Thursday, October 23, 2003
Things are reasonably under control on the work front at the moment, and, as I've a whopping six weeks' leave owing me, I'm taking the next week off. In today's pre-holiday wind-down, I've already drawn up a two-page, thirty-three item list of Things To Do, grouped under four separate headings, all colour-coded and with check-boxes and footnotes (of course), as well as an attached spreadsheet to monitor my progress.
For most normal, right-thinking people in possession of a life, taking time off would include at least one of the following: the Eliasson weather installation at Tate Modern; a couple of nights in rehab; relaxing on a Greek island somewhere, Iliad in one hand, lager lout in the other (remind me to tell you my Faliraki story sometime); a leisurely meal at a fancy restaurant; sleeping in late under crisp, white sheets; or just a long meandering walk in the countryside, enjoying the first frost of an English winter.
This Stranger, on the other hand, shall be embarking on constructive and sensible tasks: waxing floors and cleaning Windows; reconciling accounts and sewing on buttons; reading some "improving" literature, and trying to teach himself some programming; and spending at least a daily three hours on a couple of ideas which might bring some extra work his way. You see, I find it almost impossible to just sit around and do nothing. If I've not filled the unforgiving minute with its full sixty-five seconds' worth, then I've not been trying hard enough.
It's a work ethic and guilt trip instilled in me when I worked mostly for myself, and not the Grown-Up company I do today. As a freelancer, you never know when that next cheque's coming in, or that last promised job's going to fall through. Constantly on the go, planning my day meticulously to take advantage of every available minute, I used to beat myself up mercilessly whenever I gave myself an afternoon off. It's only recently that I've removed that sign above my desk at home which reads Why Aren't You Working?, and realised that – hey, guess what! – it's OK to take time off (and, now you're an employee, you actually get paid for it!).
That's why, even with the coming holiday week, I'm still planning on doing stuff that'll produce something tangible at the end of it. But if anyone can locate my "Off" switch, feel free to press down on it very hard indeed, disconnect me from the mains, and then transport me to the nearest pub to train me up on all this standing and staring lark.
Or, at the very least, tell me about your favourite waste of time. And whether you think I'd enjoy it.