It's a tendency I know well. I'm in a period of unemployment – let's call it a fallow period – and not for the first time. I've had several periods ranging from a month through to almost a year when I haven't worked, either because of redundancy (such a brutal phrase!) or because I've been working as a contractor and the contract has come to an end.
The whole 'not earning money' thing is a bit of a bind. But at the same time, there's a certain luxury to the sudden wealth of free time. The kind of free time I long for when I'm on the treadmill of commute–work–commute–sleep–repeat.
In the case of my present situation, I knew this fallow period was coming several months in advance; the project was coming to a close and there was no chance of the contract rolling over. Because of the nature of contract work, which requires contractors to start pretty much immediately, I didn't look too hard for a follow-up job.
Towards the end of the project, I was working long days, and I was too exhausted to throw myself into the soul-destroying process of jobhunting. And because I was lucky enough to be earning enough to tuck some money aside, and have been unemployed before, I wasn't feeling any immediate panic. I just worked my butt off until the final day of the project, celebrated the end with my colleagues in the time-honoured way of going to the pub and drinking way too much, and said goodbye to work at the end of March.
Something else I know from previous experience is that when I'm back at work, I'll look back on all this wonderful free time and berate myself for having wasted it watching daytime TV and farting around on the computer. So once the wrap party hangover cleared, I drew up a list of things to do to keep myself busy and motivated. None of it was very exciting. Fix up the garden. Take broken appliances to the tip. Revarnish the front door. That kind of thing. Dullsville. But it was all stuff that needs to be done, and by being productive, I reasoned to myself, I wouldn't lapse into inertia, and the momentum would help to drive me towards my next job.
A week and a bit on, the list is still there, and largely unmolested by strike-throughs. I've spent most of the time sleeping and, well, watching daytime TV and farting around on the computer. I justified it to myself – I'd been working really hard; I haven't had time off in a very long time (my last holiday was 3 years ago); I have enough money to keep me going for a few months. And I'm doing some dog walking for a charity (The Cinnamon Trust, a very good cause, so check it out if you love animals and have free time) so I'm not a complete waste of space, right? Frankly, I've enjoyed every minute of it.
The longer I remain in a state of inertia, the harder it becomes to move again. And the sooner I start moving, the easier it will be to keep up the momentum. I can already see the dangers of indulging much longer.
It's mid-day right now, the sun is shining and Jiminy is nagging. And where am I? On the sofa, computer on my lap, writing this. Time to hit 'publish' then dust off that list and tackle it anew. After all, the whole point of letting ground lie fallow is to keep it productive, not to let it dry up into wasteland.