Monday, March 27, 2006

Work work work work work work

I started (another!) new part-time job today. I'm working one day a week for the next two or three months for a government department, updating their website, and fixing various technical glitches.

I only did seven hours today, but my god! I had forgotten what it was like to do what I think of as "essence of work" for so long at a stretch. "Essence of work" is essentially (hah!) what you actually get done in between answering emails, attending meetings and seminars, talking to people who drop by the office to chat, making coffee, etc, and I generally don't cope well with doing more than an hour of it at a time.

In one of my parallel lives (a.k.a. other part-time jobs) as a research assistant, I only get to bill for the time I actually spend working, so I tend to spend less time doing all these frivolous bits and pieces and more time achieving measurable goals. All the same, on an afternoon devoted to research assistant work, I might "work" for four hours, but only be able to bill for three.

Today, though:

  • I didn't know anyone yet (apart from one person who is working on another floor), so had no distractions from people stopping by to talk to me.
  • I'm just casual staff, so didn't have to attend any meetings.
  • I had my own office, so no distractions from office mates.
  • I was still feeling ultra conscientious (and only Internet Explorer was available), so spent no time at all surfing, checking email, or similar.
  • It turned out the building has no cafeteria or nearby shops, so I took no lunch break.
  • There was nowhere to walk to, and no cups in the tearoom, so I didn't have any reason to leave the office much at all.
All of which led to me spending seven hours straight doing essence of work.

This was a bit of a wake-up call to my slacker PhD student persona. But I'm hoping that the rhythm set up by starting each week with a day of full-on work like that might spill over and influence my work ethic for the rest of the week.

There's no harm in dreaming.