Creative Communications

16 July, 2008

Threats of Freedom – Dealing with Downsizing

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sean Canton @ 4:32 pm

Well, it’s finally happened, unfortunately, not in the way I had envisioned. Either in a blazing row or in a carefully crafted letter, I was to leave my job with prospects imminent. However, as the situation went, it was neither passionate or precise. It was “do you have a few seconds” and “we’re reorganizing and you’re not part of the reorganization”. Just like that. Oddly enough, my rantings about Micromanagers were not part of the case against me.

I also believe that my firing was used as part of a company wide morale-boosting through fear. That’s one way to inspire people. Fear. They just announced 4 months of financial solvency, so I think my head rolling is merely an indicator of what is to come.

Of course, the most dreary part was my boss hovering over my shoulder waiting for me to turn off the computer. Where’s my dignity and some shred of privacy, so I can remove my traces of game-playing and job searching from this computer? No, all company property. *sigh*

I did see this coming, the company-wide backup mandate put me on edge. Yet, oddly enough, I arrived feeling good about the work day ahead. I was at 99% with a programming project, and needed to get another developer up to speed on how to work with the framework I built. Oh well, I guess they will have to figure it out…
So, at 9:30am yesterday, July 15th, I looked up at the sky with my box of belongings in hand and felt inexplicably free. Digital ronin.

Step 1: Don’t panic.

My ducks are all lined up, I have some savings, so I can meet rent for this month and next. The first thing I did when I got home is update my availability for every recruiter I’ve spoken to in the past few months. Some possibilities emerged from this.
Freedom is frightening. Along with control comes responsibility, and since most of my waking hours have been in jerk-off responsibility mode, having actual control over how I spend my time is a little frightening. Ok, just installed RescueTime, which I found to be invaluable at giving me an honest look at what I was doing with my time at work.

Step 2: Plan your response.

My little purple pad of paper has all the scattered thoughts that my mind collects over the course of the day. Years of effort could be contained in the tiny little scribbles, “Rails, Flash, SVN”. However, more realistic efforts must be taken in order to preserve my security.
I’ve got feeds from CraigsList & Indeed running into my reader. These are powerful because I can search for items like “Flash” and “Seattle” and it will generate the RSS for these searches. This generates several suitable jobs a day for me to apply to. I estimate it takes nearly 100 applications to land a job by this brute force method, so that’s where universal, modular cover letters come in handy.
Proactively sending out your materials can also prove to be beneficial, although it hasn’t worked for me yet. In Oregon, QualityInfo is a great resource for finding businesses which match your expertise, utilizing the public infosets. Similar resources can be found at your state website.

Step 3: Realize your finances

Brutal honesty and buffer room are key here. I have no inflows and only outflows of money. That’s a difficult time to be in. Despite my efforts I was unable to generate a self-sustaining flow of income that I feel ok about. Alas, the time for pondering is gone, and free time has gone up. I don’t want to be caught by surprise, so I’m estimating that I have two months of living expenses saved up. Roughly August 15th, I’ll be looking for work at Borders, again.
I’m also trying to take into consideration the possible expenditures for advancing my income generation potential. Google Adwords, Business Cards, etc. Maybe I’ll publish my sheet here when finished.

Cash Saved / Cost of Living = Time left

Step 4: Reprioritize your free time

There’s alot of it. Free time, not spent applying for work, waiting for people to get back to you, trying new approaches. Utilizing this free time successfully to educate, inform, exercise and otherwise make myself a better person will be the critical part of how this time is utilized. I think I’m going to start publishing music, since it’s much easier for me to make one hour of music on a piano then to write a 50 page book.
I’d also like to start a small business, doing consulting and/or production. Ramping up clients is the hard part.

Step 5: Profit? Lets see what happens.

Keep an open mind and clear expectations about the future. I don’t deserve anything, yet all is as it is. Not expecting fireworks leaves no room for disappointment, but constantly creating is it’s own reward.

Any ideas for how to prioritize my time effectively?

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