Tag Archive | Work

How are the margins going?

One term in with my margin ruling, and my absence from blithering away on my blog may indicate how well I’ve done at blending work and LIFE. 

It’s actually been the most stressful term I’ve had. Ridiculous bureaucratic changes with Orwellian doublespeak and unrealistic timelines; “tools” that don’t work and are introduced without training. Training for other things that is provided by people reading scripts but who can’t answer questions that are off-script. I’m not the sort of person who can smile wryly and say it is what it is and just work around inane bureaucracy. I have to point out pompous, stupid, pointless decisions and processes. 

So yeah. I haven’t really cut back on hours but I have ruled a clear margin. No work emails at home. No work emails on the weekend. No work emails after hours. Full stop. Period. 

And I have noticed the difference. 

My week at work has varied from 42 hours to over 55 hours. It not just the hours, of course. It’s the stress of decision making, leading change, dealing with above mentioned idiotic bureaucracy, and the pace of work. And naturally, I don’t stop thinking about how to manage things and go over plans in my head after work. 

But the other thing is I have made sure I have done the things that sustain me and build me up. Things I enjoy. 

So enough of the whinging, I will be back to review the term’s fun. 

Time: Having a broad margin in your life

I read a reference to someone famous writing they wanted a margin in their life. I can’t remember who, and I can’t be arsed finding the reference (it was in Gretchen Rubin’s book, Happier at Home, which I have returned to the library) as I see that as wasting the margin that I want in my life. But I think it was that Thoreau fellow. 

Anyway, I read the reference and thought, in arm pumping style, which is so not me, “Yes, that’s what I want.” 

I want a margin to allow me to do or not do things. Things that do not HAVE TO BE DONE. Things that do not shout at me to be done. A margin to breath. A margin to laze around until afternoon in my pjs. A margin to blog or daydream or gaze out the window and think about gardening. A margin to sit in front of the fan and enjoy the white noise and background family noises and be slothful. 

I used to love drawing margins in my workbooks at school. 2.5cm in red pen, using a ruler of course -how could people stand the wiggly, crocked free-hand line? The margin gave space so the page was not crammed with writing. Of course it gave room to correct errors, if, heavens above, corrections were needed in copying notes or in first drafts. But I just loved the space for nothing but to be space. 

This makes me twitch. Too cramped.

Ah!! Much better.


I want a margin in my life to protect me from work demands. (And sometimes from the demands of homeownership and adult life.)

When I’m home I want to Be At Home. When I leave the office I want to clock off from work. 

My boss sent me a text one Friday this year at quarter past five saying he’d call me later that afternoon to discuss an issue. Really, in whose definition is after five, the afternoon??? Surely the afternoon is nearly up and we are moving into the evening? And it is Friday!

I responded by saying I was now socialising and it’d have to wait until Monday morning. He apologised and explained that he’d written the text before he got on a plane and the text must have only sent upon landing. Still, he planned to contact me after his flight landed and after he had collected his luggage and got to the car from long term parking and he was driving home from the airport. That would be way after 5.30pm. Not afternoon by anyone’s standards, surely?

And by discuss issues he’d off-load a heap of shit by discussing a complaint about which I could do nothing until Monday so I’d just feel annoyed all weekend. 

I am proud of myself for managing my manager. 

Other steps on building my margin: I haven’t looked at my work emails out of hours, since disconnecting the work email account from my phone. 

OK, I haven’t been totally free after hours. Phone calls. Thinking how to deal with some issues. Discussing issues with colleagues. But still I am doing much better at “clocking off” and feeling much better. 

I’m averaging about 45 hours a week at work.  Effectively I work non-stop, maybe stopping for 15 minutes for lunch, but usually working while I eat. Really that’s enough. I am not taking my work home. 

I’m ruling a margin around my life. 

PS. On searching for images on margins in life turns out lots of people want margins and it’s a common concept in self-help blogs and books. That’s me! Jumping on the bandwagon late in life. Oh well, better late than never. Some sites tell you “Five simple ways to create margins”, others how better to use margins. Pfft. Well, der. I need to switch off my connectivity, especially from work. And walk out of the office. Who’d a thunk it??? Anyway, I’ve gone with my metaphoric exercise book margins rather than the usual metaphors of a mindful, quiet, sunset, natural image. Way too obvious!!!

Work, life, imbalance 

Regular readers know I don’t write about my work in this blog, except to say how stress from work affects my sleep and my time to blog. 


I’ve mused before out work and identity.  I don’t want to say work is not part of my life. But it is not all of me, of of my desires, all of what I want to with my time. 

I used not to take balance to mean that time has to be equal because my work ethic meant I accepted spending more time working. But then I read about the 40 hour week and how the unions campaigned for 8 hours work, 8 hours rest and 8 hours whatever. Now I know that wasn’t for management but my award says I work a 7 hour day. 

But don’t you get all those holidays? ask most people and recently a Queensland pollie. Yes, but if I worked in state office, time spent over that accrues for flexi-days off. 

And a couple of minor things took places that really pissed me off. Basically bureaucrats making determinations that ignored the hours spent working and some policy determinations that were just stupid and heartless. 

So I thought I would work out reasonable work hours. And just “let it go” for all the things not done. 

Let’s look at my award. I apparently  work a 7 hour week. That’s a 35 hour week. Let’s say that is for your usual 48 weeks a year. That’s 1,680 hours a year. 

Now let’s cram that into 41 weeks of school term. That’s just under 41 hours a week. But l will donate that extra bit of an hour, effectively working an extra 4 hours above my award every year. Generous, aren’t I?

Anyway the 41 hour week equates to just over 8 hours a day. So if I work 7.45am to 4.45pm without a break, I am working 9 hours a day. Most of my recess and lunch are spent dealing with work issues, but I am happy to concede I must take 15 minutes for morning tea and 30 minutes for lunch. So that becomes 8 hours and 15 minutes a day working. 

At least every second week I have an evening function: so add 2 to 3 hours on for these, though some are much longer, over four hours. And if it is too much bother to go home, because I have work to do, I end up staying from 7.45am until 11pm. A long day!

I’m reclaiming my time. To gain back the time given to evening functions, I will leave 2 hours and 15 minutes earlier once a month for my massage; 3 hours early from once a term after a set work meeting and an hour and 45minutes  on Fridays to beat the traffic. 

Reclaiming my equilibrium and equanimity. Not just my time. 

How, you ask?

I’ve taken my work emails off my iPhone. I won’t have my email account sitting open on my desktop. I will look at the emails three times a day – on getting to work, before lunch and an hour before leaving. And I will have automatic out of office replies for holiday times, saying I am unable to access my email account. If it’s an emergency they can phone and if it isn’t they can wait. 

I will shut my door more to get my work done rather than be available to take other people’s buck passing. 

I will walk out the door and let things go if they can’t be done in the time given. 

OK, reality time. I know I will spend some weekends doing work at some times of the year. But see, it isn’t just the hours but the emotional and intellectual intensity of the work. I need to put these restrictions up and learn to be less of a perfectionist at work. 

I’ll let you know how I go. 

Not working

I’m currently on sick leave. One week in of two weeks. While I am recovering from a minor op, I am taking the chance to get things done around the house. 

I will have a new bathroom next month so I’ve been making some calls and paying invoices and chasing up orders. I’ve done some spring cleaning, sorting and decluttering. finished spring cleaning one son’s bedroom. I have booked a fellow to come on Monday to tidy the front garden. 

I have booked my next Botox appointment. (They are booked up for weeks!!! Apparently coming towards Christmas they get very busy.)

I am going to make pumpkin soup for dinner – before the pumpkins go off!!!

I’ve had some friends come and visit and another one is coming, with cake!!!, tomorrow. 

I have to say, this time off work is making me greedy for more time off work. I know I’m recovering from surgery but there’s so much to be done around the house and yard, and I haven’t even started planning our trip to France next year! I haven’t been walking – I can’t walk too much yet. And I haven’t been out and about, visiting places around my fair city. 


While I’ve been off, I have received exciting news. 

Mr S and I have both been accepted into the Deferred Salary Scheme. That means we get 80% of our pay for the next four years and get the fifth year off. Yay!!!!! More than a whole year of no work. 

So while my work may be part of my identity, I am looking forward to redefining myself. 

Roll on the next four years!!!