"Funemployment" During a Government Shutdown

As of this writing, we are in Day 19 of Dunning K. Trump’s shutdown of the government.

I’ve worked since 2005 as government contractor. Therefore, I’m subject not only to the whims of antagonistic branches of government, but also to my employer’s rules and regulations. During the last extended government shutdown, my employer actually paid for a week of our time, which gave everyone a morale boost. The contract has changed hands two or three times since then; my current employer will not, I believe, treat us that nicely. (But it is already treating us nicer than another firm we heard about: they laid off their staff during the 2013 shutdown and then hired them back at lower rates.)

The first 10 or so days of the shutdown, I was on Christmas vacation. So last week and this week have presented challenges in managing dark thoughts and staying busy.

  • I’m rather stoic about it all, I must say. There’s nothing I can do about the weather; there’s nothing I can do about this shutdown. All I can do is protect myself and hunker down. So I’ve not been troubled by gloom and doom thoughts because I know I’m OK.

  • Thanks to YNAB, I have enough money in the bank to help me meet my obligations for at least two months. So that preparation relieves me of a significant amount of stressed thinking.

  • One thing I’m doing differently this time is “hyper-scheduling” my days; I got the idea from David Sparks, who wrote a series of posts on the practice. Basically, you put your to-do list in the calendar, scheduling when and for how long you’ll do each task.

    During previous layoffs/unemployment, I would sometimes have whole days on my hands with nothing planned. This sounds wonderful until the 4th or 5th day, when I could feel the negative thinking start to kick up. Now, I plan the next day’s activities on the afternoon or evening before. Every hour is accounted for, whether it’s “Exercise,” “Yardwork,” or “Coffee and book.” Knowing the day’s contours ahead of time relaxes me; it provides a sense of purpose to the day so I’m not figuring everything out as I go.

    So far this week, I’ve cleared the front and back yards of leaves, taken donations to the thrift store, vacuumed the house and kept up with the clothes-washing, taken care of cohousing tasks, cleared miscellaneous errands, &tc. Estimating how long an activity will take really helps me to see that I cannot do it all in one day. I don’t know how I’d have gotten even half of these things done in a typical weekend.

    Tomorrow, I have a haircut, look in on a friend, review cohousing materials for an upcoming meeting, work out, process a box from the attic, write a blog post, and tinker with the vinyl digitizing software (my fun project for the winter). There’s loads more, but that’s enough for an example.

    Sparks’s post deals with the typical objections people make: what about when an emergency happens, aren’t you locking yourself in, &tc. He addresses those questions well.

  • My friend Bob shared a new word he’s heard: “funemployment.” Well, I won’t call it fun. But I am enjoying my time off and like catching up on postponed projects. In a way, this time has been an extension of my Christmas break. And I am grateful for being privileged enough to benefit from it.