The guy that sends 10:13 am emails on a Sunday
I have a job that takes up a lot of time. Sure, there is a lot to do , and i’m busy. But also because I let it take up a lot of time. I like to be in the office at 7am in the morning. On mornings where I am driving back to Auckland from my family home in the Waikato it’s not out of the ordinary for me to try and get on the road around 4 am so that I can beat traffic, but so I can also get into the office just after 6 am and try and get a head start on things. And i’m not afraid of staying late — in the last few months there have been more 8 am nights then I can count. But it’s not been because we are desperately trying to get things out the door, but because it was a nice quiet time to get through things. Maybe it was a project that I have been putting off, a “nice-to-have” (which is corporate speak for flight-of-fantasy). These have been fun nights — sometimes it’s ended up having a couple of beers in the office with guys who I consider to be pretty good at what they do, which gives me a different perspective on my role and what we are trying to achieve. Sometimes that perspective gets lost in the war of attrition that a day job feels like.
I’m also a guy that sends emails at odd hours. I sleep with my phone next to me , and often have the laptop within reach. It’s a habit from my university days when I would fall asleep watching movies or the back-catalogue of scrubs, or listening to one of the twelve different american sports podcasts about teams and towns that I follow and have a psychic attachment to. I sort of relish those late night emails — or the early morning replies. In my mind they are messages of meaning and of substance — dealing with issues that are either time sensitive, or crystallize outside of the work environment. It harkens back to these images of people who are good at what they do, working on things that matter, and taking action.
It seems to be an older notion. I’ve got no issues with doing some work on the weekend from the laptop — setting up somewhere with a cup of tea and something playing in the background. I’ve been in the situation many times where i’ve been back at the family farm and have been working on my laptop while my parents are both working, doing the same thing. My mother manages the family farm and the family business and finds that weekends (or wet days) are the only time when you can be inside and catch up on the office paperwork. My father, an accomplished vet and an international consultant, is often reviewing reports or sales agreements. We find a rhythm, we make cups of tea, we pass through and watch an important horse race that is playing in the background, or just look outside over the farm or talk to one of the animals.
Whenever I’m home, there is a good bet that Dad is in his office working on something. This has always been the case. Now that it’s just my parents at home they find themselves living in certain spaces — my father in the office, my mother in the living areas.
This is a family thing. And it comes back to the dining room table for dinner as well. The family careers, businesses and interests all revolve around a particular interest. It’s one where they’ve met friends, have great experiences and have great memories. Conversation around the dinner table often comes back to matters related to the equine industry.
The point of this background — recently my younger brother held his first concert since returning from the states where he was studying music. It was a great show, and I invited a good friend to attend with me. She had always been a fan of the brothers ability since we (the brother and I) had rung her for her birthday and sung our own rendition of Happy Birthday. While the friend was here for the weekend she had a numerous conversations with my mother, many of which returned to the fact that I never seem to “switch off” from work.
It’s something that i think that a lot of my friends can do, or that they chose to do. I could be entirely wrong on this, because we all essentially work in different careers — or I work in different fields from them. If I was an engineer or a lawyer or something else I might be able to have better conversations with them around what they do other then give poorly educated, news of the time informed opinions or perspectives that contribute little to the reality of any of the conversations. But in general, they’re home. Now ,there are probably other reasons for this — they have hobbies, passions, better halves which take up time. I let what I do take up the time — it’s not because it overflows into those things, but because I choose for it to.
Why ? Because I like the idea of the thing that I do be something that helps define who I am — because the inherent skills and abilities I have developed through my life experiences are able to manifest in my career. My career is my craft. My craft which will continue to give me great life experiences, and opportunities that I will pass on to my family.
Now as I write this I have to caveat, I don’t let work overtake my life. All work and no play means that you either quote the simpsons or the shining. But, being the guy that sends the late night emails, or early morning emails, and doing it because you are trying to be better at what you do is something that I will continue to be.