A Detailed Report Of Last Week

This is for me.

It begins with a conversation I had with my parents over dinner, in which I told them I’d asked my boss to change my availability to 24 hours a week instead of 40, since I don’t have time to do shit anymore. My dad wasn’t happy to hear this, and stressed that I’d be losing out on money and benefits. I argued that I had no intention of working at Target for more than a few months while trying to launch an art career; which isn’t going to happen working 40 hours a week.

My dad posited that he works 40 hours a week, and he still finds time to do all the stuff he wants to do—so why wasn’t I able to? I replied, “you aren’t exactly getting in 10,000 hours of running, are you?” My dad is a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s idea that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to perfect something, and I like it as well. It’s something we’ve discussed a lot, and whether the theory is totally true or not, the point stands that what I’m trying to do in my time outside of work is launch a career, whereas my dad is indulging in hobbies.

At the start of November I was told, crushingly, that my hours would not be cut yet because we didn’t have enough employees moving into the holiday season. In fact they gave me some of the densest weeks that I’ve had yet. This put me in the corner, because I don’t want to quit my job, and I don’t have solid grounds to outright refuse this work. Plus, it might be a good idea to grind through these weeks and put a couple thousand dollars into savings before I go part time.

It just sucks.

So, exactly how little time do I have, and why? Why is it that other people who work 40 hours don’t have as much trouble pulling it off as I do? I wish I knew, honestly. There are people whom I work with who have multiple jobs, and who go out drinking sometimes, and somehow still get work done. I don’t have any idea how this is possible. I only know about what I’ve experienced myself.

Early into this job, I thought I was going to be able to sleep for four to six hours a night like my cool older friends, and I’d be able to get all kinds of shit done. A week and a half into my job, I collapsed at 3 in the morning one day and slept through work entirely. Rough start.

After that, I tried to get my sleep in earlier, so that there was less chance of me being up all night and having less sleeping time than intended. My schedule was all over the place, so there was little consistency to my sleep, but basically, I was getting it under control.

The amount that I sleep has proven directly proportional to how much energy I have at work, and how well I do at it. My job involves constant physical activity for all 8 hours of work, so if I don’t have a wealth of energy, I can burn out pretty quickly.

On Halloween night, I spent a lot of time hanging out with my friends and only got a couple of hours of sleep. I was dead tired at work, and at the end of the day I was pulled aside by my boss. I made the mistake of, when he asked me how I was feeling, saying that I was “fine, just a bit tired,” when I should have said, “I feel like I’m going to die.” I ended up staring intensely into his eyes without blinking for five minutes while he explained to me that even though he’d never seen me not working or goofing around, it seemed like I’d started going slower, and he needed me to pick up the pace.

At the time that he said this, I was so tired that I was having trouble even comprehending it. I was thinking, “I don’t feel like I was slow…” but I knew that I must have been, because how could I possibly be moving fast when I’m so tired that my perception of time probably isn’t even accurate? That night I slept the entire night, came in the next day and went HAM, operating the fastest and best that I ever have. That was the day that I found out my hours weren’t being cut, and I’d be working full time for the rest of the month.

It was a crushing revelation. I’d just proven to myself that I was incapable of operating on too little sleep, to the point that I could get in trouble for it, and now I was being told that I’d be working more than ever—ergo, sleeping more than ever. I wanted to spend November doing NaNoWriMo and working on big projects. There was little chance of that now.

During the second week of November, I was scheduled to work for five days straight, which had never happened before then. After what happened on the first day, I decided to create a thorough account of everything that I did in the course of that week, just to show how crushingly little I was able to accomplish during that time, both as a reaffirmation for myself, and as evidence to others of why this schedule is unsustainable if I hope to get anything done.

Before I continue, I first want to establish a pretext of what I actually mean by “getting things done.” Around two weeks into my job, I made a text document on my phone called “Some Things To Do.” It contains many short-term, long-term, and continuous objectives that I’ve been working and continue to work towards. In the time between creating the list and the end of October, I completed the objective “Finish Mass Effect 3.” Here’s the rest of the list:

Finish Mass Effect 2 Review (short-term)
Write Mass Effect 3 Review (short-term)
Write about Shepard across the three games (short-term)
Write about theming across the three games (short-term)
Create a movie-length Mass Effect trilogy overview analysis (long-term)
Write VABHS (long-term)
Do concept art for VABHS (continuous)
Practice and research making animations (continuous)
Make an animated video for Algorhythix and Gurantaxqtaxq (long-term)
Continue episodic analysis of MLP (long-term/continuous)
Continue episodic analysis of Lain (short-term)
Watch current season anime (continuous)
Play Silent Hill 2 (short term)
Play Batman Arkham Asylum (short term)
Play Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (short term)
Write a new album (short term)
Make podcast episodes (continuous)
Watch Aoi Hana (short term)

Each day, I would then put a list of things to be done on that particular day underneath this list. For instance, I would have a few running things that I’m working on, and then something like “make videos for the songs on Speak Up!,” which I did during the first week of November.

So, with an understanding of my goals and my reasoning behind my sleep schedule, we can now take a look at what I did this past week.

(One more thing I want to note is that there was a day last month in which I came home from work and passed out at 11:30AM, and didn’t set an alarm. I ended up sleeping until 4:00AM, making me miss work. Because of that, I set a 2:30AM and 3:00AM alarm as soon as I get home each day, and you’ll see that mentioned a lot.)

A Detailed Report of Five Days Full-Time

November 8th: Dad’s Birthday

Wake up to 2:30AM alarm, a little groggy. Brush teeth, get shit together. Watch one episode of anime. Get dressed and ready for work. Drive to 7-11 and buy something to eat. Show up for work 20 minutes early by accident.

4:00AM start work. Get home around 12:30PM absolutely bushed. Pass out immediately.

Wake up around 3:00 PM, and mom wants me to go grocery shopping. We round up the gang and do so.

At 4:30PM we get home, I try to go to bed. However, I am told to go get dad’s soda because we forgot it. I make a run to the store and buy 6 bottles.

Afterwards I lay in bed for 30 minutes but don’t fall asleep. Victor wants to borrow my car to go to Cool Stuff. Knowing dinner will be ready in an hour, I come with him.

It’s just past 6:00PM when we get back from Cool Stuff. I join in dad’s birthday dinner and go to bed immediately afterwards.

I lay in bed for an hour and fail to fall asleep. At 7:30PM I get up out of frustration and make this list. I take my pills, watch the latest two Game Grumps videos, briefly talk to ghostlightining and watch a video he linked me. Go back to bed at 8:04PM.

Still not asleep at 9:00PM. Pass out around 9:30PM.

November 9: Sleep All Day

Wake up to the 2:30AM alarm with an unnecessary jolt. Sleep until 3:00AM alarm. Feel pretty good. Drop a duke, make some breakfast, go to work.

Feel pretty good throughout work. Get home at 12:30. Not particularly tired (mentally).

Watch Madlax episode 15 at 1:00PM. Go to bed at 1:40PM.

Woken by alarm at 9:00PM. Reset alarm for 10:00PM.

Wake by alarm at 10:00PM, and then by Shade coming into the room looking for a Gamecube controller. I come downstairs with him and find him, Victor, Brandon, and Josh playing Super Smash Bros. Melee in training for a tournament the next day. I play SSBM for about an hour and eat a tray of sushi, then watch them play. Go to bed at 12:00AM.

November 10: My Little Pony S3 Premiere

Wake up at 2:30AM alarm. Sleep until 3:00AM alarm.

Get ready for work, eat breakfast, go to work. Start work at 4:00AM

Feel generally good throughout work. Get home at 12:30.

Realizing that the premiere of My Little Pony season 3 came out, I watch it. Afterwards, I write a decent-length post about it. (This adds up to about two hours.) I spend some time watching videos, dicking around on the internet (watching game grumps), and hanging with Shade.

At 5:08PM I start making dinner. Very tired by this point. At 6:11PM I finish dinner and go to bed.

Fall asleep around 7:30PM.

November 11: Not A Lot

Wake up at 2:30AM alarm. Sleep until 3:00AM alarm.

Get ready for work, eat breakfast, go to work.

Weird and very slow day at work. The amount of work we had would’ve been done in less than 4 hours on a normal day, but there were only five of us doing it. Ended up being a full day. Feel good throughout work even though it’s a boring slog. Get home at 12:30. Not particularly tired mentally, and almost not at all physically.

Reply to the excellent 4th anniversary post on kritik der animationskraft. Consider writing a post about episode 3 of My Little Pony, and reread the amazing post by MisfortuneDogged on the episode, but don’t end up writing anything. Search “nigga” on youtube and end up watching a bunch of videos by ModernWarNegro, as well as ten minutes of Chris Rock comedy. Hang with Shade. Do some research on Mindless Self Indulgence and find out they have a new album being Kickstarted. Talk to dad about his newfound love of Chuck Palahniuk novels. Eat a donut. Otherwise generally dick around on the internet.

Start thinking about the possibility of pursuing some creative endeavor. Find myself very tired (mentally) at around 5:00PM.

Spend a while bothering my brothers, and eat dinner at 6:00PM. Finish by 6:20PM. Pass out by 7:00PM.

November 12: The End

Wake up at 2:30AM alarm. Sleep until 3:00AM alarm.

Start work at 4:00AM. Feel good, and strangely testosterone-heavy at work. Get home at 12:50PM.

I stopped my account there since I had the next two days off. I spent the rest of the night recording the third episode of my podcast and generally hanging out.

To summarize with data, here’s what I did in those five days (not counting time after work on day 5):

Total hours: 109

Time spent at work: 43 hours

(66 hours remaining)

Time spent in bed: 41 hours

(25 hours remaining)

Time spent getting ready for work: 5 hours

(20 hours remaining)

Time spent grocery shopping: 1.5 hours

(18.5 hours remaining)

Time spent making and eating dinner: 2 hours

(16.5 hours remaining)

Time spent hanging out with brothers: 4.5 hours

(12.5 hours remaining)

Time spent doing things that I felt pretty good about and were actually on my list of shit to do: 3 hours

(9.5 hours remaining)

If my math hasn’t failed, this leaves about 9.5 hours that I spent dicking around after work when I was tired enough to be out of it, but not tired enough to fall asleep just yet. This was time spent watching Game Grumps, Modern War Negro, and other dumb shit, surfing the web aimlessly, and reading my usual sites.

Had I optimized on those 9.5 hours, fighting through tiredness and anxiety, I could have probably stricken two or three things off of the list, or worked towards one of the continuous goals. Even still, the entire 109 hours, without any sleep, would be needed just to knock out all of the short-term goals on the list.

I think this is pretty self-explanatory. I didn’t even need to prove myself like this, but I really hope that this helps others to see where I’m coming from with my desire to go part-time, and why working so much and having so little time is soul-crushing for me. I don’t dislike my job, but I have no passion for it. It’s a hollow experience, leaving me with nothing but time spent being hollow, which does nothing for me. Those five days happened in such a brief blur that I almost don’t remember them ever having occurred.

After two days off, I’ve got another five days in a row to work, then one day off, and then a ten-hour shift on Thanksgiving night from 8:00PM into early Black Friday. In other words, my schedule actually gets much worse than it already is. If I can’t get my hours cut after Black Friday, I have no idea what I’ll do.

9 thoughts on “A Detailed Report Of Last Week

  1. Egads, you mentioned me! XD

    But seriously:

    1) Working full-time, seasonally, is something I did a lot of—over the summer and while I was taking time off from school (Craigslist helped). Imagine if you worked your ass off, full-time for three or four months, then collapsed for a few weeks, and worked full-time the rest of the year, launching your career. Dunno if it works; I’m kinda a weird dreamer that way. Then again, you’re talking to a freeter, and now that I think about it I’m not even sure how to launch my writing career; take my suggestion with a grain of salt.
    2) People who are good at balancing full-time stuff (I’m awful at it, because work becomes everything to me, followed by sleep, food, and easy entertainment), seem to have put really concrete labels on what they want, as well as how to get it—probably in a step-by-step set-up of small goals. In fact, maybe the sort of careers, etc. they want are nowhere near as expansive or abstract or whatever as yours. You could try timetabling for yourself, if you haven’t already. Or, if it’s impossible in your case, try option 1. Shit, I really should take my own advice.
    3) Geez, sorry about the letdown in all the projects you planned on starting or finishing. I keep mentioning projects in my posts that I rarely start and never finish. NaNoWriMo is kicking my ass; I wish it wasn’t. I spent so much time outlining, I almost forgot to write the damn thing. I mean, I’m trying to get 10,000 words in by Thursday night. Sucks.
    4) I’m really glad you’ve picked up the MLP episode analysis thing. I think you were planning on it even before I wrote the stuff I did, but it’s probably better that a fresh pair of eyes looks at the series. A month of obsessing over “Ticket Master” has me exhausted. Still re-watching eps here and there, of course; not sure I’m ready to jump back in.
    5) You really should finish the Lain posts, but I’m more excited (in a stupid way) about your Madlax recaps. Now that I’m finally going through it myself (started last month), your posts just seem so to-the-point, and occasionally have me rolling. I don’t get what people see in Bee Train’s whole faux-depth thing. You really can’t go into these eps several at a time. You have to clear your mind of distractions (and not be tired), just so that it doesn’t automatically reject all of the bullshit. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve actually sat down to the computer, opened Media Player, actually hovered the cursor over the Madlax ep, facepalmed, and gone, “Fuck, I can’t do this. I’m not…I can’t.”
    6) A lot has been said about Aoi Hana, but I’m optimistic that you can be nicer to it in your review/thoughts about it than I was. I keep thinking I’m missing something, and I’m near-insane, but it still doesn’t seem right to me. Then again, I’m bad with the history of yuri, etc. If you’d told me years ago that Sasameki Koto isn’t even a novel, unexpected plot idea, or that it panders to people already familiar with the genre, I wouldn’t have believed you.

    • I’m also glad to pick those episodic analyses back up if I can. There’s been a number of series in the past that I started doing and spent forever saying I’d get back to them eventually, never doing so. For instance, I refused to call my Utena episodics cancelled for like a year even though I only did 3 eps. Despite that, these series on my list are ones that I not only still really enjoy the posts I’ve already done on them, but still have a desire to finish writing about them. My posts on the first two eps of MLP aren’t probably as deep as they could be, but there’s plenty of time to flesh out everything as I go along with the huge show. Your post made me realize that I needed to go deeper into the themes and such and not just analyze the little things as I’d done before.

      Aoi Hana… if it’s all like it is so far, I’ll have nothing to say. The entirety of my discourse on the first two episodes has been “eh, it’s kinda gay.” We’ll see.

  2. Your hourly counts are pretty normal. What you want to do seems more like the flag you should raise–I mean, is there some goal you want to achieve and will these things accomplish that? How long will these projects take? Are they worth your time? It just seems that some stuff you do is going to take a lot of time and I guess you could fudge the math and count some of that as stuff you do to relax and enjoy yourself.

    I think my biggest problem when I worked retail was not waking up at 3 or whatever AM, but going to bed at 7 or 8pm. I remember going to bed when the sun was still out, and that’s just kind of weird. I also didn’t like naps unless I really needed it, because it invariably adds start-up and slow-down time to my pace.

    More importantly you’ve recognized that sleep is something you absolutely need to have to excel, so make sure you factor that in. That’s not something a lot of people even realize until much later in life.

    • You reminded me of something I forgot to include in this post, which is an account of how I slept prior to this. My natural (if you can call it that) sleep cycle doesn’t occur in 24-hour periods. I’m used to being awake for twelve to eighteen hours and sleeping for twelve to fifteen hours, which is why getting this schedule down is even harder. As you can see above, while I got enough sleep each night in those five days, I didn’t go to sleep at the same time on any two days. My saving grace is just that I’m genuinely on the verge of collapse by a reasonable hour each day.

      I could easily fudge the math on playing some of those video games and watching anime, true. All of the reviews are genuine goals towards something like a sponsored youtube account and recognition as a high-class games analyst. The writing is about moving towards the possibility of being a paid author. The illustrations are about contributing to the skill sets for those other things. Writing an album is about getting better as a musician, and making podcasts has to do with all of these ambitions as well. Writing episodic analysis of MLP though, is really just for fun.

  3. Pingback: Digibro’s Media Journal (November 2012) | My Sword Is Unbelievably Dull

  4. I suddenly wanted to find and read this article (you mention it in one of your podcasts which I re-listen to way too much). I’m guessing it’s a topic your brain has put well into the bin by now, but it’s one *my* brain is still very much franticing about.

    I’m actually finally off again; my job works mostly seasonally (I guess like FortuneDogged said up there). From around the moment I started doing my Steam game reviews to around the time I finished the ‘Problem with manga fight scene adaptations’ video, I was at work around 3 to 4 days a week, and about a 3rd of those days were very short, and 1/6th of those days were extremely short.

    From then until right after I finished SAO2pt3, I was at work most of the week every week. Because I was making enough money as-was (and making some progress in making money through internet projects thanks to you), I was able to convince my dad to cut a day off each week. So I was doing 4 to 5 days a week in the fall season, instead of the 5 to 6 days a week that I’d suffered in similar seasons prior. However, these days were still usually really long. Around 7:30 I’d be having to be getting ready, and because of long travel times it’d often be 6 or 7 that I’d get back home.

    What I realized at one point, was that on a day that you go to work, with the time you have left, you get to do ONE thing. If you decide to do A single thing that day, that thing will be your day. Any other tasks or activities will be but fragments, falling into the cracks of time in-between your time at work and your thing.

    So fuck everything, has basically been my life motto for two years now. I refuse to go as many places and do as many things as physically possible; I’d do whatever I can to avoid going shopping, I hardly set aside time to do extra things. Every action I make, I have to justify strongly to myself how it will enhance my career/life.

    Since Christmas, though, things have been excellently cleared for me cuz it’s 10- degrees out there so no one is getting their windows or gutters cleaned, but I still have this anxiety going on. When I’m working all week, every hour feels like an agonizing countdown, in which it always feels like “NO AARON IM NOT GOING TO DO WHATEVER IT IS YOU WANT ME TO DO” is right underneath my tongue.

    But when I’m all free and unleashed, every day feels like an agonizing countdown to the end of the slow season. I feel like I have this aneurysm of a mission statement: I HAVE to be making legit money from what I’m doing before the next busy season. I get legitimately wrecked when it happens.

    You can’t be a full time artist (or at least, I can’t be) when my brain and body have to be devoted to a repetitive, uncreative labor. And hell what I do is way more free, outside taking in the fresh air, and varied of a job than what you were doing at Target. I get to even listen to whatever I want with my earbuds in most of the time, and zone out because I’ve done the job enough to know how to do everything.

    But there’s like this lack of energy that murders my ability to carve new pastures of my soul. I’ll be burnt out on all the music I listen to, but can’t bring myself to check out new music. Same with shows; I didn’t watch any non-internet series those whole two months. And even with internet shows themselves, even if there’s no new episodes of something I’m subbed to, I couldn’t build up the constitution to try out something new.

    I was at this one client’s house of an old lady and her husband (who was somewhere), and I noticed how there was a stone bust on a shelf, right next to a painting, of, the stone bust. I asked, and she told me it was a painting by her husband. She showed me a few of the paintings he’d made, but they were all from decades prior.

    “He had all this equipment all in the middle of the living room, painting every evening” she said something like.
    “Then we finally moved in a bigger space and he had his own separate room for his art, and then he never touched a paintbrush again”

    I asked her if this expansion to a new house also accompanied a general stabilization of their income and lifestyle, and told me that that was more-or-less the case.

    “That’s probably why.” I told her. “Your struggling and pressure in life is what inspired and pushed him to paint, and once the pressure was mostly gone, his heart didn’t have a need for art.”

    So art through adversity, blah blah. That’s for people who only engage in the arts as a hobby; for people like ourselves, we’re pressured into making art by the anxiety of *not making art*, so that works out a lot more conveniently.

    That “adversity”, though, makes me think about how important having to go to work is to make the creative process work in me. I imagine even for you, the specter of a dayjob looms somewhere in the back of your mind, waiting for you to lose your audience; cheering on your doubts and inspirational ruts.

    Here I am making another nonsensical comment on your stuff that doesn’t go anywhere, ignited by some abstract impulse the piece gave me, and then I fingerraped my keyboard for 15 – 20 minutes while bleary-eyed tired

    • You probably haven’t heard this, but my New Year’s resolution is to make 30,000 dollars by the end of the year doing my job. And as of today, I doubled my own rent as a challenge to myself. So yes, I believe in the power of struggle.

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