Montana Jones

Montana n: A state of the northwest United States bordering on Canada. Admitted as the 41st state in 1889. The fourth largest state in the union, it includes vast prairies and numerous majestic mountain ranges.
Syn: Treasure State, Big Sky Country, Last Best Place.

Jones n: slang. An addiction or very deep craving.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Montana Jones guide to the busy season.

Most people are blessed with stable jobs and consistent work weeks, but once in a while, perhaps because of school or a big project or the fact that most of your work happens in the summer months, we need to ramp up and do extra duty. Here are the tips I am trying to follow to stay sane and comfortable with my work schedule.

Eat right.
Make sure to eat fruits and veggies every single day. Avoid powering yourself on sugar, caffeine, fast food and junk food. Those things should only be used for a temporary power boost. If you are in it for the long haul your body needs a better fuel source. Junk food is fast and convenient when you are on the run, but avoid it. It's a trap. Junk food will actually sap your strength and energy and wear you down if you try to live on it all the time.

You have to take the time to have decent meals. Cereal or oatmeal makes a good simple breakfast. I like to throw a handful of frozen berries on top, that counts as a serving of fruit you know. Brown bag your own lunches instead of buying them at the drive through. Get a little lunch cooler to tote around. A meat sandwich, granola bar, cheese and crackers and more fruit and veggie snacks. For dinner pasta is quick and easy. I often cheat and use frozen meals for dinner, just make sure to eat your veggies with it.

Get some water bottles, keep them full, stash them everywhere and drink lots of water. I have one water bottle in my lunch cooler, one in my car, one at the office and a stash of Gatorade at the shop. On a couple of these recent hot days that was not enough and I had to stop at the gasit mart for more fluids. Face it people, heat stroke sucks. You have a job to do and you can't let your body stop. Drinking water keeps you cool when on the run.

Change the oil in you car before the busy season gets here. If you drive a lot be sure to schedule time to change the oil again mid season. Keep an eye on the tire pressure and take a peek under the hood once in a while. I have made a habit of re-filling the gas tank if it drops below half. I try to do it in the evening at the end of the work day so I don't have to take the time out of my working day.

If you have tools that you use in your job keep them maintained as well. Keep your cell phone charged. A spare set of screwdrivers and drill bits and whatnot should always be at hand. I also keep a small tool kit in my car and a leatherman on my belt. If your equipment stops working so does the job you are there to do.

Take care of yourself.
I have stashed a change of clothes in my car along with deodorant, a toothbrush, and a towel. You never know when you will need them.

Look out for number one.
This is for the bachelors out there. Watch your own back. Do your laundry, wash your dishes, pay your bills. It's amazing how quickly these chores can get done when you want them out of the way. Do them. Don't put them off because you have more important things to do. If you neglect yourself you will have a high price to pay later and that defeats the whole point of working hard in the first place.

Money is a tool.
It is possible to buy your way out of problems. Food, water, gas, replacement parts, tools. When you need them you need them. Keep some cash along with a checkbook or credit card on your person at all times.

Write it down.
In the off season I have a spiffy, high tech PDA to take notes and stuff with. When I am busy that thing is close to worthless. I carry a little black notebook and a stubby pencil with me at all times. If it is important, write it down. To do lists, shopping lists, reminders, inventories, phone numbers, scratch paper for math, whatever comes up. Surprisingly I do not refer back to it all that much. The very act of writing something down goes a long way towards keeping things fresh in my memory.

Don't stop working when you get home.
It is tempting beyond belief to drop everything and switch off when I finally get home at the end of the day but I don't dare. This is the time to take care of dirty clothes and laundry, throw the blue ice from the lunch cooler back in the freezer, make tomorrows lunch, answer Emails, clean up, bathe, answer your mail, pay your bills, update your calendar, shop for more food, review your to-do list, fix a meal and generally look out for number one. Don't neglect this time.

To sum up:
Take the time to maintain yourself, your health and your sanity. Take the time to maintain your gear. If you burn yourself out that defeats the purpose of working hard. If you let your tools fail that makes the long hard hours even longer and harder.