Tag Archive | Work

Enforced margins at work

Being on deferred salary scheme means I am getting 80% of my pay. Maybe it should be called the deferred gratification scheme?

Currently I am having some, for want of a better phrase, immediate gratification when it comes to creating my desired margins at work.

OK there is a better phrase. It is called sick leave.

My leg injury means I am working 80% of the week. Yes, I am working 4 days a week for a few weeks. God it's good. Not the being injured bit; the part time work bit.

I could soldier on and not take any sick days. But I found my manic and long work days fatigued my leg. And then I was too buggered when I got home to do my exercises. If I want to heal, the exercises are mandatory. Even without the lack of exercises, work is just fatiguing for my knee. And I am not sleeping well as the brace is extremely uncomfortable. When I take the brace off my knee hurts as sleeping on my side puts sideways pressure on my knee. Flat on my back isn't better as I need to have pillows under my knee as it doesn't straighten out. And yesterday my back started spasming. I think it is all related. Add in I can't do my normal walks which are my relaxation technique.

My award says I work a 7 hour day, but that is sooooo not the case. Nine to ten and a half are the more common, with a few twelve to thirteen thrown in every week or so, and and a fifteen hour day for good measure this week.

My doctor asked what if she gave me a certificate that said I had to work no more ham 8 hours. Ha!! Once I'm there, I can't just walk out. The work doesn't even get done in 10 hours I do work. Parents would complain if they saw me walking out at the eight hour mark for weeks. And the complaint would mean hours more work dealing with pointless complaints. And there's always something more to do. I never get through my work so I often stay for "just one more thing". And it is expected I will be at evening functions.

So I am having a day off a week for two or three weeks. It will cover the final weeks of wearing the brace.

As I am having a sick day, I refuse to do any work on those days. My first one I just relaxed around the house. And did my exercises, of course.

But that limit doesn't mean I have big margins. In the first week, I still worked over what my award says I do, just compressed into four days. So instead of working 35 hours in five days, I worked 42 hours in four days last week.

If I worked in head office, I'd accrue flexi time and get a day off. But I don't.

Not that I am glad I am injured. I truely would rather be working more than full time and have my knee back. But stuff work if it means my future mobility, health and life will be sacrificed! No one from work, no head bureaucrat will be there holding my hand when I am in pain or can't manage stairs.

Still, part time would be so much better. If only I could job share!

Meanwhile I can have breakfast and enjoy looking st my flowering azalea at my back step.

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A WHOLE year off

You may remember I mentioned Mr S and I are in the Deferred Salary Scheme. I mentioned it here.

We are being paid 80% of our salary. 20% goes into an account that we cannot touch. Until the fifth year. Then we get a whole year off. On 80% of our salary. 

Some people have asked why we don’t just save our money. We’d earn more interest. Which wouldn’t be hard because the state government (my employer) keeps the money in an interest free account. We have no say in where the money is kept. 

Well, I know we wouldn’t save. We’d put it on the mortgage. We’d fritter it away. We’d never save 20% of our pay for four years. 

And we couldn’t guarantee that our boss at the time would grant us a year off. In five years time I could have a new boss and he/she could deny my request for leave. With the DSS, the right to leave is guaranteed. Mr S will be 60 when we take the year off. It’d be unlikely his boss would have granted the year then. More likely put pressure on him to retire. And DSS doesn’t count as leave without pay. 

Others have asked why we don’t work through and retire a year earlier than we planned. Retirement is a big decision. When we retire, there will be no more big money coming in. We’d be unlikely to find a similar job at the same pay. This way we can return to work and keep receiving the income that gives us the opportunity to travel. 

Mr S was hesitant about being in the DSS. He is always anxious about any change. He was worried we wouldn’t be able to manage in the reduced income. Never mind that we took on our mortgage when we both earned less, having received promotions since. And our offspring no longer need our wallets for all manner of expenses. 

Anyway, the only thing that has suffered is paying off our mortgage. We are still over paying, just at a reduced rate. But half a year in and Mr S has decided he will apply for another round of DSS as soon as this one ends. So he will get another year off when he is 65. But that’s a long way off. 

We’ve taken small steps to reduced waste, especially in groceries, which reduces wasted money. But our lifestyle has been maintained. And we have a WHOLE year off to which we can look forward. 

Yes, a WHOLE year in addition to our LSL and our regular term breaks. I know! Lucky.! Greedy even. Our pay isn’t too bad. I know many people in private industry who have the same level of responsibility earn heaps more. But they don’t have the security of tenure and the hard won conditions. Time is what I’m greedy for now. Not money to buy stuff. Money to buy time and to do things. 

What are we going to do in our year off? Fulfill some dreams. Do lots of travel. 

  • I’ve always wanted to live in England over spring and summer. So we will rent a cottage in a village and travel around England. Visit lots of towns and villages; do lots of walks along the coast and in the countryside. 
  • Massive roads trips! Up the east coast to the Cape; inland around Victoria and NSW; the Great Ocean Road. With a combie-sized van. Not something reall big but with a bed we can sleep on and a small fridge. Yes, we’ll be grey nomads before we’re too grey.

As we get closer to the year, our plans will firm up. And I will share them here. 

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!!!