Data Manager – a job title to inspire visions of large excel spreadsheets, tick box menus and random computer error 6319-C (because A and B are completely different problems)
I’ve been working in the same company for six years now, I have had several promotions, hired staff and taken charge of a team of people. However, to me, all this is a side effect of something else. I’ve managed to stay in the same place, spending my evenings and weekends doing things I love with people I care about.
After living for a year in Manchester, I lost my first job. They didn’t have the budget to keep me on. However, someone I had worked with as part of that role offered me another job.
Warning, I am going to break a social taboo here and quote pay levels.
I had been earning £20k a year; the new job would see me on £15k. A bit of a shock though easily enough to survive on (back in 2010 anyway). I didn’t want to go back home to my Mum’s and start job hunting again, I had got some good friends, started playing at some different sports clubs and I was enjoying my life. So I took the hit and stayed.
I’m glad I did.
Not because I did well at the new job and worked my way up a few rungs. But because I got to stay within my new found network of friends, team mates and fellow students.
Work has overtaken my time and my life a few times. I’ve worked late and then later. I started checking emails at home before going to sleep because I was anxious about how things were playing out for me the next day.
I don’t do that anymore. It is something I still have to check myself on, because I like to do a good job, whatever the job is. Out of a sense of duty, or indebtedness, or just hating doing something badly when I know how to do it well, it is easy for me to start trying to take on the mountain of tasks that present themselves over the course of an office day. But I know that thirty minutes extra will creep into an hour, and before I know it I’m heading home at 9pm most nights a week.
Once in a while, maybe every four weeks, I will help my boss out by staying a couple of hours late to meet a big deadline. That though, means there is enough trust between us that I can ask to leave a half hour early one day a week for a few weeks; to attend evening classes in something I’m passionate about learning.
I would still like to edge further hours of “work” out of my life and bring in a few more hours to learn a new language properly, or start swimming regularly on top of my other training.
There is a gap in the job market for me, for a well paid job that I don’t have do a full five days a week. I earn more than enough for me now, and could take a chunky pay cut and still do the things I want outside of work. But the extra money doesn’t buy me any extra time. However, a more flexible hours job such as (my actual first formal job) a barman, doesn’t pay well enough to cut back on your hours.
The penultimate answer* would be a job that was also my spare time, my passions and dreams. I have thought about this, but I haven’t found a solution for me just yet.
I’ve made a start with little things, such as making the most of the time I’m on the train heading to and from work. It’s an hour total, and enough time to pack in some language lessons, or reading about something I want to learn for my own benefit. Enough of checking my work email on my commute; that’s 10% of my time that I should be making the most of.
I make the most of my lunch breaks too – no sitting at my desk and slipping back into work before my hour is done. I could do with a low cost gymn opening up within walking distance of the office, but until then, I can edit some more video montages on my iPad in the staff room, or just enjoy some music.
Maybe a 10-12 weeks sabbatical will give me a new perspective, maybe it wont. But without loosing my wish to do a good job when I am at work, I am keeping an eye on the boundary between the two and remembering why I am ultimately working at all.
If, as with many people, your job is something you do because you need to earn a living and not because it is a cause you are passionate about, then a network of good friend’s and a community of people around you is a great anchor, stopping you from forgetting why you are doing the job; to spend time in that group.
Having a good community around me means that, at the end of a working day, rather than leaving the office, I am going towards that community that I want to be sharing my time with.
*not the ‘ultimate’ answer because there is always room for improvement.
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