Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Time Paradox

As of yesterday, I am officially receiving a salary again. I've been working for three weeks at my new job and it's nice to know I'm getting paid for that effort. It's also nice to have some established responsibilities again. The life of the househusband certainly has its perks, but it also reinforced something I've long suspected about myself: I don't do very well as my own boss. I have tons of great ideas, but I need external pressure to focus on them. Or a time crunch. The other lesson, or perhaps an extension of the same lesson: I'll take as much time to complete a project as I'm offered. If someone else sets a deadline, well, the project gets done by that deadline. On the other hand, when, as say an unemployed househusband, I find myself with theoretically infinite time, I allow myself to use all of it. You probably get the point, but I'm still going to use my dictatorial power as sole author of this blog to force a few examples on you:

Here is a list of the "projects" I've set for myself during my long hiatus from a salaried job:
  • Write another book
  • Revise and submit the book I did finish (while working my first full-time job, I should add)
  • Build my brother's birthday present from 2008
  • Create a new webpage for the B&B party
  • Keep a blog (you already know how well that one turned out)
  • Learn Visual Basic
The list goes on. Most of those items have been on that list since before I left my LAST job in 2006. The school year didn't help much with timing (the occasional "40 hour day" creates the opposite problem I described above), but it did offer several summers of part-time work when I couldn't say I was busy. And ALL of those items have been on the list since I left school in 2009.

So, with that in mind, here is a list of my "accomplishments" since graduation:
  • Watched 2 seasons of Dexter, 4 seasons of Bones, as many episodes of CSI, NCIS, Psych, NCIS:LA, and Leverage as I could find available on-demand or on Netflix "Watch Instantly" at any given time.
  • Earned roughly 7000 gamer points for achievements on my Xbox 360 (for reference: Bruce, Pennock, and Lockard are the only people on my friends list who have 7000 points at all, let alone within a 15-month period)
  • Read something like a million books (including lots of WWII histories -an interest kindled after watching the full set of Band of Brothers)
Notice there's not a whole lot of overlap between the two lists. (I don't really want to think about the time-investment that second list represents). Oh, and I helped plan a wedding in there, so that counts for something, but otherwise not the set of accomplishments for which I hoped to use my downtime.

I am learning though. The solution to my "infinite time" dilemma is two-fold:
(1) Create a time shortage
Perfect example, I started a new job three weeks ago and suddenly you're getting your first blog entry in six months (and that one barely counts). Even an artificial shortage helps. Restricting my time on a personal project to specific hours forced me to actually do the work during those hours rather than telling myself I'd have time later and that, in the meantime, it was fine to seek out another secret achievement on my Batman game.
(2) Create external pressure
Part of the reason I returned to the blog instead of retiring it (as I'd been contemplating) is that my Dad asked about it which, for those of you who remember when these columns existed in email form way-back-when, is precisely why I started sharing these thoughts with others to begin with. A more successful example is The League of Extraordinary Writers. I recently assembled a few writer/critic friends into a writer's group where, among other things, we serve as motivation for each other to actually sit down and write something. I respond well to homework, and by gathering others who would expect me to contribute something on a regular basis I've made more progress on my book this summer than in the past three years combined (which is especially sad given how little progress that is BUT, thanks to the group, it IS accelerating and I'm really excited about that).

Do I have my project completion issues completely resolved now? Probably not, but I am at least working on most of these actions again. I've already begun to tackle that project list again and, at the very least, the list of "accomplishments" above certainly contains several noteworthy opportunities for review-style blog entries. Maybe I'll actually get around to writing some of them now that I don't have the time.


Cassie said...

Glad to see you updated the blog, Rob! Keep it up. :)

TheEngineer said...

Glad to see you're back on the bandwagon. Your posts are always thoughtful and hilarious, which is hard to do.