Learning to Work in Fits and Starts at the San Mateo County Office of Education

mail cartWhen I was in high school, I worked where my parents did – The San Mateo County Office of Education. They worked upstairs, and I was down in the basement mailroom. I didn’t mind. I made $4.75 an hour which was significantly higher than minimum wage in the mid-1980s. And, the cast of characters with whom I worked were amazingly entertaining. I still have fond memories of the pot-smoking janitor who used to laugh for no reason, the printing press operator who looked like Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch and played cool R&B music, and the kindly old PBX operator who would tell me tales of when she was a little girl.

I would arrive at work after school, and there would be a big pile of mail to sort from all of the schools and satellite district offices. I became lightning fast at sorting letters and packages into the bins and mail cart. From there, I would push the cart through the upstairs departments – working as an in-house mail-girl.

I could get my work done in under an hour, and then I had two hours to shoot the breeze with my work buddies, drive the County Ford Fairmont to 7-11 for a Slurpee, or play with my boss’s dog “Lucky.” She was certainly a pioneering innovator in the concept of bringing pets to work.

From this early career experience, I trained myself to work in fits and starts. I could have taken three hours to sort and deliver the mail, but instead, I learned to put the “pedal to the metal” so to speak for a short amount of time so that I would have time to take it easy.

I still do this!

I wish I could steadily write eight hours every day, five days a week, but I can’t. I don’t function like that. Rather, I have bursts of amazing productivity followed by bouts of not wanting to do much else but watch fun clips on YouTube.

Yes, I do write every day, but some days I churn out 10,000 words or more. Other days, I’m lucky if I squeak out 1,000.

Over time, I have learned to take care of non-writing tasks when I’m feeling less than productive. I’ll create invoices, make calls, and work on proposals. But, somehow I feel less than pleased with myself when I’m not writing.

I wonder if others share my less than consistent cycle of work. Or, did my stint as mail-girl create this problem? And, is this really a problem at all or rather the brain’s way of recharging the batteries.

Song of the Day: Bang on the Drum, Todd Rundgren

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