The Art of “Gav-Le”

How I Stopped Procrastinating

by Adi Hillel

When I was a child, my mother and I shared a habit; we used to nap in her queen-size bed, lying back to back, each one of us captured in her own world while feeling the presence of the other — the gentle movements, the light breathing, the soundless pounds of our heartbeats. We called it, in our own private language, GAV LE GAV, back-to-back in Hebrew, or in short, GAV LE.

Twenty years later, I still use this made-up term on a regular basis. All of my friends started using it too. You can hear us pronounce it over the phone and in our WhatsApp groups (“guys, who’s up for GAV LE?”). And no, we no longer mean “an afternoon nap next to mom”, we use it more in the sense of “being alone, together”.

Mind your own business

But let’s start from the beginning…

I’m a freelance writer. I’ve been freelancing since I can remember, and I am still growing into it. I like making my own agenda and managing my own time. I want to be able to design my work space and invent my career from scratch (even at the risk of having no career at all). And I’m not alone.

In the 2012 Freelance Industry Report, when being asked for their reasons for going solo, 28% said they wanted to have more freedom and flexibility, for 23% it was mostly about following their passion, and 13% said they wanted to be their own boss.

Reasons for going solo

As for the benefits of being a freelancer, 25% listed flexibility, 15% listed variety in work and for 14% it was the ability to work from anywhere. By the way, 0.4% cited “no dress code”.

Benefits of being a freelancer

But freelancing is not a bed of roses. Self-employers face many challenges, like finding clients, breaking out of the feast-or-famine cycle of work (oh, so familiar) and getting paid on time.

The challenges of being a freelancer

For me, as a freelancer entrepreneur who’s obsessed with cracking the “productivity code”, the interesting challenges on this list are maintaining work/life balance, managing time/staying productive, staying motivated throughout the day, working with people you enjoy and combating isolation. Wow. It’s so comforting to know it’s not just me. It’s human nature.

Where are you, you lazy human being?!

‘Cause let’s face it, as freelancers, we must create our OWN framework. If we fail to do so, there’s a good chance we won’t make it on our own. What almost any salaried employee takes for granted — work hours, work space, supervisors and colleagues — self-employed workers need to invent.

Dressing up for work, for instance, even though you stay in the comfort of your home, is elementary, or as the writer Carol Tice puts it: “ Why the Freelance Dream of Working in P.J.s is Total B.S.

Get dressed to rule the world

But there’s more to it. People need a human framework; we are human creatures after all. Social incentives have long proven to be efficient stimulators for productivity, as you can see from the rise of online tools like complete, carrot, and dozens of social fitness apps.

This is where GAV LE comes into the picture, one of the friendliest techniques that I came to know to provide myself with the optimal setting to work, write and create in.

What it basically means is a spontaneous or scheduled gathering of people who share the same objective in the same space, the objective being — to move ahead with their own private goals. Each one is free to do what he or she pleases: read, write, design or program. On your mutual breaks you can cook together, or order some food. You can meet in your friend’s living room or outdoors. You can talk here and there, even define your goals ahead and report to each other at the end of each session.

It’s like being in a long-term relationship, where you can be yourself, next to another person. It liberates you from social standards, no need to play the perfect host or keep the conversation flowing, just practice ACTIVE FOCUSING. You’ll be surprised how effective it is. The procrastination syndrome, when encountered with the proper audience, gets performance anxiety and just leaves the stage.

Active focusing in practice

You know what? There’s a good chance you’re doing it already. Every time you go to a cafe with your laptop and work next to others, you are in a profound mode of GAV LE.

In this super useful blog post of Nomamdic Notes you can find a list of “Cafe Finders” like workfrom and coffices, that will supply you with the atmosphere you need to work, and a fresh cup of coffee of course.

Get inspired by seeing other people work

However, is it obligatory for GAV LE to take place in a physical place? I believe not. GAV LE is an inner space, a mindset. It requires the subtle presence of the other — to diminish the loneliness without infringing your solitude — but what it really takes is being together at the SAME TIME, and not necessarily in the same space.

Take Camp Nanowrimo for example, an online writers’ retreat where you share a virtual camp with 11 writers, on your mission to write 50,000 words in a month.

“ Grab that bug spray, slap on your hiking boots, and let’s go to Camp!”

Hubitus was born out of this notion. After years of productive GAV LE with our friends, we started asking ourselves some philosophical questions. There’s no doubt that the social hype changed the rules of the game and disrupted the concept of community. It’s easier than ever TO BE OUT THERE; to connect, interact, comment and share. But, can the web also offer us a user experience of BEING IN THERE? Can you keep silent, stay focused, maintain the privacy of your content, but still proclaim your presence and reassure the presence of the other? Can we sense the existence of another person by sharing an imaginary space in a specific time frame? Can we mute all other distractions so we can hear the gentle breath of the person next to us who whispers: “you’re not alone, I’m right beside you”? Is VIRTUAL GAV LE possible? And can it provide REAL VALUE?

Virtual GAV LE

Well, we’re about to find out. So join us, right here, right now.
We write beside you.