June 22, 2017

A Regular Work Week?

A Regular Work Week?

Over the past decade, I have spent most of my time at something roughly approximating a breakneck pace. First it was teaching myself web development, then it was doing web development consulting on the side
to help pay for seminary, then it was seminary itself. All along the way, I have had to be extremely disciplined with my time. Every hour needed a definite task to which I was dedicated to make sure that I was getting done everything I needed to, while still having time for my family.

And now I'm done with seminary. I'm working a 40-hour-a-week job, and the folks who run the company don't want me to work extra hours. I'm having to retrain myself now: I don't need to pull 9–10-hour (or 11–12-hour!) days every weekday so that I can have half-days on Saturdays and time off on Sundays. I can, and should, work 40 hours a week—just 8 hours a day!—and call it good.

This is a good change. It is good for me, and it is good for our family. But I do not have it down yet, by a long shot. This has been my first "normal" week of work since I transitioned to being a full-time employee (I was at three quarter time for the previous 17 months since starting at Olo), and I haven't worked an 8-hour day yet this week. I certainly don't need to work the 9–10-hour days I have this week. The problem is habit: habit that served me very, very well during the past eight years, but which I now need to change. It's one thing to make sure that I use my time well (and I don't intend to stop making good use of my time, to be sure). It is even good, I think, to use those 9–10 hours every day for something productive! What I not only want but need to change, however, is the habit of cramming as much work time in every day as I can manage.

So tomorrow, and next week, and the week after that, and so on, I have a new goal: just do my job and then stop. Go "home" (which for me means just closing down those apps) and do something else. Take a walk with my girls. Write a blog post. Write a podcast episode, maybe. Finally make some progress on the website engine I have been building in fits and starts since last October. Read a book for leisure. Play a video game (maybe even without podcasting about it). There will be plenty to fill up my time, no doubt; but I need to make sure that I am not just working 45–50 hours every week just because I'm used to it.

Header image: Fabrizio Verrecchia