// Internet Duct Tape

What Would You Do If You Didn’t Have To Work?

Posted in Workhacks and High Tech Life by engtech on September 11, 2008

Workhacks

Lottery tickets offer us the dream of escaping to a different life. Often I find myself wondering what it would be like if I didn’t have to work full time. I always imagine spending more time on my open source software projects, getting in better shape and doing some freelance consulting to pay the time.

About ten years ago I got to see my parents make the transition from working full-time to retirement. It wasn’t an easy switch for them. There was some sadness, a lack of motivation and a lonliness as they lost the human contact the workplace gave them each day.

For the past two months I’ve gotten to experience what it’s like not to work every day. I was laid off from my previous job with severance. While I money wasn’t tight, there wasn’t enough to jet set off to Europe or go on any big vacations other than the ones I already had planned for the summer. I was stressed out most of the time until I found myself a new job. After I accepted the job offer, I gave myself a big window until I had to start so that I could relax and enjoy my time off.

This was the longest stretch of time I had booked off; it has been 14 years since I’ve had that much time to myself all at once. When I was working, I imagined all the web projects I could do if I didn’t have to go to work. The reality of the experience was quite different. Once you have the freedom to do anything you want with your day, sitting in front of the computer is the last thing you want to do.

For the first few weeks I found myself irritated by 3pm every day. I quickly realized that it was the lack of structure; if I got myself out of the house the feeling went away. So time was spent walking around the city, going to the library and reading in coffee shops. The beautiful weather really helped. Why stay inside on a sunny day if you don’t have to? Part of it was a desire to be around real people, instead of the virtual people I usually associate with if I’m stuck on a computer.

There was a definite priority shift. With the freedom to do anything I wanted with my day, it made so much more sense to focus on those long term, important but not urgent goals. Organizing things around the house. Getting a new family doctor. Renewing my passport. Getting new contacts. Removing clutter from my house and my life. I had to laugh one day when I found an old to-do list from 2006. There was stuff on that list that was important to my life and my well being that I was finally getting around to.

I found it amazing how much clearer it was to process my task list and choose the most important tasks for the day. Because I felt no urgency in any of my tasks, I was able to make much better decisions about what was important vs what wasn’t even worth doing.

I’m about to enter the workforce again, and I hope I can take some of the clairity I currently feel with me.

48 Responses

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  1. Ross said, on September 11, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    “What Would You Do If You Didn’t Have To Work?”

    Tour with Gov’t Mule. And for those rare times when they’re not on the road, tour w/ The Allman Brothers, Umphrey’s McGee, Rose Hill Drive, Grace Potter, and any/every other band I like. Travel. Read, a lot (more than usual). Fish. Finally learn to code. Private Yoga lessons until I’m good enough to not feel like a retard in a regular class. Work with homeless shelters during the day before Gov’t Mule shows at night.

  2. Mac Farina said, on September 15, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    It never fails to amuse me when I here how people who retire lose their sense of direction. I took early retirement 14 months ago and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Not only can I do all the things I never had chance to do before, but I’ve managed to go abroad 3 times. My advice to anybody is to live for today and enjoy life to the full, because the alternative is not worth it.

  3. azahar said, on September 16, 2008 at 2:22 am

    I’ve been discovering what I’d do ever since I had an emergency operation in May and was diagnosed with cancer – haven’t worked since then. Money and health worries aside (ha!) it’s rather pleasant to just be able to do what I feel like doing and not have to be anywhere I don’t want to be (other than hospital visits). Though like you I also need some sort of structure to my day. Just ‘going with the flow’ is too directionless for me.

    Activities (on ‘good days’ when I don’t feel sick) include taking walks, reading, blogging, cycling, going out for lunch (tapas blog material), talking with friends, watching films. I think if I wasn’t sick I’d be doing much the same things, though I’d probably end up doing some sort of work, even just as a hobby if I didn’t need the money. Probably something related to food and travel, so I’d also end up travelling a lot. And I’d also take courses in webpage design and Spanish.

    Good luck with the new job!

  4. jackie sheeler said, on September 20, 2008 at 4:45 am

    oh man, wouldn’t i love to have some time like this! between blogging, writing & recording new music, two other nonfiction writing projects as well as a new book of poetry all in the works — DAYUM, i don’t think i’d have any trouble at ALL filling up my days with the things i love doing. you are absolutely right that some kind of schedule is needed, though. i work best under deadline, so i create deadlines for myself which is a huge help in getting things done.

  5. T.S.Ackerman said, on September 20, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Been in this situation for 11 months now. Work is spotty these days in my field. So I’ve gotten to know my library (great place) and the rest of my community, caught up on lots of books and movies people keep telling me to try out, and got in some blogging, too.
    I think we’re under that Chinese curse about living in interesting times, so I’m finding my days are often too full even when I’m not working.

  6. Pollyanna said, on October 02, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Excellent post.

  7. kaufen said, on October 06, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Excellent post. i agreed with pollyanna. all right

  8. Строительство said, on October 08, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Thank’s,good article! 5+

  9. Shower Enclosure said, on October 09, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Yup! This a very good article. I thing if i don’t have a job, i have lots of work to do. i can earn money online. i will plan some holidays.

  10. Domek said, on October 11, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    Great article… However, for some reason even when I don’t work, I have so many things on my mind that
    not working makes me worried more then actually working… Does it make any sense ?
    http://theanimeblizzard.com/

  11. techdude said, on October 12, 2008 at 3:23 am

    Structure is very important, especially for those working with no definite timeliness. If you do not have it you will end up doing what is not important and unbalanced.

  12. Kimberly Suta said, on October 22, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    I would love for your blog to be a part of blog4reel.com – the world’s first blog-to-film competition. It’s free! All u do is link this blog to blog4reel.com for a chance to win 2,000!

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  13. stuffeveryonehates said, on October 26, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    Excellent blog! To answer the question, do what I’m doing now:reading blogs and posting to my own. Good work.
    http://whatpeoplehate.wordpress.com

  14. hitesh sahni said, on November 05, 2008 at 2:57 am

    I have the same problem. But the difference is that I am a university student. I want to stop studying and start working.

  15. sulz said, on November 27, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    i haven’t been laid off a job, but as a student school holidays used to bore me. i could go out, but i’d feel guilty for spending money that’s not exactly mine. it’ll be a different story if money wasn’t a problem!

    it’s ingrained in us that we should be productive, so even if we’re not working we have to do something!

  16. secretGeek said, on December 05, 2008 at 5:16 am

    thanks for sharing that story — it’s interesting and quite personal stuff.

    having too much time alone is a strange experience, you always think you’ll get so much done, but with a lack of human contact, your daily ‘excitement rhythm’ gets disturbed very quickly and motivation becomes a huge problem. The strong people find a way to regain their balance — but the initial loss of control can be daunting.

    I just had three weeks off, and by the end of the third week I was finally hitting my strides and getting some serious long term ideas achieved… but then i returned to work, and with a vengeance.

    best of luck with the new position!
    lb

  17. David H. said, on December 06, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    I have been unemployed for almost 9 years. However, I don’t know if I count since I am a househusband. I make sure all my (70+ hours a week working) wife has to do is work, eat, sleep & spend what time’s left with me. All the rest of my time is mine.

    At first I was pretty lost and depressed and didn’t get much of anything done. I didn’t think of myself as a househusband, just someone who, by choice, didn’t work. And that didn’t work. Over time I found things to fill my days with & evolved into a househusband. I bake bread (all by hand but for the actual baking) every night, take care of all the laundry, house cleaning, dry cleaning, yard work, etc.

    And if I’ve done my “chores” then I don’t feel guilty or feel like I should be doing something else, so I can feed my information addiction on the internet, take naps, annoy our four cats, whatever. But much as I wish it weren’t true, if I didn’t have something to organize my day around (housework & whatever my wife needs done that day) I’d be a good-for-nothing loser.

  18. SEO said, on December 21, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Конкурс для блоггеров от DRUGREVENUE с призовым фондом в 3000 долларов, спешите

  19. boohoo said, on December 29, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    secretGeek is right, it takes a few weeks of rest and catching up to actually feel motivated to be productive on creative projects. Once you’re over that initial hump of lethargy, you can really get into some interesting projects that you wanted to work on before but could not. I have had a few stretches of that kind of freedom in my life and I have to say 2-4 weeks generally will not cut it, because you body and mind are recovering from years of structure due to “force labor” during that initial period of time. Once those cobwebs are shaken off the real productivity begins. You have to remember most folks haven’t had time off like that since they were minors living in their parent’s home. It’s a lot to let go of before you can freely create.

  20. Doctor said, on January 11, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Мог бы долго с вами спорить на эту тему :)

  21. Max said, on January 13, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    “What Would You Do If You Didn’t Have To Work?”

    Tour with Gov’t Mule. And for those rare times when they’re not on the road, tour w/ The Allman Brothers, Umphrey’s McGee, Rose Hill Drive, Grace Potter, and any/every other band I like. Travel. Read, http://freenews.kz a lot (more than usual). Fish. Finally learn to code. Private Yoga lessons until I’m good enough to not feel like a retard in a regular class. Work with homeless shelters during the day before Gov’t Mule shows at night.

  22. Peet said, on January 18, 2009 at 4:09 am

    At first I was pretty lost and depressed and didn’t get much of anything done. I didn’t think of myself as a househusband, just someone who, by choice, didn’t work. And that didn’t work. Over time I found things to fill my days with & evolved into a househusband. I bake bread (all by hand but for the actual baking) every night, take care of all the laundry, house cleaning, dry cleaning, yard work, etc.

  23. Peet said, on January 18, 2009 at 4:10 am

    i haven’t been laid off a job, but as a student school holidays used to bore me. i could go out, but i’d feel guilty for spending money that’s not exactly mine. it’ll be a different story if money wasn’t a problem! http://bestdiner.ru

  24. hall monitor said, on January 21, 2009 at 12:18 am

    I would host a website. And probably take a decent amount of naps.

    Hall Monitor
    http://detentionslip.org

  25. Reboots DaMachina said, on January 28, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    I would go find a different kind of ‘work’. Maybe stop posting on my blog, maybe go to a foreign country for several months. Who knows, maybe I’d stop posting on my blog?

  26. Markangelo said, on February 17, 2009 at 12:02 am

    Isn’t that why Amerika & the world is in so much financial crisis.
    Everybody wanted to get rich quick & never get their hands dirty again.
    Either a jackass millionare or a landed gentry more equal than
    the rest of the dumb peasants. WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE

  27. tayleon said, on February 21, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    That was a very thoughtful and well laid out post. I agree with many commenters here that after retirement you can just lose sense of direction with such as big change in your life.

  28. Magnus said, on February 23, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Really interesting facts here… If you wonder how you do some other things, i have posted a link to a website. It’s not that good design, but hey, there’s some kind of information you can get out of there. Really interesting!

  29. anthony said, on February 28, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Just a quick note to say hi. you kindly helped me with the tutorial on skipping past filter keys. Last time it happened I got really worked up and wanted to scream but on this occassion thought no….go on net and find something or someone with some helpful hints. Eh Voila! Also liked your article working from home as I do this and really liked and appreciated your sentiments on that expereince.

    BW

    Anthony

  30. SV said, on March 29, 2009 at 12:42 am

    thanks for sharing that story — it’s interesting and quite personal stuff.

    Admin | http://fi-sky.ru

  31. Художник said, on March 31, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Классное сообщение, узнала много нового! Большое спасибо!

  32. Obrolan lepas said, on April 16, 2009 at 2:53 am

    fantastic

  33. Free GiftCard Give Away said, on April 23, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    If I didn’t have to work … I’d probably feel bored and want to make a pizza.. which in itself is work :(

  34. John said, on May 04, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Buy Ellis Island

  35. herbal said, on May 29, 2009 at 4:42 am

    i think that such a gud idea

  36. VIKAS |vikas-gupta.in said, on November 15, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Have you stopped blogging here? Is this blog dead now?

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  38. David said, on August 02, 2010 at 12:28 am

    If I don’t have to work, I would love to travel anywhere. Also, I would like to spend my life helping other people around me. Those less fortunate people who are really in need.

  39. Kız Oyunu said, on August 17, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    I got really worked up and wanted to scream but on this occassion thought.I have go on net and find something or someone with some helpful hints.

  40. Maç Oyunları said, on August 18, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    I have had a few stretches of that kind of freedom in my life and I have to say 2-4 weeks generally will not cut it, because you body and mind are recovering from years of structure due to “force labor” during that initial period of time. Once those cobwebs are shaken off the real productivity begins.

  41. Savaş Oyunları said, on August 18, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    Last time it happened I got really worked up and wanted to scream..

  42. Ev Oyunu Oyna said, on August 31, 2010 at 3:51 am

    I do this and really liked and appreciated your sentiments on that expereince.

  43. Barbie Oyunu Oyna said, on August 31, 2010 at 3:52 am

    I agree with many commenters here that after retirement you can just lose sense of direction with such as big change in your life.

  44. Araba Yarış Oyunu said, on August 31, 2010 at 3:54 am

    Maybe stop posting on my blog, maybe go to a foreign country for several months.

  45. Savaş Oyunu said, on August 31, 2010 at 3:57 am

    I have had a few stretches of that kind of freedom in my life and I have to say 2-4 weeks generally will not cut it, because you body and mind are recovering from years of structure due to “force labor” during that initial period of time.

  46. Çocuk Oyunu said, on August 31, 2010 at 3:58 am

    Private Yoga lessons until I’m good enough to not feel like a retard in a regular class. Work with homeless shelters during the day before Gov’t Mule shows at night.

  47. بازی said, on October 23, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    only games.
    your post is good , too !

  48. Jessica`s sexy pics said, on October 28, 2010 at 2:02 pm

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