All Day, All Night

I'm looking forward to taking tomorrow off and not working on Sunday. On Saturday, I'll be at the Tokyo Open Source Conference for half a day or so, but that's not work. That will be fun. I'll take pictures.

These past two weeks have been brutal. Multiple events late at night all over Tokyo followed by meetings with the guys in California right up till 4:30 a.m. on far too many occasions. And then up early many mornings as well. If you haven't worked internationally with direct ties to a country piles of hours away, this experience is difficult to describe. It's sort of like having a constant jet lag and never being able to work on your local time zone even though that's where you live (or you think you live). You know, you don't fly for many months, and then you take an 18 hour flight (in 3rd class, of course) to someplace far away. How do you feel when you arrive? Jet lag. Now, do that every single week for three years in environment where communication is challenging at best. It's not exactly like traveling frequently, which is easier in some respects and harder in others, but the jet lag feeling is identical. You get used to it to a certain degree, but every now and then you cross way over the line. The last two weeks have been like that.

Someone once told me that I should "go right to sleep" after my last call. But that's not realistic. It takes time to wind down. I mean, how many times do you go home after work and then just jump into bed and fall asleep? You don't. When I finish a 2:30 a.m call or a 4:30 a.m. call İ'm all wound up and pacing all over the place. Heck, some of these calls are pretty stressful in that you have to brief large numbers of people (you're not just listening quietly in bed, in other words), and you have to be on your toes. Literally. Then, after a call, since everyone's around, you may grab someone for a quick one-on-one via phone to follow up. Engaging in real time is critically important, I can't stress that enough. But before you know it, the sun is rising and the birds are singing and all that crap. It's enough to drive you insane. I'm figuring out little tricks to work around this, and I'm developing some skills that will come in extremely handy some day. Oh, well. We all have challenges, right?

But what's cool on this schedule is that I can take out the garbage way before anyone else (even breaking the rules and no one notices!). And in Japan, that's cool because there are all sorts of interesting rules involving garbage.

Comments:

Ouch! Thanks for the insight though. I'll be heading to Japan to live for a few years in March, and will continue working with my current employer back home in the States so I'll be in a similar situation to you.

I'm a reader of your blog and also a a reader of the opensolaris tokyo mailing list. Maybe I'll meet you at one of the opensolaris meetings.

Great Blog!

Romeo

Posted by Romeo Theriault on February 19, 2009 at 08:05 PM JST #

It depends on how much work you can do locally in this time zone -- either disconnected from your colleagues in the US and on your own our directing working in Japanese with people here. Good luck! :)

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on February 22, 2009 at 12:50 PM JST #

welcome to the 21st century and gloablization. the new sweatshop. your "personal life", health, and wellbeing do not matter; it would seem exec mgmt comments otherwise are lipservice to the quiet the peasants.

but you do what you gotta do to keep a job in these insane times - walmart just doesn't pay enough. and at least you are still inspired and motiveated by your work. but no matter what the job you are no use to your family if you are dead.

good luck dude. try not to emulate your japanese compatriots- don't burn out. watch the drinking. watch your heart. don't die.

Posted by oldguy on February 24, 2009 at 05:08 PM JST #

thanks, oldguy. :) I will try to not die. This is short term for sure. I'm working a detailed plan to work my way out of it and in the process I'm learning a great deal as well.

Posted by jimgris on February 25, 2009 at 06:11 AM JST #

I live in the States (and always have). And I telecommute (to an agency in my time zone). Unfortunately, my body seems to be under the impression that I live elsewhere, somewhere in between Hawaii and China I think....

Would that we all could find that ideal balance between our circadian rhythms and the expectations which others have of us.... Good luck, and be well.

Posted by joanie on February 25, 2009 at 06:37 AM JST #

ironic you should mention taking out the trash...last week i used the opportunity of being awake at 3am after late night con calls to take out the non-burnable garbage...it was one of the things i did to wind down after the call and before being ready for sleep.

Posted by kp on February 25, 2009 at 06:48 AM JST #

And the best part of the late nite garbage runs is that no one sees you and comments that you are taking your stuff out too early or that it's the wrong day for this or that piece of garbage! :) Shhhhh ...

Posted by jimgris on February 25, 2009 at 06:54 AM JST #

thanks, joanie :) I will find the balance at some point.

Posted by jimgris on February 25, 2009 at 07:05 AM JST #

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