My husband is in law school, so my days are a whirlwind of drop-offs, pickups, housework, and errands. And, oh yeah, supporting my family. And with all that, there’s never enough money.
Somehow, when my husband was in kollel, we didn’t feel the pressure as much. Call it siyata d’Shmaya, call it lowered expectations, but things just fell into place. Now my husband isn’t available to pick up the slack at home, and we’re feeling the pinch in a big way.
I guess I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and sorry for myself lately. What happens then is that when I get to work, I can't buckle down and focus. It’s crazy — I do the whole morning routine myself, get everyone where they need to be, even make sure I’m wearing two matching shoes, rush out the door, then I just sit at my desk and stare at the screen, finding excuses not to start my workday as a court transcriber.
I’m exhausted, and I need time to breathe, I tell myself — just ten minutes to unwind from the morning’s chaos. I check the news, do some online shopping, check my email, and the next thing I know, an hour and a half has passed.
For better or for worse, my job’s flexibility enables my time-wasting. The office is chilled, and there's plenty of schmoozing,.
As long as I hit my monthly minimum, no one's breathing down my back; there's no supervisor looking over my shoulder. There are plenty of downsides, though: My work isn't what it should be, when I fall really behind I need to take some work home, and bottom line, I'm paid per page I transcribe.
It’s a horrible feeling. I feel lazy but powerless to help myself, and I can practically see dollar bills flying out the window. Even the downtime is pointless— relaxing on borrowed time isn’t relaxing.
It’s time for drastic measures.
I thought the new school year would be enough to inspire a fresh start, but the first week of school I’m back to my old habits.
With the Yamim Tovim finally behind us, I’m ready to take the bull by the horns.
In a notebook, I prepare a highly convoluted but very thorough chart system. It’s got columns for each workday of the month, how many hours I can potentially work, how many I actually work, cumulative hours for the month, daily earnings, and cumulative monthly earnings. Every relevant data point — and some irrelevant ones, for good measure — is accounted for in that notebook.
I’m going to fix this problem by observing it under a microscope.
How It Went Down
Like a charm!
Every day, I log my hours and earnings and tally my totals to date. There’s nothing as motivating as seeing the dollars and cents ringing up.
Before I started, my calculations showed that if I maximized each day, I could earn $2,500 more than I normally do. But I blast through that number easily. By month’s end, I’m more than $3,000 richer.
Success breeds success, and seeing the numbers rise motivates me to hustle for every last session. Normally, if someone cancelled, I’d have let it go, but now I work extra hard to reschedule.
There are some close calls. On days that I get to work early, I decide to give myself permission to relax until nine. It makes it harder to peel myself away and get started when the clock strikes nine.
It takes about two weeks before the struggle really gets easier. By then, I’m delighted to notice that I’ve formed a new habit!
Every day, I text my husband to let him know how many hours over or under my goal I am. Though he’s always been supportive, when I felt ashamed that I was slacking, his support made me squirm. Now it feels great!
I would never dare
Feed my kids cereal for supper. If I took care of myself and my responsibilities with the conscientiousness with which I take care of my kids, I’d be in very good shape.
I’m still not confident that this habit is solid enough to get me through the year. Right now, my focus is on maintenance.
Dare support system
My sister, with whom I used to spend time chatting, cheers me on: “Close gmail, get to work you can do this!”
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 622)
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