Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Daily Report: Excelsior

Since the arrival of my new computer, I have been experiencing the biggest upswing in my work performance in years. Back in March of 2007, my company lost the account I had been working on, and that knocked my production down by about 10%. Then in October of 2007, my company introduced a new software which knocked another 20% off my production. Finally, in December of 2007, my company introduced the voice recognition software which knocked my production down a final 20%.

The change was about 50% mechanical and 50% mental. But all in all, I went from earning about $35 per hour to earning $15 per hour... working 21-24 hours per week. I increased the amount of work I did (up to about 28 hours per week... the most I could do at this mind-numbing job), but my pay was still cut in half. It was the first time in my life that my income had taken a step (and what a step it was) backwards. Mentally, therefore, the odium of this perceived disequilibrium I carried to my desk every day was a big burden.

Three things changed recently.

First, I got tired of being broke all the time. The Philippines (and Jasaan in particular) is an inexpensive place to live, but even so, $300 per week doesn't go far. Sitting there looking at broken appliances that I couldn't afford to replace, business opportunities I couldn't afford to follow, days off and vacations I couldn't afford to take, gifts I couldn't afford to give, debts and bills I couldn't afford to pay, and savings I couldn't afford to accumulate... I finally started blaming myself instead of my job.

Second, I learned the work discipline I needed. Before the collapse of my production, I could arbitrarily take an afternoon off, or sleep in and get started late. This was because it was a simple matter of making up the lost work on those days where I didn't goof off. I had now found myself in a situation where the best days of work only amounted to what used to be one of my "goof off" days. Make-ups, I concluded, are no longer possible. Now, I look at each day as a make-or-break moment for the paycheck that it goes in to, and treat it as such. I schedule at least 4 hours of work before I allow myself to have lunch, and then use whatever energy I have left over (I've always been the worst "post-lunch-break worker") to put together a final push in the afternoon.

Third, and most importantly, I finally learned how to do my job with all of the new changes more effectively. I've learned to focus my attention more than before, learned to bump up the speed more, and learned to listen more effectively.

While the combination of all of these things above means that I am only back to where I was 7 or 8 years ago, it is such a huge step from the depths to which I had sunk over the last 30 months, that I really view it as a personal miracle.


Anonymous said...

I am really glad to hear this news. I have followed you for a long time and I have to admit I was concerned about your work situation and its downward spiral. Now I am gong to chastise you! Jil you have been making good money for a long time living in two relatively inexpensive places. You really should have built up a savings by now. There is simply no excuse for it. Look around you and see how much that money that you throw away actually means to people living near you. They wish they had it. I have to admit my attitude about spending money changed dramatically after I married my Thai wife. I just simply can not waste money any longer. I save and still have fun with my wife. You can also. You have to save 20% of your gross earnings for the rest of your life. I know it hurts now but later if things get tight you will be able to sleep easy for a while. Good luck Jil, Mike

Anonymous said...


I'm surprised to see you mention savings--I've always gotten the impression you live month to month.

Jungle Jil said...


Thanks for the advice. The fact is that, in general, I haven't been "throwing away" money for years... probably since back around 2006 when I was renting that house $2000 per month. After that, although I did have some purchases that could be considered frivilous... or at least overly so, as a percentage of my income they were not very much. In Thailand, I spent more of my money on entertainment than I do now.

Recently... in the last 2½ years, what little income I have made has been consumed primarily by just getting by. I feed my family, keep the lights on and the internet working, and once a week, my wife and I do something fun. But it really isn't unreasonable if you were to look at what I spend my money on.

Right now, I'm not focusing on savings. First, I have to get caught up on the things I mentioned in the main post: Repairs and repayments mostly.

Then, I want to invest my money in businesses for myself and my family. The chicken business is still in my mind, plus a restaurant, a store, and several other minor things that will make my money work for me. But, if you liken that to savings... then yes, 20% of my gross earnings would be in the ballpark of my plans.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I should have articulated my thoughts better. Before you had the earnings crunch when you were in Thailand I felt you were not spending wisely or using that opportunity to save. After the earnings crunch you have been spending much more wisely and trying to help the family. Both of which are admirable.