The Break Free Blog

Where you are not alone in Breaking Free

Archive for September, 2010

Sharpening Your Axe

Sep-29-2010 By admin

Two lumberjacks were working in a forest. This was in the days before power tools, by the way.

The first tree feller, Jack, was a competitive type so he suggested a race with Fred, the other lumberjack. He bet Fred he could not cut down more trees by the time the sun went down. Fred agreed happily.

So the race commenced. Jack worked himself into a sweat, felling tree after tree after tree. Every time he looked around, however, Fred was sat on a tree stump and not working.

Jack shrugged and realised the race was going to be easy – clearly Fred was too lazy.

As the sun finally sank below the horizon, Jack stopped work and collapsed into an exhausted heap. Triumphantly he compared his tally of trees felled for the day with that of Fred.

He was astonished to find Fred had demolished twice as many trees as he had.

‘That cannot be true,’ he exclaimed, ‘ very time I looked at you, you were sitting down.’

Fred smiled. ‘What you don’t realise is every time you saw me sat down I was sharpening my axe.’

Relaxing and ‘sharpening your axe’ is perhaps the most forgotten skill of anyone trying to be more productive – especially when self dependent and working from home to break free.

Working flat out all the time means your work time is less efficient. This is something I am coming to realise now. Time spent resting the mind is so important. Not only that, but the best inspiration for work strategies comes during times of rest. This is why meditation is so inspirational to those breaking free, I think.

You may work slightly less but what you do will be more effective.

Also one of the reasons for going it alone, in my opinion, is to find happiness. And happiness is not about spending all your time working. So relaxing and taking a break is about getting a life too. The idea is to find freedom and not put yourself in another prison!

I am trying (with not much success yet, I have to say) to break every hour to not just rest but to do something else for a few minutes. This may be a bit of housework or gardening (Lord knows it is much needed!) or anything that is simply different from the work you are doing. The other reason for maybe doing a bit of maintenance is that it may well be needed! My house and garden have been seriously neglected whilst I work on breaking free and this can affect my mood. Fighting to my desk through spiders’ webs is not good for morale!

Getting fit is also a great way to take a break, especially if you are sat at a desk all day.  Stretching the back and muscles is a must and exercise of course helps the blood flow to the brain. Activities like vigorous gardening and housework are good exercise anyway.

Maybe you could have a hobby to follow too. Perhaps take a day out every now and again to do something you enjoy that isn’t work. Perhaps you could also break free to spend time with family or friends.

Winston Churchill was a great supporter or hobbies and interests. He had many activities he pursued as relaxation. In his interesting book ‘Painting As A Pastime,’ Churchill says a change in activity is important.

“Change is the master key. A man can wear out a particular part of his mind by continually using it and tiring it, just in the same way as he can wear out the elbows of his coat. It is not enough merely to switch off the lights which play upon the main and ordinary field of interest; a new field of interest must be illuminated.”

So how to achieve this? This is my present challenge. I need to set aside one or two days a week for relaxation and regular times throughout the week to break up my break free work.

I would like to perhaps take ten minutes out of every hour doing something different. The problem has been to have the discipline to stop at the right time and not just work straight through. I think I may have the answer, at least initially. I have ordered a kitchen timer I can set for sixty minutes.  When the alarm goes off, I can then get up and have a break.

Well, that’s the theory anyway!

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This beautifully produced video shows why many people get fed up with the corporate world and break free on their own.

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Discipline In Working For Yourself

Sep-27-2010 By admin

Self-discipline is essential when working from home.

It has been said you need to be both the hardest boss you ever had and the best employee you ever had after breaking free and working for yourself.

This is certainly the big challenge I have had – and continue to have. Every day I have to be self dependent and work on my discipline in order to get something achieved. Some days I do well but some days are a disaster so I cannot claim to have cracked this problem yet.

What makes things more frustrating is breaking free is very satisfying and I have no desire whatsoever to go back to a job, with all the politics and insecurity that now represents. So, in a sense, I have burnt my boats and cannot go back. There is only one direction: and that is forward to find freedom.

One achievement I have found since going it alone is to set myself what I think is called a ‘Base Acceptable Bottom.’ This involves understanding each day what is the minimum I want to achieve. Generally this involves ensuring I post something to every one of my four websites before I go to bed.

There are other things I want to do but this is the absolute minimum I want to complete in the day.

The other discovery I have made since breaking free is constructing a rota to follow. This is a list of jobs that need to be done regularly over and above the ‘Base Acceptable Bottom’ I have set. These include writing articles and maintaining a Google Adwords campaign. Ideally these would be completed every day too but, since I have realised that putting myself under too much pressure leads to confusion and less getting done, I understood that a flexible list or rota is probably the best way.

Since breaking free I had a daily list to complete with a timetable but this relied on strict timekeeping, which never materialised, and so the whole system failed. Frequently I misunderstood how long each job would take.

I tried using a daily list, originally used by an employee of Charles Schwab and called the Ivy Lee Formula where the projects to complete were listed from the most important down. Each time one of the projects was completed it would be crossed off. Any jobs left at the end of the day would be carried over to the next.

Really this is the foundation of my rotating list. It helps me in breaking free by telling me what I should be doing next. So far it is working well.

So my ability to be self dependent and my quest to find freedom are being well served by the adoption of both a minimum standard to achieve each day and a rotating list of other projects.

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Break Free With Self-Discipline

Sep-26-2010 By admin

Here is my first post to this site on breaking free from a job. I have to start with the biggest challenge I have had all along – self-discipline.

I knew disciplining myself was going to be a challenge before last August when I left my job. And it certainly has been a problem!

Imagine you were self dependent and had the whole day to do what you will. What would you do? I guess we can all come up with ideas but the biggest challenge is actually doing it. It’s one thing to say ‘I will do this’ but you then come up against one of the many modern malaises: distractions. There are distractions everywhere: the phone rings, someone comes to the door, Facebook, YouTube, the television, family or friends – the list is endless. This must be a threat to anyone needing to rely on himself or herself including students, the self-employed, athletes and the unemployed. Indeed, I understand the unemployed are particularly prone to it and it can have a very negative effect.

Now to be fair, I have not yet totally cracked this yet with some days being better than others but I am getting an idea of what I should be doing each day. This is quite important. Every one of us needs a reason to get up in the morning.

Ironically routine is a useful friend in breaking free and going it alone. Understand what you would consider ‘success.’ I am not just talking about the acquisition of money here but also health and happiness.

I can only talk for myself, of course, but when I left full time employment to find freedom I resolved to improve my health. My first decision then was to turn off the alarm clock and sleep as long as I need to sleep. I found I sleep almost exactly eight hours. So I now know I need to go to bed at midnight if I want to be up at eight in the morning. Again, some days I manage it, some I don’t, but generally I am getting better.

Maybe that is the point: you can’t expect to get it right every time but persevere and you will improve as time goes on.

Also I need to get exercise so I go for a cycle ride or walk every day. Of course I need to eat breakfast too. This all means that I have a morning routine. I wake up, do some exercises to loosen up, go for a cycle ride (and I looking to increase the distance) and have breakfast. This gives me a foundation from which to find freedom and I can start work.

Equally I now have an evening routine. I stop work at least two hours before bed and read or sketch or do something relaxing. I drink a glass of milk. I then have a bath and read in the bath. As I go to bed I play the same piece of music that I do not play at any other time, this has the effect of telling my brain it is time for bed.

Do you believe the music idea does not work? Well, I have used that idea for some years now and recently the same piece of music came on the radio as I was washing up in the kitchen. I really did start to fall asleep over the sink! I had to quickly turn the radio off!

So there are my first thoughts on self-discipline in going it alone. Later I will talk about my challenges with work discipline as I continue to break free.

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Sticky: Introduction

Sep-24-2010 By admin

Hello. My name is Keith Braithwaite.

I live just on the coast of central Southern England.

In August 2009, after some 30 years working at a variety of levels in the corporate world, I gratefully took redundancy from a job that, frankly, I did not enjoy.

For twenty years I had also played around with various businesses, mostly in the direct selling industry, and had little success with any of them. At the same time, however, I began to become fascinated with the idea of personal development.

When I knew I was to lose my job I began to plan to, once and for all, become self dependent and break free. I wanted never to need a job again. I began work on an Internet marketing and writing business.

Well, here I am, some time after that event and I can honestly say I am yet to find freedom. Okay, I don’t have a job, which is a wonderful feeling, and I dictate what I do with my time every day, which can be a double-edged sword.

It was a friend at the time who suggested I start a blog relating my experiences in breaking free and going it alone.

There are three reasons why this seemed a good idea:

1.  Relating my thoughts and experiences will help me understand what I am doing and, who knows, other people might come along and relate their own thoughts and experiences, which I hope will help us all.

2. I am very pessimistic about the economy and feel many people will soon need to become self dependent as I suspect that you are the only person you can rely upon now. I hope by sharing this blog, we can help such people find their way.

3. And my friend can claim this was her idea (which it was).

So look out for my first ramblings, dear reader. I can’t guarantee they will be earth-shattering or helpful all the time (I have no doubt I will go off on a tangent at some stage) but my wish is that we get to know each other and something I say, at some stage, will make someone’s life a little better.

I hope I can help someone else break free.