Crashing frames of workflow

My day job, the job that brings the paycheck and makes me drive to Farmington, MN, five days a week, is air traffic control.

My other job, the one I do for love and growth and money and because I can, is freelance editing.

The workflow of these two jobs is entire different. It is so different as to be nearly opposite.

What I cannot yet discern is whether these differences compliment or contradict each other.

I will explain.

Air traffic control is a very well-defined job. It is complex, yes. It requires high-pressure decision-making. But it is exquisitely defined. If I am sitting in front of a radar scope with my headset plugged into the jack, I am working. If I am not, then I am not working. Working. Not working. Working. Not working.

The instant I finish the relief briefing and the relieving controller says, “I have the sector,” I unplug and walk away. I put my headset back on its shelf, I grab my tea mug, and I go to the breakroom where my computer sits. That’s it. I am Not Working until I go back to the control room floor.

Freelance editing is … not like that.

There is always something more to do. Always. Forever. And while there are deadlines, there is a logjam of tasks that have no deadline, some unknown portion of which are utterly required for the deadline-task to be completed.

Moreover, email is always accruing. The editing I do involves international teams across many time zones. People work on their projects with me when they get to them, and send emails with questions or updates or finished pieces. I get to them when I get to them, which isn’t always when I first see them. I might first see your email while I am waiting in the checkout line at Target. I read it, I know I need to respond, but I can’t look at the attachment until I get home. And, even then, your email is going to wait until the freezer-food, at least, is put away.

I rather presume that all the freelancers, writers, creators, and publishers I work with have similar constraints. Some clearly have “work time,” I know from Twitter. Some may even do this work full-time, and may even have an office that does not involve the grocery shopping. Yet I know that our project, the one we are working on together, is only one of many.

The workflow is … different. And all of us, all of the freelancers and independents and writers and artists and editors, we all have different workflows FROM EACH OTHER.

… I don’t have a pithy conclusion to this post, or words of wisdom, or a lesson I’ve learned. It’s just a thing, this. This is just a thing. The kinds of work I do are very different from each other, and after three years I still can’t tell if that’s a good thing or not.


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