My family have all gone out to parties, so I am here at home in the quiet thinking about my New Year’s goals.

I suppose we should always have goals for all the important areas of our lives: spiritual goals, mental goals, physical goals, goals for friendship and family, for our homes, for our avocations and pet causes.

I might come up with a whole panoply of goals, but at this point, I have two sets: work and health.

These are not unrelated. Indeed, as I read around the internet this week I came upon a bunch of writings on the health challenges of “the geek lifestyle.” I don’t think of myself as a “geek,” of course, but I had to admit that I’ve succumbed to the lifestyle as described.

See, here’s what happens. You wake up in the wee hours of the morning thinking about some exciting project, and since you work online, you can go work on it straightaway. Like as not, other tech workers from your buddy list are online, too, so it feels downright normal. You can even chat with colleagues in other hemispheres.

At various points during the day, you step away from the computer, perhaps even leave the house, only to be drawn back by the pinging and chortling of the machine, which is sometimes a new job or important question. During one of these forays into cyberspace, you get drawn into something really interesting, and then it becomes 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. and you have only eaten things people brought you in front of the computer, usually not vegetables, and have to call out for pizza.

This typical behavior leads to eye problems, physical unfitness, and “really poor sleep hygiene,” which sounds pretty serious. Also lank hair and blotchy skin. And dressing badly and blinking and going, “huh?” when human beings speak to you, but that may not be a health issue.

So I need to have a normal schedule including gym, balanced meals, and sleep. Also eye drops, which Dr. T gave me along with instructions about looking away from the computer every 20 minutes. And a Sabbath, and time with my family even when I have deadlines. And perhaps turning off the computer at 5:00 even when it burbles trustingly, because for heaven’s sake this isn’t a TV show, and stuff can wait for twelve hours.

I think this plan will cover the health issues.

As for the work issues, well I am about to move into numbers, and my feelings will not be hurt if you go read some other xanga where they’re talking about Tara Reid and/or sex. Or knitting, for that matter.

I calculated everything up for the past eight months, which is how long I’ve been a Computer Guy, and I find that I have averaged 15 billable hours a week. My goal is 20. This is clearly a realistic goal. I’ve added an online class and several new clients for the spring, I plan to make more of an effort to get oDesk jobs, and I think I’ve developed a certain amount of momentum.

However, I think I’ve averaged 30 or more unbillable hours a week, and my goal for those is also 20. That may take more doing.

The average could be the issue here, since there were several months when those hours included searching for, interviewing for, and turning down salaried jobs, something which I’m no longer doing. However, there are some things I’ve been doing the whole time:

  • Meetings and preparing for meetings. This is good, of course, since it’s networking and spending time with clients and potential clients. However, I want to cut back on the time spent with people who don’t end up hiring me. Since I can’t tell in advance, I think this means that I need to develop an efficient system for my pre-meeting research, and maybe get better at qualifying people when meeting with them.
  • Learning things. I’m all for learning things, but I’d like to do less fevered tracking down of stuff in order to finish a project, and more organized study of things like all the software I use. This would be more efficient, it seems to me, and more enjoyable, and less likely to lead to bad sleep hygiene. (Somehow that word makes it sound really ominous.)
  • Business and paperwork stuff. With this, too, I bet I could streamline it and make it more efficient. I want to spend more time on SEO and SEM for my own site, though, and perhaps more networking.
  • Unpaid projects. I definitely want to continue doing volunteer work for organizations I want to support, and I agree with the common view that it’s essential to have creative projects outside the assigned stuff. I don’t want to do as much unpaid stuff for clients (i.e., scope creep) and I noticed particularly severe scope creep in the volunteer projects, possibly because they’re not paying by the hour.
  • Grading of papers, corresponding with students, etc. This goes with the job. However, I won’t have as much driving, which was also part of the unbillable aspect of teaching. And the teaching job keeps me up to date and authentic for my gaggle of educational clients, so it’s worth it.

If I increase my billable hours, reduce my unbillable hours, and alter the focus of the remaining unbillable hours, I should have an excellent year. Doing this should also make it easier to get the gym time, healthy meals, and sleep.

So now I will go enjoy the quiet. My husband said he’d be home to “enjoy midnight” with me. Happy New Year’s to all!