Thursday, August 8, 2013

Imposing Order on Entropy

Teriyaki-Ginger Salmon Obento

Life is a curious creature, obeying a particular physical law that has no business applying to abstract systems like socio-economics. Given the chance, a system will tend toward Entropy, unless work is performed on or by it (consuming energy in either case).

In practical terms, this means that Life (in terms of our economic and social position, as well as our physical and mental health) has a tendency to decay, unless we work to maintain it. While that, in itself, is self evident, I'm not certain it is fully understood.

I work, on average, about 26 hours a week, which is about one good, long shift shy of 33 hours, or the technical line of "full time". This is not entirely by choice - there is a hard limit set by my employer on the number of hours a person with my position is allowed to work. I make minimum wage and pay my taxes off the top in hopes of an annual refund, so my take-home pay is something on the order of $500 every couple of weeks. The exact amount varies from week to week for reasons I am not entirely conscious of. With my living expenses (not including phone and groceries) tacked fairly firmly at $500 in my present living situation, my first pay every month is effectively eaten. Take off another $80/month for phone, and about 120-140 in groceries, and I am theoretically left with about $300 a month in walking-around money.

If I ever find it, I'll let you know.

And that's the kind of work we're talking about. Tracking your money is effort - wise effort, mind. I'm not being totally truthful, either. I know where the $300 goes - quite a bit of it gets sunk into debt repayment and the rest is set aside for that happy day when I move, which will be moving in with The Girl Worth Fighting For. Who, by the way, takes commissions, and you should get in touch with before the busy season. Her Christmas cards are particularly good, and I believe an Etsy store is in the offing.

And we're just talking about the work associated with employment. On top of my 26 hours a week which I am always greedily trying to expand, I sink about another 8 hours per week, unpaid, into financial planning, work planning, and the occasional "special project" that needs to be done but which policy prevents me from doing, such as by collating care sheets into my increasingly giant collection. Add to that another 4 hours of unpaid travel and my week is rapidly vanishing.

See, creating order - that is to say, improving one's social and economic condition, is fundamentally about time. It's about how you spend it. I'm certainly no expert on that - having just wasted a perfectly good afternoon and the perfectly good day-off that followed it watching the complete Harry Potter movie series - but what I don't apply in practice I still know on paper.

So, if you'll excuse me, I'll stop rambling on about time management, and go manage some time.

No comments:

Post a Comment