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Getting Ahead without Getting Behind.

I work a full-time job (that I don't particularly enjoy), have a wife and little girl (that I do enjoy), and am going to school online full-time. GTD is helping me to make the best use of my available time, but it doesn't seem like enough. My someday/maybe list is growing increasingly longer, and my career is at a stand still until I finish school. I want to switch careers, more specifically I want to develop web applications with Ruby on Rails(RoR). Currently though, I don't have the spare time needed to devote to RoR. My job is barely paying the bills, so I can't save up a reserve to quit work for a while and develop full-time. I refuse to give up what little family time I have, PERIOD! And with school, I don't have the time to pickup any projects that require more than a couple hours of work a week. By 11:30 I am exhausted, and the 30 minutes or so that I have free at that time is usually less than productive. My day job is becoming more and more frustrating. I don't think I will be able to continue this job, and full-time school for the 4 years that is needed to complete my degree. So, how can I get ahead without getting behind? I am running out of ideas, but know that something has got to change.

TOPICS: Ask 43f
Berko's picture

Some (maybe helpful) ideas

My first thought is that I can feel your pain. That kind of frustration is just miserable. Are you actively seeking new employment?

First, I'd like to know what degree you're working on. Is it something where you can roll RoR work into it? Do you have an idea for a product that you can carve out pieces through your coursework? Obviously you wouldn't have time to create an entire product in the course of a couple weeks typically allowed for an assignment, but you could get bits and pieces done over the course of a few class projects if you're very intentional about it. If you're not studying CoSc or similar and you want to do RoR dev full time then I have to question why you're in the degree you are in.

Some additional ways to carve out some productive time might be to work during lunch on your RoR stuff. Also increasing your productivity on your work projects would allow you to get the same amount of stuff done for the job and then steal away an hour a day or so to work on your stuff. This might not go over well with your employer, so caveat emptor. Here, Parkinson's Law plays heavily. If you give yourself an impossible deadline for a project, you will get it done. Then you can get to what you really want to do. You mentioned being wiped at the end of the day, and I can totally appreciate that. Would it be possible to get up earlier, even just 30 minutes? Also, what of your weekends?

I'm not sure what your income is at your current job, but for me, getting an internship (I start this coming Monday.) more than doubled my income (hourly) from my on-campus employment and I'm getting to work in my field, which happens to be IT as well. Also, it doesn't help immediately, but you could also consider doing some freelance work. Check the 43folders and 37signals job boards (especially 37S since you're interested in RoR), AuthenticJobs, Jobs and Gigs, and Krop (Need more? Mashable has a whole list.) and start looking for some freelance stuff there or an entirely new employment situation where you could work on RoR and hew your skills.

Sorry for the length, but I hope this helps. Hit us back to let us know how things get on for you or if we can help more.




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