Holidays and Contracting
It’s that time of year again when companies ramp up a little crazier as teams try to get any work in before a brown out (aka change freeze). A change freeze is where companies will freeze all changes to production, or production-affecting systems in order to provider stability over the coming break as staff will be taking time away from these systems at the same time customers may be ramping up their use as they take time off work to get the all important last minute xmas shopping done.
The last thing the company wants is a bad customer experience during these emotional… I mean festive times, due to systems crashing, and then a slower than usual response because Greg, who usually fixes things in an hour is away up north with the family, and Joe hasn’t fixed this issue before and it takes him 4 x as long.
Anyway, change freeze looming, teams rushing around to get their changes in before that curtain drops for the year.
Funny thing with contracting - at least for me - is the whole notion and timetable that is the standard holiday periods during a calendar year kind of goes out the window for me. Because as a contactor the work depends on the gig, and length of the gig, you tend to work and take breaks based on the beginning and end of the contracts. These can be pretty flexible with some assignments signing you on for most of the year, while others will be 3-4 months at a time, extending at the last minute to tie you over for another block of months.
Sure this sounds pretty unstable, but on some level we’re all a little stable right? jokes. That’s the contracting game I guess, its risk and reward.
So it doesn’t matter (to me) what time of year it is, as I usually have to weigh up taking a “break” verses the end of the assignment, and whether working through will mean I can take a proper, better-timed break at the end of the contract and ensure I keep earning money while everyone else is away.
The decision is fairly easy for me, if I can work through and take a break afterwards that would be my preference. But of course, we don’t live in a vacuum, and there are other things and especially people to consider.
Time with others, and Rest is Key
While it’s nice to holiday when I want, and line breaks up with contract end dates, the other things to consider are the people in your life and what their schedules are like as well. The majority of these people will follow the normal holidays calendar, and will be making their plans and availability work with these well-known, well-trodden dates.
If I’m wanting to work through until February and then take a holiday in March, I’d better have some other like-minded or available buddies and/or family members that can take time off at odd times of the year.
I guess also time over the Christmas and New Years is a particularly “special” time with most of western society who mark this as a significant time of the year. So this would be a good argument to put the money aside, and spend time with your family (just dont live to regret it in the coming year when you wish you had worked a few days to make up for those expensive Christmas presents).
The other important aspect - and maybe not specifically to my point here, because I’m not advocating for working like a relentless machine and never taking holidays - is that rest is pretty key especially when you’re in often pressure-cooker intensity contracts that demand a lot from you technically, and professionally. If you have enough of these gigs in one year, you definitely owe it to yourself to take a decent break from the office, technology and just “work” in general.
Without taking this break and getting some distance from the office, the work-life, you can easily lose perspective on the bigger picture; on what’s really important in life - family, friends and your own happiness. Sure work can make you happy if you’re passionate about what you do on a day to day basis, but we’re all human and we all need rest. Rest from thinking about your career, rest from the office environment, and computers and projects and technology and all the things.
So take it from me, someone who’s always got something he wants to do - take a break. Go hang with family, eat some BBQ and maybe read a book. All this madness will be here when you get back.
Adios til next year (documentation still goes)
I’m still trying to figure out what exactly I’m wanting to achieve with this blog, and where I want it to go. But while I’m figuring it out, I set myself a goal (thanks to PJ) to write a blog post every sunday (it’s also supposed to be a mailing list mail-out, but I’ll figure that out in 2020). And I’m happy to say this is the 5th consecutive Sunday I have sat down and published a blog post.
I dunno, I may just keep going through the Holidays.. but there is that thing I literally just wrote about involving resting… so I may be back next Sunday, but for now. Manuia le aso, manuia le kirisimasi ma le tausaga fou!