my first two weeks – the highs and lows of semi-employment
It’s my first day back at “proper” work today so thought it would be a good way to summarise how the first two weeks of semi-employment, self-employment, mini-FI, a little taste of freedom, or whatever you want to call it went. Rather than bore you with a day to day diary I’ll just list out my thoughts on what the good and bad points were. When I say “bad” I think this term must be taken relatively in that they are only bad compared to the good points, but most are still way less bad compared to the bad points of working full time.
- Having pancakes for breakfast if I felt like it 🙂
- Being on hand to help my nan out (She dislocated her shoulder).
- Going round to see my sister and bro in law for lunch.
- Actually having a lunch break!
- Going for a run when I felt like it rather than having to cram it into an evening.
- Took off to the IOW (Isle of Wight) with my neice and nephew on Friday without having to take a days holiday.
- Getting up at 7ish and getting nearly 2 uninterupted hours of blogging type stuff done by 9.
- Getting up at 7ish and feeling like I’ve had a big lay in, and mega refreshed for the day ahead.
- Feeling OK to have a 2 hour break at 3pm, to go and potter in garden or go to the driving range, because I can carry on working at 8pm. Why waste the best daylight hours stuck on a computer!?
- It was nice to decompress over the first few days off followed by the “real” weekend so was raring to go again by Monday.
- I got about 1 and a half Apps (one iOS and half an Android) written during my time off, and the rest can easily be completed during evenings, so well on my way to ticking that goal off of my goals list. I also will get paid for this work. Whoop!
- Despite me envisaging 12 hour programming marathons to get the Apps done and dusted very quickly I actually found myself just doing maybe 4 hour stints instead. This in practice worked very well as it’s hard to concentrate on anything for 12 hours at a time. I should have logged the time I spent working on it to work out my hourly rate, which I didn’t, but I think I can fairly say that in terms of hours worked it has taken me far less than I expected it to. This gives a very large nod to the fact that productivity is much better (for programming at least, but I expect many other knowledge worker type of tasks as well) when you have a nice, quiet environment free of the distractions of the office.
- I got quite a few blog posts written up and started a few draft ideas as well. One other key point was that they didn’t feel rushed out of the door as they usually do.
- I had time to go and help a friend install a radiator in his new bathroom. Not only did I do him a favour but got to learn a bit about how to do that. This will come in very handy for when I come to do our own bathroom in 4 weeks time. He also said he’d return the favour at that point in time, so it is a double win/win situation!
- I got to go out on a Thursday night (to London Oktoberfest) and not have to worry about getting up for work on Friday 🙂
- The weather was absolutely fantastic for the most part!!!
- I spent a few hours fixing something on the car one day, again while not eating into my evenings or weekends.
- While fixing the car I got to talk to a few of my neighbours. One old boy was helping me out with suggestions on how to fix it. This was really nice, and it just doesn’t seem to happen when you leave the house at 7am and don’t get back home until 7pm.
- While talking to one of the neighbours, I helped one of them shift a few bags of compost. She then offered me an old composter for free that she was about to chuck out. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it so now my old DIY composter has been decommisioned and a nice “new” one is in it’s place. It’s a nice example of how just the smallest bit of social networking (in real life) can pay dividends.
- I got called out by work once for about 45 mins (this will be unpaid but if it starts to become a regular thing I will mention that I want overtime).
- The first few days I felt a bit guilty for not really doing all that much productive (not that guilty though! 🙂 I figured I’ve worked hard enough over the last 11 years to earn a few days of chill time).
- Procrastination (shock!) – I did find myself doing blog stuff (reading and writing) a fair bit more than I should have done. Although this is kind of productive in that I am normally learning something or flexing my creative muscle, it was at the expense of doing paid work, i.e. the Apps I mentioned above. So I have to be realistic and say, yes, I did too much of this and not enough of the paid work. If I get more paid work in future, I need to be a bit more professional and organised about my time. However, I’m not sure whether it would have been much better to just plough through all the paid work, then have 2 whole days left at the end of the 2 weeks to spend how I want, because it is good to have regular breaks, and focusing on things for too long can make you less productive. Just ask the Swedes, they know where it’s at!
- Related to the above, I think I allowed myself a little bit too much play. This is different from procrastination as this was time alloted to literally not do anything productive (e.g. seeing friends, playing golf, etc…), whereas I count procrastination as time I know I should be doing something but finding other to do anyway. This shouldn’t really be a bad thing but I need to watch it going forward. If I have stuff to do then I should just do it and then enjoy time to myself guilt free afterwards, not the other way round. It will make for a less stressful life!
- Working in the evenings due to procrastination (or in other words goofing off) did make me feel a bit bad on Mrs T, however she didn’t seem to mind as those were just TV nights anyway. And to put another positive spin on this: I weirdly found it easier to concentrate on programming and blocking out the TV than I do doing blog stuff. Trying to think about and write down words while listening to someone talk (the TV in this case) seems much harder than writing code, probably because code is not as much like actual words and sentences, so it’s easier to keep that train of thought going without the external noise source polluting it.
- I think around the middle Wednesday, so after having 7 days off, I started to feel a bit down. I think this was in part just a pang of panic at the realisation that despite having a whole week off, I had hardly made a dent into my To Do list. Which was in turn mainly due to the other factors mentioned above. I got over it pretty quickly as it spurred me into action and I got a lot done for the rest of that day. The second reason why I felt a bit down was that I realised that I’d probably seen my Nan more times in the last week than I have done in the previous 6 months. This is not a bad thing due to having more time on my hands, quite the opposite, but it was a negative feeling so I guess it has to go in the lowlights section.
- Due to the weird way my shift pattern works my first day back is a Wednesday. This meant that I experienced 3 TMWIDL Mondays in a row, one because it was actually Monday, the second on Tuesday because I knew it was my last day before going back to work, and the third because it was my pseudo-Monday of actually going back to work. Yea yea I know, put those tiny violins away 😉
- Finally… Getting up this morning was a killer!!! 😀 . Seriously, 6:15am feels like getting up in the middle of the night after getting up at 7 for two weeks. That extra half an hour or so really does make a difference. I think I need to start going to bed earlier 🙂
So there you have it! A warts and all account of how I found my first two weeks of mini freedom. I have a feeling that it looks like the bad outweighs the good but I hope having read it, it is simply that the bad points needed a bit further explanation as they were more my inner thoughts than some of the more simpler and easier to understand good points. Also there are far more good than bad in numerical terms! 😀
I hope you enjoyed reading and found some insight in there if you are thinking of doing a similar thing. If you have any questions about anything I haven’t made comment on, let me know?
And if you are already doing something similar or are fully FI, please do let us know about your own experiences below!