As far as I’m concerned, it’s actually been a counterproductive exercise, a foolhardy one mostly; the making of New Year’s resolutions is generally a waste of time. Also, the nonsensical celebration of a brand new and hoped for great New Year was a practice I left behind some years ago already. It’s also understandable because many of us have tried to leave behind extremely difficult old years by looking forward with new hope and, positively, great expectations. This, I’m afraid to say, is a familiar symptom of the human condition. Facing daily uphill battles under the most adverse conditions, many men and women are strengthened by hope.
Somewhat muddled or befuddled, if you will, I re-read my introduction to this post and now need to make a remark in regard to celebrating the traditional annual end of year. We’re all human – as human beings, we often make mistakes – and because we are human we are inherently and naturally sociable creatures. While others are setting up their barbecue or heading off downtown, you don’t want to be left out, so you invariably make your own plans too.
This past New Year’s Eve I made (personal) history. It was both personal and historic because for the first time ever in my entire life I decided to work on New Year’s Eve. Unlike millions of others around the globe, I wasn’t obliged to work (my current project with a client based in Middle America was due but could be re-scheduled due to the holidays) but decided to. I decided to work mainly to make as much money as possible. As it turns out, I decided to work for all the wrong reasons. It was a counter move which didn’t help my good client either. In the end, she had to re-assign some of my work to another writer and, needless to say, I lost a few more dollars along the way.
Now that’s personal. The history lesson should be understood if you are a closer reader than I am. Here’s how my productive New Year’s evening bombed. In spite of both physical and mental exhaustion (whoever said that reading and writing were entirely relaxing tasks might want to give it a try and then let us all know what it’s really like) I persisted with my work. I moved my laptop to the dining room table where my cat spends most of its time. This strategy was designed to keep it calm for the next few hours at least.
The cat’s behavior was the first sign that my desperate drive to make more money before the final countdown began was a disaster. As early as seven pm, the festive noise, just three stories below my apartment and its tenements, was already evident. Never mind feline nocturnal creatures, animals in general have hearing far more acute than humans. So, unless you’re waiting tables downtown, the noise can become distracting if you’re trying to work and particularly when you require maximum concentration. Now, also try to imagine what this little creature hears too.
As the night wore on, I finally decided to give it all up. Supper was ready, it only needed to be warmed up, and when I sat down on my sofa to eat, I streamed a movie and blocked myself off from the rest of the world. Writing is my bread and butter. On my best days, I enjoy my work, but working with a gun to your head is another matter altogether. Reading is probably the most relaxing of all my few hobbies. I enjoy my movies too but tend to watch them far too late at night.
Things were so bad at one stage that I had to break away from this post and could only return to it several days later. But on the positive side, it gave me more time to reflect on how I was going to work proactively and productively to my advantage and to the advantage of my patient clients who, in a demanding media environment, have been nothing but patient with me. All indications are that they have been angry with me too, if the exclamation marks that punctuate some of their sentences are anything to go by.
Who could blame them? At the time of finishing this post, I was still busy rescheduling how I plan to work from now on, making time for all client work and also making time for myself and long-suffering loved one’s who have been left in my wake. Very briefly, here’s what I have in mind to do. I have set aside just four days, Mondays to Thursdays, to do a full day’s work. Such days are worked across three shifts and end up being longer than your traditional eight hour or nine to five days.
Fridays will be a little shorter, leaving me with a few extra hours to tend to other responsibilities such as domestic chores and balancing my books for the week. Saturday is a half day. It is a half day which can run anything from just three hours of work to up to six hours, all depending on the projects I’m busy with and the deadlines that may lie ahead for the next week. Sundays, well that should be my day off. Over the last six or seven months I experienced just how counterproductive it was trying to do too much, even on Sundays.
It really places too much pressure on your shoulders and can harm the quality of your work. Sundays, as a traditional day of rest, does not mean I will be sitting idle all day long. Apart from family and devoting more time to writing my first novel, Sunday will be a day of reflection in which I also set aside time for new hobbies which I believe may just be the best resolutions that I can make for myself under my present circumstances. It has a lot to do with only doing what you most enjoy doing and what you can manage in any given week which is likely to be busy anyhow.
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