Tuesday, April 26, 2011

But Now I Want Days Off

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

I’ve recently managed to get into a similar situation to when I was working security full time and pizza part time, in that I’m getting enough hours to pay my bills. It’s caused some disruption in my normal life. That’s defined as I don’t even know what Farmville is anymore.

Actually, it’s a little more pervasive than that. The big difference from before is that my pizza hours were often daytime hours and my guard hours were night time. This usually left a couple of days to choose from to go out to Nathan’s, and in some cases I was able to go see shows and concerts if there was something I wanted to see. Right now all my hours are evening and overnight. To make matters worse, the time I have off is having to be devoted to either sleeping or running errands, so even if Nathan took off work one day, I couldn’t make it out without losing lots of sleep. I’d still go, but I would be tired. As it is, if this keeps up for any amount of time, I’ll probably have to start going over on a weekend day, so that we can get to completing Season Two before it gets too hot.

The thing is that I’m not even really complaining. Sure it would be preferable if I could pay my bills on a forty hour a week job, but at least right now that’s not my reality. Until it is my reality, I don’t mind the work. My mind always looks for the benefit to the situation. You know, aside from having some money for a while.

I tend to use my time wisely for the kind of project work that is best suited for the job I’m working at a given time. If I’m at a good guard post, I write on my laptop and read books. If I’m at a bad guard post, I write on my phone sending text messages to my email, and read books in my email. If I’m delivering pizza, I listen to audio books, and keep a notebook in the seat beside me for long stoplights. If I’m doing fliers… eh, I don’t really do fliers anymore, but I would find something useful to do.

The thing is that when I’m not working enough, I always sit there and look at my dwindling cash supply and think, “I need to get another job.”

When I’m working a lot, I look at my dwindling personal life and think, “But now I want days off.”

It takes everything in me to just stick with it while I can, especially when I sit down and start reading a book like “If Chins Could Kill” by Bruce Campbell. Let me explain how the book is formatted. He spends a couple of chapters on life as a kid with two older brothers. He spends a couple of chapters on life in high school. He spends a couple of chapters on making short films with his friends. Then he spends half of the book discussing the amazingly focused endeavor that was “Evil Dead.”

They had investors. They took out loans. They set aside two months of their lives to travel out of state to film the movie. Then running out of funds they had to hit the pavement again looking for more funding. Then when they finally had the movie done (and believe me I gave you the short, simple sounding version) they then set out for months and years to sell the movie. I read all of that and suddenly I’m wondering what the hell I’m doing. Paying my bills suddenly seems insignificant.

This is how my life works. I always seem to be pushing and pulling in different directions. Sadly, if I were to cut back my hours immediately it wouldn’t make any difference. Nathan and I only get together one day a week, and the rest of my time is spent doing stuff I could do at work anyway, or stuff that actually squanders my time. At least if I squander my time while on the clock there is a paycheck attached.

I’ve been a lot more focused this time around though. One thing I remember about the old days of two or more jobs is that I would get into a funk while at work, and I wouldn’t really do anything worthwhile with my time. Now I’ve got the right idea in my head, which is that I would thoroughly hate my life if I was working this much and had nothing to show for it at the end of it all.

This makes me think of the couple of times when I didn’t work for a few months, and how neither time did I really use my time wisely. It makes me think, now would be the best time to take a few months off, while you’ve got this mindset of focus. But that’s rationalizing. It’s better said that I shouldn’t have squandered my time when I did take time off, and I shouldn’t squander time while I’m working either.

Basically what I’m saying is that I should quit wanting to change the basic situation as much as I should utilize the situation better. If it means having to lose a few hours sleep on Sunday to go get some Season Two work done then so be it. If it means prioritizing projects that can be done at work then so be it.

They say that when you’re not prioritizing your time for what you want from life that someone else is prioritizing your time for what they want. That’s probably valid wisdom, but I think sometimes it’s easy to get confused by it. It’s not so much that I’m squandering my life to employers as much as I’m not using my work time in the best possible way and I’m not budgeting the money I make in the best possible way either. Not having money can be a lot more expensive than having it.

I have a goal to write 2,190 pages this year, and if I’m smart about my time, I can have that done well before the year is up. I have a goal to organize my stuff and throw away half of everything I own, and if I’m smart about my time, I can get a lot of that done. Later when I’m working less hours, I can shift my focus to all the stuff I’m not getting done right now because I’m at work.

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