Thursday, January 5, 2012

The 8 to 5 wall

It never fails, my peak flow of creative juices hits at 11 pm, just about the time when the rest of the world has hit their first round of REM.  I'm enjoying my second week of Christmas/New Year's vacation, and my pattern of stay up late and create, and blink awake to noon sunlight, is in full cycle.  This, and my recent cruises of inspirational websites and ideas about lifestyle design, urban farming, and permaculture, makes me question my current and past 8 am to 5 pm jobs, and how much more I can sustain them.  Does anyone else resent this handcuffed schedule like I do?

Several of  my fellow Gen Y, international cooperant, friends working in Santa Rosa de Copan try to innovate with their work schedules and locations, and come up against strong resistance here.  Whereas in Europe and parts of North America, working from home, focussing on results, and strolling in at 9:30 am because you worked lastnight until midnight, is becoming accepted practice, here in Honduras, that shit don't fly just yet. At my workplace there's a special electronic sign-in-with-your-thumbprint machine.  Since the 2008 economic crisis, they are having trouble paying salaries, but they prioritized this technology to make sure everybody is at their desk when the 8 am whistle blows.  Interesting.

Also, employees are very unaccustomed to ever saying "No." to their supervisors or bosses.  If, on Friday afternoon, the director says, "Let's meet tomorrow at 8:30 am to discuss this until it's resolved."  Employees will nod their head and say "yes".  It doesn't matter if their kid is celebrating his 10th birthday,  or their cousin is getting married out of town, or....they almost never say "No." .  You can imagine then, the great pleasure I recently derived, when I received a phonecall during my vacations, and was requested to drop everything and come into the office, by a man who is not even my supervisor or boss.  I said "No." in the direct Canadian way, not in the beat-around-the-bush Honduran way.  I would have liked to see his expression.  Boundaries are oh so important, especially for nice girls like me.

All this to say that these past couple weeks I've been bursting with creativity and interest in self-directed learning on the net...and I'm dreading getting hand-cuffed back into the 8 am to 5 pm office lifestyle.  Crampy. Cramp. Cramp.  Cheers to all you brave entrepreneurs and free-lancers out there who make up your own schedules and have the discipline to make it work.  When I grow up, I want to be just like you.


  1. Ah, very apt post! I've been battling my own version of this problem all weekend. Here, people are the opposite. They seem to have no work week whatsoever, and I had to tell no less than three people today (Sat, after I had already been into the office first thing) that NO, I cannot [do whichever non-urgent task] because this is the weekend, and I have plenty of time on Monday. Makes it better than "weekend" in Swahili is "weeki-endi". Sigh. It feels so nice to be assertive, I wish someone else here would join me.

  2. Way to be assertive Margaret! It gets intimidating sometimes and can be hard to walk the line of being your "true self" versus following cultural norms. I applaud your boundary setting, especially as a woman in typically male run workplaces! Maybe if other women/people see you do this, and the sky doesn't fall down, they will take it as a positive example of strength and health. :)