Incentives and Work

Jun 23 2008

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. About a great many things.

I’m tremendously fortunate in being able to pursue a freelance career. While I don’t have a lot of cash to throw at this venture, I’ll be fine for at least a few more months. Far more than most can manage.

But I haven’t been nearly as productive as I feel I should be. “Should” is always a loaded word, but in this case I think it’s apt: I haven’t worked for more than three hours on money-making work in any given day.

Granted, I spent the first two months or so in “detox,” as I call it, relaxing after many years of work. I couldn’t bring myself to do anything besides read, cook, play around on the computer, and putter around the house. I enjoyed my freedom the same way a tired executive enjoys a vacation: flat on his or her back on the beach.

This isn’t that. This is having the mental space and flexibility, and the time, and sitting down to work, and finding yourself refreshing FriendFeed. Why do I do this?

I even wrote a long, plaintive email to Hugh Macleod, asking him how he orients himself to get his work done.

I think this phenomenon is important, and worth examining. People say they don’t pursue their dreams because they don’t have the time, but time’s not the limit. Neither is relaxation.

Focus appears to be the limit. How can I increase focus?

One solution I’m trying now is to rewrite how I see work. I’ve always enjoyed writing (as far as writing can be enjoyed; I can be frustrated by it, too), but when I imagine writing as a job, it seems dreary. Partly because I see work as dreary, or at least something that one must put up with. So, when I prepare to write (or whatever), I imagine myself having fun at it. Which I usually do. But I need to remind myself that it will be.

It’s working so far, though I’m only a day into it. But how strange our minds are. We think they’re logical and sensible, and then we scream at the sight of a bug.

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