Can I make 15-hour work weeks happen for me?
Musings from a full time mother
A thought came to me a few days ago — if digital nomadism is possible, can working only 3 hours a day also be a thing? No traditional employer will ever let me trial such a thing. It wouldn’t work because their mindset is entrenched in a 40 hours trade for your time paradigm.
40 hours is the standard and status quo. Plus or minus 10 hours and you’re either deemed a workaholic or lazy. There is no in between. Not really. Not in my experience.
So I began to pose the question — can I make 15-hour work weeks happen for me?
There’s that book by Tim Ferriss about working only 4 hours a week. But that’s only possible if you move to another (preferably Thailand, Bali or any other popular Asian country) and ride the financial benefits of a strong US exchange rate. That doesn’t really work for me. I want my child to have the experience of getting spoiled rotten by her grandparents.
Then there’s Gary Vee’s work until you’re almost dead to get the freedom you’re after kind of speeches. His struggle porn lives on the other end of the spectrum.
So I’ve been asking myself, is it possible to work only a few hours a day and spend the rest of the time with the toddler creature?
It’s all about systems and automation
Coming from a tech background, I see inefficiencies everywhere. My original boss trained me well to spot places where things can be automated. Manual work is the death to productive and creative output. Not only that, it was costly to the business.
When the merger happened, I lost the power to automate and manual work became my main task for almost everything. The new business system did not foster time to think or create. We were too busy trying to put out fires and satisfying the changing whims of upper management. It didn’t take long for everything to fall apart.
I’ve been looking at the concept of digital nomadism lately — not because I want to move around and work at cafes all the time, but because I’m curious. While they don’t have a fixed abode as such, there are still costs of living like accommodation, food, transport, and internet access. These things are common for nomads and normal people — just where, how and who they are paid to are different.
There are three common ways these new age travelers make money — they become corporate remote workers, freelancers or entrepreneurs. These three things, on closer inspection, looks very much like the three common and popular career paths modern and rooted workers can also take.
Whatever the system digital nomads have figured out, it’s working for them. Then I began thinking — can I make it work for me?
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
Back at my old job, my manager had a thing for automating as much as we could. To him, it was better to invest the initial 50 hours into a project that could free up an extra 30 minutes per day forever. That leaves us with an extra 30 minutes to put towards other and more useful things. It would take a few weeks but eventually those 50 hours would gain in monetary, work hours saved value. But the initial investment has to be made.
So it got me thinking, what if I started working backward? What if I do an initial investment that would allow me to reduce a 40 hour work week down to 15 hours? With those 15 hours being put to use towards generating value.
I need to figure out the opportunity, figure out the plan and figure out how I’m going to implement such a thing.
I gave freelancing a good go back when I first lost my day job due to closure. But clients needed me during daylight hours (and the child hadn’t established her solid day time nap yet), it fell apart rather quickly. Finding clients was as stressful on my mental load, especially when your entire life’s work disappeared with the company you use to work for.
I’m also still recovering from the trauma of over and micromanagement and the lack of work-life balance experienced during my traditional 40 hours work week life. Call me soft but I don’t want to be miserable again.
Over the past few months, I started to hunt around for opportunities. I gave reselling a try. Dropshipping didn’t really work for me and I felt bad for doing it. The one thing I haven’t really tried is digitizing my skills.
With my developer background and experience, this is an opportunity for online courses to be made — but it means that I’ll also need to figure out the marketing aspects and grow some sort of following.
But first, I’m going to need a product.
I’ve always wanted to be a teacher of something. I use to mentor and guide juniors on my team. But I do know that I still have gaps and holes in my knowledge of what I want to teach.
Around mid-November, I decided to work on creating an app that uses all the required skills I want to turn into a course. It’s an end-to-end creation with payments, user authentication, database connections and everything else that is required to make any non-gaming app possible.
Two months later, I’ve got one major thing left on the list of things to do before I can finally test and launch it. It’s my initial time investment towards my quest to create an automated income stream.
The second phase would be the actual course planning and recording part. Marketing and building a following is on my list of things to do but that’s after I’ve finished making the product. People tend to get sidetracked by that side of things when they haven’t got something of value in their hands.
Where to from now?
In between naps and toddler’s sleeping hours, I’ve got about 35-ish hours per week. That’s the equivalent of your normal 40 hour work week anyway, give or take break time and water-cooler catch up chats — except my working hours happen to be at night when everyone else is off Netflixing and chilling.
I want to reduce that down to 3 hours per day. Then I want to spend the rest of that extra time doing and learning the things I want.
It sounds crazy but there are people out there who are doing it. They’ve made their time investments and reaping up the dividends. They’re the people that have figured out the system and cracked the code. While I’m not quite there yet, I think I’m walking down the right path my game plan.
If digital nomads can survive in a foreign country whilst making an income that’s high enough to support their desired lifestyle, then I can create something that allows me to be a well balanced, time rich mother without financial worry.
Everyone has their dreams. This is mine.