[How to Have a Day Job] 5 Ways to Survive Overtime


Oof, there’s that word. No one wants to hear it, but chances are good you’ve been told that it’s going to be a part of your day job at one point or another. Overtime. Wherein your 40 hour workweek becomes…well, more than that. And that has been the case for me recently, which is why I want to share with you 5 ways you can keep yourself from drowning in the wake of the overtime tsunami:

  1. Take breaks: make time to take breaks throughout the day. Know what you’re entitled to and take advantage to avoid burn-out. When you’re taking those breaks, get up and move away from your desk, out of line of sight of whatever work you have. Don’t answer your phone.
  2. Sleep, eat, drink: it’s the big trifecta of not ruining your body, and probably one of the top reasons that people get so sick during ‘busy seasons’ at work. Go to bed. Eat some damn vegetables. Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. Have options of healthy snacks and easy meals.
  3. It’s over when it’s over: this one is kind of tricky, but after you clock out – whether that be for lunch or for the end of the day – tell yourself that the work day is done. Don’t think about it. Don’t talk about it. Don’t complain about it (or if you must, set a time limit – allow yourself to only vent for 30 seconds or 1 minute). You aren’t getting paid for the time you’re spending dwelling on it, so you may as well not do it.
  4. Make plans for the rest of the time: when overtime rears its ugly head, it’s easy to just vegetate once the workday is done. It’s been a long day; you deserve several hours in front of the television, right? Make plans to do something else. Start a creative project. Take walks after work. Don’t let these extra hours define you. You are more than these repetitive daily tasks.
  5. Don’t close yourself off (except when you need to): I am a social introvert. I recharge on my own, but I regularly surround myself with friends for fun and shenanigans. It’s easy to just shut down when I’m stressed out and see no one, and ultimately I will suffer for it in the long run. Make sure you schedule time with friends and family with the same regard you would for, say, a doctor’s appointment.

How do you survive overtime? Tell me about it!

Hobbies and Careers

Recently, I’ve been going through one of my soul-searching writer phases. It’s something that happens every now and then when I find myself going, “Am I really a writer? What does that mean? Do I really love to do this? Wouldn’t I do it more if I really loved it?” You know, the normal questions artists have every now and then.

I keep coming across a phrase that I’d really like to just…wipe away. Plug into a Cerebro machine and remove it from everyone’s list of negative-nancy-isms.

“If you can’t make a living off it, it’s a hobby. Not a career.”

I feel like I just bit into an ice cube. I think this is one of the belittling, deprecating things to say. Obviously, we’re not talking taxes here, so just…don’t say it.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

American Heritage defines a career as “a chosen pursuit; a profession or occupation.” A hobby, meanwhile, is “an activity or interest pursued outside one’s regular occupation and engaged in primarily for pleasure.” Okay, so now we have this common word. Let’s go even further. An occupation is “an activity that serves as one’s regular source of livelihood; a vocation.”

Notice I made that second word bold, because I want it to stand out.

So let’s translate this and you’ll see how this phrase feels to writers, artists and other people whose success and happiness you like to judge:

“If you’re not making money from this, it is not your calling. It is a past time. It’s something you do for fun.”

Honey. This isn’t fun. Fun is going for a drive. Fun is watching Netflix in my underpants. Fun is reading kids books and petting puppies. Fun is the beach or the airport or a platypus.

If you aren’t a writer or an artist, you will never understand how it feels to move through the day and try to ignore the burning urge to create. It’s like having to pee, but, see, you have time to stop and pop a squat. You can tell your day job, “I need to run to the restroom real quick.” I can’t tell my boss, “I really need to get this story out of my head.”

You will never get how much guilt there is when you don’t sit down and write something. It feels like going without food, like your soul is dehydrating.

Lucky you, that you have a day job where at the end of the day, you’re getting a paycheck. You aren’t showing your work to someone and having them a) ignore you, b) tell you it’s “not for them” or c) tell you outright that it’s garbage. Every time we write something and put it out into the world, it’s like we’re putting out our hand for one of those horrible bar games where someone tries to jam a knife between your fingers as fast as possible. It’s not a question of will you get hurt but when and how badly.

And don’t get me started on the blank page and the writer’s block and the stress and depression and the manic episodes and the insomnia and the Google searches for ways to die and…

It’s not fun.

Is it rewarding? Yes. Would I give it up? No.

Can I give it up?


Conclusion: I don’t care what your measure of success may be, but don’t try to tell me that what I wake up every day thinking about doing, failing to do, doing over and over and over and then starting it all over again is not my life’s work.

Because I am greater than the sum of all your paychecks, and my power has nothing to do with you.