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Working against time

One of the reasons I decided to launch Airstream Life as a quarterly rather than a more-frequent publication was so that I would not be pressed by deadlines. In the past I’ve edited publications that came out every monthly or bi-monthly, and this is a hassle even for a professional writer. There’s never a moment when you are not thinking about the next issue, and usually the next three or four issues.

To take a vacation from that sort of job, you must prepare finished work weeks or months in advance. Every paycheck comes at a very significant price: you must deliver the goods, with consistent quality and on time. The overall sensation is that you are juggling plates. A moment’s inattention, and the plates come crashing down to the ground, along with your job.

Having a quarterly is easier, but a deadline is a deadline.   They still arrive whether you want them to or not.   Because of unexpected projects last week and our impending drop off the grid next week (as we travel through parts of southern Colorado where cell phones don’t work) I found myself buried with stuff to do all weekend.   That meant no adventures beyond the laptop for Sunday.   But we did manage to break away later in the day to visit Eleanor’s brother’s family in Colorado Springs.

By September 1, I am supposed to have all the articles for the Winter 08 issue of Airstream Life edited and ready for layout.   That seems unlikely.   But somehow it always gets done, through a process of gnashing teeth and frantic typing, last-minute struggles to obtain decent photography, rapid-fire emails, and eventually a series of hard decisions about what makes the cut and what doesn’t.

I remember many days where I was desperately trying to get online for just a few minutes to upload a critical file, and sometimes they are the most vivid memories of a particular place.   There was the day I sat on a cold stone bench in Lake Louise for an hour, reviewing layouts, and another day sitting in the Marketing department at Airstream doing the same thing.   I remember distinctly driving through somewhere in west Texas while Eleanor held the laptop computer and watched the progress bar of files uploading for nearly 30 minutes. Less than a minute after the final file uploaded, the connection dropped and didn’t come back for two days.

It’s not much fun having to work when I’d rather be out playing, but I’m not retirement age and I must work.   A lot of people look sort of pityingly upon me on those days when the weather is fine and I’m locked up in the Airstream and tied to the computer.   I don’t mind, because it is far better than the alternative.

It is said that “time is the only real commodity we have; spend it wisely,” and I agree with that.   For me, “wisely” means   trying to make the time I don’t have to work count.   I always go back to the saying that “Nobody ever says on their deathbed, ‘I wish I’d spent more time in the office.’ ”   That’s why I take the office with me.   It’s not a burden, it’s an opportunity.

3 Responses to “Working against time”

  1. Jack Palmer Says:

    I’ll bet it beats sitting in traffic for a commute to an office where you play office politics , worry about your next promotion or raise or if you’ll be replaced by someone half your age because they can be hired at half your salary. Or are you up for a trade? Just kidding.. I’m self employed too.;-)

  2. Claudi Says:

    Amen….we are selfemployed…….this way we can budget our time for Airstreaming……the best of both worlds. Been working like crazy to meet deadlines so I can leave for our unit rally tomorrow in the beautiful North Georgia Mountains where we are finally getting some rain. Can’t wait.


  3. Terry Says:

    Amen to that! I don’t thinking I could stand it if I wasn’t self-employed…sure, there are short comings (health insurance benefits, estimated taxes…and oh yes, did I mention cash flow!?)…but I tell ya…being in charge of your own time and having the flexibility to take off in the Airstream and take my work with me if necessary is a BIG upside… It’s the best kind of remote working…when there’s an internet connection, anyway! (And clients think it’s way cool.)