Saturday Night’s Alright (For Writing)

When you work for yourself you soon find what hours are the most productive for you. I was reflecting on this when I found myself in a Hanoi-style cafe in Saigon on a saturday night. I usually walk around everywhere with my laptop, but this night I only had my notepad and pen at hand. With the combination of Vietnamese coffee and the atmosphere of the cafe, it was the ideal saturday night out for me.

At the office - Ho Chi Minh City
[At the office any day of the week in Ho Chi Minh City (Photo by Legal Nomads)]

Before I became self employed, saturday nights were prime working nights. In the year before I became a full time digital nomad I was living in Dublin working a 9-to-5 job, and taking overtime whenever I was offered. In my spare time I would work on my website projects. Even with a full time job I would find 5 hours a day to work on my own business.

When you are working for someone else the weekends become your business weekdays. In Dublin I didn’t have internet in the share house I was living in (this was 2003) so I would spend many hours in net cafes. I found one place that was open 24 hours and they used to have an all night special where for a few Euros you could stay all night. It was mostly gamers there on those long nights and I used to wonder if anyone else was doing non-gamey things.

One saturday night around 2am (sunday, technically), a couple of drunks burst through the door. One yelled out “Look at all the nerds bahahaha!”

Everyone looked up but I don’t think anyone was bothered by it; they had heard the taunts before.

The interlopers left and didn’t cause any trouble, but I recall looking at them thinking, just you wait – I will be free in a year and you guys will still be drunkenly stumbling around Dublin on a saturday night. The mocking egged me on to make it work, even though at the time I was making no money.

I like working on the weekends, but I still meet the occasional person who looks at me sideways when I say I work everyday.

Friday Night Buzz

On friday nights there is a tangible buzz in the air. Even when you forget what day it is, you can feel it in the air when it is friday. It is the energy exerted from the collective pent-up frustrations of office workers around the world, which is released with exclamations of TGIF while getting blind drunk.

As someone who gave up drinking I’m not a big fan of friday night. It’s ok in Asia but if I’m in lands where binge drinking is something like a sport (UK/Ireland/Australia in particular) I prefer to stay home.

Thank God It’s Monday

Ahh mondays, such a maligned day by so many, but for me it is when order is restored. I can go to any one of my favourite cafes and know I will get a seat, and monday night in Asia (when Europe and the US are getting back to work) my inbox comes alive with new work opportunities.

Foot massages on a tuesday afternoon? Sure, why not

I work on saturday nights but on a tuesday afternoon if a friend calls me up and says lets go for a coconut and foot massage, I down tools/clock off for the afternoon. One of the biggest benefits of working for myself has been the flexible work hours to take leisure when it suits me. It also allows me to travel cheaper by flying during the week, or whenever the cheapest flight option happens to be.

4-Hour Workweek? Not quite

I have no idea how many hours a week I work now. When I first started out it might have been 70 hours a week. These days I would say it is closer to 40 (definitely not 4 hours though!).

I don’t keep track of my hours and I have no desire to. If I feel like knocking out more hours per week I just go with it. If that means I’m working on a saturday night then I’m alright with that.

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  1. Rub it, that’s right. Love your week 🙂

  2. I really needed to read this today James! I’m currently unemployed (after unexpectedly returning home from Sydney) and am trying to use my time wisely but sometimes I think I should or shouldn’t be writing at a certain time in the day so this post is just what the doctor ordered; thanks 🙂

  3. Awesome post! I get a buzz doing things out of time as well. Work on Friday night, massage on Monday morning! 🙂

  4. Yes! I love a quiet weekend night, too….to work or not to work, either way. I hear you on putting in the hours, but I guess we look at it as a “labor of love!”

  5. Lovely meditation. That’s what it’s all about. Finding what works for you. Independent of the forces that suggest otherwise.

  6. As a fellow freelancer, I can totally relate. Sometimes it can be hard always being “on” and never having an out-of-the-office mentality but agree the flexibility is definitely worth it. And love the bit about Fridays. Very infectious!

  7. Yes!! I’m normal! Thank you for writing this, I feel so much better for knowing I’m not the only one.

  8. Good to see a post about nomad culture and lifestyle design. Better than the generic travel photo with brief paragraph posting routine that you have been in lately. Will you ever tell us how you earn a living, how you managed to buy real estate with overseas freelance finances, and what projects you are working on? Have you done the same thing every day for the past 10+ years or has your business pivoted with all of the changes in the affiliate marketing, web design and SEO worlds over that time?

  9. Hi James, nice article.

    I always find it interesting to read about others routine.

    I work full time and in my spare time dedicate my time to writing travel articles and developing my travel website. Who knows how many hours I spend doing this, but like you say, it really doesn’t matter so long as you enjoy it.

    Thanks again

  10. Good stuff James! Agreed about happily looking forward to ‘order’ being restored on Mondays 🙂

  11. Hi. Nice article. I also employed full time but when I have time I write. It is so hard to find time after work and write a good and usefull article but on the other hand it is nice to hear goog comments afterwards. As you say it is not hard to work saturdays night when you know why 🙂

  12. Hi James, nice article. I can tottaly understand you how it is. I am also writing a blog and sometimes I am working long hours, but it is worth it 🙂
    Keep up the good work. Emmy

  13. I’m most productive in the evenings too now and find myself getting up earlier to enjoy the day especially when it’s so hot in asia, an afternoon nap is always a godsend

  14. inspiring to know you had such faith in your dreams… that silly drunk is probably hating life due to depression alcohol causes (coming from a drinker haha)

  15. Great post about habits, routines, writing and traveling. Finding that ‘groove’ is so important and the rhythms of the week can aid so much in reminding writers about the passage of time. Great insight!

  16. Hamish Healys says:

    Hi James! You seem to have found your true calling writing about places. Do you have any preference in places? Europe? Asia, Latin America or Africa.? Do you actually, really plan your trips?

  17. If you are doing something you enjoy and have enthusiasm for, it doesn’t matter when or how much you work. Those drunks probably have no idea how free you are now, but you know!

  18. It’s all about time management and dedication. There is a great amount of freedom that comes along with this kind of work.

  19. I’m also one of these people who actually love mondays. Just because it’s a new start, new opportunities to get work done; be inspired to work on your goals. I’ve been to vietnam before and simply adore their cafe culture. Certainly a great place to be to focus on work with all the hustle & bustle going on around you. You just have to make sure not to accidently die crossing the streets 😉

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