One month down – looking back

So it’s been a month (more or less) since I entered the world of self-employment.

I still don’t know how to officially classify myself. Am I a consultant? A freelancer?  Am I an indie(pendent) software developer? Am I self-employed? Or am I really a full-time employee of Hsoi Enterprises LLC? Sometimes it’s easier to say one thing to people, but then no matter what I say, there’s always explanation. Then when there are forms to fill out, sometimes it feels like saying one thing is more appropriate, then sometimes it’s another. Or like filling out a medical form in the insurance part, I have medical insurance, but I pay for it out of my own pocket (oye!); but the form asks for “employer” assuming the medical plan comes via your employer (which it might, eventually).  But whatever and however I actually classify myself….

The key factor is… was this a wise decision? 🙂

I still don’t know. Ask me again in a few months. But so far, I’m saying “yes”.

Income of course isn’t steady nor what it was when I had that regular semi-monthly paycheck. That’s taken some adjustment and getting used to. There’s a different rhythm now. I used to pay bills at a certain time, and pay certain bills at certain times, dictated by when the paycheck came in. But now? Doesn’t matter… just pay the thing because there’s no juggling. More importantly, don’t FORGET to pay the thing, because the semi-monthly rhythm isn’t there. I am living off savings for now, and it won’t last forever. But work is underway to remedy this… it will just take time.

My mental, physical, and emotional health is improving. No question I’m getting more sleep. I’m still struggling to find a daily groove, but I think something is settling in. For the past 2 years I went to bed around 8pm and woke up around 3am. That wasn’t my choice, that was the evolution. Going to the gym is a morning thing, so I needed to allot time for that. Then there was the hell of commute traffic, which was a key factor to avoid because 1. I hate it, 2. sitting in traffic and commuting is a massive waste of precious time, IMHO. So I structured life to minimize traffic, which meant being out the door by 6:25am (yes, you had to be out before 6:30 because the rest of the world aimed for 6:30; get just 5 minutes ahead of the rest of the world and it makes a big difference — a rule that can be generalized to the rest of life). And so with all of that adding up, it pushed me to a 3am wake up.

I’m still getting up early, because I still like going to the gym early, when it’s empty. Prior to the gym (4+ years ago), I stayed on a fairly natural clock with the sunrise and such. But now? I find myself wanting to sleep in but forcing myself to get up somewhat early, because of my desire to get to the gym when it’s empty. This is something I am undecided on — to try to keep to a semi-strict schedule, or to just ignore it, wake when I do, and then go to the gym regardless of time. But at least, I’m not intentionally waking at 3am, and no more alarm clock for sure. That’s huge.

I nap a lot. That’s been immeasurable in benefit. I knew my plantar fasciitis just needed time and rest to go away; today, I might feel a little stiff when I wake up, but that’s about it. Huzzah!

I am happier. I’m able to focus on my work, not having to struggle to find time here and there for the projects that I enjoy. I released an update to PanemQuotidianum, I’m almost ready to release a long-overdue update to the DR Performance Practice Deck for iOS (and yes, more is planned beyond this update). I’m still doing contract work for Bar-Z Adventures (the prior day job). I’ve got a solid project of a new app on deck (and I’m very excited to start work on it). And I’m talking with various groups about other future projects. So… not bad. Just gotta turn this work into income. 😉

Being home has been wonderful. I can tell you the past month has been good for everyone in the household. Family is vital to me, and this has been wonderful.

Of course, it’s not all good. Not a single day has gone by where I didn’t do some work. Most days are working a lot, tho I break the work day up; maybe there’s a nap after lunch, then I can start work in the afternoon far more refreshed (vs. having to be locked-down for 9 hours straight, that’s hardly productive). I’ll also work in the evening, reading, researching, or testing on the iPad while lying in bed. Work is fairly perpetual. But I’m OK with this. I think I’ve only had 1 day that I might classify as a “day off”, but I was out at the KR Training facility helping Oldest care for the grounds (mowing, painting steel, etc.). It wasn’t a total day off because I did work for Bar-Z a little bit, but I chalk it up as a day off since I did spend a few hours shooting, and the overall majority of the day was spent not doing Hsoi Enterprises work.

And that… is something I have to mind. Every day that I keep going, that I keep slinging code, is a day I get deeper into it. It becomes harder to emerge from it, which can be bad when there are things to do. Chores around the house, bills to pay, Wife to go on a date with. So I have to be mindful. Before I officially started this, I happened to listen to a podcast (ep. 5) about life as an indie developer. The guest spoke about how he tried to keep to a M-F 9-5 work schedule, because it was far too easy to have life become work otherwise. I understand that from my prior 12 years working from home. But yet, it’s totally different when it’s YOUR baby and there’s no guarantee of a paycheck unless you’re slinging code. Plus, when you’re so in love with the work you’re doing, when the ideas and thinking keeps going, you don’t want to stop. Interestingly, I’ve started to look at the clock in terms of “billable hours” and every hour, every 15 minutes, start to feel a different sort of value and pressure. Probably not healthy, but a number of my in-laws have run their own businesses and have told me you get over that in time. 🙂

Reminds me… my truck needs an oil change, and I think the rear differential gearbox has a small leak. Hopefully that will just require a new gasket.

So yes, I’m still working to find balance. Still working to find my groove.

But overall? Things are good. I do not regret the decision. I feel overall happier and healthier, mentally, physically, and emotionally. I’m excited about the work I’m doing, and the business I’m trying to build. I sometimes wish there were two of me (so the other one could handle the boring stuff, like accounting, sales, marketing, contracts, paperwork, etc.). But it’s one heck of an experience.

For the record, I lean towards “Indie Software Developer”… it sounds cool. 🙂