Snapshot of a not so unusual day in the life of Tony, circa May 2011:

8:00: Alarm.
9:00: Stop hitting the snooze button.
9:00:03: Check email.
9:02: Check twitter.
9:03: Click on an enticing looking blog post.
10:15: Realize I just spent over an hour reading about how the iPad is influencing the French elections, and that I was planning on already having gotten to New Work City by now.
10:16: Jump out of bed.
10:18: Shower / cleanup / dress / leave.
10:25: Pick up breakfast.
10:30: Eat breakfast on the train to save time, filling the car with the smell of bacon and likely ruining everyone’s morning. As I eat, I email myself notes about the things I really need to accomplish today.
11:00: Arrive at NWC, long after I intended to.
11:05: Sit down and check my email again, and immediately start working on whatever grabs my attention first. Probably not any of the things I had just emailed myself.
7:30pm-ish: Look up, bleary eyed, and realize that for the past eight hours, I have done some combination of meetings, email, Real Business Stuff, talking to members, eating, talking on the phone, and reading Twitter while trying not to read Twitter. And I’ve made almost no progress on the things I deemed important when I started my day.

I’m bleary-eyed, mentally exhausted, and frustrated. Defeated, I go out or go home, promising myself that tomorrow I’ll focus on getting the important stuff done.

I aim to be in bed by 1:00. I actually go to bed at 2:30.

This sucks.

I’ve spent far more days like this than I’d care to admit. It isn’t fun, and I don’t think it’s all that unusual either. When I worked in an office, I still experienced some of these things, but they were contained. I still pretty much showed up and left around the same time, took a lunch break, and got weekends off.

Now, though, I have nothing but my own personal discipline to keep me in order. As you might have guessed, relying entirely on that is just not going to cut it for me. I’ve been a big believer in independent careers for a long time now, but managing all this stuff effectively is no obvious task. If I don’t change something, this working for myself thing is going to kill me.

Time to devise a solution.

So how do I do something about it? I could, of course, get a job.

Okay, enough of that talk. A job would give me the structure and accountability that I needed, but it would come at the expense of the freedom I had fought to earn. I’ll assume this to be a last resort.

So what if I were able to substitute the good parts of having a job, without actually getting a job? I have a thriving community of independent people all around me. I’m sure most of them are better at managing this stuff than I am, so maybe I can learn from them. Along the way, maybe they can learn from each other too! It is time to start experimenting with that.

Also. Beer Belly.

While we’re at it, I’m out of shape. Not grossly so, but enough that I can feel it. And sometime between “post-college” and “pre-30” my body started telling me it was time to start taking better care of myself. If I’m going to be working on my brain, maybe along the way I can find a way to work on my body too.

It’s time to run a tighter ship. I’m not going to do it alone, so I’m recruiting help.

Do you hit the structure vacuum sometimes? What do you do to try and fix this problem?