AMA: Tell Me More About Don Jones

James writes:

I want to know more about the life of Don Jones. I’ve followed much of your work, and am quite inspired by your success and the path you’ve taken to get there. But I don’t know much about you beyond the technical side of things other than what I’ve read from Be the Master. I don’t mean to pry or get TOO personal here; just wondering what a week is like in the life of Don Jones. This is more so a way for me to gauge and then improve how I am balancing and spending my time. How early do you have to wake up or how late to go to bed in order to have time for work but also dedicate time to your family? You mentioned adapting to a gym routine – and how fo you fit that in to your day? Is there ever any time for recreational hobbies or things outside of your normal work routine you don’t have time for, etc.

I hope you’ll ask a question, too.

Good thing I don’t feel like doing my actual job today ;). I’d start with my About Me page, if you haven’t. It’s fascinating and has jet fighters in it.
I’m kind of a morning person. I’m usually up around 6:30am, 7:00am, partly because a lot of the people I work with are an hour or two ahead of me (time zones), so I kind of align my work day to theirs for convenience. Three times a week (usually), I hit the gym in the morning with a trainer, and I usually try to go an additional day or two on off-days. Gym gets blocked on my calendar, so everyone respects that time. I’m usually in bed by 10pm, although sometimes I’ll “go” to bed earlier and read for a couple of hours.
From there, my day kind of breaks into one of two models. Some days, it’s a heads-down effort on a single thing, usually writing. Most days, due mainly to the nature of my job, it’s flitting from task to task and decision to decision. I schedule out the heads-down days, so people know not to bother me unless it’s important. I live by my calendar; if someone needs something from me, they schedule a time. We use Slack at Pluralsight, so even though I’m remote I can still largely participate in the kind of ad-hoc conversations that keep the business running every day.
Because I was independent for so long (around 13 years), I have a real fear of being entirely disconnected for my work. We do take an annual 2-week vacation to either O’ahu or Aruba, but I tend to take some work with me. I’ll write in the mornings (or record an audiobook), answer a couple of emails, and just keep an eye on Slack throughout the day from my Watch. See, for me, it’s less about the holiday – being away from work entirely – and more about the vacation – vacating my usual scenery for something different. I get plenty of relax/pool/bar/beach/whatever time, and the compromise keeps me from getting stressed about my backed-up Inbox toward the end of the trip. We do a third week to Puerto Vallarta every year which is a true shut-off-the-devices holiday. Change of scenery is a big deal to me; it keeps me fresh. We bought/inherited a Fortress of Solitude Cabin in Utah, which is about a 3.5 hour drive, and we escape there frequently in the summers. It’s got Internet, so it’s basically my second office. Again – the change of pace, scenery, and schedule is what’s important, not the lack of work. I like my work.
“Family time” happens all the time. I’m kidless (by design), but my partner (we just married, and technically I’m “Gannon-Jones” now, but I’m keeping “Don Jones™” for work since that’s what I’ve been known as for so long) and I go out several times a week after work’s done. We’ll walk down to a local bar, see a movie, or whatever. We’re both very much engaged in my overall career, so many evenings we’ll hash out the details of the next PowerShell Summit, or talk about where my career is going, or whatever. Partner isn’t a convenient euphemism; it’s a very literal description of how we work together in life. I can’t stress enough how significant that’s been in my success, because we actually have two people working on that success, not just one. We don’t run into a ton of couples in that situation.
I don’t have a ton of actual hobbies. We get to a Disney park at least once a year, usually Disneyland; Walt Disney World is an every-other or every-third year trip. When I was still independent, we’d have the odd year now and then where we just did really well financially, which enabled us to pick up the timeshares we use at WDW, and in Aruba and Hawaii. Those have made the fancy vacations possible, because our lodging is essentially paid for. We can hit a grocery store to reduce eating-out expenses, and usually use Amex miles to defray the cost of the flight, and so they’re actually cheap vacations. That was a deliberate plan, because then even in down-years, we can still afford to go somewhere nice, even if we can’t party it up while we’re there.
Writing is actually a hobby, as well as part of my job, so that works out really well.
In terms of “how do I focus on where I want my career and life to go,” I actually have a workbook I write in every week for that purpose. It’s a really specific life-planning exercise, and I’m building it into the 2019 edition of Be the Masterwhich you’re welcome to take a look at. There’ll be an actual workbook, too – I’ve got a dozen folks going through the routine now to see if I need to change it to make it a bit more broadly applicable and useful.
Hope that helps 😉 but please feel free to ask follow ups!

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Thanks Don! So good to read and get to know you more. Hopefully I can save enough to come meet you and Jason for one of your workshops, or even boot camp! That is one of my goals to go further in my career. Great hearing from you!