The Easter Working Weekend

It’s Easter Saturday. It’s currently 5:41am. I have been awake since 5am.

What is my life?

It’s a question that, when enunciated with an American accent, can sound incredibly irritating. Indeed, it’s not even a question I would dare to use in public, for fear of rather odd looks in return. But, at the same time, it is actually quite accurate.

My life, as I have known for the last few years, is basically split into the work and non-work sliver. In the non-work sliver I read political websites, playing increasingly less and less guitar, listen to Radio 1, and watch programmes I missed on catch up TV.

The Easter Weekend gives a brief window to change that. And, this year, I decided to give myself an extra reward. I told myself for several weeks in advance that I’d be having the Thursday before Good Friday off too. This would give me five consecutive days off. Wow, wow, wow. My brain said. I don’t get many of those with no consequences. OK, Christmas can be up to two weeks off, but Easter is at a nicer time of year. And the weather certainly has been good so far.

After two days of my five day weekend, how is that shaping up?

Well, on the Thursday I ensured I was “working from home”. The main reason was to sit around all day and await delivery of my new Virgin Media super hub (cost £6.99). In return, I really did sit around all day. Little did I know that the courier’s rule of “between 8 and 6pm” was almost literal. The delivery finally arrived at 4:30pm. This stressed me out incredibly.

Why? Because, after all that waiting, I had to go and do some work anyway. 4:30pm arrived, and I immediately rushed into the office to do a mail merge for my business. This involved a hefty queue in the post office, a ludicrously priced purchase of stamps, a run back to the office, printing, folding, sticking.

Then at 5:15pm my carriage awaited. To go off to my next job, which had been sitting, waiting, all day.

Back home at 8:30pm, I then proceeded, for the next two hours, to do some remote technical support for a new client I have won, which I had promised to do after 6pm (best time when the computers are not in use…). Along with the bits and bobs of work done during the day, I think I managed to still do a full day of work, even when I said I wouldn’t.

Good Friday. In the office at 8am. Having an informal discussion with someone we want to take on but don’t know if we can afford it. Then doing more work, general discussions, tidying, a small amount of fixing and minor catching up.

Home for 3:30pm. Back out again immediately because I had to do shopping. Back home to do more remote fixing for new client, who seemed to be working on Good Friday properly. This is not good.

Easter Saturday. The plan is to digest my company’s “Quality Management System” today, and do all the things I should have been doing over the last several months.

This is not a non-working weekend by any stretch of the imagination.

The problem is simple: work is my life. Work is my identity. Work is where I will – hopefully – continue to make a decent return on the time I am investing. Not that I have any time to spend what I’m earning…

In the meantime, some of my customers, both home and work, continue to send me e-mails. I do not reply to them. I cannot show to them that I do not use my holiday weekends as holidays. I cannot open the door. The problem, though, is that some of these e-mails are urgent, and leaving them till Tuesday will probably cost me business. That’s not fair on me at all, but it does seem comical that I try to maintain a strict outward show of protecting my holiday time jealously, while secretly working all the bloody time.

There is something wrong with modern life. We are entirely responsible for remoulding our work culture into an ethos of “(s)he who works longest, looks best”. We have had our evenings and our weekends invaded with e-mails and text messages and now WhatsApp and other conversations. We are all guilty of replying to them, let alone just reading them, and allowing our work to also take over our alleged free time.

Part of this influence is just the nature of capitalism – and how it slowly is engulfing our very identities – for the pursuit of more and more. It’s starting to twist to the point that now the people who say bold statements as “I do not answer the phone after 5pm” or “I do not read my e-mails at weekends” are looked at as a bit weird. We invest bizarre justifications such as “But why not deal with it, because if you don’t it will only make the morning 100 times more difficult!”

I also know people who set an out of office autoreply just for the weekend. Imagine that… we have degenerated so much as a work culture now that we have to have an actual system that reminds senders that their e-mail sent at 9pm on Friday might not get a response until Monday…

Maybe – just maybe – Easter Sunday will actually be a day off.

Marching On

I am cheating here. I know I thought about posting many times during the month and didn’t. Now I’m going back in time a couple of days and posting in there…

There has been good reason though. I can genuinely say it must have been the busiest month of my life. I’ve never worked so hard for so long without a break, on all fronts of life.

Work is busy on both sides. My business is very busy and the other business that I’m a director of is also massively busy. This creates a tension as there are only so many hours in the day.

It also creates a tension as I have been essentially bankrolling the other business from my personal business since December. It was always with a hope that a day would come when I would get it all back, but in recent months, as my directors loan grew larger and larger, I was starting to really worry.

I am pleased to report that on Friday we received our largest ever remittance. I’ve never seen the like… Over 25k in one go. Happily, this was enough to make a dent in the company’s debt to me. And there is a similar amount still to come.

It’s a partial relief. We need another three months of this to turn the corner. So far we have it, but my business partner is again wanting us to spend money. He is right, as we must continue to build our infrastructure but it pains me that I’m getting nothing out of my business loans. Not yet anyway.

Meanwhile my personal life is approximately 0%. In the last few weeks I have been getting up early, getting complicated stuff done in the peace and quiet, then spending all day in the office, then going home to do even more work in the quiet of the evening. That is not a life.

The only good thing I did do was last Saturday night when I helped a friend put on a concert. This was great as I always enjoy helping out behind the scenes at events. I wish I had time to do more things like that. The concert itself was a triumph, and behind the scenes we did well. I’m forever impressed by people younger than me with their technical ability. Much respect to the couple of teenagers who did 75% of the setup for the staging, lighting and sound.

I’m sure I have more grey hairs now than ever before. My mum says I need to get married before it’s too late. Frankly, and this is quite sad, I don’t even have the time. Bizarrely for others, it just doesn’t actually bother me…