I quit my full-time job last week and today is my first Monday waking up with no work obligations. This last job, which I managed to stay with for almost a year, was my first traditional full-time job in over twenty-five years. Prior to this job, I’d always done my own gig — consulting, running a business, starting a non-profit. And while all of those jobs were challenging and often required me to work full-time and beyond, I never had a compulsory schedule where I had to work certain days and certain hours. So leaving this job where I was a 9–5er feels especially liberating. I feel so happy that I don’t have to log in and do the grind until I can log out.
But the list of other things I need to do has already snaked in through the space at the bottom of my office door. It’s not even 9 am and my inventory of tasks is piling up: mow the lawn, clean out the storage room in the basement, make a dentist appointment, pay the house bills, wipe the old computers so I can donate them, put away winter clothes, connect timer on the drip system, research summer programs for teens.
How do people actually keep a full-time job when there is so much to do? My mom tells a story of me at our family dinner table when I was about fourteen. “I’m never going to work full-time,” I said. Both of my parents and my step-parents worked full-time. I’m not sure where I got the idea that it was possible not to work full-time.
I’d bought into the other messages that were promoted in my youth — that boys were more capable, that adult women should always be dieting, and that most people with any gray hair also had chronic back pain. So why did I make the proclamation that I would not follow the full-time path at such an early age?
After working full-time for the last year, I am affirmed that my adolescent proclamation was wise and true. Everyone is different. There are night owls and early birds. But the majority of us are expected to work the same shifts. Some people like to work twelve-hour days and get their workweek over with. Others would rather work short days and just do a moderate amount every day.
Today, in addition to my list of jobs to do, I have challenged myself to envision my perfect job.
In my perfect job, I would make my own schedule.
In my p