Being Semi-Unemployed Has Made Me Paradoxically Busy

December 1st, 2009

So, as people who know me in person may be aware, I left my workplace of ten years at the end of September.  I really couldn’t have asked for better work, in that it was incredibly easy and yet paid well.  But all things must come to an end, and the night shifts and gradually worsening work conditions made me decide to say farewell.

So for the last two months, I’ve been semi-unemployed.  “Semi”, because I do get some work as a translator, but not enough to make ends meet.  Yet.  (Knock on wood).

My image of being unemployed is “lots of free time”, so I assumed that “semi-unemployed” would thus be “some free time”.  Not that I was planning on kicking my feet up and loafing.  I’d be trying to drum up work, of course.  But I could take 90 minute lunches or take web-browsing breaks.  Turns out being semi-unemployed with kids makes you busier than being fully employed.

I have a trade magazine for translators on my desk which has a page outlining a day in the life of a TV translator (subtitler).  I don’t think the magazine’s goal was to shout “NEVER EVER BECOME A TV TRANSLATOR”, but that’s the effect.  Here goes:

05:00 Wake up.  Write down everything you plan to do today.  Do invoicing, financial records, billing, etc.

06:00 Start working.

10:00 Take a shower, go for a walk, get a coffee.

11:00 Eat brunch.

12:00 Back to work.

16:00 Take a nap.

18:00 Go shopping for dinner, browse some magazines.

19:00 Eat dinner.

20:00 Relax.  Watch some TV or a movie.

22:00 Work again.

01:00 Get in bed, read a magazine or novel or something.

02:00 Go to sleep.

So this person gets 5 hours of sleep a day (divided into a 3 hour chunk and a 2 hour chunk, no less!) and 2 hours of free time (ok, maybe 2.5 if you include the morning coffee), and works 11 hours.  Which is a doable thing when you’re young and getting established, but this magazine presents it like a wonderful mid-career position.

So, anyway, that aside, I am far less fully employed, so I couldn’t work 11 hours a day even if I wanted to.  Instead, here’s my current schedule (and the reason I write less blog stuff):

06:00 Wake up.  Play video games (my wife hates video games, and I don’t particularly want my kids to get into them, so I prefer to play when the whole family is asleep).

07:15 Make coffee.  Feed kids.  Dress kids.  See kids off to school.

09:15 Go downstairs to start either working or looking for work.  If working: translate.  If not working: send out resumes, do trial translations, organize financial records, etc.

12:00 Lunch

13:00 Back downstairs for more work or looking-for-work.

18:00 Go upstairs.  Either make dinner (10%) or engage kids so they don’t bug wife making dinner (90%).

18:30 Eat dinner.

19:00 Take shower and bathe kids.

19:30 Get kids in pajamas, brush their teeth, help older son with English and Japanese study.

20:15 Try to get kids to go up to bed.

20:30 Succeed in getting kids up to bed.

20:40 Bedtime story.

21:00 Fall asleep at same time as kids.

So, all-in-all, it’s a relatively full schedule.  I get a lot of sleep (8 to 9 hours), but other than that I’ve got a 1 hour free-time window in the morning and that’s about it for free time.  So, when I was gainfully employed, I had hour after hour to browse the net, write blog entries, etc.  Now that I’m less employed, I’m far busier.

2 Responses to “Being Semi-Unemployed Has Made Me Paradoxically Busy”

  1. Amë Says:

    Never gonna be a TV translator. xDDD
    What kind of stuff do you translate ? How did you make yourself known ?

  2. bugbread Says:

    Really dry stuff. Manuals describing testing procedures for devices, newspaper articles regarding new products, presentations on corporate expansion strategies. No fiction, and no books, so nothing really interesting. Still, that’s fine, it pays the bills, and sometimes I learn interesting things about a field I’d normally not be exposed to.

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