They say time is money. I appear to be lacking in both at the moment, and I need to take some drastic action to not lose as much of the former so I can make more of the latter.
My problem is that I give my time away too easily, mainly due to the fact I like helping people. I enjoy helping others to solve coding problems as it widens my understanding of a product. However, there comes a stage when I’m making too many contributions back to the community that I don’t end up focussing on billable work that pays my self-employed wage.
I don’t think it’s egotistical of me to say that at least some developers from the Genesis community probably know of me, as a senior moderator on the support boards, from the #genesiswp tag on Twitter, from the blog post on StudioPress about me, or from the Genesis tutorials I’ve written. I’ve given my fair share of code back to the Genesis codebase too, particularly for Genesis 1.6. I’ve given an unknown amount of hours, all for free, with the only “payment” being exposure to the community.
The trouble is, exposure doesn’t directly pay bills. Exposing myself to the guy at the bank certainly doesn’t reduce my mortgage any quicker, and brings a few strange looks. The local supermarket doesn’t care that I’m known in a niche sector within WordPress, or that I’m one of the (volunteer) developers at Battrick.
In some cases, the people who you are exposed to as being an “expert” of some sort, are not the people who are willing to pay “expert” rates.
Exposure is great, if you can convert that potential in to high quality clients, who are willing to a pay a suitable amount for your time to work with them on a project. And that’s where my lack of self-discipline creates a catch-22 for myself. Other developers and members of the community seem to manage the balance fine – they make a name for themselves AND are knocking out high quality sites week in week out, and all power to them. I spend so much time helping others that I don’t have time to do work for the people who the exposure attracted in the first place.
What I’ll Do
I’m going to do something drastic, and public, to force myself off this contribution drug, and say that whilst Genesis 1.6 is out (very soon) until Genesis 1.7 is released (no idea when), I’m:
- not going to contribute any patches
- going to refrain from posting answers on the support boards
- only help others on Skype solve small problems if they make a donation
- remove myself from the moderator chat channel
- stop following the #genesiswp hashtag on Twitter
- stop other distractions as I think of them.
Genesis-related distractions won’t be the only ones I’ll be eliminating (Seesmic Desktop, Skype and Thunderbird will only be open for limited periods too), but it’s this area that I seem to give the most time for free in, so that’s the area I’m tackling first. I don’t want to turn my back (however temporary) on Genesis, but I have little choice if I want to sort things out. I eventually managed to stop all Battrick volunteering last year, but I think this will be harder for me.
It should give me a chance to finish off a theme I’m working on, transfer a load of sites for an existing client to a new VPS, get my business site re-populated, get all my WP sites moved on to a multi-network single install, do my Dad’s site that’s been waiting a few years for me to get around to it, finish off my premium plugin and get that selling, get a proper backup solution in place, sort out my wedding pictures and video, complete a couple of personal projects I’ve almost done, and take some more time away from the computer to do tasks around the house and work on my own health and fitness.
I will be back, for definite – I just need to make a clean break, for my own sake, and get the business side of me organised.