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My last contract ended on 31st March. I haven't had any paid work since then.

It feels great.

The reason I haven't worked since then is that I haven't wanted to. Thanks to being a filthy over-paid contractor and, more importantly, having no dependents or mortgage, I had put aside enough money to not need to work. This is one of the many ways I fail at capitalism - instead of putting my money to work, instead of rushing out to make more, I used it to buy what is most precious to me: time.

So, here I am, halfway through my 5th month of doing nothing. (I'm only gloating slightly.) I've had time to think, time to read, time to, well, do what I want. So what lessons have I learned, what thoughts have I thunk?

  • I achieved the most in the 3 weeks after I finished work. After that, everything went downhill.
  • After 4 weeks, I didn't care I was achieving less. Doing one task a day was enough to make me feel I was achieving something.
  • After 3 months, one task a week was enough.
  • I read obsessively, but in bursts. For a couple of weeks or so, I will read from the moment I wake until the moment I fall asleep. For a couple of weeks afterwards, I won't touch a book.
  • I play computer games obsessively, but in bursts. For a couple of weeks or so, I will play one computer game from the moment I wake until I start to fall asleep in front of the computer. For a couple of weeks afterwards, I don't even turn the computer on.
  • I can't walk past a bookshop without going in.
  • A month after I finished work, I walked across Scotland.
  • A month after that, I wasn't leaving the house for days on end.
  • I visited Edinburgh for a week. I have decided I want to live there at some point.
  • My natural diurnal cycle seems to default to 28 or 29 hours. This causes problems with:
    1. Going to the shops at the right time.
    2. Taking a daily tablet.
    3. Being able to play music loudly.
    4. Knowing when I can put the washing machine on.
    5. Sounding alert when recruiters call.
  • When it rains in August, my flat is invaded by spiders from the riverbank.
  • The Byzantine Empire was really rather interesting. You should all go out and read a book on it.
  • I either need to get rid of some of my books, or move somewhere bigger.
  • I am incapable of getting rid of books.
  • I really like cider on hot days.
  • I can turn on the professionalism at a moment's notice, both in person and on the phone.
  • I often had to, when answering calls that had just woken me up.
  • I can turn on the charm at a moment's notice, both in person and on the phone.
  • I can very rarely be bothered to.
  • People are far too interested in stuff.
  • People interested in stuff don't understand people who aren't.
  • And vice versa.
  • I have a good idea for a way of building an income that doesn't involve me selling my time. It will take about three weeks to put it all together.
  • That three weeks will probably have to wait until after I finish my next contract.
  • I need a new couch.
  • I really don't see the point of synchronised diving.
  • Women's beach volleyball is also pointless, as a sport. It is not, however, completely pointless.
  • Sitting in a pub with a decent pint and a newspaper is still one of the best ways to spend a day.
  • Some weeks I would be obsessive about watching the news, and trawling through online news sites. Some weeks I wouldn't so much as glance at newspaper headlines. On the whole, the weeks I ignored the news were much more fun.
  • Amazingly, my lack of interest in the news did not cause reverberations around the world, which managed to get by without me.
  • Everyone should, at some point in their lives, resign without a job to go to, and see where fate takes them.
  • As this week is one of those when I pay attention to the news, I am going to recommend you don't follow my advice above right now.
  • I am so addicted to caffeine it isn't funny.
  • I don't have the discipline to write the stories I want to write.
  • I need to have more faith in myself.
  • Travelling long distances on the train, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, is actually really relaxing.
  • I am almost 30, yet I still manage to look like I need a haircut the majority of the time.
  • I have never before been this content, or this relaxed, in my life.

I have an interview on Tuesday. Wish me luck. If I get it, the normal fare of annoyance, irritation and bile will return to my diary.

< A Discussion | The future leader of the world >
Lessons learned | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden)
Sounds good by Phage (4.00 / 1) #1 Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 10:41:30 PM EST
building an income that doesn't involve me selling my time.

Newsletter etc.

Also so very, very jealous...

If I can spread a little jealousy while I'm here by DullTrev (2.00 / 0) #7 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 02:20:41 AM EST

then my life has been worthwhile.

[ Parent ]
+1FP by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #2 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 12:13:55 AM EST
Have you read "How to be Idle" by Tom Hodgkinson? It's a much better book than it sounds, a real life-changing endorsement of doing nothing.

In my late 20s I spent 9 months unemployed, funnily enough it was a similar experience to yours even though I was living on benefits. I was ground down by it in the end, I felt like I didn't have any real skills and the rest of my life could be spent like this. I got into debt as well. It was an interesting experience though on the whole, you're right, everyone should do it.

One comment on the writing - I was the same. I used to write loads until I was unemployed, then I wrote nothing. It's because it doesn't work like that. You need some sort of structure around you. Once I started working again I started writing again.

It's political correctness gone mad!

WPKAW wrote her thesis last year by Dr H0ffm4n (4.00 / 1) #4 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 01:57:57 AM EST
She did an MA in HRM and her thesis was on "portfolio lifestyles". I.e. working at whatever you wanted to do at that time in order to earn money to slack off for months and do what you really wanted to do. It's a growth area of "the workforce".

[ Parent ]
That sounds perfect to me by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #5 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 02:04:28 AM EST
If a bit pie in the sky. I don't really earn enough as it is working full time.

Having said that, I think you tend to get by on whatever you have.

It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
Flashback time by DullTrev (4.00 / 1) #6 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 02:19:23 AM EST

Last year, I was looking for a contract for four months, steadily running out of money, getting to the point I worried I would have to move back in with my parents. (HORROR). The difference between that time 'off' and this is incredible - the only thing stopping me from getting depressed that time was that I'd just walked out of an awful work environment, and anything was better than that.

It started to really grind me down, and I never got any relaxation out of that period of time - I was always tweaking my CV, searching contract sites, etc. Enforced worklessness sucks. (Quelle surprise...) Dossing around because you want to is brilliant, though.

[ Parent ]
I actually thought I was OK at the time by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #9 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 02:28:04 AM EST
It was when I looked back at it afterwards I realised I'd been getting quite depressed.

It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
clearly i am crap by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #3 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 01:25:55 AM EST
I managed 6 weeks of unemployment before I caved and named my start date. Being not in an office is too solitary.

Ah, well, I have an advantage by DullTrev (4.00 / 1) #8 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 02:21:18 AM EST

I'm an anti-social bugger.

[ Parent ]
Enjoying your own company by nebbish (4.00 / 2) #10 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 02:29:30 AM EST
Is something that needs to be learned I think. It's pretty valuable as well.

It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
Rage. Glorious, envious rage! by debacle (4.00 / 4) #11 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 03:29:05 AM EST
How dare you take advantage of your lifestyle to enjoy an incredibly large block of time unemployed! It's your civic duty to marry a woman you hate, have children, get her sister pregnant, and spend the rest of your life supporting children that may or may not be yours!


Relaxing breaks by Vulch (2.00 / 0) #12 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 03:46:20 AM EST

I worked in broadcast TV for 12 years, then the ITV company I was at fell victim to Thatchers "Get Thames" franchise auction. The new company taking over wanted cheap rather than experienced so after a year looking for work in the field (everyone else had decided cheap was good too) I got a job in computers on the strength of an application I was writing.

8 years later I was working for a bunch who shouldn't have been employing other people (Hint: You might have been happy hacking out code all hours of day and night and not having a life. Trying to impose this style on others isn't going to work unless you pay them way above market rates and accept a high turnover. Getting other individuals and companies to do work on the strength of a verbal agreement and then denying there ever was an agreement isn't a good way to get by either.) and after consulting my savings decided quitting and then looking for a job, with maybe a break for the summer, was a good idea and would have the benefit of me not killing anyone in a horrible manner in the near future. That break lasted 18 months.

8 years on again and I'm about ready for another break, though it would be nice this time to not have a looming deadline for having to find something. I've paid off my mortgage which helps the savings grow nicely, and I've developed a cheap lifestyle. Unfortunately the pensions I've aquired over the years are worth approximately 0.5*sqrt(F.A.) due to the actions of various politicians and financiers over the years so I will need something that can tick over generating some income for the forseeable future.

I enjoy watching woman's beach volleyball by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #13 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 04:14:28 AM EST
partly because unlike diving, swimming, synchronized diving and gymnastics, I can play volleyball and be somewhat decent.

In the interests of fairness, the men should wear speedos like the divers wear.

I spent a year and a half unemployed in 2003-05. by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #14 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 04:23:23 AM EST
Destroyed me financially, I've never really recovered, but man did it give me a taste for not working.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

This diary... by toxicfur (4.00 / 1) #15 Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 04:36:46 AM EST
made it almost impossible for me to come into the office today. You fucker. ;)

I'm really glad that things have gone well for you. The longest I've ever been unemployed is about 2 weeks, and that was more like a long-ish vacation punctuated by filling out waitstaff applications than it was unemployment.
To Rollins lesbians are like cuddly pandas: cute, exotic, forest-dwelling, dangerous when riled and unable to produce offspring without assistance.-CRwM

Lessons learned | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden)