Monday, May 14, 2012

Talkin' 'bout a Bunch of Shift Work

Today, my life changed.

Today...I started working. Full-time, I might add.

And I know that makes me sound incredibly lazy, being nineteen and all, but take it how you will. Till now I've been blessed not to desperately need to work, and I took advantage of that. But now I work in a warehouse, which basically constitutes eight hour days of forklifts, cardboard boxes, and scary break rooms with cracked tile floors.

I wake up at five o'clock, shower, dress, drink a cup of coffee, all the while desperately trying to overcome the homicidal tendencies that accompany every eviction from the land of dreams.

No, I haven't actually killed anyone yet, but this is something I'm actively trying to prevent. I'm quite the night owl. I'm at my happiest and most productive when the sun has set, and the world has taken its NyQuil. So this whole "getting up at 5" thing is not only aggravating, it's completely counter-nature for me.

So after my soon-to-be-ritualistic morning, I drove to East Point, missed the turn, reversed directions in the Dairy Queen parking lot ("Try our new Chickn Bacn rAnch"), and crossed the train tracks, finally arriving at the warehouse.

And then spent nearly the rest of my day driving circles in a forklift. I lifted things. I set things down. Some things (be impressed) I even moved to new shelves.

But hey, I'm now a certified forklift operator. I'm pretty sure I even get a certificate (I'm counting on this certificate to satisfy me 'till I get my B.S. in Counseling. Like an intellectual snack.). 

Now, I know it sounds like I'm complaining, and were you to ask me seven hours from now, I would be. But really, I'm quite grateful for this job, as I realize that there are many who do not have one, who need it more desperately than I. And, honestly, it's kind of exciting.

Let me clarify.

I spent hours pondering the meaning of existence today, as I drove circuit after circuit around the parking lot under the watchful eyes of my instructor, and realized something that this job, if I manage it correctly, will do for me.

It will force me to prioritize.

I'm notoriously bad at prioritizing. Terrible. Everything that I have any interest in feels like the most important thing ever when I'm doing it. This goes for writing, piano, reading, sleeping, watching T.V., eating, staring at walls, etc., etc. With eight hours of every day now being monopolized by wage-making, and with so much of my night now dominated by the need for R.E.M., I'm going to have to buckle down and decide what is important, and what I should spend my time on.
Now, this obviously is applicable to writing, because for a couple of years now I have been telling myself, "You need to treat it as more than a hobby. It's a part of your life, dang it, act like it!"...And I have failed, miserably. I realized in this one, earth-shaking day of fork-lifting, that I am really going to have to buckle down if I ever plan on accomplishing anything. So I am committing myself to forty-five minutes of writing, every day.

This is a minimum, but I think a good one. So if I only get in forty-five minutes of collective writing every day when I get back from work, I'll know that I've made some improvement.

I know I'll waver some, and I'm working on that.

So, my question to you today is this, "How do you manage to prioritize and manage your various and sundry interests with your commitments, be they work, children, a herd of alpaca, or a radish garden? What works best for you?"

And with that, I bid you a good night's rest...

And pray for your immortal soul if you are destined to encounter me before ten in the morning.


  1. Ahhh, the never ending struggle for balance. I'm retired and still fighting it..priorities and responsibilities shift with the years, but the fine balancing act continues. I even blogged about that a couple of days ago.

    BTW, be sure to check out and pick up your Blog Award. If you have a Twitter account, let me know so I can add you.

    1. I shall definitely have to check out your blog post. This is such a common struggle with authors, and I always love hearing others' methods of wrestling the problem into submission.

      I have visited it, and am so very flattered! I've been planning a post about it, but between this new job and helping set up for my sister's graduation party...things haven't gone according to plan. How ironic, right?

      I will most definitely be active again, and soon!

  2. Great to hear about your new job. Honestly, I can't think of a better thing for someone to do after their sophomore year of college than the very type of work you're doing. Take pride in every little bit of it and try to learn something new from it each day.

    Some folks are very intentional about managing their time and balance their priorities, and that's probably generally a good thing. I'm a bit more extemporaneous about such things, though, as strict routines depress me and working things out on the fly is a) more fun and b) more conducive to building the skills needed to manage the unexpected eventualities that are likely to come up anyway. The older I get, the more I'm learning to just let some things go; it's like the advice a good friend once gave me: "Your job will always be like the guy who has all these plates balanced and spinning atop these tall sticks. The trick isn't to keep 'em all spinning, because you won't be able to do that - regardless of what you do, some of them are going to fall down and break. The trick is to know which ones are Grandma's china and which ones are from Walmart."

    An executive I used to work for demonstrated this concept another way, which underscores the paramount importance of understanding what your REAL priorities really are. He said this: "I have three lists of things I need to do. On the first list are all the things that the board of directors will fire me if I don't do. On the second list are the thousands of other important things that are ancillary to the things on the first list - they need to get done, but not immediately. And on the third list are things that could make me more money. As a rule, the things that could get me fired comes first, the things that could make me more money comes second, and all the other stuff comes last, because those are my priorities and represent what I really care the most about."

    Over the seven years that I did payroll at that company, I was able to see the outrageous success yielded by his strategy. If you can conciously recognize what is truly important to you (naturally important...effortlessly important), it won't be that hard to prioritize it appropriately.

    1. It's definitely a learning opportunity, I can attest to that. Learning to get up at five, to do the things the job requires...that and, as I said in the post, learning my priorities, and how to handle them.

      I quite envy your extemporaneous approach, and wish I could emulate it. However, my few attempts at that have been pretty disastrous, so I'll probably wait to try that again. And that is an excellent metaphor, quite accurate, really.

      Thank you very much for the read, and the thoughtful comment!

  3. I confess, Blake - I giggled all through this blog post. You make forklifts sound ENTERTAINING. And life changing.

    You must be a writer, or somethin'.

    But seriously - KUDOS TO YOU for tightening the priority belt. We all need a kick in the pants on this. If you're like me, it's a routine kicking that you need every so often, like immunizations. Or a snack. (Your intellectual snack comment made me laugh aloud, BTW)

    Make it habit - not hobby!!! (Oh, and at the risk of sounding like a post-stalker - ditto what Donna said. Be sure to add her on Twitter - she's cool!!)

    1. Haha, I'm glad you, at least, could be entertained by the forklifts. I'm still struggling against raging hatred. (Actually, now that I can just hop on and do it without the's actually kind of fun. I have a messed up emotional relationship to these things.)

      That sounds exactly like me. And, unfortunately, I have not subjected myself regularly to the correct doses, and as such, have been really lazy about the whole mess. (YES! I laughed an inordinate amount when I realized I legitimately felt that way about the certificate...So it's nice that you giggled about it. Giggles are good.)

      Don't even worry about it. Were I worried about post-stalkers, I would not have a blog. ;) I shall definitely track her down! Or vice-versa.

      Thanks for reading, naturally!