Archives For Ditch the Day Job Diaries

IMG_8077I recorded a special ‘Edinburgh Festival’ edition of the Ditch the Day Job Diaries and shared it on the CMC Facebook page last week. (If you haven’t liked the page yet, you’re missing out!)

Make yourself a cuppa because this bad boy is nearly 10 minutes long – breaking all the rules about web videos which they tell me should only be 1 minute long.

Find out all about the Edinburgh Festival, how my freelancing is taking shape, a follow up on how many coffees I have a day (zzzz).

Plus, I’ve shoehorned in an ‘Objects of Affection’ special which includes The Istanbul Review at The Edinburgh International Book Festival (you can also see the video on their homepage) , Vic Galloway‘s new book ‘Songs in the Key of Fife’ and my first ever appearance in an actual printed book.

That’s not to mention footage from Edinburgh’s Harry Potter Tour, The Edinburgh Mela, a brilliant gig by The Pictish Trail of brand new label Lost Map, and SOO MUCH MORE.

p.s. The video features my favourite track of the moment, Crooked Smile by J. Cole (ft TLC). It’s hip hop so expect rude words etc – but it’s got a great uplifting vibe and harkens back to the glory days of Tupac (imho).

p.p.s. you can watch all the previous episodes here.

p.p.p.s. Here’s a wee gallery of some photos taken during August.

Edinburgh Festival Photos 1 Edinburgh Festival Photos 2 Edinburgh Festival Photos 3 Edinburgh Festival Photos 5 Edinburgh Festival Photos 6 Edinburgh Festival Photos 8 Edinburgh Festival Photos 10 Edinburgh Festival Photos 13 Edinburgh Festival Photos 14 Edinburgh Festival Photos 15 Edinburgh Festival Photos 16 Edinburgh Festival Photos 23 Edinburgh Festival Photos 25 Edinburgh Festival Photos 26 Edinburgh Festival Photos 28 Edinburgh Festival Photos 29 Edinburgh Festival Photos 30

Stylish

Yesterday I posted the third Mountain Shores podcast, recorded in the sunshine on a mountainside in Oslo. If you want to know how we came up with that name and what it means, have a listen! (you can also see all of my photos from the trip).

Meeting up with two of my blogging pals in real life for the first time felt like a pretty momentous occasion, so I also decided to base a special episode of the Ditch the Day Job Video Diaries around the trip, and also to make it public (if you want to see previous episodes, you can subscribe to my free newsletter).

Continue Reading…

And after yesterday’s epic round-up post, you’ll be glad to know this is definitely my final post about the World Domination Summit 2012!

While I was in Portland I filmed some (rather shaky) footage and decided to edit it together for a kind of ‘bonus’ episode of The Ditch The Day Job Diaries. Whilst there isn’t any info about freelancing in the video, the trip is an important part of the story because it contributes to some of the decisions I’ve made that will be explored more in Season 2.

As well as clips from the PuttyTribe karaoke night, the Portland Blues festival, and the WDS opening and closing parties, the video also includes cameo appearances from four WDS friends:

Hung Pham, a Career Consultant turned Travel Photographer whose work can be found at www.HungOnTheWorld.com. Hung is currently on a 6 months trip to China, Vietnam, SE Asia, Australia, & New Zealand. I spent quite a bit of time with Hung in Portland and found him wise, hilarious, and extremely generous. Hung was also one of the attendees invited to speak on stage at WDS.

Melissa Dinwiddie, multipassionate artist, teacher and songwriter, who treated me to an impromptu ukelele gig/lesson in the park!  It was so lovely to meet Melissa “in real life” after knowing her for ages online and admiring everything she does to help creative people succeed. We had a great conversation about creativity and life in general (read my interview with Melissa here).

Dr Elise Bialylew, a trainee Psychiatrist and meditation teacher who writes at Curiously Creating and founded Mindful in May, an online, global meditation challenge. In May 2012 there were nearly 900 people meditating from 12 countries, that raised $26,000 for Charity Water. Pretty amazing eh? Elise is such a joy to be around, being extremely insightful, funny and a real force of nature, so I was delighted to be able to spend time with her despite the fact she never seemed to stay still for long!

Jason Digges, a professional video producer, musician, filmmaker, writer, photographer, philosopher, and entrepreneur. Jason writes at Practical Art. I met Jason right at the end of my trip and really enjoyed our conversations, and hearing his deeply spiritual perspective on things, as well as the four-person bike ride we enjoyed around the river with Hung and Elise! As a long-time creative freelancer, Jason also has a lot of experience and wisdom to share.

Finally, as we weren’t allowed to film during the event itself, here is the ever so slightly more slick official recap of the event, which is a bittersweet reminder just how far the gap is between my current video production skills, and what I would like to be able to achieve!

When I first left my job in February to become a full-time freelancer, I starting doing a regular video diary about my experiences to share with subscribers to the Clear-Minded Creative newsletter.

Although I initially intended it to be weekly, that wasn’t entirely realistic, and I only ended up filming 14 episodes. The final episode ended on a bit of a cliffhanger too, so I apologise to those of you who were watching it regularly for leaving you in the lurch!

It struck me that those 14 episodes would work quite well as ‘Season One’ of the web TV show, and that Season Two could start from the time I headed off to the US to the World Domination Summit, and all the changes I’ve made since then.

Here then, is a handy recap of the first season of the Ditch the Day Job Diaries – look out for Season Two, coming soon!

If you want to catch up on the first season, and be notified when Season Two starts, remember to subscribe to the newsletter!

p.s. if you can’t wait until then, there are two interviews with me which will give you an insight into what I’ve been up to.

I was interviewed recently about being a freelance writer for the excellent Media Muppet site:

Media Muppet Interview: Milo McLaughlin – Copywriter & Web Editor

And I was also interviewed by my good pal Fabian of the Friendly Anarchist for his new ‘At Work’ series. He asked me some interesting questions about my work habits and even my morning routine:

 Friendly Anarchist At Work Interview – Milo McLaughlin

Thanks for watching/reading, and do let me know in the comments if you have any questions you’d like me to address in Season Two of the Ditch the Day Job Diaries.

I don't need a telescope to see where I went wrong

Sunday, 7:30am.

I wake up in unfamiliar surroundings. I realise I can stretch out on the bed, even though she’s here too. It’s a bigger bed than I’m used to. I look up and see sunlight streaming in through the curtains. It feels warm.

Paris! The first morning here. A trip to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. I’m tired. I forget how tiring travelling is.

My third trip abroad in four weeks – an extravangance only possible because I’m not working full-time. I’m not used to the excitement. It has a cumulative effect, making me more tired each day. I feel groggy, but excited to get outside and explore the city.

But.. so tired. She is also stirring beside me, but doesn’t seem very awake. I reset my alarm on my iPhone to 8:30.

(First decision of the day: to fail.)

8:30. Time to wake up properly. She makes us a cup of tea. I get my iPad and wireless keyboard. Time to write. I may not have achieved the 7:30 wake up time, but I can write 1000 words each day that I’m here.

I start typing. This is what I write:

“So here we are en Francais, and I can’t really be bothered with my writing but here we go. I have to do it, right? At least this is highly portable.

But what to write about?”

I put down the keyboard and pick up my cup of tea. That is all I write, the entire trip. All I want to do is enjoy my holiday with my wife. Discover a city I’ve spent less than 24 hours in so far. Relax, and forget. Stop striving for a while.  Fuck it.

(My second decision of the day is to fail.)

Wednesday

We get home to Edinburgh. The rain pours down outside and it’s as dark as dusk, all day.

I look at my to-do list. I sent it to him before we left, with a list of ‘deliverables’. It now seems wildly ambitious. Whilst in Paris I was going to come up with a plan. Instead I shut out the future and the past, apart from the unavoidable one evident from the extravagant architecture around us.

Sunday

I stare at the blank page. I have failed. No way round it. Because I announced the challenge publicly, now I have to admit my failure, publicly. But what to say?

Monday

I wake up, watch a couple of episodes of TV spy drama Nikita. Nonsense, but entertaining. Afterwards, in my mind, I carry out a debriefing, an interrogation, of myself, like it happens in the show.

Why did I fail? Because I chose to, twice.

What can I do? Admit, accept, try again.

I sit down and write – this.

Tuesday

What will my decision be at 7:30am?

 Related:

It’s not surprising I’ve been used as a prime example of the “lazy controller” syndrome by creative consultant Jeffrey Davis (his solution: eat chocolate for breakfast- might have to try that).

Gwyn Michael also talks about “staring down failure” today on the Scoutie Girl blog.

It’s 3 months since I went freelance, and I’ve been recording a video diary almost every week to document how things are going, which I’ve been sending out to subscribers of the CMC newsletter.

However a few weeks ago the videos stopped (as any subscribers will have noticed). I had a lot of great feedback such as this from Margaret Pinard of Taste Life Twice on Facebook:

“Just got the latest installment of Ditch the Day Job Diaries, and particularly enjoyed the gardening clips (frog! goat!) and the community feel behind Freelance Fridays. And I love that quote about over and underestimating what you can do- will have to mull that one over… thanks for the great content, Milo!”

But I also got some feedback saying that there wasn’t enough info about how I was structuring my day, finding work etc. This gave me pause for thought, as if I’m bothering people once a week with a new video, I want it to be as useful as possible for them. And as fun as it was to film myself cycling to the local beach as I did in episode 8 below, perhaps it was a tad self-indulgent!

Structure? What Structure?

Now I can’t really talk about the work I’m doing for clients in detail, but I can talk about how I’m structuring my day, right?

The problem though was that I wasn’t structuring my day, at all. I’ve already written about how being productive in the morning isn’t my strong point, even when I was working full-time. Well let’s just say that leaving your job doesn’t miraculously make your bad habits disappear – in fact, for more it made them worse!

I’d quite been enjoying lying in and waking up in a a leisurely fashion, and staying up late watching daft films starring Nicholas Cage and Jason Statham on Netflix. Yes I was getting work done for clients whenever necessary, but I wasn’t taking my own creative goals forward. By the time my wife Mel got home from a full day’s work, I’d achieved very little.

Phase 1: Adjustment Bureau

After 3 months I’m the first to admit that although I’ve had enough to keep me going, the work isn’t exactly flooding in. Luckily I have a bit of a safety net for the first year but if 3 months can fly by that quickly, then it won’t be long before I’m looking back thinking ‘what happened to the last 12 months?’ and wishing I’d used the time more wisely (as I scour the bins in the alleyway behind the local Chinese takeaway for scraps of food and a slight glimmer of hope from a discarded fortune cookie).

I’m now seeing that first three months as a natural period of adjustment. After 10 years of working in the civil service I was somewhat institutionalised to the daily grind of sitting in an office all day, and I had also been diagnosed with chronic stress during the last year because of trying to juggle so many different things in my life and general unhappiness with my work. I needed some recovery time.

But I also came to realise that if I kept up my slovenly lifestyle, things weren’t going to get any better any time soon, which is why I’ve designated the next 3 months (including May) “Phase 2″.

Phase 2: This Time It’s Serious

In this phase I’m determined to finally establish some better habits, and this time failure is not an option. Now I’ve often read about how to do this, and people I respect like Leo Babauta and Michael Nobbs, amongst many others, advise starting small. Most people fail, they say, because they try to take on too many new habits and behaviours at once.

It’s true – I know this because I’ve done it time and time again – set out with good intentions to get up early, go to the gym, write every day etc etc but after a week or sometimes only a few days, it all comes crashing down again because it’s not realistic.

The sad truth is by the time you hit my age (34), or even a lot younger than that, your bad habits are deeply ingrained. It takes a lot to change them. This infographic shows just what’s involved in the process, and it looks so complicated that it puts you off even trying:

Source: lifehacker.com via Milo on Pinterest

 

So in the interest of keeping things as simple as possible, I’ve decided to commit to two specific things for the month of May:

1. Get up at 7:30am at the latest (Mon-Fri)

2. Write 1000 words in 25 minutes (preferably first thing in the morning)

And that’s it! If I can stick to these two positive habits in May then I hope to add more over the next few months. I’m using a great website called Chains.cc to help myself stick to this plan. For this week only, you can watch a brand new episode of The Ditch the Day Job Diaries below which goes into more detail about this (episodes are usually only for subscribers).

Creative Accountability & The Clear-Minded Copywriter 

I’m also having fortnightly accountability calls on Skype with Fabian of The Friendly Anarchist. Again, it took us a few weeks to get into our stride, but now we seem to have hit on an excellent system where we commit to specific weekly tasks and send each other the proof that they’ve been done. If we fail, we have to give money to the hateful right-wing organisation the BNP, which is one of the best motivations not to fail I’ve ever discovered. So that is definitely helping in terms of taking things forward with my own creative stuff.

And I’m making much more of an effort to find and apply for new work, including setting up a portfolio site called The Clear-Minded Copywriter, which I hope to add to and improve over the next few weeks.  I’m hoping that if by the end of the 3 months this effort will have paid off – either way that will be the time for a review to see how things are going and what I need to do differently.

If you’d like to see how my morning routine challenge for May is going, I’ll provide updates in the next episode of the Ditch the Day Job Diaries. Sign up to receive new episodes each week plus access to all of the videos so far in the series!