Once upon a time, we were alone, plying our OE trade in secret. Well, no more! Many companies have embraced remote work. So, we figured it’s time to share our biggest OE lessons learned from the school of hard knocks. Who knows, maybe you’re an OE old hand who will find this entertaining.
Just a fair warning to the OE newbies, nothing is ever written in stone – bending and breaking norms is second nature to OE. Use what works for you, and discard the rest. The OE life is a continuous grand experiment. Embrace the uncertainty.
Here’s the OE scripture (and by no means religious in any way, shape, or form just having fun):
1. Thou shalt have many other jobs besides this Job (J1)
This goes without saying, OE is a lifestyle. There’s no going back. Life before OE was financially risky, professionally mundane, and personally unfulfilling. Having two jobs unlocks unexpected mental health benefits by reinvigorating our desires to learn and grow. While J1 is easy, we need J2+ for intellectual challenge and life fulfillment. The money is not too shabby either.
Once freed from the anxieties of a single job, many OE newbies stop overworking and start prioritizing life and family. OE also forces you to be more business-minded and disciplined. After all, you’re forcing yourself to do more in the same or less time (just as how companies do all the time). But make sure to interview and job shop every six months to stay sharp.
Hence our first commandment: hold a minimum of two jobs and always be interviewing. You’re more than welcome to do more than the minimum. 3-4Js is the sweet spot for many in our community.
2. Thou shalt not share the same devices across multiple jobs
Sometimes it pays to keep it simple, stupid (KISS). I know it’s hard. We all have a little optimizer in us. Most of us are engineers after all. But for heaven’s sake, keep the hardware of all Js separate. Don’t get all cute and think you’re a genius. It’s a recipe to get caught by the security department. Use the tech setup we recommend and stay away from getting caught.
DO NOT mix the hardware. This includes your mobile phone (don’t be a cheapskate, use an old phone or buy a prepaid phone, or risk your cash flows). Enough said. You’ve been warned.
3. Thou shalt not take the OE name in vain (and not do your jobs)
Ah the good ole churn and burn aka fast “money” OE versus slow “sustainable” OE debate.
First, do your jobs well enough so you get paid every two weeks.
Second, burn and churn is not sustainable because you then need to always interview and onboard – a recurring overhead. However, burn and churn may be necessary if the jobs turn out to be an OE nightmare. Quit while you’re ahead and save your own sanity.
Finally, OE is like running a marathon. Don’t burn out after the first couple of miles by running too fast. Take your time and find the ideal OE jobs. Plan to work these OE gems long-term until you reach financial freedom.
The goal of OE is to finish the race and get to financial independence (FI). No one said you have to do it in record-breaking time. Power walk instead.
And oh, if you OE with 5Js for six months and then burn out, that’s not OE. It’s called a cash grab at the expense of long-term physical and mental well-being.
Long-term thinking > short-term thinking. Think about it (pun intended).
4. Remember the Sabbath day and keep your boundaries
Sabbath – the day of rest. If you’ve been OE for a while, you know how important it is to set hard boundaries. If you don’t, then your Js will eat you up and spit you out. And once your brain is fried, good luck getting back into the OE game.
Practically speaking, this means building up good start and stop work routines:
- Write down in advance what you’ll accomplish for the day. Our favorite is the 5-year journal
- Writing serves as a morning routine and cue for the reward of work – cash flows and intellectual challenge
- Build in structured breaks – kids and pets are good excuses. So is working out and having lunch like a normal person
- Set a wind-down routine like reading and responding to the last batch of emails and then shutting off for the day. Stand up and walk away from your OE battle station. You’re done.
Remember, you OE so you don’t have to compromise on boundaries. Don’t ever let your bosses encroach on your boundaries.
5. Thou shalt honor thy calendars
If you have problems managing 5-10 work and personal calendars at the same time, then you have no business in being OE. Keep other calendars separate, J1 on J1’s laptop, and J2 on J2’s laptop.
Refer back to commandment #2 and try not to get cute with aggregating calendars and optimizing. Our simplest solution is to cross-check calendars via your mobile phone’s native calendar app.
6. Thou shalt not kill mental health by onboarding multiple jobs at once
A common mistake by OE rookies with multiple offers. While it might be tempting to accept all the offers, take time to consider your mental and physical health first. Read our success stories first before pulling an OE stunt that lands you in hot waters.
Our advice is to start slow. Take a couple of weeks off from J1 to onboard J2. Try the J1 and J2 together for at least a couple of months before scaling up.
If you feel the urge to break this commandment, we understand. You worked hard at landing these jobs and the money can be tempting. Do save your sanity by spreading your onboardings at least one week apart. Mistakes get made when you rush.
7. Thou shalt freeze your TWN to avoid getting caught
Practice good privacy hygiene and exercise your privacy rights. Lockdown as much of your data floating out on the internet.
Read our article on how background checks work and find out all the places to freeze your data. It’s your data and none of anyone else’s business.
8. Thou shalt stay off LinkedIn and social media
Along the same line as freezing your TWN and credit agencies, minimize your social media and online presence and guard your data privacy closely. Check out more on our FAQ.
If you’re an experienced tech worker, like many who OE, jobs will still come to you. You have to do outbound job applications instead of relying on LinkedIn’s inbound job opportunities. Also, by staying off LinkedIn and keeping your resume private, you save yourself from all the recruiter InMail noise and constantly being marketed to by various social media platforms.
So, think of Commandment #8 as mental health cleanse to reduce your digital footprint:
- Start with a Google search of yourself and set up an alert
- Hibernate or delete your LinkedIn account
- Set all social media accounts to the strictest privacy settings or delete them
9. Thou shall not bear false witness on someone who is OE
Ok, let’s get this one out of the way. Is OE lying? Not really. It’s being practical.
First, lying by omission cuts both ways. If you, the employee, are expected to tell HR (whose job is to protect the company) you’re OE, then companies should tell you six months in advance when they plan to lay you off. But does that happen? Almost never.
Just ask anyone who has been laid off right before their annual bonus or stocks vesting. We’ve been there. Companies don’t play fair.
Second, companies get into contract disputes with other companies all the time. That’s why they’re staffed up with in-house lawyers. Now, think of OE as your business, and you’re the CEO running your company-of-one. Contract disputes happen. But that doesn’t mean OE is illegal. Most NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) and one-sided employment contracts are paper tigers: not enforceable in court and not worth the time to try.
Just remember, companies’ outside employment policy and conflict of interest guidelines are just that, policy and guidelines. They are NOT “laws” that give companies and bosses the right to own you or all of your time.
Finally, this goes without saying, don’t be nosy and go snitching on others who may or may not be OE. Whether you choose to OE or not, it’s none of your business how others make their money and vice versa.
10. Thou shalt not covet another OE-er’s lifestyle or income
This is a classic scare mindset at play. “You’ve got yours, now I need to get mine.” Coveting what others have is the start of an ugly road down a life of unhappiness. Instead, just focus on yourself and run your own marathon.
We get it. To compare is to be human. Our brains are hardwired to gauge our standings in the OE pecking order. There will always be someone who OE and makes more than you, as well as others who OE and earn less.
Be content and happy you’re OE-ing in your own way, and finding your own path to financial freedom and happiness. Remember it’s more about the enjoying journey than reaching the destination faster.
A mindset of scarcity (which breeds jealousy and unethical behavior) is due to a disdain for those things easily obtained.Seneca
What OE has taught me
What OE has taught me is anything is possible if you’ve got the right mindset, imagination, and attitude. You CAN choose to live a new and better lifestyle, it starts with having the guts to admit the old way (work until retirement) isn’t working and the OE way is better.
We’re only at the beginning of a new way of working, one which unlocks the 4-Hour Workweek lifestyle in a massive way. I’m already looking forward to my next challenge: going on repeated mini-retirements with my family (yes, do get envious and motivated to do the same).
What OE has revealed is mindset and imagination are all you need. The simple act of choosing to OE has led me to endless possibilities of what’s next. OE is the new nouveau riche (new, new “stealth” rich) accessible by many.
So, I’ll leave you here with my 10 OE commandments. Do as you wish, but don’t let others tell you “OE cannot be done” or “it’s impossible.” Your life. Your call. Welcome to the OE lifestyle.