It’s that time of year again, I see. When the Day Job teeters between being completely dead and boring to being so insanely busy I lose all track of time. While I’m thankful that I’m no longer working in retail (or in a warehouse, or on a phone branch) during Q4, the bipolar quality of the job still tends to drive me crazy sometimes. I never quite know whether it’s going to be one or the other until the day comes.
With my current Day Job, I’ve firmly stood by my rule: I do not think about the Day Job once I clock out for the day. What if I still have outstanding work to do? Don’t care. What if I — DO. NOT. CARE. It has nothing to do with how I feel about the job. It’s got everything to do with maintaining sanity and energy for things other than Day Jobbery.
It’s the only way I can deal with the sheer volume when and if it comes. I work in first-in-first-out fashion on cases that come my way — even and especially if they’re labelled as OMG requests. These are most often the ones dumped on us at last minute, usually because the requester has forgotten to forward it to us two months ago. The only ones I’ll drop everything for are critical escalations (and even then I tend to be a bit cynical when they’re labeled such, because sometimes they’re really not).
All this is so I still have that reserve of energy at the end of the day to work on my writing. You know how I get when I miss a day due to circumstances beyond my control…I get irritable and cranky. So even if my beloved writing time is spent working on minutiae or revision or low-level preparation for an upcoming project, I’ll at least have gotten that much further.
With this particular Day Job, I have a very vague idea of when it gets superbusy: mid-month (a few clients send big monthly files then), close to month-end (clients trying to make their metrics), and end-of-quarter (tax season). And I know that once the last few weeks of December roll around, it’s mostly about wrapping things up, finishing off outstanding queries, and taking it easy for a bit until mid-January.
That’s the trick, at least for me: having at least a vague idea of what to expect on the Day Job over the course of the month, so I can plan accordingly. [Sure, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ll spend the first of those quiet, dead days by goofing off. I figure I’ve earned a bit of a respite, though!] It’s the only way I can keep up with my writing schedule without tiring myself out to the point of exhaustion or illness.
It’s not ideal, but hey, it’s a paycheck, and I’m willing to work around it.