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I Can Handle 2 Jobs and Family Duties, But Not 3

// December 5th, 2011 // By LordBron // iDevBlogADay

This post is aimed at those who haven’t taken the Full Time indie plunge. It’s for those of us who keep our day jobs in addition to trying to get our indie game biz off the ground. If that’s you, great. If it’s not you, I won’t be offended if you stop reading. :)

2′s cozy, but 3′s a Crowd

I’ve had a business in the past. My old biz partner and I both had a day job and ran the business at night. With smart phones enabling us to answer emails at any time, nobody was the wiser to our predicament. We ran a conference company, which my partner still runs that puts on the best mac and iOS dev conferences. So many customers were shocked when we informed them that we had day jobs in addition to our responsibilities of running the conference biz. This proved to me that I could clearly handle 2 FT jobs and still not neglect my family.

Fast forward to now, I have a FT job and I have to pick up some side jobs to help cover the bills. I don’t live an extravagant life, but rather am burdened down by some debt that really needs to be paid off. Therefore, I have my day job then I have my night job. Where does Area 161 programming fit in? That’s the problem at the moment. More often than not, it doesn’t fit in at all. :(

As odd at this may sound, it wasn’t clear to me for the longest time what was wrong. The past few months I noticed the lack of progression and just figured it was me being lazy. This would discourage me even more because I didn’t feel lazy. Area 161 is important to me, but progress we just slow going. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, then something I did totally unrelated helped me see the light.

Numbers Never Lie – Time for change

I decided to whip up a little spreadsheet that outlined my expenses vs my income. I didn’t do this for Area 161, I just did it to satisfy my own curiosity. I knew that I was taking on side work to help pay off debt, but what wasn’t clear to me until I made this document was that I was also taking on side work just to live. After paying off bills, I realized that I had roughly $200 a month for groceries, entertainment and children incidentals. There was no way I was sticking to that, therefore I was actually losing money per month at my current job. This got me thinking: Why am I in my current job?

I got out of consulting and into a FT gig because I needed health insurance (I knocked up my wife) and a W-2 (to qualify to buy my home). Now though, the baby is born and the mortgage is already in our name. One thing is my wife freaks out about health insurance since we have 3 kids. The thing is though, the health insurance we have from work isn’t that much better than the health insurance we had when I was a contractor. It’s slightly better but we still pay out the wazoo for copays and stuff. I’m better off trying to create my own group for health insurance than to continue in my FT solely for the insurance.

Contracting – The Answer to All

One thing I realize also is that when I was contracting, I was making twice (yup, twice!) what I am making at my FT job. Therefore, even if we do spend a bit more in buying insurance as well as paying more out of pocket initially, we’ll likely still make out better going the contractor route vs the staying the FT course.

In addition to that, that bump in income means I can jettison my sidework. I can return to having just a FT job and Area 161 can be my night job. That is very important to me. I realize that we won’t be an amazing company til I’m FT on Area 161. However, I realize I won’t be able to go FT on Area 161 until we release some games, which requires I spend some decent hours on it before I go FT.

Contracting tends to be feast and famine. Let’s face it. At times, contract work dries up. You find yourself with a week or month with nothing to do. Most folks dread that because they don’t plan for it. I, on the other hand, will not only plan on it but look forward to it. During that time, I’ll be able to pretend that I’m FT on Area 161. I’ll be able to work 12+ hours a day on the game while sending some emails out to line up work. It will help expedite the goal of being FT indie game maker that much quicker.

Another aspect of contractor work vs FT work is stimulation. When you’re on a contract gig, there’s a sense of urgency. Every hour you spend is an hour someone has to pay you. Therefore, they don’t waste time. The lay the work on thick and throw you right at the big problems that need to be solved. I find that emotionally invigorating and intellectually stimulating. Compare this to FT work where you have meetings, work on never ending tasks, do more maintenance vs engaging work, etc. This drains me emotionally and intellectually. This in turn affects my energy to work on Area 161. If I’m jazzed and excited about work, then I find it very easy to transition to working on my game code. Therefore, I’m looking forward to having that moving forward as well.

Contractor Achievement Achieved

Feelers are out and prospects are looking good. Hopefully soon, the contractor achievement will be re-unlocked. In addition to just plain contracting, there’s other systems in play behind the scenes. I have laid out plans for 2012 to act as a angel investor of sorts to Area 161. By that, I mean, I can see a way to take advantage of a new technology window in 2012. If I pull off the plan, I’ll create a nice little “nest egg” to use as the funding for Area 161. If I’m going to have a day job, it may as well be helping me towards my indie game dev goals.

If you happen to need some iOS help on your game or non-game project, don’t hesitate to reach out. We do plain old app development as well as game app development. No guarantee on availability, but hopefully, our schedules can match up and we can build something fun together. If I’m booked, then I’m sorry. I won’t be taking on “sidework”, because I’ll be working on my games! :)

3 Responses to “I Can Handle 2 Jobs and Family Duties, But Not 3”

  1. Josh Jones says:

    Awesome read! I’m pretty much in the same boat as you (minus the kids). Got the FT thing going on plus contract gigs.

    I hope to make the plunge within the next year but who knows? Does your family ever get annoyed by how much you work?

    • LordBron says:

      Glad you liked it! Yeah, kids demand a lot of time. It’s pretty easy though since time with them is really just relaxing time. Whereas with the spouse, it’s “go do this or go do that” type deal which winds up draining you.

      My family really doesn’t realize how much I work. This is because a lot of the extra takes place when they’re not around. For instance, 1 am to 6 am is probably my most productive time. I can do *a lot* in that 5 hour block, more so than any other block in the day. That’s why I go to bed at 8:30 pm with the kids, so I can get up early and work. This then allows me to take a break between 8 and 11 to help prep the kids for school and drive them to school. The kids get home around 4 but then go play with their neighborhood friends. Therefore, I’m not needed again by them until 6ish. Then i hang with them til bedtime (again, 8:30 pm). My wife chats with me whenever she wants. I think what helps is that all her family is here by us, so she has 3 sisters, her mom and dad to chat it up with, etc.

  2. [...] just wanted to take a moment to give an update from our last post. I wrote about how I needed to get back to one FT job to allow me to work on games as my second job [...]

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