pop into Twitter and check the online newspapers.
Approx. 6.45 – I make breakfast, feed the cat to stop her pestering me and head into the lounge room. While eating breakfast, I choose a DVD or download to watch. Half the time these turn out to be documentaries and IT/media magazine programs such as the BBC’s Click, episodes of Horizon etc. This morning, I munched my cereal in front of Charlie Brooker’s NewsWipe analysing modern news journalism and the first half of a Richard Dawkins university lecture on modern attitudes to science. Yesterday it was an extensive interview with the brilliant screenwriter, William Goldman. Yup, brainfood starts early. I’m already smarter and more opinionated by the time I join Shelley (who has by now woken up) to watch the 8 o’clock news headlines.
8.15 – I’m in the shower. The best story, blog post and article ideas always occur in the shower.
8.40 – Out the door. It’s a twenty minute walk into work, so I pass the time with podcasts. Each week, these consist of the BBC’s Media Show, The Guardian’s Media Talk, Grammar Girl (brushing up obscure grammatical knowledge) and a variety of others, mostly factual. I also download Mark Kermode‘s movie reviews and BBC Radio 4′s The Now Show for those days when I need something lighter. By the time I walk in the office at 9am, I’ve already consumed a couple of hours of media, marketing and IT news and opinion and my brain is buzzing with ideas for my own blog posts and articles.
9.00 – The official work begins.
12.00 – Lunch usually consists of me either eating at my desk or in the nearby foodhall with a copy of Marketing Magazine, AdNews or BandT. If there are no new mags to read, I might watch The Gruen Transfer or Media Watch podcasts, again immersing myself in marketing and media discussion.
1.00 – Back to the desk for more of the same.
6.00 – Another podcast for the walk home.
6.20 – Walk in the door, check Twitter and email.
Evening – If it is one of those evenings involving my wife’s fave telly shows (Sixty Minutes or Desperate Housewives or Greys Anatomy, etc, etc) I use the hour or so to write a post for my personal blog. Therefore, I throw myself into further research, further writing and further marketing of my own content. Usually these posts are on issues related to online marketing, copywriting or screenwriting.
Eventually, I sleep, but usually not before I’ve watched another documentary with Shelley. We’re both doco addicts – particularly history – the more informative the better.
Live to learn
So what is the point of all this?
I am constantly learning and pumping information into my brain. From the moment I wake up to the moment the first snore leaves my lips, my day seems to consist of information gathering and assessment — the vast majority directly related to my work as a writer in an online marketing department.
What was so revelatory about all this to me was that I never realised that I was putting so much extra effort into my job until Shelley pointed it out and took me away for a couple of connection-free days. Virtually everything I do revolves around my job or my personal interests, which — happily — turn out to be much the same thing.
When people ask me how I am able to produce so much content or how I am so knowledgeable in my chosen topic areas, I should probably point out how effectively I use my time each and every day. When driving to work, are you listening to music or an informative program? In the evenings are you watching soap operas or blogging? At lunch, do you eat in the park or use the time to read industry journals as well?
The secret is, of course, to love the subject just as I love marketing and writing and media. No one wants to take up their lunch or leisure time with extra work if it isn’t enjoyable for them. But why would you do a job you didn’t enjoy in the first place?