Published: Monday March 16, 2015.

A day without phone calls

The letter I mailshot’d to my EX23 Technical Services clients has started arriving on doormats. The response has been interesting. One of my clients has invited me over to discuss it in person with a beer. Another client, usually very reserved and private, sent an email to me asking me to reconsider. A third offered me a job. I was expecting a bit of fallout from the decision, and I am anticipating the next three months to be pretty busy, but I have no idea beyond this how people are going to take the news.

Of course I’m going to get responses from people I help out, that’s the nature of the service industry. As soon as something that works is taken away, there’s a reaction. This all sounds very self-important. The irony is that I don’t actually think I’m an indispensable pillar of the community; far from it – I was the one that knows computer stuff and took a punt on a hyper-local print advert. I didn’t know how it would pan out beyond that initial ad insertion, but after nearly three years I’m fairly settled about the way it’s being sunsetted. I have no regrets, even with the single-figure of appointment-free weekends I’ve had in the last twelve months.

I recently had a whole day of no phone calls and no appointments. This is how things used to be. I was able to focus on non-EX23 client and my projects and made some visible progress. It wasn’t as much as I’d liked, but I can foresee a time in the near future where I wake up in the morning and get excited about making stuff again. There was no stress about the phone ringing (or not). I wasn’t checking my calendar and traffic reports to plan travel times around north Cornwall. Crucially, I didn’t feel any guilt about my limited time being at the disposal of anyone who calls or emails me.

Zero anticipation anxiety. It was great. I’m OK with fixing, but creating is where I thrive. The split between the two over the day was about fifty-fifty, so there’s still some work to do, and I’ll take that win in the meantime. In addition to the big lump of progress, there was a speculative discussion about house-sharing arrangements with Jen.

The gist is that as we’re both beginning to rediscover the self-respect for our careers, the right tools and environment are important factors that we’re not giving enough attention to. Fixing this is a gradual process. After all, it took years of neglect to get to our respective professional situations, so it follows that it’ll take a while to sort it all out. That’s irritating in and of itself, but there has to be a start point of every journey.

My first step was to accept there was a problem with the part of my work that takes up the most hours in the day, stop kidding myself that it would become sustainable given enough investment and/or time, and regain the control. The second step is for me to work on the project backlog and start seeing results, and that’s now underway.