It is a gorgeous Saturday, and I have nothing but a phone meeting, papers to grade, and homework for the class I’m taking, plus grocery shopping and housework to do.
I finished the article on Wal-Mart at 9:30 last night, making a seventeen hour work day but meeting the deadline. I shot it over the the editor, who texted back, “How many words is that?” He had asked for 1500.
“1499,” I responded. “I thought of adding one more to make it exactly 1500, but decided that would be showing off.”
I really like the article, actually. I hope he runs it. I sent a copy to my mother, which isn’t a thing I commonly do. I was able to argue convincingly that Wal-Mart has made some real changes in its behavior since 2005, the year when their CEO decided they should clean up their act. True, they label food “organic” when it isn’t, mistreat their workers as much as they can get away with, and create a net loss in jobs whenever they move into a community. However, they have actually embraced sustainability, and they were one of the retailers to refuse to buy cotton harvested by slave labor in Uzbekistan. They give a lot to the community where I live, and employ a lot of our people, even if their jobs aren’t always desirable.
So I was able to do what seems to me to be a very positive article, even though it does acknowledge that they had some PR problems at one time. I think I make it sound as though it wasn’t their fault.
One of my goals for this year was to get my billable hours up to 50% of my total hours worked. So last night, at the end of that 17 hours, I calculated. I spent five hours following up on emails from clients and colleagues, doing routine blogging and checking of analytics, and joining in the discussions required for the class I’m taking. Then I dressed, had breakfast, and drove to class. Two hours of teaching; that’s billable. I answered student questions —
One of my students, a girl recently arrived from China — stayed after to tell me she thought I should read her paper first, because she was excited about it. I thought that was sweet.
— and then drove back home, picked up #1 son and checks that came in the mail, and spent an hour doing errands, including the bank and drive-through lunch and a fruitless visit to the IRS. I took care of my husband’s unemployments issues with bad grace, did two hours for my Thursday client (yes, I know it was Friday — I got behind this week) and four and a half hours for the online magazine, with pizza delivery in the middle, and that was the end of the day.
So I had about three hours of things like driving, personal errands, and meals. I had 8.5 billable hours. That means that I had five and a half unbillable work hours to the 8.5 billable. So the ratio is good. The unbillable things I was doing included taking a class to improve my work-related skills, alerting clients to things needing their attention, accepting new assignments, solving clients’ problems, following up on referrals, and thanking people who did good work or said kind things. Obviously, these are all worthwile.
So the day was too long, but apart from that, I think I’m doing what I should.
And if it weren’t for some long days, I wouldn’t be sending #2 son to the very expensive school he really wants to attend.
He told me yesterday, as we sat in Friday afternoon traffic outside the IRS building, that he was proud of me. That was sweet, too.
I do have lots of stuff to do today, but I also plan to have a nice hike, or some needlework, and to read a novel.