27

These days birthdays come and go without great incident, fanfare or even comment. This week was yet another example of that.

Monday was my birthday, and, unlike last year, I was actually at home for it. The benefit of this is fairly obvious – you can have a proper celebration with family and at least get a little attention…

The problem was that, unfortunately, work has other ideas. Lately the amount of working I’ve been dealing with has been astronomical. There also seems to be a drop off in my productivity, probably corresponding to a) lack of sleep, and b) decline in motivation due to being totally depressed.

The birthday itself was mostly rubbish. I spent all of the day doing work, finally getting a chance to stop at around 9pm to have a takeaway. We were supposed to have been going out for something to eat, as has become family tradition, but no such luck. The joke of it all is that even my meal was interrupted, because I’d done something which broke a website just before I stopped – deliberately I might add so that the client could see what was wrong – and then was ordered that I had to put it back the way it was. Madness.

In any event, I’m now back in the usual place of work. I am increasingly seeing it like that, because all around me is work, not a home. The living room has a laptop setup, which is currently installing 400,000 Windows Updates. There are two PCs in the kitchen, one of which is complete, and the other is in progress. Then my desk next to me, in my bedroom, is covered in paper relating to a couple of ongoing projects. There is no escape.

I look back at my post from last year, aged 26, when I was moaning about stagnation and nothing much changing. Nothing much has changed a year on. A year is actually a very long time. You can get an awful lot done in a year. I’m just not in a position to do so thanks to one thing, and one thing alone. MONEY.

Money rules everything. I’ve known that all my life, and that’s probably why I’ve ended up so obsessed about it. Money money money. I make a good businessman, that’s for sure. Except not good enough that I’m making enough money to have a positive impact on my life. Who cares about whether you can spend £1 and buy some scones. That might make me feel briefly happy, but it doesn’t change my life.

So the days and weeks tick by. Here’s to another year of stagnation.

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The Snapping Point

It’s been a little while since I wrote anything. The main reason being I have been exceptionally busy the past couple of weeks. Busy, but not particularly happy. No surprise there really.

At the moment, I am getting particularly fed up about the demands being put on me by work. I have tried to stick to stricter rules in recent times than ever before, thanks to the luxury of being busy enough that I don’t need to feel like I’m constantly “on call” every waking moment of the day. The first step in that direction was the end of answering the phone on Sunday. I now ignore the landline on Sundays, and the mobile gets put into vibrate mode only, and certainly doesn’t even get switched on until the afternoon. This has made Sundays my favourite day of the week, something I never thought would be possible given childhood memories of endless, depressing Sundays…

The only problem is that it hasn’t exactly stopped me from working. Lately I have taken on an awful lot of web work: the kind of stuff that can be pretty flexible. So the stuff that I inevitably don’t get done during the week because I’m too busy ends up being done at the weekends, because things are more relaxed that I can sit down in peace and quiet, knowing I won’t be disturbed and can get on with it.

And so the seven day work week continues. Yet, when I look at my records, I don’t seem to be all that better off for it.

In any event, that’s only part of my woes. I have too many “customers” on my books now that have turned into what I call “friends-when-needed”. That is, they call me up when they have a problem, and pretend to be all friendly and matey with me, and then reveal they’re actually calling for some other, computing, reason. I then, stupidly, proceed to help them out over the phone, taking up my time, and getting absolutely nothing back in return.

These people have no guilt. They are professional users. I know they are not friends, because I can count the number of times I’ve had social calls from them on one thumb. Friends do help each other, of course they do, but actual friendship is about far more than that. Friends spend time with each other for its own sake. There doesn’t necessarily need to be an excuse to call in for a cup of tea.

I then think: this service must now be a loss of hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds to me. Not necessarily because they would actually pay for me, but because these days, every minute I spend wasted with them translates into a much longer period of distraction, which is lost from the other work I could be doing.

At some point soon, I just know I am going to snap. It nearly happened with one of them this week. It did happen with one other, when I suddenly got out of the conversation saying I’m too busy, but no lesson was learned, since the guy called me up the following day.

When I snap it will be glorious. I will finally be liberated. It will probably lose these people as customers forever, but I shouldn’t be so concerned about that. I don’t need them. They can toddle off to some other PC repair supplier, and see how they get on calling them at unsociable hours, asking for free technical help. Translation: they wouldn’t ever do that.

It’s always been in my nature to be helpful to people, usually way beyond when most other people would say, “you’re really taking the piss now”. One thing business has taught me is not to be such a pushover.

Probably a good lesson in life though, really.