In my last post I talked about tech-related problems leading to distraction at work, especially when you freelance and you get to deal with most of those issues yourself. Today was unfortunately an even worse day for me productivity-wise. I'd say it might just be my most unproductive work day ever. And it too began with technology-related non-goodness.
Things kicked off this morning with my desktop PC (I use both a desktop and laptop for work). I'd been having problems with the desktop for a while, so I stopped using it. And it was really affecting how much work I could get done in a day. So I had someone over this weekend, and they suggested upgrading the memory (and there was something else I needed to replace on the motherboard). So we made a trip to an area computer shop to pick things up. I got the wrong size of the one thing (fixed today though), and the memory upgrade went smoothly.
We did some updates and maintenance on that system (not something I'd usually do on the weekend), but I had more to deal with this morning. So I did. I had to fix the Internet connection, clean up the registry, and deal with a few other issues where primary programs I use weren't being recognized. Fun, fun.
I got through the tech maintenance by around 9 or 10am (keep in mind my work day ends at noon). I planned to spend the rest of the day writing. It didn't happen. That's because I had a business errand to run first -- needed to replace my office desk lamp because the lighting sucked and made it very difficult to work this morning. (The original one was broken over the weekend.)
Afternoon Running Around
I figured replacing the desk lamp would be an easy task. I bought my last one at the local Staples. So I went there. (I try to make it a point only to run business errands during business hours, so I didn't want to wait until later.)
The local Staples recently moved to a new location. Well, apparently they decided that when they moved they would no longer carry lamps. They suck.
So I tried Best Buy. No lamps. And then Target. Theirs sucked. Then Wal-mart. No luck. Then K-mart. Then Sears. Then Boscovs. Then Kohls. Then another Staples. Then Lowes and Home Depot.... At the end of the day, I hit up FOURTEEN different stores looking for a desk lamp, and I could not find any that looked even remotely decent. All anyone seems to have now is the cheap, crappy college-student-targeted variety for back to school time.
I don't think I'm that fussy. I had three basic requirements. First, it had to have a dimmer. I start work at 4-5am, and I don't like harsh lighting. I like easing into it. I also like dim lighting on the occasions when I do work overnight (like clearing up Thursday's work early so I can start my weekend early -- unless I really procrastinated and got behind on something I don't work late for other reasons these days).
Of all the stores I went to there was only one desk lamp with a dimmer on it. ONE. Last year I had my pick of plenty, so I'm not sure what the issue was with that today. The one I did find didn't meet my other two requirements (material it's made out of, and needing flexibility at the lamp's shade area and not solely in the middle of the neck). I finally broke down and decided I'd go home and find one online, even if it meant using my crappy spare lamp this week. But even online I haven't been able to find any lamps that meet my needs.
As frustrated as I am with the process, I'm not letting it get to me as much as I might have in the past. I won't go back out today to look anywhere else. And I won't waste my downtime running business errands. It'll wait until another work day. That's really the key to me. I used to push myself to the point of burning out just because I felt like I had to. I've since learned how silly that was.
Later this week I have a whole business day set aside for backing up important material on both of my work computers. In the past I would have stuck to client work during the week and then done my backups over the weekend. This time I thought about it. Then I had a "Hell no" moment. Work should be done during work time. The rest of my week is play time. And I've come to appreciate how important that play time really is in staying sane and productive during my work days.
How do you deal with unproductive days like this? Do you just eat the time and call it a day, like you might if you were in a typical employee position? Or do you then feel obligated to cut into your personal time to make up for it?