Jack of all trades, master of one or two.
As long as I can remember, I’ve always had several irons in the fire. They weren’t always synergistic and there were times when I sacrificed quality for quantity, but rarely was I confined to only one lane.
In high school, I worked nearly every day after school, provided it didn’t conflict with varsity basketball or student council activities or, for a short time, rehearsal for a male beauty pageant. In college, partying was my unofficial job, but in addition to being on the dean’s list, writing for the school newspaper, and acting as historical society president, I also had three jobs. I worked as a tour guide, taught SAT prep classes, and even handled the money and drinks for the popular hot dog vendor on the corner (in lieu of cash, he paid me in meatball sandwiches and soft pretzels).
This pattern continued after graduation as I would add a shift delivering ice on the weekend while pursuing my MBA and doing things like buying a house or planning a wedding. I actually love to be lazy and, at the right times, can relax as well as anyone, but I often feel useless if I’m not working on several things at once.
In late 2010, a simple question reignited a spark in me and I returned to writing, my true love. In turn, it’s given me energy to do everything else. The title of this article is a bit of a misnomer. I’m not a workaholic. I just like to do different things, but, unlike so many others, I like to see them all the way through to the finish. That’s why I wrote five books in 18 months (four of them in 2013 alone) while also reading everything I can get my hands on while also being a very dedicated, very involved father and husband. I also manage to have a decent social life. Oh yeah, I also work in finance for a Fortune 100 company and my office is 76 miles away from my home. Here’s the map of my daily commute:
And here is my Monday — Friday schedule. It’s basically the opposite of Hunter S. Thompson’s daily routine:
5:01 am: Rise
5:01 to 5:15: Bathroom
5:15 to 5:30: Quick exercise [push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, etc.]
5:30: First cup of coffee
5:30 — 5:50: Catch up on writing [editing, publishing, etc.]
5:50 — 6:00: Shower
6:00 — 11:00: Listen to The Howard Stern Show, audiobooks, podcasts, and/or hip-hop
6:00 — 6:30: Getting dressed and ready to leave
6:30 — 7:00: Leave the house [if my daughter is awake, I’ll hang out with her so I’ll leave later]
6:30 — 7:00 — 8:15 — 8:45: Drive 76 miles over several highways [stop for gas every other day]
8:15 — 9:00: Breakfast, second cup of coffee
11:00 am — 7:00 pm: Listen to audiobooks, podcasts, and/or hip-hop
9:00 am — 4:30 pm: Day job as a financial analyst; read Kindle during breaks/downtime
4:30 pm — 8:30: [working late during first few days of the month due to month-close]
4:30 pm — 4:45 — 6:15 — 7:00: Drive 76 miles home over several highways [the ride home takes longer]
6:15 — 7:15: Get home, eat dinner, family time
7:15 — 8:00: Daughter’s bedtime routine [bath, brush teeth, put on pajamas, reading books]
8:00 — 9:30: Wash dishes [no dishwasher], prepare for the next day [lunches for all three of us, set up the coffee maker], other household items [laundry, cleaning, fixing, etc.] while listening to audiobooks, podcasts, and/or hip-hop
9:30 — 2:00 am: Occasional late drinks with friend(s)
9:30 — 10:30 — 11:00: Propped up in bed either writing or reading
11:00 pm — 5:01 am: Sleep [unless I’m out or otherwise interrupted]
Repeat the process Monday through Friday
That’s my weekday. You’ll notice that aside from a brief warm-up, exercise is omitted. Sadly, I have no excuse for this. I used to hit the gym every day at lunch, but my commute has made that impossible and, save for a walk in the early afternoon, I’m far too sedentary in my day. I’m actively working to remedy this problem.
The weekends are usually more lenient. I get up with the kid between six and seven on Saturdays, but Sundays are my day to sleep in and I usually don’t get up around eight or nine. The weekends are a combination of catching up — cleaning, home improvements, grocery shopping — and leisure — visiting family or friends, social functions, walking around the city, attending La Salle basketball games, and going out for drinks or dinner.
I’m tired, but I get between six and seven hours of solid sleep per night, so I’m not a zombie during the day. I keep a rotation of three books at all times — one audiobook, one on the Kindle that travels with me, and one physical copy that rests on my nightstand. I never thought I could handle more than one book at a time, but if you try it you’ll realize it’s easier than you thought. Our brains are capable of far more difficult things.
Most importantly, you’ll notice that there is no time set aside for television. This isn’t to say that I never watch TV — I still very much enjoy live sporting events and I fully recognize that TV shows today are better than ever — but it is at the very bottom of my list. Television is a wonderful, beautiful, amazing medium, but it takes up an enormous amount of time and it usually doesn’t make you smarter or a better writer or father in the process. I would love to get into Breaking Bad or Justified or Downton Abbey or House of Cards, but I prioritize other things like my career, fatherhood, reading, and writing over them.
I won’t — can’t — keep up this schedule forever. I know I would burnout after a while and I’m fairly certain that something will change within the next year or so to ease some of the pressure. In fact, I’ve already taken a bit of a breather from writing if only to give my brain a rest. But I also look at this schedule and everything that I did in 2013 and remind myself that there is much more time in the day than we realize and I can do almost all of the things I’ve always wanted to do.
So can you.
Christopher Pierznik is the author of six books, including Publish Your Book for FREE! His books can be purchased in Paperback, Kindle, and Nook. A former feature contributor and managing editor of I Hate JJ Redick, he has also written for XXL, Please Don’t Stare, Amusing My Bouche, Reading & Writing is for Dumb People, and others. He works in finance and spends his evenings changing diapers and drinking craft beer. He once applied to be a cast member on The Real World, but was rejected. You can like his Facebook page here, follow him on Twitter here, and read more of his work here.