Taking Liberties with Time

Originally posted on 6-16-2010 (second post)
I know I am not alone in wondering why the hell all the labor saving devices we employ don’t end up giving us more time for well…other stuff. I hear friends and work colleagues bemoaning how much time they devote to email (and how many emails they get on a daily basis), or struggling to remember a burgeoning number of user-unfriendly passwords (…must contain at least three uppercase letters, two lowercase letters, two numbers, two non-alphanumeric symbols and be no more than 8 characters long—CATch22!!), or scrambling to update their tweets and facebook statuses, or wondering why there seems to be less and less time to do the things we want and more and more administrivia. I was thinking about this when I got an email asking me to enroll in an online course on maintaining work-life balance. The irony struck me as funny until I began considering the issue. I clicked the link to the website and got a “File Not Found” message. It would seem that perhaps the person responsible for updating the work-life balance website was taking a much needed day off.

A visit to Wikipedia informs me that:

“Over the past twenty-five years, there has been a substantial increase in work which is felt to be due, in part, by information technology and by an intense, competitive work environment. Long-term loyalty and a “sense of corporate community” have been eroded by a performance culture that expects more and more from their employees yet offers little security in return. Many experts predicted that technology would eliminate most household chores and provide people with much more time to enjoy leisure activities; but many ignore this option, encouraged by prevailing consumerist culture and a political agenda that has ‘elevated the work ethic to unprecedented heights and thereby reinforced the low value and worth attached to parenting’…Many Americans are experiencing burnout due to overwork and increased stress. This condition is seen in nearly all occupations from blue collar workers to upper management. Over the past decade, a rise in workplace violence, an increase in levels of absenteeism as well as rising workers’ compensation claims are all evidence of an unhealthy work life balance….Even when vacation time is offered in some U.S. companies, some choose not to take advantage of it. A 2003 survey by Management Recruiter International stated that fifty percent of executives surveyed didn’t have plans to take a vacation. They decided to stay at work and use their vacation time to get caught up on their increased workloads…This increase in work hours over the past two decades means that less time will be spent with family, friends, and community as well as pursuing activities that one enjoys and taking the time to grow personally and spiritually.”

Considering this I have found myself puzzling over the unusual situation I have created for myself. I find myself attempting to strike a work-work-life-life balance.

By this I mean that I have what amounts to two full time jobs: a (not-so) “mundane” day job that pays the bills and provides the benefits and provides a slim remainder which funds my (not-yet) “right livelihood” night job which involves creating content, updating websites, tweaking pixels, writing blogs, making videos about the Faelf or the Statue of Liberty, etc. These two jobs require further balance with two lives. There’s the life of the person who goes home after the day job and cooks a meal and wants to kick back and watch a movie and “vegg out” and there’s the person who likes to tweak pixels in the Sidhevairs in her Second Life and hang out twirling in virtual groves, dancing around virtual bonfires, or reclining in a snuggle pile listening to Faerie tales. What makes this all more “interesting” is that there is a good deal of intermixing in my lives. It becomes increasingly difficult to sort out personal sorties into creativity, and where the game of world-building merges into the work of play. Much of this work-work—life-life balance seems to involve a series of glowing screens of various sorts…and keyboards. This latter requires the additional keyboard shortcut balancing act resulting from one work being done on a mac and the other on PCs.

I am one of those people who have allowed their vacation to nearly max out. If I don’t take some soon, I could lose it. When I do take it, I spend the time usually devoted to my “day job” on my “night job”. In the latter I work for myself (mostly) and find that I seem to feel that my boss (me) is not satisfied with my work and wants more.

As we increasingly “virtualize” our lives I think more and more of us are going to be finding ourselves in this unusual situation of trying to manage the ethical, health, and personal balancing act that I have been encountering.

Fortunately, despite the obvious health issues and time management concerns, I do find a great deal of delight and reward in the people I work with during the day and the creative content I play with at night. And in the midst of this, I find myself consoled and uplifted by the blend of 3D worlds with spirit.

Suggestions for time-time-time-time management will be gladly considered. Meanwhile, I juggle creatively and will continue taking liberties with time.

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