How would you like to get paid to create? Want to have your creative projects subsidized but don’t qualify for grants? Maybe you’re on your way to full entrepreneurship but still need some extra income. Maybe you need a second job to pay your mortgage. Maybe you’re saving for a big trip but don’t want to give up your projects. You’re caught between the need for money and the need to create. As a temporary measure, why not combine these needs?
You need a Double Duty, Double Dipping job.
Do you need time to build and promote a website? Get a job that gives you internet access and free time to use it. Need to write a book, study for a class, or make plans for world domination? Get a job with few customers and long periods of downtime; the less human interaction the better.
What is double duty? I’m not talking about working twice as long or twice as hard. Double duty refers to getting paid to do one job while doing something totally unrelated to what you’re actually paid to do. For example, pretend I was writing this blog post while sitting at a snack counter and waiting on customers.
Most double duty jobs are part-time, low-wage, low-skill, and border on the soul-crushing, but you’re not doing it for salary or satisfaction. Yes, you’re there to work, but not for the man. You’re working for yourself; the man just happens to be paying you to do a task any automaton could do.
In an indirect way, you’re being paid to create, study, or work for yourself. Think of doing double duty as receiving an artist’s subsidy.
Where can you find a double duty job?
First, look for a job on the night shift; if you work while everyone else is sleeping, you’ll have less people to deal with. Second, make sure you’re paid by the hour. Third, look for a place that doesn’t have CCTV or doesn’t seem to care what their employees do. Fourth, consider your work to downtime ratio. Talk to current and former employees. Anything more than 60 work 40 downtime is probably too much to get any real work done.
Here are 9 jobs that might give you some ideas. I’ve either held these jobs or know people who have.
Night watchman Let’s face it: a night watchman is there to meet corporate insurance requirements. If something happens, the watchman calls the police and lets them deal with any real danger. A prudent night watchman would never put himself in harm’s way for $8/hour.
Burglar Alarm Monitor I spent about a year on midnight shift doing this. On an eight hour shift, I did maybe 30 minutes of real work. The rest of the time I read, tried to write stories, and wasted a month of my life playing Warcraft. Unfortunately, this job was outsourced to New Jersey. I can’t understand why.
Movie Theater Employee Besides free movies and popcorn, the biggest draw here is the time between when the movies start and finish. After all the patrons are in the theater with their popcorn, you’re golden. If you work the concession stand you might have to refill some drinks.
Video Store Clerk Sit behind a counter and read novels and movie magazines and work on your screenplay. Warning: you run the risk of becoming a pretentious movie snob.
Hotel Desk Clerk I knew two guys who recorded a bluegrass album while working nights at a local hotel. They had a portable recording rig set up in one of the conference rooms. The customer buzzer at the front desk was wired to a flashing light in the conference room.
Help desk employee You wait around until somebody calls. Reset passwords when you need to. In the downtime you can get around to learning PHP. The level of tech illiteracy will probably infuriate you, but at least you won’t smell like food.
Switchboard Operator My wife tells me she wrote grad school papers while working as a hospital switchboard operator. The best part: healthcare jobs usually include health insurance.
Librarian This is the job for people who love to read. Not only is the work easy and the environment quiet, most of the people you deal with are, by nature, the type that enjoy and appreciate books.
Delivery driver and courier While you can’t safely scribble and drive, you can listen to audio books and podcasts to your heart’s content. If you don’t mind doing transcriptions, you could use a tape recorder and ‘write’ your stories aloud. The money’s not bad, either.
ESL Teacher in Korea While not technically a double dipping job, the lifestyle (short work days, free housing, no commute) does leave plenty of time for other pursuits if you can keep your sanity. Still not sure on that last part.
Finally, two warnings and a caveat.
Warning 1. Never ever neglect your ‘duties’ in a way that could bring harm to others or yourself. I know you’re all smarter than that, but my lawyers *cough* told me to put that in so I won’t get sued.
Warning 2. Always have an escape plan. Stay in one job too long, you get comfortable, you get promoted, whatever, and you’re stuck in a place you never wanted to be. Remember that you’re there only to support your creative habits.
Caveat: I’m not encouraging anyone to do anything unethical. Some jobs really do entail sitting on your ass waiting for something to happen. Why not make the most of it?
Over to you: Do you have any ambitious slacker stories you want to share? What jobs have you had that gave you plenty of creative time?
Photo Credit: Martineau
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I often think back on jobs I’ve had with plenty of “down time” and wish I’d been blogging back then! I don’t know if I’d go out of my way to land one of these jobs, but this post sure explains how to make good use of time while (not) working. I spent many years working at a video store and did a stint at a movie theater too. Not as much down time as you might think in those gigs…
Melissa, I suppose it depends on which theater you work at. I spent a couple years at a little six screen place when I was in high school. The amount of time I had to kill there seems immeasurable now. I’m sure those poor kids at the new 20 screen megaplex don’t have quite as much free time.
Nice post. I look forward to reading more in the future.
I like that! The ambitious slacker. That’s what strikes me most about this post. Jobs like these — and travel writing too — is often seen as lazy and not grown up, the reality is that you’re working hard and have to be very patient, organized and on the ball.
Great post! It’s as funny as it is good advice.