Only when I stopped seeing busyness as a badge of honor, could I see — and meet — my needs
Back in the days of my Blogger blog, my name read “Busy all the time.”
I wore my busyness like a badge of honor, an in-joke with the other overworked and underpaid cooks who worked two jobs, sometimes three to afford rent in the most expensive city in the country. I let that busyness define me with the same sort of pride that I admired the burn scars on my arm — when the great cooks understand that pride comes with not getting burned in the first place.
An average week was me working 6 days per week with one day off and one double shifts — so seven shifts across six days, two of which had me getting up after four hours of sleep and biking to work because public transit wasn’t yet open. I worked a damn lot and I actually didn’t complain because I loved what I was doing and I was learning a lot and I was in my early twenties and, honestly, didn’t think I deserved better.
As a result of all that work, I’m now extra cautious about how I spend my time. I know what it’s like to work when the work-life-money balance is unbalanced (low-wage work in pricey city), and I am learning what it’s like to work with, you know, boundaries and standards.
Since I’m self-employed now, the way I’m able to gauge the work-life-money balance is by keeping a close eye on how much time things take me, then seeing where I can improve. A simple improvement I’ve made is doing the paying work at the time of day when I’m most alert for that instead of in the post-lunch sleepy period where I’m more likely to do administrative tasks or professional development.
To get as accurate a picture of my productivity as possible, I time track not just the work-related things but personal stuff too. At the moment, categories I’m tracking include:
- morning routine (my 45-minute, keeping-up-to-date-while-drinking-coffee to-do list)
- individual clients by client name
- professional development
- essays or things I’m writing on spec (rare — and usually essays hence the coupling)
- WIP by WIP name