No joke—last week I worked 65 hours, dealt with a nasty flat tire on my trusty Volvo, and still managed to see the New Pornographers concert that I’d been looking forward to for months.
How did all this happen, you ask? And furthermore, why did I submit myself to such an exhausting schedule???
The overtime was an opportunity I’d scooped up while the scooping was good. My Secret Work-From-Home Day Job comes with a variable amount of hours (between zero and 40 depending on the week, but usually around 20), and last week a sudden demand for work left me with the chance to make some BIG overtime money.
I course I totally snagged all the overtime I could get knowing that 1) It was only for a week, and 2) That I could plan to finish some other things I had to do either before (like last week’s epic interview with James Crews) or after. Had the 65 hours been sprung on me at the last minute, I probably would have said no, or said yes and been CRAZY overwhelmed and scrambling like a madman to handle the 65-Hour Overtime Challenge. It made me feel more confident about my planning system, since I knew I could handle the extra Day Job work in addition to all the other things I needed to get done.
Why did I take on all that overtime if I didn’t have to? For one thing, all of it was paid at the standard time-and-a-half rate, so by working 25 hours more than a normal workweek, I’m really being paid for 77.5 hours (40 regular hours + 25 extra hours + 12.5 hours of extra pay = 77.5 hours).
Here’s why this matters: 77.5 hours is basically the equivalent of two full weeks of pay spread out over one week. That means that in one week, I’ve earned enough money to cover a second week of not working Day Job hours at all that I can then use to work on my novel, this site, other writing projects, or other things that need to get done. It also took fewer hours to earn that money, which means that by cramming my Day Job work into a smaller window, I can free up more hours for my other projects and balance my Time/Money needs more effectively.
The Flat Tire Incident
The 65 hours would have been a whole lot easier had it not been for the Flat Tire Incident.
Early in the week I let a friend borrow my Volvo so he could get to work. (Since my Secret Work-From-Home Day Job is work from home, I don’t really need my car during the week.) Unfortunately he blew a flat between his house and his job—which of course sucks, but it happens, right?
Here’s where things took a bad turn: since my friend had somehow avoided ever getting a flat tire in 15+ years of driving, he had no idea what to do and proceeded to drive four miles on the rim in an attempt to get to work/safety before abandoning this plan and calling a coworker when the ride got too ridiculously shaky.
Now, I can’t stress this enough: YOU SHOULD NEVER DRIVE ON A FLAT TIRE, EVER! When you get a flat, your first move should be to get to the side of the road so you can change it yourself, call AAA, phone a friend, wave down someone who knows what they’re doing, or whatever you need to do, but you should definitely NEVER DRIVE ON IT! If you do, your tire will end up looking like what’s left of mine, and your wheel rim (the metal part that the tire wraps around) will get bent beyond the point of you ever being able to use it again, like what happened with my car.
I found out about this at nine a.m. on a Monday after starting a 12-hour work shift, so as you can imagine I wasn’t pleased to hear the news. Luckily the next day was my only day off, so I made a few phone calls, rearranged my schedule, and planned to get out to the car was so I could change the flat and get the new tire.
What I Learned…
I tell this story for two reasons: First, so that ANYONE READING WHO EVER GETS A FLAT TIRE KNOWS NEVER TO DRIVE ON IT EVER because it’ll just make the problem worse. What should have been a $15 patch job could have been a $400 replacement for the new tire and rim, though I cut this down to $200 after doing some research and scouring eBay for a used rim (even though my friend who caused the damage is also covering the bill….).
Secondly and more relevant to this blog: That day off was the one day that week I’d set aside for novel-writing, but because I had to hitch a ride out to the boonies to deal with the flat tire mess and get the rim checked out, I had to set aside that week’s writing day. As a result, my novel’s in exactly the same state it was two weeks ago.
I thought I’d been playing it smart by giving myself an entire day for just writing, but then something completely unexpected came up and ruined it. Had this been a regular week when I’d been less crazy busy, I could have rearranged my plans and gotten the writing done another day, but my hectic overtime schedule made that impossible.
So here’s what I really learned: when you spread yourself thin, sure you can usually handle everything you set out to do, until something unexpected happens that jams up the gears. Leaving yourself more leeway and flex time makes it much less of a big deal when something bad happens because you have the extra time to deal with it and still get your other shit done. It’s a good reason not to overload yourself.
The happy ending to this story is that I finished all the overtime, got the Volvo back on the road, and was able to borrow a friend’s car to drive to Boston for the New Pornographers show before going back to work the next morning—and oh did it feel good knowing the obstacles I’d beaten to get there.