Watts (chipotle) wrote,

Medium-Term Attention Deficit

I'm approaching the end of my 12-week contract -- this is technically the 12th week. Even if the contract is extended, I'll end up taking a week or so off in a few weeks, as my mother's coming up for a Mother's Day week visit and we're going... somewhere. My current thought is down to Big Sur and points beyond, then possibly back up through the Sierras. Of course, I have no reservations at any point along this path, and my suspicion is that my mother would prefer to be spending time somewhere relatively urban, soaking in culture that's largely absent to her in rural Florida.

I'm running into a known bug in my internal software: medium-term attention deficit. After I've been on a project for about two or three months I tend to lose interest and have my attention wander. It doesn't matter whether this is a personal project or a work project.

Past experience tells me that this isn't insurmountable -- by dotcom standards, my five-year run at Intermedia was remarkably long. Granted, by year four I was ready to chew my leg off to leave, and I imagine that part of that was from having a job that had settled into an unchanging routine with very little chance of advancement in either the WAN group or through a lateral move to IT. But looking back at my first weblog in 2000 (which I didn't import into LiveJournal, although I might for the sake of distributed backups), most of the entries were about the hopes and frustrations of my job hunt: worry that I was underpaid for my skill level alternating with worry that I didn't have the skills people were looking for, out-and-out frustration with my current job, the various companies that I had phone and in-person interviews with, and so on. (On August 1, 2000, I'd just declined to pursue two San Francisco Bay Area positions, but wondered if I was fated to end up out in that area anyway, observing that all of the companies that had shown any interest in me at that point were on the west coast. In retrospect, I can say that the dotcom crash was already underway then, but I can't help but wonder how things might have gone if I'd taken the plunge then rather than waiting two years.)

So. Where was I? Oh, yes, short attention spans.

A freelance contracting life would actually work for me if I could (a) keep my finances in order and (b) get enough money to live on without discomfort. I have a rough idea of what that level is, which is actually just a bit more than I made either of the last two years -- although less than I made for several years before that. On the flip side, a more conventional full-time position would help take care of (a), although it certainly wouldn't solve it, and it'd make (b) more likely.

I suppose I'm always worried I'll bore myself out of work. This is partially addressable: if I have a project I'll go over and above what's necessary to complete it, but I'm not nearly as proactive in beating people to give me new projects or even to give me the feedback that they've promised to give on my current projects. The part that isn't addressable is that there often aren't any new projects, or they come sporadically. I can't pretend there wasn't a certain advantage to the job at Intermedia, which on quiet days was perhaps an hour worth of actual work. (Some of the times when I was bored I thought of ways to automate tasks, which kept me entertained for a while but, of course, gave me even less to do if the tasks proved successful.)

This suggests that an ideal position for me would be something that keeps me always moving. If I had things to do over again, I'd consider getting a degree in journalism or photography, I think -- not that it's too late to pursue such a career now, of course. Or a travel writer. I suspect this is why I've leaned toward the idea of regional environmental books for my still-theoretical book publishing company: I'm really thinking about travel writing.

At any rate, this still leaves me with that Okay, what next? feeling. I'm hoping I'll shake my slight ennui and get my contract extended here at least a month or two. (At my current pay rate, I'd meet my minimal income goal with just seven months of work, although it'd require a very strict savings regimen.)


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