Jobs that would give me time to work on my own creative projects?
July 17, 2013 9:08 PM   Subscribe

Are there paid jobs I could get that are non-demanding enough that they would give me long hours of free time to work on my own creative projects?

This question may very well be insane, but I figured I'd give it a shot. Are there jobs that will pay me for doing not much of anything at all?

I know that's what everyone in the world wants—but I have some reason to think this is not completely impossible. When I was in college, I once spent the winter holidays working nights in the physics department of the local university. They were running some experiment, and my job was to sit in the room with the machines and basically make sure they didn't catch fire, occasionally checking readings to make sure everything was on track. Nothing ever went wrong, so I had that time to myself, all night, every night. It was perfect—I got all my studying done and I got paid to do it. It was the graveyard shift and it was minimum wage, but who cares when you're not actually doing any work, right?

These days I'm working full-time writing my first book, doing most of my work from home, and I was thinking it would be cool to work in an office if I could find a job where just showing up and being present was all that was required of me. I don't want to embark on some big dead-end career. Just a job, preferably part-time, to which I could bring my laptop and write.

Here's what I have to work with:

1. I'm educated and competent and have good judgment in a crisis.
2. I have good people skills. If there were some kind of client-facing role that required me to act as the public face of something or other, I could probably do it.
3. I'm presentable. Right now I'm focusing on writing, but I'm a normal person, not a weirdo hermit. I used to have a regular job and I don't mind wearing a suit or whatever.
4. While I prefer to work days, theoretically I could work odd hours, including nights.
5. I live in New York City but I'm willing and able to travel anywhere (but not move permanently) if it means money + time to write.

Night watchman? Crisis hotline operator? Receptionist at a failing company? Again, I'd be committed to doing a great job when something came up as long as I also got my free time.

Does this exist, or am I living in a dreamworld?
posted by incandescentman to Work & Money (11 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Night shift at the front desk of a hotel. My friend did this for a while and he watched a lot of Netflix movies. He had just graduated law school and was looking to make some cash while he found a lawyer job, and they were happy to have someone who was presentable and responsible and willing to work overnight.
posted by radioamy at 9:11 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

Parking lot attendant and nighttime security guard come to mind.
posted by charlemangy at 9:17 PM on July 17, 2013

Some sort of off-season hotel/property caretaker? I'm not sure this is a real thing and there's the off chance of ending up frozen to death in a maze but Jack took the job to write.
posted by Beti at 9:18 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Try nannying. I nanny in NYC, and the majority of my job is just shuttling the kid from one activity to another. Once they are at said activity, I whip out a book or my computer and chill. There is maybe only an hour or two where I'm actively 'working' where I cook or clean or help with homework or play games or whatever, then off to bed they go and I get to hang out and do whatever again, all-the-while snacking on free food and (because the parents are super-rad) occasionally drinking their wine. Naturally, some days are busier than others, but overall it's relatively relaxed.
posted by greta simone at 9:19 PM on July 17, 2013

A government job, as long as you don't care (if you care, you have to work double hard!).
posted by icanbreathe at 9:32 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

I know this is vague, but if you don't mind the weird hours, see if you can find an overnight or graveyard CS/support-type shift for a small or niche product/company. I stumbled on a gig like this, worked a 6pm-2am shift and things started dying down around 8pm. Occasionally, I had something I needed to do but usually they were happy someone was there in case the shit hit the fan and as long as I helped in a reasonable amount of time, I could do what I wanted, so I had hours a night to write and work on projects.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:34 PM on July 17, 2013

Erm, state government job. To me, it's my personal hell, since I can't exactly bring my sewing machine to work to fill the long, long hours of nothingness.
posted by medeine at 9:34 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Had a friend who took a gig manning the security desk on the graveyard shift for a big building downtown. He basically was there to look at the security footage once or twice a night, sometimes to walk around and make sure everything was tight. It only took him about 7 months to write his book, working full time.
posted by deliciae at 9:40 PM on July 17, 2013

Corporate Security gives you ample free time. Downside: People in the company you are guarding generally frown if you aren't paying attention to the nothing that is going on.

Technical Support is a job which you don't take home and there is also a surprising amount of downtime throughout the year. Downside: some days - especially at holiday - you have no downtime during a shift.

The reality is though: workers are generally compensated appropriately for the work that they do (exception: upper echelon and the hellhole minimum wage jobs) The stuff in the middle though (anything from $15-$100 /hr), where you are payed a living wage but aren't the head honcho for the company you are at, is probably pretty much in line with how hard you have to work / how desirable the job is. Second shift sucks for friends, but there's a decent differential and if you want free time... hey it might not be that bad. The problem with free time jobs is - they aren't the ones at the $100/hr end. They are the ones at the $15 end. Also, they are the first ones cut.
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:40 AM on July 18, 2013

If you have social work experience, many shelters and care facilities have overnight people who essentially just hang out and make sure no one dies.
posted by windykites at 6:52 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Temp jobs. Most of the temp gigs I've had involved sitting in for someone at the reception desk. I would answer the phone a few times a day and that was usually it. I was sitting in front of a computer connected to the internet all day to boot.
posted by forkisbetter at 9:41 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

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