Dec 05

Struggling With Work Ethics and Downtime

WHAT’S PLAYING: White Town “Your Woman”

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”

                        – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

No offense to Mr. Brown, but just because something is correct doesn’t make it right. I’ve always had a problem with time management. Sometimes I swear I can literally feel it slipping through my fingers.

There are never enough hours in the day or days in a year. Not for everything I want to do.

Don’t believe me? Here is a breakdown of a typical workday:

3:00 AM – First alarm. Time for morning workout.

3:00:05 AM – Wake up, hit snooze, and go back to sleep, promising to exercise after work.

3:55 AM – Second alarm from across the room. Cursing the clock, my job, and mornings in general, stumble out of bed to shut it off.

4:00 AM – Coffee, shower, and more coffee.

4:30 AM – More coffee. Leave for work.

6:30 PM – Back home, exhausted and hungry.

6:30:05 PM – Stare at workout gear. Eat dinner instead.

7:00 PM – Plop down on the couch and watch whatever’s on the DVR.

8:00 PM – Shower.

8:30 PM – Set alarm for 3AM so I can get up early to exercise.

8:30:30 – Sleep.

Rinse and repeat.

Days off are pretty much the same. Except instead of work, I have an endless list of chores and errands I wasn’t able to do earlier in the week. Not to mention the six hours a day I devote to writing. Sometimes, I exercise. (Not often, but it  happens.) By the time night rolls around, I still haven’t accomplished half the things I set out to do.

Time is my nemesis. Guess who’s winning?

Part of the problem is my tendency to get caught up in little things. I’m an organization freak. While cleaning the house, I’ll stop scrubbing or vacuuming just to alphabetize my movies and books. Or I’ll revise the same paragraph repeatedly to get it “just right” before moving on.

Then there is the time I spend watching movies, playing video games and surfing the web. You know, being useless. I figure I should be able to devote as much time to living as I do to earning a living. Right?

Even though I’ve earned my downtime, I still feel guilty every time I glance at the clock and realize that I’ve been playing “Uncharted 3” for three hours. Thus, begins what I like to call “Jacqui’s Cycle of Chagrin”.

First, the guilt turns into shame. Not your everyday, run-of-the-mill shame either. I’m talking the bone-deep, nerve-twisting kind of shame found only in a house full of hardworking Southerners.

Next, the shame turns into resentment. Who says I have to work all the time?

Finally, I give up and try to force myself to be productive. It’s rarely successful. By that time, I’m so emotionally exhausted that even writing seems like a chore, which makes me feel like a colossal failure. Thus, completing the cycle.

Lately though, I’ve been thinking that maybe time isn’t my enemy after all. Maybe it’s me, my need to be a better writer, chemist, friend, sister, daughter, etc…just better. Perhaps the answer isn’t more time or even better use of it, but learning to relax and be happy in the present moment. We all need to take a break every now and again.

Even from dreams.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jacquitalbot.com/2011/12/struggling-with-work-ethics-and-downtime/


  1. Bridie

    Anything you do for yourself allows you to really be present for others, but accept that you are GREAT! You do not need to impress anyone else and if they require you to be more than who you are kick them to the curb! It took me a long time to figure that out. My house maybe messy, my laundry a load or two behind, but I always have time for whomever needs me and sometimes that person is ME!

    1. justjacqui2

      Thanks Bridie. That’s very good advice. Unfortunately, the only person in my life that demands perfection from me is me. It’s something I have to work on.

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