A week in the life of a fortunate freelancer


This week marks the 6th month since I went rogue.

After 18 years of full time 9-6ing it (and that too has been a journey: 9-6 became 8 to 8 became 24 hours shifts became 9-12 became 9-6 again – a veritable hero’s journey, if you please), I chose to fall back on my own skills and test them out in the open market.

The blog post below is not a brag or even a humblebrag. It’s an attempt to

  • Document my my own wonder with and coping strategies for doing what feels like 30 different things.
  • Be grateful that without hardselling, things have landed in my lap, mostly because people I’ve worked with in the past have insisted on working with me some more – the best kind of endorsement!

So, context. At the moment, I’ve my hands full working with:

Company 1: 3rd innings with the person who runs it.

Company 2: My longest work association yet, a group of constantly learning and wise people developers.

Company 3: A sharp group of youngsters working in tech/design and ask hard questions.

Company 4: A retail/ service business I’ve invested in, in more ways than five.

Company 5: A fledgling idea, a chance to work with kids and work for sports again with my own people.

Company 6: A beautiful and earnest organisation working on grassroots entrepreneurship.

So, my week looked like:

Monday Tuesday
Company 1: hiring. compensation revision & PR planning Tuesday
Company 2: Personalised reports for participants leadership communication skills Company 6: Tightening hiring process, writing & reviewing competences, charting out a learning plan, all of these in collaboration with different folks
Company 3: Writing about technologies and design software Company 1: Compensation rollout with a very different cultural set, 400m down the road from the guys above
Company 4: Coaching convo with the leader about expansion. Recce for a treasure hunt Downside: work went on upto 7.30pm, and made me miss my Yoga class
Company 5: Crafting stories for an improv storytelling session for audience aged 6-10 Upside: Managed to get a walk in the morning
Wednesday Thursday
A couple of telephonic interviews for company 6 Company 4: 6.30am Rajyotsava Treasure Hunt for 26 people. Organised breakfast in the 2 hours they were gone – learnt about viscosity, bonding and status from the entrepreneur in charge. Judged photos of hunters, announced winners.
A few reports for Company 2 needed tweaking  Returned to colonial bungalow of the day before, where boardgames were in progress for Town Talkies, an initiative to bring the community closer. Only in Cooke/ Richards Town, y’all!
Sales call for Company 5 Ran from there to a friend’s birthday lunch for a friend-and did a thing I seldom do-hang with women my age.
Went 4km from home to the tree-surrounded office of Company 3 in CBD, to talk about content as well as performance systems Took some time to be grateful for my sanctuary, and celebrated my first Greenybrownyversary.
At company 4, enjoyed some downtime, appreciating friend revel in new bike kit. Reviewed social media posts printed treasure hunt handouts. Checked in on a pup and it’s mum currently in residence (Yep, this is work. But I don’t get paid for it. The fuzzy furry puppy therapy benefits are real) Took an escalation call from the boss at  company 1 about something that I thought was under control but was not. Bye bye quiet time this week, reprioritisation needed. A couple of walks later, the schedule got sorted
Put up a blog post on my foodscape for Oct. (so proud of myself for taking care of my nutrition needs with integrity, and factoring for sickness Made red sorrel chutney with freshly sun-dried leaves for the person who gives me all the bounty from her garden
Offered support for a collaborator working for a small batch nut butter company, to be present at her stall at a Diwali party for the Silver Surfers Club. At this colonial bungalow, got asked to dance by a 60 something dapper young man. So, I had my 5 minutes of Vincent Vega-Mia Wallace moment doing the Twist to the strains of Chubby Checker. Longest day in a while, with the day ending at 11pm
Friday Saturday
The day started at 5am, with 3 reports for company 2 created and uploaded. Each of these takes an hour to make. 6am: Reviewing reports for Company 2
A short mind-clearing walk, and hit the road, 4km, to company 1. Got tasks under control with much smiles, nods and assurances that I’m not going to out anyone or make anyone look bad. Taking accountability is a wonderful thing 8am: A ride to some low flying clouds on a friend’s new Bonneville. A bike ride after eons, and glad to stay, after a few minutes of initial trepidation, I still love bikes more than any other form of transport.
Talk to boss of company 5 about expansion plans. And plan to engage the toughest audience on earth – kids! Got dinner out of this. A short mentoring session for an artist almost in residence, helped her think of possible beautful Bangalore places to paint. This surely doesn’t count as work
9pm: reviewing numbers for Company 1 3 hours of prepping and finally performing for kids at Lightroom Bookstore, for The Flying Disc School of India. My brother Arvind, friend Naveen and I did improv storytelling: the kids hold cards, and throw it at some point. We pick the card up and include it into the story, and tell a coherent story through which they learn something about how the sport works. Phew! Those kids put us through our paces.
11pm: Writing the stories for the next day’s storytelling session with kids and hand painting  cards for this

Winding down for the week, here’s stuff that I can recall helped me deal with a week full of quick pivots, throwing long shots, making gut decisions, and more.

  • Knowledge of my own best working hours and when to schedule what kind of tasks. Thanks, Dan Pink & When.
  • Looking at my calendar, the first thing in the morning, then visualising how I will go about my day. Small things like work clothes for the day being ready, is a given.
  • The freshly learnt skill to switch from HR to learning to writing to strategising and do it quickly.
  • The ability to keep myself going: the right food and nourishment at the right time. having a stocked larder helps. The ability to remember when I’m running out of coriander or that I need some ginger, and knowing where in my various work trips, will I be able to stop and get these. Consciously hydrating helps loads!
  • Putting the phone aside and having scheduled time to look at messages and emails. Having all notifications except calls on mute helps heaps!
  • A couple of trusted advisors. I can choose to whinge, or choose to play back how I dealt with something. They replay to me what they heard that was good and find something to appreciate. Sometimes they just listen and say, “Rough day. There there.”
  • The promise to myself, to get 8 straight, no matter what. No rest, no giving your best.
  • The reminder that, life, with its vagaries is still precious. And so, in the middle of  work, I went to a favourite restaurant of a friend I miss, drank his favourite Cafe Colada, and silently toasted him, and promised myself that I’d try to live as he did – fearlessly and giving love.


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