My goal(s) of being in the van are many. But foremost among them is the desire to slow down.
We do not live in a slow world. I have never known one, and as technology has grown throughout my life, things have gotten even faster. It is common to be immediately connected to people, to expect a response within minutes, if not seconds. It is easy to load your plate with tasks, to stay running from one thing to the next. I have done that (and written about it.) There is a certain kind of fulfillment that comes from being busy from morning ‘til night. But it is not my goal to pack my schedule so tightly I can’t breathe for appointments.
It was a tough expectation to let go of when I initially started my business. I had ingrained the need to be busy all day, or at least to appear to be so. Productivity was the name of the game. But left to my own devices, alone in my house with no supervision or anyone to hold me accountable, I found I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t open my laptop at 9 am and stay on it until 5 pm. I opened and closed it. I did a task or two and wandered off. My focus came in bursts, and different times of the day seemed to bring different kinds of attention, some more suited to email and admin tasks and others to deep research.
It took several years to become accustomed to working this way; today I couldn’t imagine anything else. The last three years have allowed me to trial and error so many ways of working, to experiment with the structure of my day in ways I couldn’t have dreamed of. I said my aunt recently that I’ve become addicted to having this much control over my time. What once scared me, watching the hours of the tick away and spiral into utter chaos, now feels like a wild freedom.
I am glad that I got to experiment with my working days for so long before I moved into the van. Now when I feel the urge to open my laptop, I do it and knock out a few tasks. And when I feel like my brain is screaming to be aware but staring at a screen, I do something else. Sometimes the dishes. Sometimes vacuuming. I may read or journal or take the dog for a walk. If it’s warm enough, I’ll break out the yoga mat or the jump rope.
When I moved into the van, I made the conscious decision to take a step back in my business. I work part-time right now, sustaining retainer clients and a few special project clients here and there. I knew I would need extra time to initially adjust, but I found that my desire to work is less and less. I have no want of abandoning my business; I still enjoy it greatly. But I am passing on leads to other writers, saying no to many asks, and carving out deliberate unstructured time in my schedule as much as possible. Saturday rolls around with nothing to do, and I get to enjoy every lazy minute of the day.
I still battle thoughts that tell me I need to be more “productive” or take on more. I don’t think any entrepreneur doesn’t – or most people in general. But what I want now is not what I wanted a year ago or five years ago. Being in the van has given me an incredible opportunity to pause, to take stock of my life so far, and to sit with things. What do I enjoy? What do I want to keep? What is no longer serving me?
Sometimes it is easy to forget how short of a time I’ve actually lived in the van. It feels like much longer than three months. But when I remember, I get excited for what is still to come.