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When You’re Tired and It’s Time to Work

timeMy first topic now that we are back is going to center around something that is near and dear to me right now: time. Specifically, a lack of time to work on our business. As I mentioned in the previous post, I am back to working the “real” job full time. I had worked part time hours at this job for a few years while I spent the rest of my time working on our business. That was until early last year, when I returned to work full time because we had a baby on the way and the part time hours and spinning our wheels on the home business just wasn’t going to cut it.

The move back to full time was a big adjustment. I have to admit that it hurt a little, especially because it felt a bit like giving up on the dream and returning the corporate world that I was trying to escape. Not only that, but after struggling for a few years to make money online without much success, we finally found something that was working. Finally, we were earning some money and saw great potential to grow that money—and unfortunately, right at that time I had to go back to the full time job.

Finding the Time to Work

Of course, at first you think it won’t be so bad; that you will still have time to work on the business in the evenings or weekends. But the thing is, for most people (myself included) it is not so easy—especially when you throw having small children at home into the mix. I am up at 5am every morning to exercise before work and get ready. Then there is the commute, work, commute home, dinner, getting the baby to bed and before I know it, it is getting late and I am dead tired. Let’s just say at that time I am not exactly super motivated to hop into working on the business.

I can see how the super motivated folks would look at that like it is an excuse, that it just takes pushing through and working even if you are tired– and that is true. However, it is a very real struggle. Especially when the work we are doing now (eBooks) is a creative process, which is hard to do when your brain is fried. I’ve pushed through and have done work in the evenings, but it has been a slow process and takes much longer to get things done.

It has been the same thing for C.C., though she has fared better than I have. She’s been able to take care of the baby during the day, but also fit in time to work on the business when the baby is sleeping or in the evening; to the point that she is actually the main contributor to the business right now. We’re making decent money, enough that it exceeds what she was making at her part time job that she left when she had the baby.

Is Going Part Time Again or Quitting Outright an Option?

I wish that I had more motivation to work more in the evenings, but it just hasn’t been there. It has been hard enough to get all of the chores around the house done, let alone work on the business. I have had some success lately with fitting in the work throughout the day where I can, but I do wonder what I’d be able to do if I could go part time again. I believe we are making enough right now that me going part time would work. However, I don’t think that is an option again. I was pretty fortunate that my company let me come back full time, and I have the impression that going part time again would be a hard sell.

We are at a point now where I actually feel that if I were to take a leap of faith and quit my job to devote my full time effort to the business along with C.C., we could grow it enough to live off of, and do it fairly quickly at that. From what I’ve observed, what we get out of the business seems to be directly related to the amount of time we can put in. More time to devote means more eBooks created, which means more items for sale, more sales, and more earnings.

But, I’d like to save this leap of faith topic for an upcoming post. For now I’m just trying to focus on finding the time throughout a hectic schedule to devote to working on the business. Does anyone have any tips on working through being tired and toughing it out?

Back in Action!

The Ordinary Escape is back!

The Ordinary Escape is back!

We’re back up. A lot has happened over the last two years. Our family has grown, we’ve had some successes and set backs on our business, and life has marched on. Ultimately, however, C.C. and I are still not where we wanted to be when we started this site back in 2009. That’s a lot of the reason why I find myself drawn back to this site once again.

What Has Happened Over the Last Few Years?

Back in 2009, we were bright-eyed and full of motivation. The idea of working for ourselves and making money from the internet was an exciting prospect. We jumped in with a loose plan, but no experience. Well, we had some experience, but not anything yet that was actually making money. I went part-time at my job and we made a go of it.

The thing was, we really didn’t have much figured out yet. We had ideas, lots of ideas, but no real concrete direction. This meant that we bounced around a lot; trying out copy writing, blogs, affiliate marketing, etc. We didn’t have much success, motivation faded, and about two years into the experiment we weren’t really doing much of anything on the business front.

Around that time, we got the wonderful news that C.C. was pregnant with our first child. After the excitement wound down, it became obvious that the part-time job wasn’t going to cut it anymore and I had to return to my day job full-time. While necessary, this move was particularly crushing because it represented a move back to the world I was trying to avoid and was putting my dream of working for myself on life support.

Things started to turn around, however. We got into eBook publishing and started to have some success. Fortunately, that success has continued, even after a little bit of a lull after the baby was born, when it was difficult to get much of anything done. We’re not at a point yet where we could do it full-time, but I hope we are on our way.

What about the Ordinary Escape?

I finally feel like we are on the right track now that we have some actual direction. I’ve found myself drawn to this site again to chronicle our journey and hopefully offer some insight. I’ve always wanted this site to be more about the journey, our successes and failures, and our lessons learned. I never wanted to try to play the role of a guru or to pretend I had all of the answers when I didn’t know anything yet.

Maybe one day if things keep progressing, I can play more of that role of expert and have some detailed guides to try and help others make the same leap, but for now I am going to keep it simple. My plan for this site going forward will be to just try and detail the ride. I hope you will join us.

Tips for College Freshman that Everyone Should Follow, at Any Age

2617759816_7716918619Surfing around on the internet the other day, I came across a discussion on advice for college freshman moving into dorms for the first time. I’ve been out of college for about seven years now, but I still found it enjoyable to read since it brought back some memories of my years living in dorms.

I noticed that two pieces of advice were brought up over and over again:

  • Leave your door open as much as you can. The feeling is that this makes you more accessible and that people will stop in to say hi.
  • Say yes to as much as you can, especially at first. You’ll get invites to events or to hang out- say yes to as many as possible.

I came to realize that this advice can actually apply to any time in your life, not just your college years. Now, I don’t mean you should literally leave your door open all the time if you don’t live in a dorm, because if you do this at your home or apartment you would probably get burglarized.

I think it is more about the general attitude of being open to new things. This is also where saying yes to as much as you can ties in as well. If life is pretty ordinary for you right now, you are likely fairly closed off. I’m not suggesting you may be a shut-in, but take an honest look at how you may be cutting yourself off from new experiences.

For example, when you are a freshman in college, no one knows anyone else at first. People are likely to receive invites to hang out with folks or to go on campus events that they maybe would not have had an interest in otherwise. But if they end up saying yes to the invite, they may find out that actually enjoyed themselves. If they didn’t, they still had a new experience and tried something different. Either way, they probably met some new people and made some new acquaintances or even friends.

But why does this have to be any different outside of college?

How many invites do you turn down because you think you wouldn’t enjoy it or because you don’t really know any else that will be there? This isn’t to say that you are always going to end up liking these new things, but what is there to lose, really?

So how open are you to new experiences?

Are you closing yourself off to them, or are you willing to be open and try new things? If you’re always doing the same things or only saying yes to the same old experiences then you’re just going to keep getting the same old results.

Image: Doug Wallick

Update on Our Media Diet

brokentvOverall this media consumption diet has been great. I am amazed at the benefits so far.

I think the most noticeable thing is that time has become fairly unimportant to me. I hardly ever look at the clock now. I just don’t feel a need to. The first night we did this C.C. and I went to a bookstore to look at journals, and we were both amazed at how we felt like we had all the time in the world. There wasn’t that slight pulling feeling that you normally have to get back home (the odd thing is that you feel that feeling even when there isn’t anything you need to do when you get back!). We took it our time and it all felt much more relaxing then it usually feels when you are out and about.

I really do feel like I have all the time in the world. I don’t feel (the self-imposed) feeling of being rushed or that time is running out. The only time I do feel the pull a little is if there really is something I have to do- like go to work. Though, even this isn’t as bad as before.

I also feel it a little in watching the clock at work (the real job) and waiting for it to be lunch time or time to go home. But I feel that is understandable considering I am at, you know, work. But I feel like if I were working for myself full-time I could really get into a groove of working when inspired and for how long I feel inspired to, and not feel so bound by time.

I imagine that we will ending up continuing our reduction in media consumption even after our trial here. Obviously will we let stuff back in, but not to the same degree as before. We’re already giving serious thought to ditching our cable TV subscription entirely because we really haven’t missed it all that much. I definitely think we are going to keep this up. We’ll keep filling you in on how things are going as the trial goes on.

img by: Lil’ El

Going On A Media Consumption Diet

The other day, C.C. and I had a bit of a State of the Union discussion on how our big Escape from the Ordinary is going. A lot was discussed over a few hours, but I think the main theme was that we feel like we can do better. We’ve realized that we’ve become pretty set in our routines and haven’t been pushing ourselves to really take all of this to the next level.

The biggest problem, we came to realize, is our lack of focus. Way too much of our time gets eaten up by distractions that can fall under the broad category of “media”. Our media consumption includes things like internet browsing, television, video games, reading for pleasure, etc. Now, all of those things are good in moderation, but they have become distractions in our lives because we haven’t kept them in check. [Read more...]

The Great Tent Event

I think I’ve been annoying C.C. the last two days by going around saying “tent event” (try saying it out loud, it’s fun). Anyway, we purchased a tent recently with the idea of adding camping to our excursions. With being as money conscious as we need to be lately, we figured it is not a bad way to get out there and take some trips in a new way, but also save a little bit of money as well.

I have been camping before many times when I was younger, but C.C. has never done it. I’ve been naming off all of the cool things we can do, and she has been considering what protection to bring to ward off the inevitable psycho axe-murder that will be lurking the woods. But fortunately she is pretty excited overall about trying camping and we should be heading out on our first trip soon.

We’re going to start someplace local to get a feel for camping and exactly what we will need. Since it has been so long since I have been, I am sure that I will forget to bring along some vital piece of gear that we’ll need. But we’ll get by and have some fun too.

We’re looking forward to adding camping to our travels because it will be a (mostly) new experience for us. It seems like it will save us some money (camp sites are often a fraction of the cost of hotels), especially during the summer months now where prices on lodging really go up. Mixing in some camping with our travels will hopefully allow us get out more for less.

We realize that we will lose some of the comforts of hotels and aren’t writing them off completely (especially when the weather gets cold). Camping will hopefully just give us some more versatility and some new fun experiences.

Do any of you go camping? What kinds of experiences have you had?

Image by happy via

Free Museum Weekends

I justed wanted to make a quick post to share with you something we’ve come across. If you have an account with Bank of America (credit card, checking, savings, etc), they are running a promotion called Museums on Us. For one weekend out of each month you can get into participating museums for free by showing them your credit or ATM card. It seems like a pretty good deal if you already have an account with Bank of America. The free weekend for June is this weekend, June 5th and 6th. You can get more information here http://museums.bankofamerica.com/ It seems like a great way to try something different on a weekend.

Break Your Energy-Sucking Everyday Routines

I am the type of person that can easily get stuck in routines.

I don’t know why and it is not something that I try to do. Every now and then it dawns on me that I do a lot of things at the same time or in the same way every day. Drive the same way to work, eat lunch at the same time (usually eating mostly the same things), eat dinner at the same time, go to bed at the same time, etc.

Are you like me? Do you tend to get stuck in routines? It actually happens very easily when you are caught up in the work/life cycle. You know how it is- wake up, go to work, work all day, come home, eat dinner, relax, go to sleep… then repeat the whole thing the next day. Even your weekends can turn routine as you have to get all the things done then that you weren’t able to do during the week. It all doesn’t leave much room for spontaneity.

With escaping the ordinary, we tend to think of big events like quitting our jobs, traveling the world, hiking Mount Everest, skydiving, or whatever you can dream of. Those are all part of what we preach, but escaping the ordinary is also about the very ordinary things.

This means breaking your small routines. Drive a different route to work. Eat at a restaurant you’ve never been to before. Try going to bed earlier (more sleep can’t hurt) or try going to bed later (remember when you used to be able to stay up nearly all night?). Try having an actual conversation with those people that you normally only say hi to in passing. Do your grocery shopping or laundry on a different day then you normally do.

Really, the point is just to mix things up. When you get into routines and do the same things all the time, you are going to get the same results. Try changing some of the small things in your life and see what happens. Escaping the ordinary isn’t always about the big dramatic stuff. It is also about changing those small everyday things in your life that keep you caught in the ordinary.

Photo by Colinthedog

Making Changes in your Life One at a Time

Inspiration hits. You want to make changes in your life, and follow the typical process of having a sit down with your self and either mentally or on paper coming up with a list of all the problems you feel you want to work on. At this point you feel motivated and excited about making wholesale changes.

The tendency then is to try and tackle all of those issues and changes all at once. But this can lead to burn out and/or feeling overwhelmed- both of which eventually lead to you likely not making any significant changes at all and falling back into your old patterns.
[Read more...]

An Update on How Things are Going

I figured I would provide a small update on how our escape from the ordinary is going. Things are going pretty well right now, certainly much better then a few months ago. We’ve made a lot of changes to how we are approaching things and have been making steady progress.

So what have we changed?

Weekly Schedule

It may sound simple, but I think one of the best things we ended up doing was creating a weekly schedule.

I won’t get into the details now because I think we’ll make a post about it in the near future. But basically we have a white board hanging between our computer desks that has a day by day breakdown of goals we each want to accomplish each day. C.C. and I have a “meeting” every Monday morning to A) Review last week’s schedule to see how we did, and B) Come up with the current week’s schedule for ourselves.

We find that the schedule is really helping us. It keeps us focused on the goals and more time is spent actually doing because we know exactly what we want to accomplish each day.

Shifting Focus

Another thing we’ve done is shift our focus a bit. Through our weekly reviews of our schedule, we noticed that while we were getting more done, we still had been avoiding one area- alternative ways of making money.

I think we had been avoiding it because it seemed to be the most difficult. We are both currently employed in regular jobs and while we are working towards striking out on our own, right now those jobs are a comfort zone for us. It is a lot more fun to work on things like getting out more, exploring hobbies, writing, and all that. Looking for work just isn’t much fun, especially if you already have a job and the need for a new one is not imminent.

As I said, we came to realize that we were ignoring the whole job thing. In fact, we came to the conclusion that finding alternative ways to make money is actually our top goal right now. Our plan has always been to do the whole digital nomad thing, working for ourselves and travel around. But you can’t really do that without actually making some money at something.

So we’ve shifted our focus to finding different ways to make money for ourselves and we’ve had good results so far. C.C. has even come across some opportunities were she could possibly make more money then she is making at her current job.

Overall, we’ve made some changes that have us moving in the right direction, but there are some things we still need to work on.

What’s Not Going So Well

We felt it was important to shift our focus currently to making money, but that also means less time to focus elsewhere. Some of our goals, like finding something new to do each weekend, have been on the back burner a bit.

I think that we can do a better job of balancing things. I think it is good for us to have a main focus at all times, but we also can’t let the other goals languish in the meantime. We need to also make time to work on the other stuff.

The other thing not going so well right now are our travel plans. We really wanted to start traveling a lot more, even if just at first we had to go cheap and stay close to home. Unfortunately, we haven’t even really been able to do that. Money is really tight right now. We’re getting by, but it gets hard justifying any travel expense when we really don’t have much extra to spend. We’ve cut back on a lot of expenses but it is still hard to get that travel fund together.

I think that at some point in the near future, C.C. and I will sit and have a discussion on this. I’ve done enough reading on other travel blogs to know that travel is possible for almost anyone if you make enough sacrifices in what you chose to spend your money on (i.e. selling your home to get rid of mortgage payments, selling a car cutting out all extra expenses that aren’t absolutely necessary).

I think we need to determine if we are truly willing to do whatever it takes to have the lifestyle we want right now- basically the “jump in with both feet and throw caution to the wind” approach. Or do we want to keep building things slowly until we feel we have enough money or security to take the full leap.

All told, I think we are doing pretty well right now. We’ve made a lot of progress since we decided to get more serious about this. We’ve still got a lot to work through, but that’s half the fun.