Posted by: Paul | September 2, 2010

Hurry Up And Wait

When I was working in an office full time, my colleagues and I used to spend an inordinate amount of time waiting for things. Waiting for voiceovers to arrive. Waiting for recordings to finish. Waiting for foreign language files to appear on the FTP, and then waiting for them to download. Waiting for files to convert, compress, and compile. We spent a lot of time watching progress bars; it became an unintentional hobby.

Of course, the flipside of all that hanging around is that you have less time to do your actual work when it arrives, and the pressure is on. It’s true of all media I’ve worked in – long periods of inactivity, followed by short periods of furious high stress, when everything needs completing yesterday. It’s called ‘hurry up and wait’.

The situation isn’t really that different for me now, even if the surroundings are somewhat more relaxed. Solitude can be your worst enemy though, and there are times when paranoia starts tapping me on the shoulder. Of course when I turn around, no-one’s there, but I could have sworn I felt something…;-)

On the whole, I enjoy quiet and solitude. It’s when I do my best work – no distractions. But if you’re waiting for something to arrive and you’re on your own, you can feel anxiety gradually build, and you start to worry. What if the files don’t show up on time? What if I don’t have enough time to get it finished? Without the distractions of an office and its inhabitants, your mind fills the void with all these niggly little questions and you have to work quite hard to stay positive.

Oddly enough, I find doing the ironing helps. Any chores, in fact, are good therapy for this time, but ironing is particularly good as you can settle in with a huge basket of clothes to get through, put a film on, and before you know it you’ve killed two hours of the wait, got a large amount of domestic work done and if you’ve chosen well, also watched a great movie, perhaps one you wouldn’t otherwise have found time for. That’s about as much multitasking as my male brain can cope with!

Anyway, as you might have gathered I’m waiting for something to arrive, and not that confident about it turning up. Oh well – there’s a huge basket of ironing on the floor behind me and the box set of Infernal Affairs that I’ve had on the shelf for about two years calling me…

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