Down Time


Now that we are officially one week into 2011 I would feel funny writing about my new years resolutions: especially since a number of them (*ahem* send birthday greetings out to friends on time *koff*) I’ve already broken. Heck, if I’m honest with myself I didn’t really manage to make any formal resolutions at all; I formed rather nebulous personal goals instead.

The only nebulous personal goal that I managed to produce for the year is to focus on dedicating my work time to actually working, home time to homemaking, and down time to doing my own thing. This has proved to be more difficult that I expected and I blame the laws of the space/time continuum. It is, after all, supposed to be impossible in our humble dimension to be in more than one place at one time. How is it, then, that I can be at home and at work at the same time? Or in down time while at work? Or be working  at home in down time?

Every morning my alarm goes off at 5:15. You know the classic adage about “waking up in the morning at the time you used to go to bed” as being a sign of growing up and/or turning into ones parents? Yeah. That’s me.  Some days I go downtown to my office, where, due to an unfortunate circumstance regarding my commute, I arrive a full hour and a half before the work day begins. So I’m at work, and yet in down time. I used to fill this time with the drinking of coffee and the surfing of the web, but my new goal is to spend this hour strictly working on personal projects- anything that I want to do so long as I’m not doing it for anyone else. So far it’s worked out pretty well, but then so far I haven’t had any looming deadlines, major holidays, or unorganized bills to tempt my away from this personal time.

Some days, thanks to a forward thinking employer, I work from home. This gets rid of the troublesome morning commute, but fills in the gap with a new problem: now I need to be in two places at once: I need to be at work while at home. I used to fill out this “work” time with the doing of laundry and cleaning of house, but my new goal is to spend the hours of 9-5 at my desk working, just like I would be doing if I were in the office. There are two challenges to this goal, though; the first is avoiding the distraction- nay, the temptation of the undone housework around me that I could so easily be doing at the expense of my own career ambitions, and the second is getting other people to take my at-home work hours seriously. People who finish work earlier than 5pm, for instance and who recognize the intrinsic convenience of having someone at home. It is hard to disagree: sure, it only takes 15 minutes to put away the dishes in the kitchen, but I’m supposed to be at work. If I don’t take my work hours seriously then who will?

On top of this I still try to designate one hour of my morning at-work-at-home time to personal down time the same way I do on days when I get into the office at Ohgod in the morning. Is it hard to resist the temptation of doing housework when I am at-work-at-home? Yes. Is it hard to resist the temptation of doing housework AND getting a jump start on work-work when I’m at-work-at-home? Doubleplusyes!

Experts project that this nebulous personal goal will probably last until next weekend… Martin Luther King day tops. And they would know, cuz, y’know, they’re experts.

I guess it’s no surprise that I’m having so much trouble keeping my new years resolution: after all, it seems I resolved to live my life in a space/time paradox of being in more than one place at the same time. But on the bright side I guess no one will be very mad if I fall off the resolution wagon. It may mean there are a lot fewer splinter universes out there, of course, but at least I’ll get to drink coffee and surf the web again.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on January 7, 2011.

2 Responses to “Down Time”

  1. You have discovered one of the biggest problems all women seem to have getting respect for work that doesn’t require the punching in of a time clock. When I owned the gallery, people could never understand that I was not willing to close the business and take a 2 hour lunch…after all, I owned it! Disciplining oneself is hard enough, but disciplining others is even harder. Right now I have a self-discipline problem due to a scattered brain and too much paperwork dealing with settling our estate matters, writing letters, doing hospital auxiliary work, housework, vehicle maintenance, pet care. I can’t seem to get anything dusted, much less get out the vacuum. You can do this. Set a timer. You do get coffee breaks even at a timecard punching job. Take them and kick back and relax.

  2. “Doubleplusgood” — haven’t seen this Orwellian phrase in a LONG time! It’s nice to know that the classics are still appreciated. 😉

    I wholly understand the problem of working at home and actually concentrating on work while still having to deal with all other kinds of incidental things. And the problem with the space/time continuum is that our brains seem to WANT to multi-task. At least, I know my brain does. Usually, though, I let the backbrain deal with problems that I encounter, trusting that it will steer me towards the correct solution, how to plug up that plot hole, how best to format that bit of action, or whatever I throw at it. That leaves the active brain to handle both my current tasks and the little side tasks that seem to flit in and around the main tasks like moths around a high-wattage bulb.

    It’s when one adds in non-self-originated distractions that the illusion of “getting something done” come crashing down like a house of cards. Oh well — you can learn to pick up where your train of thought got derailed; it’s an acquired skill, and one well worth learning. 😉

    Still, I can’t imagine getting up at o-dark-thirty! Just can’t do it. I used to be able to do that, but not any longer. 😦 Such is life.

    Good luck with the rest of your New Year resolutions!!

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