Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Job update

One of the reasons I haven't been able to manage much posting is job related. I spent some time in my archives with the last two posts and wow, I posted A LOT about my job dramas over the past year+, so perhaps it's time for an update and explanation - and query for ideas, too.

So, when I first started this blog nearly two years ago, I had a full time job that I despised. We were going through a merger, my boss and company were clearly going to be on the losing side of the merger, I liked the other company better anyway, which could have been good, but the tensions were too high and I wanted out. So I searched and searched and searched and networked and landed something that seemed like it would be a dream job - an executive director position starting up a new non-profit for a cause that was important, and that also came with a huge pay increase. The new org was to be sole funded by a reputable company, but since it didn't exist yet, we worked out a gentleman's agreement and baseline contract, with the expectation the new org would be ready to go and funded within a few months. Gentleman's agreement means I trusted them - I didn't fully vet the contract with a lawyer (I did have a lawyer look at it, and she pointed out some flaws, but I didn't have her negotiate anything stronger for me), I let it slide. I started in January 08, and worked my tail off, against some fairly strong opposition. I had no idea that some within the company did not want to spin off a new organization, that there was infighting within the board, that what had been promised as settled was in fact no way settled. I was fired. And I was pregnant. And the jerks at the company wanted to can me with no severance or consideration. I fought hard to get what little was due to me, and after too much stress was finally paid off the small amount.

And I started job searching all over again, while pregnant. And had a ton of leads and good interviews and strong networking. I had only once in my entire career interviewed for a job and not received it. But this was rejection after rejection, and not because of the pregnancy. And not because of the economy, either. Just because. Slow decisions, not quite the right fit, just nos.

In August I learned of a part-time contract position with an organization I had worked with previously. They wanted someone to do some outreach education, which was a good fit for me, and they were fast tracking the application. Ha, hahaha. I'll never hear fast tracking the same way again. I interviewed in late September, and then the wiffling and the waffling started (honestly, it's too exhausting to link to all the ups and downs). They asked for references in December, called references in early January. And finally, I was notified I got the job in January, starting in March.

So here we are, 5 months down. It's going well so far, I think. I had a 4 month review that was very positive and they guaranteed the position for thr full 12 months. Fundraising in this climate is no easy task, though, so while they'd like it to continue a second year, we'll just have to see.

The hard part is the 20 hours contract. I'm paid monthly, for 80 hours, so it's 20 hours on average. And they've said it can even be a two month average. This matters because there is no paid vacation. So we've gone away a fair amount in July, but I worked 99 hours in June, and still managed 75 hours in July, so ahead of the game. I have a hard time constituting what is work. At a salaried position, you take a break and read some blogs and write a post and 30 minutes have gone by and that's fine and you just get your work done. But if you're on contract, are those 20 hours work only hours? I think mostly so. If I read news or catch up in my field, I count that as work. But blogging? Or general surfing? A little harder to justify. I'm a slow writer - when I have a writing assignment, I mull it over, pace around, work it out in my head, then eventually sit down and blow it all out. So. The mulling counts as work, right? Or no?

That's my biggest struggle right now. Finding discipline to get work done and over, then being ablet odo what I want to do. So for example, I needed to go to the grocery yesterday - I finished my project with enough time to do so. But on Friday, I didn't finish my particular task and worked on it Sunday night. I spent time Friday mulling it over, daydreaming, I guess. I counted those Friday hours, but not the Sunday night.

How would you count hours? Would a position like this force you to be more disciplined? How disciplined are you at work? How do you find that discipline? When do you find time to blog?


Ya Chun said...

I work at home, and most of my work is fee per project (so the more I procrastinate, the later I get my money)

But, some of my work is hourly. I have an excel file that I 'clock' into and out of. I jot a little note about what I was working on. So, this way I can log out for 10-15 min to eat or surf, but not to go to the bathroom. If I were 'mulling' I would log-in 'brainstorming'

When I bill them, I just bill the total hours, or break it into a few fields. But, I have the record if there is ever any disagreement.

Incidentally, I also log in my time for my fee-per-project work. This way I keep track of what my 'hourly' rate is, so that I know what to charge people. Plus, then I am in the habit, and can see how long projects take me.

CageQueen said...

Maybe you could do what we do here, since we charge by the hour (I work in the legal field.) We keep track of every minute. We also write down what we were doing during those minutes. Then, we routinely review the time and add it up to see if it looks fair. Most of the time we lose out and are underpaid but in your case, you might find you need to beef it up a little to be paid what you deserve.

Brendan and Brenna's Mom said...

I get paid a salary so I don't really pay attention to the hours I work. I also don't feel bad if I find myself surfing the web or catch up on a few blogs during business hours. I work plenty of times after hours I feel like it all evens out.

I also get paid a commission, so what I do at the end of the month is total up my salary and commission and then divide the hours I worked to see how much I'm getting paid an hour.

Brendan and Brenna's Mom said...

Oh, I also blog afterwork. When the kid is going to sleep.

Louise said...

I'm on salary also. I get to work at 7 am and leave at 4, and bring home work as well (2-3 hrs. a night depending on what's going on in class that week), so if you counted how many hours I'm working it would be like, 60 hours a week. If I took away the 30 minutes-1 hour a day I spend (on my lunch hour) looking at blogs or effing around, I'd still be at 55 hours. I think that's okay.

When I have worked per hour, I'm pretty sure that the attitude was "as long as you get what needs to be done, done, and the quality of your work doesn't suffer", some woolgathering was allowed.

Melissia said...

I think that you are most likely under billing yourself. When I worked out in the field in my position as a assistant director of a home health agency, I did both, office salary hours (25 at an established rate) and then and did reviews and education of nurses in the field as well as the odd home visit. I found that I consistently underestimated how much time I actually spent doing something if I clocked it later. When I was doing education and reviews with other nurses I would compare our times and found that I always shortchanged myself.
So I started a log that kept track of everything work related and I found that I did at least 10 hours more work a week than I was even aware of; as you do I usually write in my head way before anything goes on paper, this did not even include those times, nor times spent with rewrites, but actually included popping into work early, staying late to tidy the supply cabinets, things that I wasn't even aware were corroding into my personal time. Those 30 minutes at the end of the day or that extra time spent teaching a new nurse something or running by on the weekend to get a nurse supplies, all of those times were really adding up.
It was quite an eye opener for me, so I second the idea of a flow sheet or even a small notebook to carry or perhaps your phone has an application, many do today.
I kept track for 4 months and then approached my director and was able to negotiate some help and some extra salary hours to pay for all of the things I had just been doing.
Hope this helps.