“Summer of Hell.” That’s what they’ve been calling it. From July through September, my NJ train line completely stopped going into Manhattan. Instead the trains are dropping passengers off in Hoboken where you join the stampede in wedging yourselves into tiny path train cars to take you into Manhattan. My commute time effectively doubled. It’s not like I’m sitting on one train for two hours, but add these legs up:
10 min walk to herald square path station
5-10 min wait for path
25 mins on path
10 min walk from path to nj transit in hoboken
15-20 min wait for NJ train
55 min to my stop
10 min walk to my car
10 min drive home
…and it all adds up to a massive waste of my time.
From the 10 hours per week commuting that I was used, 20 hours were now set to evaporate. I made a decision right at the start that I wasn’t going to lose that much of my time to get stuff done and be productive. I couldn’t let that happen. As a business owner I have certain freedoms and flexibilities to create my own schedule and construct my ideal working environment. Despite that option always being available to me—for 15+ years I have worked onsite in the office–in the trenches with my team—10+ hours per day, 5 days a week (sometimes more).
Well, this summer presented a unique opportunity to experiment.
After reading a lot of recent books on increasing personal productivity and output, I decided to take 2 days per week (T & Th) to work out of the office. I don’t have a home office, so being home usually means sitting at my kitchen table with 2 young kids wanting my full attention. That wouldn’t work, at least not for long. Instead, I rediscovered my local library.
For the last 3 weeks, every Tuesday and Thursday morning I show up at the library at 9am, with my computer, keyboard, mouse, a huge bottle of water, 2 meals and a long list of important things to do. I’m there for 7 hours straight. Those days are fiercely focused, uninterrupted, bursts of productivity and getting things done. I still dial in for any calls or meetings, later in the day when I’m out of the library (and can actually speak). The rest of the week (M, W, F) I am in the office, so I carefully schedule activities and tasks that require me to be physically with the team, in meetings, looking at work, with clients, doing interviews, etc.
So far so good.
This experiment has proved to me a lot of thoughts and ideas I already had about personal productivity, time management, focus and the way most of us structure (waste) our time. I have much to say here. I will be writing a more in depth post in the coming weeks of some of my take aways, morals and lessons learned.