Billing and Procrastination


I am so bad at actually tracking my time for billing purposes. Seriously – I’m currently living off of my Visa, for the sole reason that I haven’t billed my current contract since… DECEMBER. This is lame. Anyone can see the direct relationship between billing and getting paid, but for some reason I just want to spend my time ACTUALLY WORKING instead of playing ‘accounts receivable’.

I need to get better at this, pronto. Even writing this blog entry is just more procrastination. I think I’m much happier with a project manager, in a salaried position, where I know what I’m supposed to be working on every day. I miss knowing what my coworkers are doing, especially when that means that we don’t inadvertently duplicate each others’ work. But most of all, I miss not having to try to remember what I did last week, or the week before, or the month before that. Once again I’ve worked myself into a hole. *sigh*.

This isn’t working.

I am not a very good blogger.

To date, I’ve only been posting when I have something big to say, instead of when I have some new little bit of news or insight. I’ve changed the format of the blog so that it is less “story” oriented – ie, removed the ‘teaser’ part and made the full blog post appear on the main page. Now I am adopting the mindset that there is no post too small; we’ll see if that makes a difference in my posting frequency.

I just got off the phone with Bill, the guy I’m buying the boat from. We’re tentatively scheduled to go out for a sail on Thursday afternoon. I currently have no tenants lined up to take my apartment, but I’ve just posted it to Craigslist, and have several bites already. March 1st is the deadline! Most of my life is now being packed into tupperware containers, ready for storage or stowage, depending.


Is an office more productive because it’s an environment tailored to (or mentally associated with) working, or is it more productive simply because it’s not home?

Well, judging by the fact that it’s been a month since my last post, combined with the fact that I’m only blogging when I’m working outside the home, it would seem that my quest is not going quite as well as I’d have liked. Turns out it’s actually very difficult to get motivated to leave the house in the morning when you don’t technically have to…

Well – I guess I can’t really count it as a full month, seeing as eight (of a possible 20) working days were spent travelling to, partying in and returning from the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Burning Man was amazing, as expected – really it was far, far more than that, but as our travelling crew decided on the way home, trying to describe the experience to someone who hasn’t been there is pretty much futile – you come off sounding like a cross between a religious zealot and a Pigeon Park loony. The closest I could come up with was “the universe constantly astounding me with how spectacularly beautiful it can be“. See? Loony.

Returning from my epic adventures, I seem to have slipped into a routine that isn’t at all what I was trying to achieve – in fact, I’m a lot less productive than I was in New Brunswick. This is serving to reinforce my belief that working in an office is better than working at home simply because it’s a different environment. Lately I’ve been getting up in the morning, making breakfast and coffee, and sitting at my desk for the next eight to ten hours, getting perhaps four to six hours of work done. This is wasting both my time and what remains of the beautiful Vancouver summer weather we’ve been having. There’ll be plenty of time to slack at home once the rains set in. So why can’t I seem to get motivated to get out and ride my bike to a coffee shop somewhere?

I guess the question becomes – is an office more productive because it’s an environment tailored to (or mentally associated with) working, or is it more productive simply because it’s not home? I find myself constantly distracted in my home “office”, due in no small part to my being surrounded by my favourite things.

The most productive working environment so far was working in an unused meeting room in my father’s law office in New Brunswick – basically a featureless white room. I mean, there were a few unremarkable paintings on the wall, but apart from that it was a table, a few chairs, and that’s it.

Anyhow – today I’m splitting tasks – I spent a few hours this morning working from my desk in my apartment, then showered, shaved, and responded to an emergency tech support housecall from a girl I’ve been seeing. Sweet! An actual excuse to get off my ass and get out of the house – and you know what? It’s not so bad. I’m writing this from a Blendz coffee shop (note to self: Blendz has free wireless) on Robson Street. Robson isn’t exactly the most calm, quiet street in the city, so it’s been somewhat difficult to maintain focus – but at least I’m out of the house. 🙂

East Coast

Well, now that I’ve been in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for a week, I figure I should update the blog with my experiences so far.

Strangely, the most productive I’ve been to date was a set of two eight-hour stints in a quiet side room at my father’s office in Sussex. Today, however, I am in a bustling food court in the Halifax Shopping Center. Oh my…

So the big question with this whole ‘work from anywhere’ project is whether or not I can be productive even when the office is a massive set of distractions. Admittedly, today is a strong test.

It’s interesting, really – as someone who has spent their entire life struggling to overcome attention deficit disorder, the idea of trying to get work done in an environment full of shiny distractions seems like a plan destined to fail. Still, I’m pretty sure that with a bit of self-discipline, combined with careful self-medication with coffee and prescription ADD drugs, that I might just be able to pull this off.

On the prescription drugs tip – just as a back story, as a young child I was lucky enough to have a mother who was an elementary school vice principal, studying for her masters in education. She attended a lot of educator conferences, and at one in particular the speaker spent a half-hour describing an interaction between a mother and her son – it went a bit like this:

“…so the mother and son went to visit the grandparents. Now, the son is hyperactive and can’t seem to sit still for more than a few seconds, and is constantly distracted by new ‘projects’, which drives his grandfather absolutely nuts. The kid knows this, and knows that every time they interact he makes the grandfather angry, so he’s trying to be on his best behavior.

“So they’re at the grandparents place for a few hours, and there hasn’t been a peep from the kid. It’s been snowing, and when the mother goes to leave, there’s the kid, and he’s shoveled pretty much the entire front walk. He’s beaming, he’s done a good job, and even the grandfather gruffly says he’s done well. The mother and son pack up and go home.

“About an hour after they get home, there’s a phonecall – it’s the grandmother. She says that the grandfather isn’t angry, but that he’d just like to know where the son left the screwdriver.

“The story expands a little bit from there. Apparently the son wanted to surprise the grandfather with something nice, so he went to shovel the walk. The door to the shed with the shovel was padlocked however, and if he’d asked for the key he’d spoil the surprise, so he tracked down a screwdriver, taken the hinges off the shed door, put them aside, gotten the shovel, and done the walk. In the process, the screwdriver was set down somewhere. They never did find the screwdriver.”

Well, after this story, apparently my mother stood up in the seminar and shouted THATS! MY! SON!

Anyway, I was about eight or nine at the time, and they shunted me around to various child psychologists and ADHD specialists (which were very rare, they had only just ‘discovered’ it), and finally I was diagnosed and prescribed Ritalin. Suddenly I was able to focus and my grades went from mid-60’s to mid-90’s!

Say what you will, but I know for a fact that I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for my mother being conscientious and willing to try an experiment. I count Ritalin/Dexedrine as being critical in my education, and I would likely be either in a trailer park or in jail if I hadn’t had that extra benefit.

The downside of ritalin/dexedrine is that they’re amphetamines, and for every up there is an equal and opposite down. The “crash” makes it difficult to focus, makes me crabby, and takes away most of my will to do anything but sit on the couch. Worse, if I take it too many days in a row, I start to lose the ability to feel emotions – I turn slowly but surely into a robot. This is the really insidious part – I see so many kids being prescribed dosages of Ritalin that must be just slamming their brains. I knew an eleven-year-old who was prescribed fully four times my dosage! Admittedly he was really, really, really hyperactive, but still…

Man. Did you know that Halifax mall cops wear bulletproof vests? Honestly, who thinks that’s a good idea? When was the last time there was a shooting at the Halifax Shopping Center? Google says never.

Anyway – it would seem that instead of actual “work”, I’m doing blog posts. Today I have to research alternative DNS hosting – I’m partial to EasyDNS, but the Evil Masters seem to want to go with UltraDNS. I don’t think they realize that UltraDNS has per-query billing, which will mean huge bills with our round-robin “load balancing” system.