Life has been way too busy lately: with new puppies, major writing jobs, existing web design clients, ongoing contracts, too much unpaid work and an actual summer, the pressure has reached venting point. Something has to go, and it will be some of the unpaid work for others.
A few years ago I avowed I would no longer join committees, or offer to do unpaid work. At least not for a few years. Then, before I knew it, I’d popped my head up somewhere and said “I could do that”. Then I went and did it again, and again.
Now my unpaid roster includes being a member of the Webstock organising committee, writing regular articles for About This Particular Mac, a recent one-off article for Digital Web magazine, and every couple of months I optimise photos for the Nature’s Corner section of the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary website.
I also write a MacTip every week, write posts in this blog and my TiKouka blog, and theoretically write posts for the blog for the WordPress 2 Visual Quickstart Guide book that Maria Langer and I wrote, and I try to keep my Learning Centre updated, with little recent success. If you’re a regular reader of the blogs, you’ll probably have noticed a severe drop-off in frequency and regularity of posting.
Sometimes I willingly do things for friends — that won’t change. And last week my timetable expanded to include puppy classes.
Each one of those unpaid activities is an hour here, three or four hours there. Writing takes an unbelievably long time — a MacTip alone can clean up a whole weekend morning, for an output of about 500 words, or less. Including screenshots or photos can greatly increase time spent.
Anyway, I seem to be tired all the time, feeling miserable and guilty a lot of the time, and just generally resent that at the age of 52 I can’t sometimes just sit on the deck enjoying sunshine and puppies because I’m supposed to be doing something else.
I live in earthquake country. We know that the small shakes are good: they relieve pressure, and with any luck keep ‘the big one’ at bay.
It’s a hard decision to draw back from the unpaid voluntary work. I feel as though I’m letting people down, failing to honour commitments I’ve made, but if I don’t release some of the current pressure with these small things then ‘the big one’ will hit, with very unpleasant consequences.
I guess saying beforehand “I can’t do it” is in fact more professional and honourable than to later on say “I should have done it, but couldn’t, because I overextended myself”.