books, career, family, health, powerful

When $ can’t make up for lost time

I can’t remember exactly when it was. But I do remember how awful I felt.

I was working on a freelance assignment that required me to trawl the Internet for a list of websites. I was to look for certain features and take note of them.

It sounded easy enough when it was proposed to me, and that was the reason I agreed.

Soon, I discovered that the task was tedious, time consuming and no fun at all. I found myself slaving over it at any free time that I had — in the mornings before I went to work, after work and even on weekends. This was on top of the workload of my day job that I already had.

Thinking back, I don’t know how I managed.

But one day, the stress caught up with me. I was doing juggling my work and freelance job at a Starbucks near a college. I parked myself there hoping to get some unsuspecting college students to interview (for an assignment that I had). When there were no students in sight, I was back searching the Internet.

I remember suddenly stopping what I was doing and feeling absolutely depressed. I was on the verge of tears. I thought to myself, “Is the torture of doing something I totally hate really worth the money? I should really be doing what I want and enjoy. It’s the weekend for goodness’ sake!”

The payment I got for that job was honestly not worth the effort I had put into it. But funnily enough, that painful experience didn’t stop me from accepting more freelance jobs after that. No matter how much or little I got paid in return, regardless of how I enjoyed or hated the jobs.

It took me only a few months ago to realise that when I already had enough on my plate, I should just refuse any “extra” work. Things got so busy that I missed my freelance deadlines and I felt awful about it.

So in the end, I just told the people who hired me that I couldn’t commit anymore. I don’t think they were too happy about it. I haven’t heard from them since. And I also didn’t mention the payment for the amount of work that I had done.

I’m not about to ask for it because I feel that I don’t deserve it. I can’t take the money, I would feel really bad about it.

So it has been a couple of months since I am “free” of freelance jobs. And guess what? I’m so much more happier because of it.

Sure, I could use the extra money to support my online shopping addiction 😛 and I do have more free time now. I spend my nights reading books for pleasure or watching DVDs or my favourite TV shows (downloaded/on tv).

If I’m on the computer at night, I’m not working on an article (unless I WANT to) or a freelance job. I’m surfing the Internet for whatever topic that interests me.

My nights are purely ME and family time. If I NEED to meet a deadline, I’d rather turn in early and wake up at 4.30am to do it. Daytime is for work and night time is for rest, which is the way it should be. But don’t be surprised, I used to work day and night, whenever I felt like it. Very bad habit, really.

Now I’m training myself to be disciplined. To be as productive and efficient in the day and to enjoy myself at night. So far, so good. The fact that I’m blogging now (during my well-deserved down time) means I am doing something right, right?

I have to give credit where it is due. The 4-hour Work Week has inspired me to make changes to my re-balance my work/life. The book has a lot of useful tips but I have benefited most from the ones that suggest that I eliminate distractions, weed out the time-consuming and boring and delegate where possible.

I’ll talk about the book some other time — what I like and dislike about it — WHEN I am actually done with it.

 

career, cool website, fashion, Happy thoughts, karaoke, me

Hooked on you

I’m seriously hooked on online shopping. It’s so weird. These days, I actually find clothes and bags on the pages of an online boutique more appealing than the ones on the racks of actual stores!

I used to think that I need to touch and feel the items that I buy BEFORE I purchase them. But, I’ve been converted. I love the ease of paying via fund transfers. If you have a question about the product, assistance is just an email/phone call/IM away. No sales assistants tailing you while you browse the store. Ahhh… bliss!

So far, I have bought two tops online. I’m looking forward to the first top I bought from here which will be delivered to me right around my birthday. I’ve paid for it eons ago. It’s taking a while to be delivered because apparently, all the items sold on the website will be made upon receiving the order. I thought that was interesting. Can’t say I like the wait but never mind lah. The top I’m getting is worth the wait. (Unfortunately, I can’t find a picture of it on the website anymore. So I’ll just take a picture of it once I receive it).

Another top bought from here will be delivered to me early February (I hope). I just paid for it this morning, a few days past the deadline set for ordering. But the girls running the store were kind enough to pay for me first when I couldn’t meet the payment deadline. Now that is what I call good customer service! I had bought my first item from there — my green bag – offline (at a bazaar) and that entitled me to a 10 per cent discount on my next purchase (the top).

My third purchase will be a Chanel-inspired quilted bag from here. It will be a birthday gift to myself. I haven’t placed an order yet because I feel guilty buying the bag too early. If it’s going to be a birthday gift, it should arrive near my birthday. Otherwise, the excitement would be lost!

So yes, those are my past and future purchases via the world wide web. If you haven’t tried online shopping, you don’t know what you’re missing!

If you’re still hesitant, start with baby steps (something small, practical, that you won’t regret buying). I forgot to mention that my first online purchase was actually a bag organiser (something like this). I get frustrated when I change bags and discover that I had left certain things behind. So the organiser has these little pockets that can fit all my essentials (especially my girly kit for that time of the month). So when I next change my bag, I just transfer the organiser and not have to worry about anything. Now, I can’t live without it. It’s an affordable product that I really recommend.

On another note, I have been quite busy of late. Monday to Wednesday are going to be crazy from now on because I have two deadlines. Some of you may already know that I’m wearing two hats right now. Juggling two deadlines is tough especially when the two deal with different subjects. It’s like trying to cope with a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde persona. You’re already used to one personality and still getting a hang of the other. Yet it’s difficult to handle both because getting used to the new persona is consuming too much of your time and energy that the original one gets a little neglected. I don’t know if I’m making sense but that’s how I can describe my current situation is.

But life wouldn’t be interesting without curve balls thrown at you once in a while, right?

So I will take it in stride.

On that note, I shall wrap up this entry and go freshen up. Before I forget, I should let you know that I lost my perfect organiser (read two entries ago) but I shamelessly asked for a replacement and got it this morning. My life is perfect again!

Also, I took part in a treasure hunt, my team came in 17th out of 20th spot, won Rm50 and Rm200 in !kea vouchers (for coming out first in a karaoke contest after the hunt). I have a charmed life, I know 😛

books, career, cool website, me

Remember the milk!

I don’t know if you can tell but this month, I’m OBSESSED with getting organised and accomplishing as many tasks as humanly possible in just 24 hours.

I did a lot of reading online on “being organised” and stumbled upon some nifty websites that makes your goal of being clutter-free all the more attainable.

So far, here are my favourites (in random order):

1. Remember The Milk

This Australian-based company ironically has a huge American following. Now, they have a (another) Malaysian fan too. I love this application because I can sync it with Gmail, which means that I can see my to-do list just next to my list of e-mails. By syncing Gmail and RTM, there is no way I can forget to check my to-do list. If I want, I can get reminders about my “chores” via IM or e-mail.

I’m very easy to please so what I love about RTM is how clean my to-do list looks like at a glance (print able version). I can just print this every week and be on top of my chores. Cool!

2. Wishful Thinking

I just found this website today and I’m loving it already. Why? Because I got to download a FREE ebook titled Time Management For Creative People. I’m just on the fifth page but I promise to blog about it once I’m done. I’m writing it down on my to-do book and RTM as we speak. There, done.

I don’t know if I have blogged about this but I did FB it some time back. I was lamenting about my list of 10 pending articles as a result of back to back assignments. Guess what? I’m down to 8 pending articles. Woohoo! By July (plus my new knowledge on how manage my time in my “creative” job better), I hope to see that list (not inclusive of new articles I’ve been assigned to write) will shrink further and further.

3. Kick The Clutter

Here’s a potentially interesting and useful website. I haven’t gone through it but I’m sure it’ll bring some kind of wisdom…

More on this website on another day.

It’s past midnight now, so time to get some sleep. I have a 10am appointment tomorrow in the heart of town with a chatterbox. God, this better be good!

career, drama, job, pissed, stupid people

Happy 2008!

Happy New Year everyone! Where and how did you spend your NY eve?

I had to work on Dec 31 but left early – around 4.30pm – to spend the night at a three-bedroom apartment near Awana Gent1ng. This is my second time spending NY there (or is it my third? I really can’t remember). Everyone dressed up to the nines for the private party but as usual, I was the most dressed down person. I was in my sweats and yoga pants and my hair was wet because I had just washed it.

It didn’t occur to me at all to bring my new “cocktail” dress I bought from Message. But then again, it would have been pointless because I would be asleep even before midnight 😛 Also, I figured who is there to impress anyway?

It didn’t make sense to dress up because half of the time I was up in my room finishing work. Yeah bummer. But good thing that I have subscribed to digi’s high speed mobile access data unlimited plan which costs me RM66 a month. Of course I’d be happier if it were any faster – home wifi kind of fast – but beggars can’t be chooser, can they? I’m sure digi is working hard to improve the speed. In the meantime, I suppose I have to make do with 900+ kbps per second, which isn’t too bad.

I’m just grateful that using my Nokia 5700 MusicExpress phone, I was able to get on the Internet in my room and get some work done. I even got to chat on google talk with Princess. That’s not too bad, no?

When the clock struck 12, I put on Colby Caillat’s Older. True, Colby. It IS tough getting older. It’s tough because there’s bills that need to be paid, family to take care of etc.

But some people never grow up. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m still a big kid but I know when it is time to assume responsibility and when not to menyusahkan orang lain. Speaking of menyusahkan orang lain, my colleague and I had an argument with someone from the office on NY eve at work – let’s call the person Si Polan.

We have given Si Polan face many times but enough is enough. The final straw was when Si Polan was suppose to attend a meeting with us to discuss work. Si Polan not only turned up close or more than an hour late and gave excuses which were questionable, BEST OF ALL Si Polan did not complete the task given to Si Polan before the weekend.

On Friday, we had all agreed to work during the weekend to make sure that by Monday morning, we would be able to sit together and discuss about this project of ours. The task was simple – go over a list of 28 websites, choose the best ones and provide reasons to support your claim. SI Polan came on Monday mid morning and unsheepishly announced that Si Polan had only managed to view 6 of 28 sites because Si Polan has neither a computer nor Internet access at home. But Si Polan managed to view the 6 sites because Si Polan came to the office on Saturday. This would have been alright if Si Polan had been a mother who had to take care of her sick infant.

Si Polan is single and lives just 5 minutes away from the office. Si Polan kept silent all through the weekend despite numerous sms-s from the project leader (my colleague) to see if “everything was ok”. If there was a problem, why didn’t Si Polan inform during the weekend. Why did Si Polan decide to surprise the project leader on Monday during the meeting?

My colleague and I – married women with house to clean and husbands to layan *lol* – had completed more than 3/4 of our lists which also had 28 or more items.

When we told Si Polan that dia punya excuse was lame, Si Polan got defensive. In fact, Si Polan was in the defensive from the start because Si Polan knew the scolding that was coming Si Polan’s way. Well, Si Polan deserves it. It takes a lot to tick off my colleague and I. I think Si Polan thought we were going to excuse Si Polan again this time – “just give me 1 hour to finish my list!” like it’s going to take Si Polan just ONE hour to do so. Boy was Si Polan in for a shock!

The worst part about Monday was that Si Polan didn’t see why we were upset. Of course it was “only Monday” and there was time to finish Si Polan’s list. But the point is, SI Polan was suppose to complete it during the weekend. It we could, why couldn’t Si Polan?

Put it this way: if it was Donald Trump who had called for the meeting, do you think he’d give Si Polan just another hour to finish Si Polan’s work? I don’t think so. Si Polan would be fired there and then.

The lesson to be learned here is respect other people’s time, honour your words and do your part. Susah sangat ke?

So, how did the argument end? Boss intervened and said that Si Polan is to be removed from the project. Clearly embarrassed and upset, Si Polan told the boss that Si Polan needed 10 minutes to do entah apa and we never saw Si Polan again after that.

Tomorrow’s going to be really awkward. I’m hating the prospect of Si Polan apologising for what happened Monday because frankly I’m not quite ready to do so. Si Polan will probably ask what Si Polan needs to do to make amends. I’ll tell Si Polan to honour his words. Say something and mean it.

I’ll also tell Si Polan that what Si Polan did on Monday only proved Boss’ suspicions right. Boss was unoptimistic that Si Polan would actually do the work assigned to Si Polan. My colleague and I thought we’d give Si Polan the benefit of the doubt. Clearly, Si Polan did not do Si Polan’s self any favours.

In boss’s eyes, Si Polan’s rep is as destroyed as it can be. I’m afraid to say that it’s the same with me. Sorry, Si Polan… you brought this upon yourself.

Happy New Year everyone. Hope you learned something from my NY’s eve story.

career, random

Tua sebelum waktunya

I just got an e-mail telling me that a guy I know has recently been selected to be part of the team driving an economic growth corridor, a recently unveiled plan to eradicate poverty. This guy is my age and he works for a plantation/real estate company which had just merged with other plantation/real estate organisations.

Well, congratulations to him. I’ve met and spoken to him. He seems like an intelligent guy. After all, he graduated from an American Ivy League.

I am happy for him, a little envious too actually because … well, because he’s my age and he’s doing all these “important” things for the country. It makes me question what I AM doing for my country.

But at the same time, I DON’T envy him. Why? Because this guy, when he speaks, sounds like he is 40 years old. He also looks at least five years older than his actual age. It’s great that he has achieved this much at such a young age – making the big bucks – but does he have to age that fast as well?

Okay, so maybe I am being judgemental. Who knows, he could actually be a fun-loving guy who enjoys watching Prison Break or CSI. But I am not sure if he actually HAS the time to watch all that. Probably too busy playing golf or having meetings at starbucks. But I’m sure he lepaks at mamak stalls too, talking politics and work, NOT last night’s tv show. 😛

But congratulations again to him. I’m sure he’ll do a great job. Glad it’s him shouldering that responsibility and not me. Am not envious of him at all…Nope, not the slightest bit. I am happy just to have a chance to live my day-to day existence and taking part in all the karaoke contest that I am eligible for 🙂

career, drama, Happy thoughts, husband, job

Come what may, I have my stress ball

When we are under pressure, we can choose to either ride it or crack under pressure. Today I chose to just ride it.

I don’t want to go into details but my habit of procrastinating have caused an avalanche of events to take place and swamp me all at once. Like the old saying: when it rains, it pours. So let that be a lesson to me.

But it can’t be all that bad because I was still able to leave my work place at no later than 6pm. AND I left work with a couple of new items to boot!

Firstly, my colleague gave me a stress “ball” in the shape of a star with a smiley face on it – he probably saw the stress on my face :P. Then my husband gave me a powder pink name card holder which he bought for no reason at all. And then tm gave my team members a mango fruit each (I know, it’s really bizarre!).

Oh yeah, how can I forget my subscription to Self magazine which arrived in the mail today? Yep, I subscribed to 12 issues of Self magazine three months ago for just RM11 per issue. Not bad eh? The same magazine costs around RM20 in the newsstand, so I really got myself a bargain!

What’s cool is that I was just talking about the magazine with my husband over dinner at a nearby restaurant. When I got home, there it was!

So, after a day full of drama, getting all those unexpected gifts felt truly like fruits of my labour (whatever!). *Sigh* I wish all stressful days end as sweetly as this one. Well, once can hope.

P/S: When I do go to Bandung one day, I won’t have to worry about having someone to show me around. Yesterday, I met up with an alumni member of this programme I attended in 2004 in Tmn Tun. She is an architect living in Bandung and she told me and the rest at the dinner to give her a ring if we were ever in Bandung. I’ll be sure to take her up on that offer.

career, fashion, movies

Not for any amount of haute couture

I finally saw The Dev!l Wears Pr@da. I don’t know about getting Andrea’s job but I’d kill for her clothes 🙂

I now know why the movie is such a hit in the cinemas. It’s so hilarious! Having said that, I think it’s such a sad and touching movie as well.

I cried when Andie tearily apologised to M!randa about not being able to get her a flight to NYC from Miami. I shifted uneasily as Andie was given a lecture for “not caring” about her job. I felt her dejection when her boyfriend refused to talk to her for missing his birthday party. Throughout the entire 3 hours – yeah, it was THAT long – I WAS Andrea!

Jokes aside, TDWP made me question a lot about my values. How far would I go to chase after my dreams? Would I have lasted long enough under (an impossibly) demanding boss like M!randa? Would I have worked my butt off just to prove her wrong? Would I have said yes to a business trip to Paris even if it meant losing a friend? And would I actually wear that hideous green Ch@nel outfit (or any of the outfits Andy wore) if I knew I had to take the train to work?

I think I would never have lasted a week as “the new Emily”. It’s probably because I’m not ambitious enough. I’d quit even before M!randa could fire me. I’d love to go Paris but not at the expense of someone else, especially not a friend. Nope, not for any amount of haute couture.

Anyway, it’s late and I have to make some very important decisions for tomorrow.

So what will it be? Skirt or pants? What would Andy Sachs choose? *wink*