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Just The Tip: Feel Guilty Anytime You’re Not “Being Productive”?

In: Just The Tip,

I wrote today’s tip earlier today about copywriting. It was pretty fucking good, actually. I might have even made a joke about ham.

But then I stalled.

I hated the tip.

The tip was useful, for sure. The tip was original, most definitely. And the tip was something that some people might have even printed out to remember later.

But the fact is? I’m not interested in later. 

How many pieces of advice do you have bookmarked somewhere for later? How many notes did you take so you could reference them later? How many books did you buy because you thought you’d read them later?

That tip would have been one more thing you added to the pile of later. 

So I left it in draft form. And I opened a new blog post. And I decided to write this instead.

Because I want to say something that’s going to matter now, not later.

And that something isn’t about copywriting. It isn’t about marketing. It isn’t about selling. And it isn’t even about business.

It’s about your life.

Because right now, that is what matters. Not because it’s 2014 or because of some other glossy optimistic horseshit. But because,

If you don’t get a life, you won’t have a business. (Or anything else. Not even stale curly fries.)

I saw a blog post this morning from a girl who was pretty pissed off about what I wrote yesterday.  She was defensive. Reactive. Trying hard to rationalize her behavior to the world. Apparently, she had recently committed one of my (incredibly opinionated) top “business crimes” for 2014: She put the ubiquitous “In an attempt to be productive…” disclaimer in her email signature line regarding which times of day she would be responding to emails, “as a courtesy to her clients.”

But I could hear the apology through her words. The words that so clearly said, “Please don’t be mad at me, client, I need to shower?” The words that said, “Take it easy on me, I’m doing the best that I can.” The words that so clearly tried to justify that she did, in fact, have a life. 

And this struck me. Over the head. Without a helmet.

Because usually when you start a business, you end up having to defend the fact that you have a business to everyone in your life. The late nights working. The non-stop emails. The Twitter culture that no one understands. And the fact that, no, I cannot run your fucking errands in the middle of the day.

But more and more, I’m seeing the opposite:

People desperately feeling the need to defend the fact they have a life…to their business.

And it’s on that note that I’m going to get down on bended knee, canoodle your hand, look up at you with big fawnish doe eyes, AND THEN SLICE YOUR PANTS SO I CAN TATTOO THIS ON YOUR KNEE CAP:

Pleasepleaseplease remember that, despite every Pinterest board you’ve ever set your eyes on: Your life is not actually measured by the number of breaths you take, or (WAIT FOR IT) “by the moments that take your breath away.” (Because if that were really true then my life is measured by Jillian Michaels DVDs. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, THAT WOMAN.)

But, rather, your life is measured by—surprise!—absolutely nothing at all. 

(And that incredibly optimistic message is the one I wanted to shower you with today.)

Look. Nobody’s grading you. Nobody’s keeping score. Nobody’s sitting behind the curtain, waiting to reveal you as some evil fraud. And if we’re being honest?  You’ve been so busy that you don’t even know what your life is measured by, either. 

All you’ve been thinking about lately are the things your business is measured by. Subscribers. Sales numbers. Profit margins. Stats.

But what about the number of inside jokes you have with your lover? Have you been measuring those? Or the number of times “Achy Breaky Heart” came on the radio and you belted out every single (godawful) word? How about the number of minutes you actually spent admiring the Christmas tree this year? Did you even spend any? Or the days when—shocker—you didn’t open the computer?

Start measuring those.

Because if I could give you any tip?

The last thing you want is for the actual people in your actual life—

To unsubscribe.

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Just The Tip: Don’t Invent a Product Name. Engineer One.

It’s 4:30 in the morning and I’m boarding a plane to Nicaragua. Today’s tip should really be: Don’t board a plane before you having at least one successful hour being awake. It’s bad enough trying to successfully stumble to the bathroom in the middle of the night; try stumbling through a gigantic metal maze of […]

In: Just The Tip,


How to become an unf*ckwithable freelancer

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96 thoughts on "Just The Tip: Feel Guilty Anytime You’re Not “Being Productive”?"

  1. I have to tell you that this post resonated with me a LOT more than yesterday’s post. While I appreciated the tips & standards sassiness in yesterday’s post, the tone struck me as different than your usual – meaner than usual, frankly, in a way that I found off-putting, & for a bit, I seriously considered unsubscribing because even when someone’s giving me useful tips, I don’t want to be yelled at or called arrogant or told to “fuck off, please,” or whatever.

    To be clear, I’m doing DOING #1 (the “I only check my email…” email), but I can see how someone who does that would feel like a fucking idiot moron & feel really, like, sad & berated after reading that very first point in yesterday’s point. Of course that girl was defensive! She’s doing something she thought was good, polite business practice, & your opening line is “Fuck off, please.” People come to you because you tell it like it is, but you also tell them WHY it’s like it is – the why behind the what, & in my opinion, yesterday’s post had the what -“You’re an idiot if you do this” – but it didn’t necessarily have the why, the part that makes it all click & fall into place.

    I’m glad I didn’t unsubscribe, because today’s post, this post, is what I hope for & love from you – the part that tells me WHY I shouldn’t do all these bad business practices, that’s honest & real & sassy but, & here’s the key, still supportive. This post is why I’m here, & I appreciate it. So thanks. Carry on.

    1. Ash Ambirge says:

      🙂 Yes, indeed, to all of it. I actually had a nice conversation with the girl in the comments of her blog, but you’re right – sometimes, I just lay it on the line because the echo chamber of sugar coating everything gets old. But – the entire point is to be useful and supportive as well. Glad you’re still here @GreatestEscapist:disqus.

  2. Erin says:

    Yes, yes, yes! God, it’s so easy to forget this. I always feel like my life is measured by my business’ success–when that couldn’t be farther from the truth! This year I’m trying to make more time for me, and more time to actually live my life!

    1. Ash Ambirge says:

      I HATE the word balance, but…I guess balance? 🙂

  3. Lisa McKenna says:

    “And the fact that, no, I cannot run your fucking errands in the middle of the day.”

    Preach that girl!

    1. Ash Ambirge says:

      This is perhaps #1 on my most annoying / difficult / strange thing that no one understands about being in business for yourself (and working from wherever.)

      1. Katie says:

        You know when something is so relatable you burst out laughing after reading it… This would be one of those items.


    2. You know, nobody has actually asked me to do this. I wonder why not, it’s been over a year! #humblebrag

  4. Lisa McKenna says:

    “And the fact that, no, I cannot run your fucking errands in the middle of the day.”

    Preach that girl!