Saturday, January 17, 2009

How Do You Do It? Janet Huntington is Freaking.

I've not quite rolled over on my belly with my tail between my legs, but almost. How does everybody get their life done? I have been holding down a "real" job for four months now and it's killing me. Don't get me wrong, my new boss is eternally understanding. She expects me in around "ninish" and hasn't pointed out yet that I get to work way closer to the "ish" than the nine.
But I have operated on my own schedule for the past 15 years or so. I have to admit most who know me would say I have always done so.
I also have spent years working extraordinarily long hours. My routine for years had been to drive the hour long trip to the barn and clean and water my stalls and pens before I began to ride. I averaged six head a day, often went up to ten, sometimes slid down to four. I always had a lesson or two to give during the day. I rarely headed home before dark.
Most horse shows involved getting up at three a.m. to hit the show pens, be it in Denver or Texas it always seemed to involve me getting up at three and going to bed at the same time the next day.
Now I work 30 to 35 hours a week. I sit at a desk. I'm allowed to daydream, cruise the 'net and take breaks. It's called research in my new life. I have enough energy at the end of the day, or early in the morning, to take my dogs for a run, read the comics, cook dinner for my family. Things I'd given up on ever having the time for again.
So what's my problem?
When I was a horse trainer my time was still my own. I could go to the doctor, stop at the store, grab lunch with friends on a cold day.
Suddenly I'm never getting to the bank in time to deposit the check I really needed to deposit. My library books are waaaaay overdue. We're picking over the dried stuff in the back of the fridge before I go to the grocery store.
And what about my horses? I never see them! When do people with jobs ride? It's crazy, dark and cold early in the morning and it's dark when I get off work. I don't have an indoor arena anymore, or a nasty boss to force me to ride in sub-zero weather. My horses are fat, hairy and wild little billy goats. They love it, I hate it.
When I took my new job I truly had a little fantasy of how things would be.
How hard can 35 hours be? I thought.
I'll just knock out my job, ride my in town horses after work and my pasture horses on the weekend. It will be like a vacation. I told myself.
In all my copious spare time I'll bond with my daughter, start pursuing getting some stories published and get up early to start writing that book.
Maybe I'll start baking bread.
Oh my God!!!
What was I thinking?
When you have a job your employers actually expect you to be there! Even when you're all caught up, you still have to be there! Doing other stuff!
Also writing for a newspaper is really hard. I have to think. It's killing me.
I have five horses. I honestly thought that it would be no big deal to keep up with them all. It's only five. Of course now I have five wild little mustangs to rebreak so I guess in a way it's easier than before. I'm afraid to crawl up on them.
So how do you guys balance it all?
If you don't, how do you live with the guilt?
How in the world do you get a book written?
How do you get your horses ridden?


Whywudyabreedit said...

"Only five," how cute =)

It will get better when the days get longer. But yeah, that m-f business makes it a total pain to get to anything that needs to be done during normal business hours.

Get direct deposit for your pay if you can, that helps a lot. Now all of a sudden you will have to use 'sick time' to get to a doctors appointment, but hey, you get paid to go!

It really will get better when the days get longer. But I gotta tell ya, five horses would kick my butt I think, with a full time job.

Perhaps you can crank out a ride in the am? Do you have to arrive clean and well groomed? Probably huh? =(

It'll work out. Just remember the montra (the one I use anyway going from animal training into using my brain to make money) "My body is reserved for my own personal use now." To me that is a big deal, and with all of the sitting, I relish the time that I get out to move around.

You'll be fine, and the days are getting longer. Really!

Anonymous said...

I started my job Oct 1st. I get up at 5:55am or when I can no longer ignore my obnoxious alarm clock. Run around at work until the work is done and that can vary from 3:30-5pm. Go feed my two horses and ride them if there's time, I have the energy, and it's not too cold. Then get my son from the Y and throw some sort of dinner on the table. If it's Monday, then cub scouts and second job.

Last week I fell asleep after dinner and then woke up in time to get my son to bed and then couldn't go back to sleep. Great.

I can offer only some tips.

There is no such thing as housework.

Dinner comes in a bag or from the microwave.

Horses don't need saddles or bridles to be ridden and ten minutes each is better than nothing.

Don't sit down until you have accomplished what's necessary after work or it won't get done.

And repeat after me, "I love my job, I love my job, I love my job, etc."

Good luck,

One is Enough

I still can't remember my password, sigh.

Anonymous said...

You are asking the wrong person if you are asking me. I tend to prioritize in reverse order. My kid's needs, the horses's needs, then my work, then the household, them myself. My writing is way, way suffering. husband's job, which he does prioritize, supports us. I can be an ill-paid recalcitrant writer--only because of him. So I have no useful advice to offer. Other than--I admire you! And Whywudya is right. As the days grow longer it all seems easier. Take a deep breath. You're in the hard part of the transition. It'll get better. This from someone who is freaking out herself, feeling sure she will not meet her deadline (!)

joycemocha said...

Now you know why I board at a place with an indoor arena (snerk). Otherwise, I wouldn't get much done here in wet Western Oregon (well, okay, usually it's wet).

Writing--I get up at 4:30 am every day to write, leave the house at 6, get to work at 7, work until 3:30/4.

I see the horse two to three times during the work week and once on weekends (two times during the work week now due to ski season and night skiing with the schoolkids).

Daily rides go out the window. Full care board at a place where I trust the owner/manager is crucial. There's a reason I board at a training barn...and the training barn that I do board at.

HorseOfCourse said...

I envy you Mugs.
You have worked full time with your horses. You have probably forgotten more about horses than I’ll ever learn. It’s a lot of freedom, but it comes with a price as well, doesn’t it?
Your asset: a treasure of well earned knowledge. I bet you get the results you’re looking for quicker now than ten years ago, right? That’s your secret weapon.
I’m one of those that have had to make your present balancing act for many years. It’s tough.
Let things settle for a while, and then take a small talk with yourself about what’s most important for you, and make a strict priority accordingly.
Be choosy. Go for the fun part if you can.
Oh, and the blog writing part of your life is under the "compulsory"-category and can not be discarded I'm afraid.

Jami Davenport said...

I'm just glad I don't have kids. I don't know how I'd do all I do and try to be a mom, too. It's tough, I and feel very jealous of writers that get to stay home and write full-time. Yet, I also know that I often get more done than they do. You learn to use your time wisely, rather than fritter it away. I'm sure a routine will fall into place for you.

When I kept my horse at home, there was about one month a year it was too dark to ride when I got home so I rode on weekends. The rest of the time, if I ran straight home, I could ride for a half hour.

Hang in there, it'll work itself out.

mugwump said...

Thanks. Just hearing that some of you have a handle on things gives me hope.
Joycemocha- do you really manage to get up that early? Every day? And you're still human at night towards your family?
I'm impressed and afraid that will be the kind of schedule I'm heading towards.
Anon.- I love your tips, especially "there's no such thing as housework".
Laura is out riding and not writing...I know for a fact!
Gotta go do the same....LATER GATORS!
Jami- was it easier or harder to keep horses at home?

Jami Davenport said...

In some ways it was easier when the horse was at home. I could fit riding in around my schedule and didn't have to drive to the barn. I got so good at scheduling, that I'd saddle her, run in the house, get dinner in the oven, then run back out and ride while it was cooking. I used every spare minute I had. She never made a mess in her stall. She went outside, so I one had to clean the paddock. That helped.

Anonymous said...

I had a great trail ride today. 72 degree weather--we rode for almost three hours, great views of the Monterey Bay, horses were calm, almost lazy. It didn't feel like winter at all. What did I get done on my book? One paragraph. So shoot me.

equiwolf said...

Aah yes, the million dollar question--how does one work full time and have a life? I have been a 'lurker' of this blog and mugwump chronicles (love it), but I am assuming you are serious in wanting to know how others do it... balance work and life. So I have a few thoughts on this topic that I'll share. They are the result of having to learn how to work effectively from home. (I can hear folks gasp with envy, but it ain't all it's cracked up to be.)

These are the things that have helped me get my real work done and find time to do some other things--like run errands, get my chores done, play with or walk my dog, and maybe snatch a ride a few times a week (weather permitting).

1. SET GOALS and prioritize them. Small goals are easiest to achieve, so set those to attain the larger goals. Achieving goals (even small ones) is very heartening and can inspire you to continue. It is helpful to write down your goals to keep them in mind.

This has helped me to get out and ride at times when I might otherwise prioritize something mundane over my horses. Like cleaning the bathroom for cryin' out loud. It becomes pretty obvious what's more important...

2. DEVELOP A ROUTINE. Experiment with what you do and in what order each day and find a routine that really works for you.

I get up, feed the dog, feed the horses, do a short exercise and stretching routine, and feed myself before I start my work day. Those things are important to me and pretty easy to get done. If I fail to exercise, I feel like crap--so how hard is it to chose to exercise? Not... at least for me. And that little routine is nothing major--takes all of 20-30 minutes. I also devote at least a small portion of each evening to writing. And as with working horses--10 minutes is better than nothing at all, and those 10 minutes can actually be very rewarding and lead you to the larger goal of finishing a book.

3. BE DISCIPLINED. There is a difference between being rigid and being disciplined. If you have a routine that 'feels right', then you will be more inclined to be disciplined about sticking to it. But s*** happens, so it helps to be flexible.

4. BE GRATEFUL for what you do have, because we are way better off than a lot of other folks on this planet. This is something I personally try to focus on a lot because it's easy to sink into despair when I forget that.

Good luck, enjoy, and keep up the good writing (and work).

Whywudyabreedit said...

Hey Laura,

Nobody wants to shoot you, we just want to BE you =)

LatigoLiz said...

Yeah, what equiwolf said. Now if I could only get half of THAT done then I might be more on the right track. :)

joycemocha said...

Janet-- I'm human most of the time. It's only half an hour earlier than when I'd have to get up if I wasn't writing--but the time spent writing makes me happier.

I sleep in on weekends and surprisingly, don't often get much writing done because then I have to deal with everyone else in the household...sigh.

(and tiny whimper. Mocha has hock arthritis. We injected her hocks today. sigh....)

Promise said...

I recently moved my mare for a few reasons -- I couldn't swing the board increase at her other place, the new place enables her to "be a horse" and go out with friends for 10-12 hours every night, and I am in that area every weekend to see my boyfriend, I ride, and then go to his house - or go get him and we borrow a horse to ride together.

When I am heading that way anyway, and don't feel like I am driving 25 minutes out of my way in rush hour traffic to go ride as its getting dark (boo, I don't like to ride in an arena anymore, unless its outside) when I am tired and just want to go home after work, has made me much more excited about getting back into riding.

Besides, twice a week is about a million times better than I was managing while I was going to school AND working full time (which is about once every 2 months)...and, with all the turn out she's getting, I feel so much less guilty.

Anonymous said...

I have a suggestion of making a menu. I go grocery shopping once a week and I plan on what we are going to have for the rest of the week. If I am making taco's and spaghetti in one week, I will cook the hamburger for both. I put half in the fridge for the next day.

I am still working on my process and it has been about three years. I still feel guilty.

mugwump said...

Thanks again. Yes equiwolf, I am seriously asking. I'm listing these suggestions, (I'm big on lists) and going to try to set my priorities.
I have hope....

Shanster said...

Yeah - I feel guilty for sure. But my horses are getting a lot of the big 4 so THEY are happy.

I always think I should do more and be more. sigh. I am NOT disciplined enough. Ever.

The darkness sucks my motivation, the winter wind sucks my motivation and the cold sucks my motivation.

Horses and jobs is much harder in winter than it is in summer.

Over the weekends I look in cookbooks and I try to buy enough stuff to make 3 dinners that will leave plenty o' left overs... casseroles, soups, stews... that kind of thing. That saves time.

I know I won't be able to ride every night... I try to use those nights to get the casseroles and stuff done.

I clean house on weekends... but not always. I think it's been 2 weeks since I cleaned... so my floor is growing more and more hair from all the dogs and cats etc.

I HAVE to go to work. If I don't go to work, I can't afford my horses. It is a necessary evil.

Sometimes I take a sick day or a vacation day when the weather is nice and I spend one great day out with my horses... the other times?

I TRY to ride 3 times a week in winter - 5 or 6 times in summer... it doesn't always happen. It's SO much easier in summer than it is now with the short days. I simply keep trying.

Oh yeah - and direct deposit for checks for sure! My husband is EXTREMELY supportive and today HE went to the store cuz HE had some extra time.

I'm lucky that I can get some stuff done at work too... I use breaks etc. for making some calls or sending faxes when caretaking for a parent in a nursing home and some other personal bizness... it's good to have a job that is a bit relaxed and will let you have a minute here and there to catch up on your life during office hours.

Shanster said...

Oh and lists... I list everything so I don't forget. When you write it down, it doesn't stay in your head fretting or waking you up at night.

Crossing stuff off your list feels really good! Like you are making headway...

FD said...

Mostly everyone's said the things I'd say already. I've been struggling with this the last three years as I transition from full time horses, to HR and god, I've found it hard sometimes, harder than I ever found horses.

I've had to go back to school to get other qualifications on top of a full time job and for a while last winter/spring I wasn't really riding at all. I hadn't realised how just miserable I was till I started reading your blog regularly and it spurred me to make time to ride.

Yeah, I have other responsibilities, but you know what? I have a responsibility to myself too and I was not happy, and I wasn't going to be happy unless I could figure it out.

I was lucky enough to have a boss who when I asked, let me come in and hour and half early to work, so I could leave early. That's helped me immensely, as that means there's still light at the end of the day to go ride in. Well, sometimes. Made a huge difference. Also, the shops/banks were still open when I left work so I could get errands done on the way to the yard.