Home > Books, Career > Shaping one’s own career

Shaping one’s own career

The Virginia Festival of the Book is going on this week and it’s pretty cool.  I went to two events today: one on taking charge of our time and careers, and one on the bible.  The event on time and careers meshed well with my current obsession with figuring out my next steps and the values that matter to me as I take those steps.

First, presenter Leslie Treux spoke about being able to shape our own careers rather than letting our lives be shaped by them.  She read an excerpt from her book in which she wonders at all the people she sees getting into their dress clothes and cars and racing to get to the office on time – while she sees her kids off and then starts the work day in pajamas.  I thought about the luxury of time I’ve had during graduate school.  To some extent, it still amazes me that I can just get up and go to the store at 10:00 on a Tuesday morning and no one will ask why I’m not at work.  Even when I’ve set punishing schedules for myself, the flexibility of setting my own hours is an amazing freedom and one I think I’ll miss if I go back into traditional full-time work.

The second presenter, Christine Louise Hohlbaum, argued for changing our relationship with time from one of scarcity to one of abundance.  She suggested doing this, in part, by setting aside specific times for “information gathering” (e.g., checking email, twitter, facebook, etc.) and focusing on just one task at a time instead of trying to switch between tasks.  I’ve actually spent the last 4-8 years trying to do just this.  I have disabled automatic email checking on my work computers, set aside 30 minutes at the beginning and end of the day for email during busy times, and used stopwatches to track how long I spend on tasks – and remind me to stay focused.  I think much of my success in freelance work has come from these time-slowing, focusing skills.  They keep me from falling down the time-wasting rabbit holes that plague so many people who are new to working from home.

As I look to next year I am increasingly seeing myself as a full-time freelancer, piecing together existing jobs with new or expanded lines of work to create a full-time salary, hopefully at less-than-full-time hours.  Of course, an offer from the right school could change all of that…

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  1. March 18, 2010 at 4:48 am

    Hilary,

    Thank you so much for coming to the event yesterday! It was great fun to interact with you all in the audience. May you have the TIME of your life!

    Warmest regards,
    Christine Louise Hohlbaum
    author of The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World

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