Fiction

Organization Is Not My Strong Suit: a.k.a. The Perils Of Multi-tasking

I don’t want to get complacent about my work, but I’m in an “okay” place now. I say, “okay,” because the economy is still in the tank and I cannot assume that my current income stream will be in place come January (or next week even). One of the reasons why I moved was because the rents in my old neighborhood were skyrocketing. I was taking on every random small (and huge) assignment just to get by. I wanted a more sane schedule, so finding a cheaper apartment was one way that I could easily reduce my expenses, meaning I could reduce my workload.

In my fantasy world, I have a great part-time job with benefits (I recently applied for just such a job, had the inside track… it went absolutely nowhere; trying not to take it personally, but it was really hurtful since I had done gratis work for these folks in the past and they didn’t even give me a formal interview). In this fantasy world, I know I have those 20 hours each week that are secure, not to mention access to a doctor for me and my kids should need arise.

In my reality, however, I now juggle six regular gigs. Some of these have a set schedule, so it’s easy to create a calendar around them. For example, one job takes up the first week of every quarter. I know not to take on additional work the first week of January, April, July or October. I also know that I have to do the taxes that second week of April, so I generally book out then. We have a tradition of going away for Easter, so that’s tentatively on the calendar, as well. Beyond this, however, I am always trying to focus on the job at hand and not get lost in the minutiae of daily living. This is harder than it seems.

I’ve always been deadline-driven, meaning I plan backwards. If I get an assignment today that isn’t due for two weeks, I’ll look at the files, make sure I have everything I need; then I’ll look at my calendar and see how many days out I have to start the job. I’ve had some people note that I should just do the job right away and get it off my plate, but that’s simply not how I role. For the most part, I’m good with this type of organizing, but because each of these six jobs is distinct, I often end up double booked. Therein lies the rub!

I moved six weeks ago, and I set up a calendar that affords me one day off. I went approximately four months without a day off earlier this year, and it made me a not-very-nice-person-to-be-around. How am I doing on that day off? Well, let’s just say I mostly take a day off. I would love to have a moritorium on this issue, but the best I can hope for is a rotating day off (usually either Saturday or Sunday) or a quick (paid) blog post followed by the rest of the day off. My four main gigs are scheduled around this day off (the other two are fixed on the calendar; i.e. inflexible). I have also tried to work in a “me” day each week. My sister asked me how my “me” day was going recently, and I said, “If by ‘me’ you mean doing laundry, vacuuming and dusting, and cleaning the cat box, well, my ‘me’ day is going swimmingly!”

However, if I want to get a day off each week, I don’t want to spend it scrubbing the floors of my apartment, picking up after the kids (sometimes it’s easier than yelling at them to pick up after themselves), and wondering where the r&r went. It’s all about sticking to the schedule, which includes scheduling some time to write for me. As you can see by the infrequent posts, my day off is still a work in progress.

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