I just saw someone post on a forum somewhere that his blood pressure dropped significantly after leaving a toxic job situation.
Have you ever had a situation where you hated your job so much that the stress levels were through the roof? I've been there. I pray I never have to go back. Life is too short to be miserable at the things you do.
But what about delivering for Grubhub, Doordash, Uber Eats or any of these gig apps? How does that work? How does all the crap that happens with delivery apps fit into this situation? Is it possible to enjoy what we do as gig economy couriers?
Do you love what you do?
I was answering a tax question in a forum and someone said I'm in the wrong line of work. Not sure if she meant I should go do taxes, but I've never felt more like I was in THE right line of work for me.
I love doing delivery. And I love doing this website.
I'm coming up on three years now where I'm not sure I've ever felt this question of, “do I really have to go and do this?”
I feel incredibly lucky. Almost every day, I get to do this stuff that I enjoy the heck out of. I get to make a living doing things I enjoy. I'm not getting rich by any means, but it's enough, you know?
I should walk that back a little. We often have no clue exactly how rich we are. I've been through some incredibly difficult and tight times financially. But even then, my life still was pretty luxurious compared to what a lot of people have. All that to say that “rich” is a matter of perspective.
And really, a lot of this loving what you do IS a matter of perspective.
A noticeable difference when I started delivering.
You may have heard my story before, so I apologize if I'm repeating it for you. I was business manager for a small nonprofit. It was a great place, they did some great things, but I was wanting to launch some personal projects where it was just not going to be so easy to do with a regular 9 to 5.
Early in 2018 I left that position and I picked up delivery work. I figured I could tolerate it, you know? And eventually maybe pick something else up.
It's been a whole lot more than tolerating. It was actually enjoyable. I've got this weird mix of introvertedness and extrovertedness, and delivery work was like a perfect fit for both sides. I got enough contact with enough people without it being too much.
But here's the thing that I never thought about when starting to do this. I could go out and deliver for hours on end and not come home uptight about anything. I went to bed without stewing over what ever project or meeting or whatever was coming up.
I've never had it like this where work wasn't following me home. Stress was so much less doing delivery. And the amazing thing was, it paid better.
I'm not alone in that. Listen to a couple of people from the past.
Kevin from FinancialPanther.com
Kevin Ha was a guest on Episode 84. He has worked as a lawyer, yet he talks about how he feels about doing delivery work:
You know, for me, the delivery stuff is just always been so fun because it’s like, it kind of gamified my life. Like, it turns everything I’m out doing kind of little missions. I like how it’s a really task based. So you know, it’s like, you know, exactly you do get this done. Then you’re done with that.
And, you know, compared to like, practicing law were basically it never ended, it was just always going going. And you know, you finish one thing, there’s always more to do. That always bothered me, because I just liked being able to finish something and be done with it.
Yeah. You know, and then, of course, for me, I am a huge biker. I like biking a lot. And so the fact that I could do all my deliveries on a bike really worked out very well for me, and made me enjoy it a lot because essentially, it was like, I was getting paid to do something that I was already doing anything anyway, you know, I was already biking around getting exercise and this is like, I’m getting paid to do this. So that’s why I really liked about doing these deliveries.
Mike from Mike Delivers Podcast
Mike Bisceglia from the Mike Delivers podcast was on episode 78. I've always enjoyed his podcast because he brings out some of the humor and the joy in doing delivery work. I asked him to pick one thing he enjoys the most about delivery work.
My answer would be, I like that when I do it, my sole focus is on the deliveries and doing the job that, in a good way, I sort of forget about all the crap that’s going on in my life. And I get so focused and zeroed in on making sure that I can pick up this burrito and take it to said customer and that I figured out the route and it just kind of puts me at ease and relaxes me. Whenever I felt that I was like in an anxious state, doing these deliveries, maybe I’m putting on some sports radio. I like listening to another podcast that I enjoy and I’m just picking up orders. It seems to calm me down. And then when I’m done, I look and I go, Oh, okay. There’s 170, $72 in my account. That’s pretty cool.
But more than anything, it just, I was surprised with how much it relaxed me now. Granted, of course, there’s going to be times where I’m double parking in places I’m running out and you know, there’s, there’s cars honking behind me. The person’s at the door, not answering the car and it’s a one way street and I’m trying to fit, you know, I’m trying to figure out how to get them the food and not piss off the person behind me. So I’m not saying it’s like, Oh, this is so I’m at a spa getting a massage with champagne, but it just puts me in a good mental place. And I think more than anything, I like that distraction that it gave me and it gives me, and every time I’m usually finished with the day, I have a sense of accomplishment
I really enjoy that. So more than anything, just how it kind of puts my mindset in a good spot.
Delivery isn't always the easiest thing.
I think of what Mike said, “I'm not saying it's like, oh, this is like I'm at a spa getting a massage with champagne.
There are challenges. This CAN be stressful.
The restaurant takes forever.
The customer is hard to find. They don't tip well.
Grubhub and Doordash and Uber Eats are deactivating drivers for ridiculous reasons. Often without any reason given. You don't know when you might be on the verge of losing one of your customers.
And the games they play to try to control you. The support is horrible. If there is any support.
I think it's real easy to let this get to you. I kept mentioning forums today, and the thing is, I see a lot of very miserable couriers out there. This can be just as stressful for some people.
Six Ways to Keep Delivery Enjoyable.
In the 31 Day Courier MBA class that I just ran, the last part of it all was on employee relationships.
Any business has a responsibility to their employees. And you might be saying, yeah, but… I don't have employees.
YOURS may be the greatest such responsibility. As an independent contractor, you are considered to be self employed, right? So what's that tell you about your employee?
Take care of your employee.
One of the most important ways to do so is to create a good work environment. Find ways to enjoy the heck out of what you do.
I know, I know, schlepping food from restaurant to customer doesn't sound like the most fun thing you could do. It may not be your life's dream.
That may be true. I think any profession can be awesome and it can be awful. I do think that a lot of things that can make a lot of traditional jobs feel awful are taken away. We don't have the micromanaging boss or the upcoming performance review. When that happens, we have a lot more freedom to create our own perception.
In the course, I suggested six ways to keep the work atmosphere awesome for your employee.
Remember your why
I think the one episode I recommend the most for people is Episode 3. In that episode of the podcast (and the associated blog post) we talk about understanding your why.
That is so central to not only this, but I think anything you would do.
Why are you doing this? Okay, dig into that why. Take a look at the reason you just provided and ask yourself, why is that important to you? Now, take THAT answer and ask the same question: why does that matter?
What you're doing is drilling down, you're getting into what really matters. You might start with money – but the reason the money is important is, you want to pay the bills. Why's that important? Because it makes sure your family is taken care of.
Your why went from money to your family.
If this is a full time or significant time gig for you, you may be getting into bigger picture things. If you do this on the side, maybe it's to save up for something, or to pay down some debt… what will you do when the debt is paid down?
Just keep asking yourself those kinds of questions.
So now when you're going out, you're not going out to deliver. You're going out to build that vacation fund. You're going out to do something for your family.
Focus on the why more than the what.
Let your why balance what you do
Here's the trap I got into when I first started doing delivery.
I realized that I could go for hours doing this and not get worn down. Not bad for a guy in his 50's right? Twelve hour days were not that hard to pull off.
That meant I could make a lot of money. And it was tempting to pour a LOT of hours into this. It probably wasn't any more than when I was in the business world, to be honest, but you know, family stuff would come up and I'd feel torn. I could be making money!!!
But the thing was, I was realizing that there were reasons that I quit my job and decided on this gig work. But what was I putting into the stuff I wanted to do? There was a point where I made the conscious decision that I wasn't going to work so much that I couldn't do the things I loved. Once I made that decision, I found that my enjoyment of the delivery part of what I was doing went up also.
Create a Great Work Environment
I was seriously thinking about getting a Smart Car back in the day. Easy on the gas, easier to park, it'd be awesome.
Being six foot five inches… I realized that wouldn't be a great idea. It's not easy to get in and out of those things, and if I have to do that dozens of times a day? There gets to be a point where I'd start dreading going out. I would struggle to put in those extra hours.
I've stated before that the most important qualities in a car for delivery are reliability and your ability to enjoy spending several hours in that thing. Gas mileage was not at the top of the list.
If given a choice between a fuel efficient car and a car you enjoy driving, always go with the one you enjoy driving. Getting a car you aren't comfortable in will cost you more than whatever you save in gas, because it will keep you from doing deliveries as much as you can.
Getting a comfortable fuel efficient vehicle is of course even better. But comfort comes first, because this is your work environment.
When I got my Chevy Equinox, the first thing I did was added an Android compatible stereo. It allows me to tap into my phone with the streaming, audio books, podcasts, all of that. I can enjoy my music more this way.
Find ways to make your ride enjoyable. If it's impossible to do so, it's time to look for something else.
Dwell on the good stuff
Is your gas tank half empty or half full?
See what I did there?
I'll tell you my car is an optimist. It has to be. It tells me the tank is half full when it's well under a quarter full.
We can choose the things that we put our attention on.
Say you got a delivery that pays higher than your usual rate. It's a great offer. You deliver it. Then you find out the customer didn't tip. The whole amount was paid by the delivery company.
Which are you going to dwell on? The tip amount? Or that it was still a great paying delivery?
You get to choose.
One of the greatest lessons I ever learned was to focus on the things I can control, not on what I can't. Some customers are jerks. Some restaurant staff are. Okay, so what is stressing out over those things going to do for you? You can't change them, why waste your emotional energy on jerks?
The one that has the most potential to get me frustrated is when the restaurant is far behind. I used to get so steamed over that. But I realized I had two choices: I could move on or I could make use of my time.
If I choose to move on, I've made a productive choice. I can't do anything about time lost up to that point. If it makes sense to wait, that was my choice once again. I'm not at anyone's mercy now. It was worth it to wait.
You get to choose the things that you put your energy and focus on. Choose well, it makes all the difference in how you enjoy what you do.
I loved the way that Kevin said it in the clip I played earlier. He talked about how he could gamify it.
I thought I'd heard the one guy who made the $8300 in a month talk about gamifying it when he was trying to make as much as he could. He'd set goals and focus on beating those.
I might geek out too much on some of this. I keep a spreadsheet with a record of every delivery and a running total of my profit per hour. It's always a fun game for me to see how much I can do. There are times I'll focus more on how many deliveries can I get done. I'll experiment at times with different gig companies and see what those are like.
Set goals. Create challenges. Make it fun.
Take advantage of your time
I mentioned that stereo.
For me, it was the Best. Investment. Ever. (though I'm starting to think that getting my bike converted to an e-Bike may have taken over that spot).
One of the best things to happen to me when it comes to enjoying what I'm doing was when I figured out that I've got a ton of time in the car when I'm on deliveries, and I could do something with it.
I'm driving to the restaurant. Then to the customer. Sometimes waiting for offers.
I figured out that it could be incredibly productive time. It's awesome for listening to audio books and podcasts. I choose stuff that helps me develop. And even the times that I want to just enjoy my music, it's been awesome.
When the pandemic was really becoming real, I took some time off. I saw it as an opportunity to work on some things, and it was great for that. But I found that I really really really missed my delivery time.
It wasn't because of the delivery time itself. I was just more likely to listen to my audio books and podcasts when delivering than when working on things at home.
The thing about it is, I'm getting paid to learn stuff that I can then put to work. It's awesome. It's a great way to multiply the impact of your deliveries.
Make your delivery business an enjoyable one.
And if you can't, move on. Soon.
Life's too short to be miserable with what you're doing.
I feel like delivery is one of those things where we have more control over how much we can enjoy it. We just don't have a lot of the stresses and problems that go with a lot of traditional jobs.
And the things that we do put up with? Sometimes yeah, it's crap. But we also have control over how we look at it.
That stuff doesn't have to control it.
That's part of being the boss. We can choose what we want to dwell on.