April 16, 2007

How Can It Be Monday Already? I Mean, Come On!

A few weeks ago, I posted a version of my calendar in order to demonstrate exactly how busy I am at work. That version of the calendar now looks wonderful, ideal, like a nice walk in the park compared to the version I'm looking at now. It's a fucking minefield, people. Chaos theory at work inside Microsoft Outlook. After that marginally amusing, anxiety-fueled post, I received a couple of questions that intrigued me. They were all very similar - do I even like my job?

Fair question. All I seem to do is bitch about how busy I am, but the truth is that, yes, I do enjoy what I do. My job is interesting, challenging, and affords me opportunities most people don't get on a regular basis. I work with great people in a wonderful environment. It's also pretty good money. But still, it provides me with an ever-expanding pool of stress. I get to climb the high-dive on a daily basis and take the plunge into the icy depths each and every morning. And lately, that high-dive's been pretty damn high; and the pool has been a little shallow. Not a fun prospect to face.

This weekend, more so than the previous one, was not at all sufficient to mend the wounds received during my last series of high-dive performances. They healed slightly but did not come anywhere close to disappearing. So I'm limping into another week. One with, at current count, nineteen meetings in it. Wait. Eighteen. One just got canceled.

Don't get me wrong, the weekend was nice. Sure, it rained the whole time and ended up being even quieter than expected because Mia came down with a case of The Sniffles (for such a little girl she sure can generate a lot of snot). Beth and I, thanks to some willing grandparents, did get a chance to get out of the house for a while. We actually had a meal. Alone. Of course, I think the reason Beth was so happy was the fact that we ran into Hottie Pediatrician while we were out.

In summary...nice weekend...tired...icy pool of stress...tall-ass ladder...Monday...help! How do you balance work and family? What tricks have you come up with that seem to do the trick? Do you have any experience whatsoever subverting the space-time continuum in order to add a few extra hours to the day? If so, how? Have you successfully built and implemented a time machine? Would you be willing to share the blueprints? Let me know if you've got any tricks. In the mean time I'll be - you guessed it - stuck in a meeting or twelve.

Posted by Chris at April 16, 2007 7:28 AM

I think your life is more like my husband's - tons of meetings - 200 emails a day - working at work, and at home via laptop and Blackberry.

Me? My job consists of taking people out to lunch or going by and "making nice" AND officing from home (basically means I am home by 3 every day!). I did this purposely because I am also the mom, chauffeur, lunch packer, chef, etc, etc.

I think this whole idea of "balancing" is a myth. There are times it cannot be balanced. Cut back somewhere before you implode. Do you really HAVE to be at every meeting? My husband will sometimes go for a bit and then leave early (usually to go to another one!) I wish I had an answer for you. Take care.

Posted by: Debbie at April 16, 2007 8:07 AM

Two words, my friend: flex time.

I get to the office around 6:30am, and from then until about 9am (when all the timesuckers arrive) I work on my stuff and get my shit done. I make every effort to schedule meetings early in the day, and work through lunch (eat at my desk).

Usually, I'm able to get out by about 3:30pm or so, leaving plenty of time every day to play "lie on the floor and be covered with toy food" or the ever popular "let's see if I can fit both fists into Daddy's mouth" with my daughter. It's a marathon, not a sprint; make time each day for the family and you'll be surprised how much more endurable the day can be.

Posted by: SciFi Dad at April 16, 2007 8:12 AM

Unfortunately my time machine doesn't work. But that does remind me of a fairy tale I loved as a child, where a man was given a spool of silver thread, and a tug on the thread caused his life to "fast-forward" a little bit. I remember the moral was to treasure the moments between the "Kodak" moments. Although eighteen meetings? I'd be really tempted to give it a heck of a tug!

Expresso and energy drinks are my only remedy for work + no sleep,... just make sure you've got enough food in your stomach!

Posted by: Heather at April 16, 2007 8:29 AM

I think balance is a myth, too. As long as both partners respect the work of the other AND both keep family as a priority, then that's as good as it will get.

Posted by: wordgirl at April 16, 2007 8:37 AM

I have no "answer" but what I have been working with lately has been reducing the number of hours I sleep per day. And every other weekend, the girls allow me to sleep in and catch up, and have something of a "me morning" where they will go do whatever it is they intend to do, and give me the morning to slowly drink my coffee, etc at a leisurely pace.

This is not for the faint of heart, but at the very least, I get an extra little charge out of the "extra" couple of hours sleep, and un-rushed couple of awake hours, I get those other weekends.

Posted by: JayMonster at April 16, 2007 9:53 AM

I've established a pretty good "I leave at this time, but can stay until this time. After that, YOU'RE calling my wife, not me" rule.

I go home, play with kids, make dinner, give baths, play more, put kids to bed, and then fire up the computer to finish the day's work before bed. Not everyone can do this I realize, but for me it works. Want to schedule a meeting past 5:00pm? Send me the notes in an email, I'll check them at 8:30pm. I will not be at your meeting.

So basically, I slice out a part of my day that can not be fucked with. Unfortunately, every other hour (including those I usually reserve for sleep) are fair game.

Posted by: Brad at April 16, 2007 10:49 AM

I don't have kids, instead I enjoy reading about everyone else's. There you go. :)

I too am swamped. Projects out the yang over here. (No meetings though, one good thing about being the worker bee and not management!) If you make it out, please pull me up along with you at least so I can breath. Or else, on the bright side, we can keep each other company here in this pit of misery. Heh.

Posted by: oakley at April 16, 2007 11:34 AM

Does the fact that you reffered to Hotty Pediatrician as "Hotty Pediatrician" instead of The Doctor mean that you agree with Beth? He is in fact a Hotty?

Posted by: alfredsmom at April 16, 2007 12:23 PM

Mmm...can't offer any work/family balance advice. Just wondering, though: do you agree with Beth's assessment of the Hottie Pediatrician? Not that I'm asking if you think he's hot, but can you see why women would think so?

Posted by: Zandria at April 16, 2007 12:30 PM

Well.. for me, its getting easier.. We have 3 girls.. 2 in school and one who is in preschool. I have a position that is in a different office than the rest of my coworkers, just because its closer to home, and they need a 'presence' at the building I am in. SO fortunately for me the 20 meetings or so each week are via telephone! so in all actuality, if the kids are sick, if its a nice day, or if I just had a bit too much wine the night before.. I can sit on my couch and call into my meetings in my pajamas.
My Husband does not have this luxary unfortunately. He's in a Management role, and well.. can't just get away from the office like I can. I really wish he could though..
I don't know about balance being a myth, but it does take some time to get in the right groove that fits for your family. Do Beth and Mia ever come and have lunch with you? I used to visit my Husband at least once a week when I worked only 3 days a week, and when I was on maternity leave.. Its always a nice break to see the kids during the day!

Posted by: Molly at April 16, 2007 3:11 PM

I was in your neck of the woods this weekend! I didn't tell you in advance because i'm chiken like that.

Posted by: melati at April 16, 2007 6:42 PM

My work is odd. Sometimes (like the last 2 weeks) I finish all of my work before noon which pisses off project managers who scrounge to find things for me to do for the rest of the day. Sometimes (like the 2 weeks before that) I'm up to my eyeballs in deadlines and pretty sure I'm going to pull my hair out. Meanwhile, the quest to be thin continues, so working out is an absolute must. And because that's not quite enough, I pile some (read: a shitload) of freelance into my free evenings and weekends. My dear, sweet husband came up with a solution to my never-ending stress (I think for his own sanity). We have a schedule. I do the best I can at work and make sure to leave on time, all the time. I work in the evenings until a certain time at which I work out, after which I eat. Shower, sleep, repeat. Sure, sometimes I'd rather veg on the couch, but really, I enjoy getting so much packed into one day. I'm jealous of people with jobs that afford them the opportunity to read a lot of blogs. I'd like some of THAT kind of time! But I also enjoy a sense of accomplishment.

In short (ha!) my key to success is some damn-fine planning. :o)

Posted by: Emily at April 16, 2007 7:54 PM

I totally hear you, Chris. All I do is bitch about how morning sick I am, but I'm totally grateful and happy to be preggers.... :)

Glad you had a good weekend to recupe, though.

As for balance -- I make it a point to not go there. I just try my best to go with the flow. Not that I'm a poster girl for balance or anything. :)

Posted by: Haley-O at April 16, 2007 8:35 PM

When my life was all out of whack and it felt like all my down time was spent re-energizing so that I could do it all over again next week, day, etc? I changed careers. I liked my previous life, was good at what I did, but realized that my spouse, family and friends deserved to get some of my prime time and best behavior, too.

Posted by: Sphincter at April 16, 2007 9:35 PM

I would love to offer you work/life balance advice but I can't - I'm trying to figure it out myself and I don't even have kids (yet).

I hope your able to find some balance soon!

Posted by: Colleen at April 16, 2007 9:57 PM

Ouch, sorry to hear you're stressin man, though I can't say I have much to offer in the advice department. I'm not all that crazy about my job, but I maintain the basic 40 hours, beyond which I won't go. Not sure if you've got the ability to just say no to overtime at your place of work, but that seems to keep things on an even keel for me. Best of luck to ya, it'll be schadenfreud (spelling?) Friday before you know it.

Posted by: Holmes at April 16, 2007 11:07 PM

When you figure it out, please let me know. Especially the space-time continuum thingie. I need a maid, chef and personal valet, that would solve a lot of my problems. In other words, I need a wife, but since I'm not into that, I'm on my own.

Posted by: nila at April 17, 2007 3:49 AM

I'm a single mom with a fulltime stressful job and a 3hr roundtrip commute...I'm not afraid to say 'screw it' and take off work. And I never bring home work with me. And I rarely do overtime.
Will I ever own the company? Nope. Don't care. And I don't worry about losing my job either...I could always get another one.

You see, I figured out...that my time is more valuable then my money. I'm smart and I'm talented; so I can always make more money...but I can't make more time. So I make sure, I spend that time, on what is important to me.

Posted by: fauve at April 17, 2007 5:54 AM