Laid off: not the same as Out of Work

So as some folks grokked from a Twitter post I made on Monday, I was laid off this week[1]. This was (fortunately) not something entirely unexpected; I report directly to the director of human resources and, without getting into the details too much, I had as much warning as any sane person could realistically expect and then some. I parted on good terms, exiting (I hope) with a certain amount of dignity, and garnered myself (again, I hope) no small number of positive references, should I require them.

So… how’s it going?

This joke, it turns out, is not beneath me.
This joke, it turns out, is not beneath me.
The comment made on Monday night was that the Wednesday night tabletop game should be awesome, because I’d have a lot more time to prep.

Yeah… not so much.

I’m actually kinda busy.

See, at my “final meeting”, I was offered a contract job to complete some long-term projects that my now-former employer really needed to see finished, but which they couldn’t retain me as a regular employee to work on. I took that offer for a number of fiduciary reasons (and the simple fact that, as a card-carrying Compulsive, I wanted to see the projects completed as well). The effect is that I’m working from home, collecting a reasonable check every time I wrap up one of these ten projects and (perhaps best of all) continuing to enjoy the company’s excellent benefits until I’m done. It’s not as-good-as, but as weaning processes go I have a vanishingly small amount of space in which to complain.

But… yeah, I’m busy. I’ve got eight weeks to finish up these ten projects. Also, a website transplant (“bring my blogger blog into wordpress, so I can host it on my site, and make it look exactly like all these other pages I have on the site… which were all built professionally… with lots of tables”) for another author.

And, of course, looking for another regular dayjob, which in my experience is probably the hardest job I’ve ever done or will ever do.[2]

So all of those things combine to create a kind of weird situation where I should (theoretically) be footloose and fancy free, and I’m not.

I’ve been on the internet less

trooper-google
You’d think (or at least I would), that working from home would provide ample time for idle browsing, twittering, Google Readering, and so forth, but that hasn’t been the case. I’ve been so wrapped up in my own little maelstrom of crap that I didn’t even realize I hadn’t updated the blog until someone else mentioned it. Looking over my twitter page for the last four days is… illuminating. And quiet.

I need to fix that, but first I need to remember how to “do” this kind of work, which is different from other kinds of work. There’s a lot to do, and the gestalt is hard to fully grasp.

Plus, there’s all the Mass Effect 2 to play. I mean, c’MON.

How is Work Done?

Certainly my non-day-job of writing requires working from home, but that’s different — I do that when I get home — essentially I use my play-time on more, different, work. What I’m doing now is different, and I’m not sure I remember how I should go about it.

When does the work day start?

When does it end? (That’s a big one: I find the line between “I didn’t do enough today to avoid guilt.” and “I think I’m burning myself out on work.” to be one so fine as to be nigh-invisible.)

What I’m saying is that I had my patterns and rules of measurement that let me judge how well things were going in a given day, and all those measuring sticks have been cast aside – I need new ones.

Those of you (and I know there are more than a few) reading this from the comfort of a work-at-home situation, please: share your insight and suggestions in the comments. [4]

I need your pajama-clad wisdom.
I need your pajama-clad wisdom.

Once I get properly settled (or once the first project is wrapped up), I have thoughts to share on writing and the Mass Effect 2 pause button. [5]


1 – Me and about 100 other people. Yeah.

2 – Which isn’t to say I’m not good at it. I worked for several years as a contract-to-hire guy, leaving a string of pleased and better-educated customers in my wake, so I know how to get work.[3]

3 – But it wearies me.

4 – Those of you reading this from the comfort of your regular-work-place, feel free to recommend me the next time your company needs to hire someone in training and education.

5 – I also need to schedule a post to publish one year from now, apologizing for all the Mass Effect babble I spewed back in 2010.

12 Replies to “Laid off: not the same as Out of Work”

  1. Three things off the top of my head:
    1) thanks for the direct Twitter msg.
    2) The rule in our house is, “You put your shoes on when you’re working, you can take them off when you’re no longer at work.” It’s a psychological thing that works pretty well – if my shoes are on the kids know that even if I’m sitting on the couch I can’t play.
    3) Do you do “Train the Trainer” type set-ups?

  2. I’m sorry you got laid off. It’s happened to me twice, once with warning and once without, and they both sucked — but ultimately pushed me into my happy place, which is working at home.

    “I didn’t do enough today to avoid guilt.” and “I think I’m burning myself out on work.”

    I’ve been alternating between those two poles for 3 years now. The first statement is really rarely true; I work plenty, and if you’re compulsive, you do too. So assume the voice that tells you you’ve done too little is a big fat liar whose trousers are aflame.

    The second statement: If it occurs to you to think it, it’s already true. Take a break, even if it’s just 15 minutes to run around the yard with the cat.

    Remember that when you work in an office, you probably don’t WORK 8 hours a day. You may be present, but most people spend time chatting with colleagues and sneaking peeks at their favorite Web sites throughout the day. At home, if you’re PRODUCING for more than 6–7 hours, it’s probably more than enough.

    And then it feels really, really weird to have more free time. But you adjust.

    My last bit of wisdom: learn to search all of Craigslist, not just your local area (you can google the method; it was easy enough for ME to do). Devise a couple fine-tuned searches, send them to your RSS reader, and watch the possibilities flow in.

    1. Lots of good thoughts here – thanks!

      I’ve never used Craigslist for things like this — I will have to give it a shot.

  3. Work-at-home boundaries:
    –I have certain music that I mostly listen to while I’m working (puts me in a certain concentration mood).
    –I map out the days for the week–do I need to put in 9 to 5 to get it done, or more/less?
    –timers: 50 or 60 minutes and then check mail, start a load of laundry, etc. I keep the pencil sharpener, snacks, printer in another room so I have to get up and move around some.
    –remind myself that things like Twitter and coffee shops aren’t a bad thing–they are my break room and office potluck.

    Best wishes on the transition–it’s a nerve-wracking time for job unrest.
    .-= Ann Marie´s last blog ..The Devices We Reach For =-.

  4. Well, that sucks. Condolences, supportive wishes, etc., flow from hither to thither. If there’s anything we can do and so forth.

    (Alas, my company’s training group does not, in fact, do any training themselves.)

  5. The things I would hear of are in the Springs, so probably not any good.

    “When does work end?” Have you worked out a cash flow/hourly rate? That is, “Given X expenses, I need to make Y dollars this week, and I estimate the project will take Z hours, which works out to A hours per day”?

    I would go for, “I need to work 5 cash-flow hours per day, and I will work 3-5 invest in myself hours per day.” In this case, investing in yourself meaning finding a day job.
    .-= DeAnna´s last blog ..Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-02-28 =-.

  6. I live with you, so you already know my best advice — get out of the house at least once a day, even if it’s just to run errands or go to the mailbox, and as came up this evening, have a way to distinguish between the days. I do different things on Mondays and Wednesdays than I do on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And Fridays — well, Fridays are always easy to distinguish!
    .-= ktbuffy´s last blog ..3/3/2010 =-.

    1. I agree – getting up and out is a good idea when working from home. (It’s not a bad idea working at the office, either.)

  7. My advice would be “come to Alaska, its hiring”, but I know that won’t work, so good luck in the job search.

  8. When I did the grad school thing I did the – when working dress like it with shoes, slacks, socks – and the same playlists for working – routines. Put me in the mind space to work at home.

    And yes to Craigslist for job searches.

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