In the introduction to SitePoint's Web Design Business Kit, Brendon Sinclair (the author) describes his average working day, and that of two of his business associates. Brendon works hours that make me extremely jealous, but then he's spent a few years building up a great team around him and has his business management extremely well organised. I thought it might be interesting for anyone thinking about starting a web design business to see what my average day looks like at the moment - 6 weeks in.
So here we go!
This is when my alarm clocks start going off, I say alarm clocks because I have more than one. I generally have trouble waking up in the morning so I have a combination of alarms that work best for me. Firstly I have a free Mac App called Alarm Clock 2 which starts fading in music from my iTunes library - this is brilliant because it wakes me up slowly, and to music which I like! After that, it's on to multiple alarms on my iPhone set 15 minutes apart, with the alarm tone becoming increasingly annoying.
By now I'm usually at my desk with a cup of coffee and two slices of toast. This point in my routine is probably the least productive, purely because I'm still waking up. I run through all my emails (usually around 20) and flag any that will need a well thought-out response (no early morning important emails, they aren't good for business). I then check Twitter for any fresh replies or DM's, and run through my feed reader.
This is when the real work starts. I'll usually delve back into my current client work at this point and start working on small achievable tasks. So rather than "convert static html to wordpress" I'll set myself smaller individual goals like "convert static html to wordpress index page, configure plugins, set up widgets" etc. I find doing it this way means that I get more done in a short amount of time.
I'll usually stop for lunch at this point, which consists of soup and some sort of sandwich configuration. I watch whatever latest series was aired the night before, and generally do most of my blogging for this site around this time. I find posting stuff up around 2-3pm UK time to be a good setup, as you catch people in Europe on their lunch breaks / slacking off in the afternoon - and you catch people on the East coast of the US just getting into the swing of their day. If you mange to do well with some social media by 7pm UK time, then you get the West Coast traffic pretty easily too.
This is probably where the most productive part of my day starts, I find that as long as I don't have a big lunch (makes you sleepy) then I really start getting some good work done at this point in the day on my current client projects. There's not much to say about the next 5 hours, they're spent pretty solidly working with the occasional 5 minute break here and there, and another short break to have some dinner.
Now's the time I usually stop my client work for the day, I'll spend some time on Twitter, address some of the emails which I set aside in the morning, and then move on to personal projects. This can range anywhere from building up a new site like the release yesterday of WPress'd, adding a new plugin or widget to this blog, writing a guest post for another blog, building up some new Twitter contacts, or redesigning one of my own sites. (I'm doing this at the moment with Lyrical Media)
Generally, I'll finally let my iMac have a rest at this point and decide that it's time to leave my office. So I take a book to bed (currently the web design business kit, which I assure you, isn't the most comfortable thing to read in bed) and start plowing through business strategies, marketing ideas, and new software. Often I'll keep a notepad handy at this point and jot down any blog post ideas or to do list items based on what I'm reading.
After an hour and a half I put the business book down - I s'pose this is where my working day ends really. I like to keep sharp though, so I've taken to reading a non-business book for an hour before going to sleep each night, which I've actually found to be really therapeutic. Forgetting about work and getting wound up in a fictional world is quite a nice way to end the day - and I've also noticed that since doing this for the last 6 weeks that I'm generally reading at a much quicker pace, which is always handy.
Generally lights-out time, though if I'm caught up with my book I might stay up a little later. I always fall asleep thinking about what I've done so far, and what I still want to do - I find that keeps me motivated for stuff to do the next morning.
Are they long hours? Yes. - Do they feel like long hours? No.
I think that one of the greatest things about working for yourself is that (unless you're very stupid) you're doing something that you love. To me it doesnt feel like work, it feels like I've got a hobby which by some stroke of luck I'm able to spend all of my time on.
That doesn't mean it's ideal, sure I'd like some variety - I'd like the luxury of an office full of my staff who can run the business while I build a web application and go out on photography trips now and again - but that's what I'm working towards, and I'm happy to do it!
Several of you have commented on previous posts that I'm very driven and that I seem to be working hard (thank you, you're very kind and I appreciate it!) - and I thought I'd share with you a video that really struck home with me when I first watched it, and gave me a tremendous amount of motivation.
To put it in Gary's words - I'm HUSSLING.
Watch it, and you'll understand - it'll be the best 15 minutes that you spend online this week.
Oh and drop me a line in the comments! Tell me what you think of my working day, and of Gary's philosophy - I love hearing from all of you, and it keeps me posting!