ninety-six hours

Today at work I sat down to make a list of all the things I want to get done, or get to some defined state, before leaving for our trip.

As part of this, I mapped out exactly how many working days I have left to accomplish these things.  Like any analytical person, I then tried to divide the estimated hours of work into my available working hours to see how much of a challenge I have ahead.  Shockingly, I have a scant twelve working days before I’m gone for six weeks.  Upon seeing this, I was struck with two emotional reactions: panic and guilt.  Twelve days is not going to cut it.  And I am working fast.  I’m going faster than I’m normally comfortable with, fast to the point where I sacrifice some of my meticulousness for raw results.

Twelve days is not just scant, it’s impossible.  I changed the name of the column on my spreadsheet to read “Desired leave-ready state” instead of “Estimated date of completion;” it’s not all going to get all done.  I decided that I’m going to start going in at 7am to get an extra hour on each day, I have some false hope that this will make a material difference – and some real hope that it’ll at least ease my conscience.

I don’t know why I feel guilty.  I describe this to some of my friends and they look at me sideways.  I can’t help it; I want to leave things in perfect order and leave without feeling like things are unfinished.  But things at work are in a state of high-flux; fluid, changing around me and some of it beyond my control.  Too many times I feel like I talk about work like it’s more stressful than it is, but really it’s just what I make it to be.  Right now I’m making it to be really, really difficult.  But I do feel guilty about leaving when things are so up-in-the-air.  I feel bad for dropping things and running, and then at the same time feel good about taking advantage of the opportunity to do just that.  Someone told me, “Don’t worry Dave, the sawmill will be here when you get back, just the same as it was when you left.”  I know this.  But the waning days have me sweating nonetheless.

I suppose like I feel like I’m letting my boss down.  Because things haven’t gone according to my supposed-to-be-spotless plan.  Hell, things have gone 180° out from that plan and continue to slide from bad to worse.  Maybe it doesn’t matter in the long run, except it does.  I hate feeling like my image is besmirched.  That guy who always packs exactly days+one pairs of clean underwear when he travels, who never pays a bill a day late… that guy’s plan went to pot.  What happened to that guy, anyway?  I heard he let the wheels fall off then split.  You sure that guy is of the mettle we want?



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4 Replies to “ninety-six hours”

  1. Welcome to the brain of a working mother… except try leaving for 12 to 16 weeks… then we’ll talk about the prep, guilt, and professional recovery upon returning.

    1. I can perhaps empathize a bit now… but you’re right, I’d never considered how it feels for a doer to consciously stop doing. It’s tough.

  2. This is exactly why we need sabbaticals. You’re going to return to find out everyone forgot you were gone and the sawmill didn’t go out of business. Then you’re going to feel silly worrying as much as you did before you left. Finally, you’re going to start worrying that they could go on without you and you better start working harder to show just how valuable you are. And thus the cycle repeats itself. And all this time you thought the sawmill gave sabbaticals to be nice!

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