Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pour your heart out: When you work from home...

Now that the kids are both in school full-time and I've really gotten into the swing of being home alone all day; I love working for myself from home.

Late last year, I didn't hide the fact that the transition from full-time stay-at-home mom to full-time self-employed writer was a difficult one. It was hard to go from all day kids to no day kids. At first, I remember thinking how the heck am I going to fill six hours every day. Now my thinking is along the lines of" 'holy crap, where the hell did my six hours go today!'. After the initial crash in September, I (right now) have enough work to keep me busy on a steady basis. (I mean, seriously, have you noticed how little I write on this blog these days?)

Working for myself from the comfort of my home has some major advantages. For starters, I get to set my own hours. In my case, it means I start work at 9 a.m., after I drop the kids off at school, and I end at 3 p.m. when it's time to pick them up. Of course, setting your own hours does also mean that you're sometimes working at 11 p.m. after everyone else has gone to bed.

But the same advantage of being self-employed at home is also a disadvantage -- it means I'm at home. And this has nothing to do with me -- I'm very disciplined at home. When I need to work, I work -- I'm not doing laundry or cleaning up bedrooms instead. I'm working. It's just flexible enough that if I want to cook a slow cooker dinner for that night, I can spend half an hour getting it ready while still 'at work.' 

No, the trouble with the work-from-home scenario is everyone else. Now I don't mean everyone. Some people 'get it' all the time and some people 'get' it' some of the time. But then there's the some people who don't 'get it' at all. What I mean is they assume that because I'm at home when they're at work, I must not be working -- or at least not that much.

These are the people who assume they can call in the middle of the day just to chat, drop by when they're in town on a random Tuesday, ask me to go shopping (or to the movies or to the art gallery or whatever) with them because they're off work for the day (and yes, I've been asked to go all those places with various people since September). After all, the kids are in school, so I have nothing else to do, right?

To all you people, I want to say this: 'I have a real job. I make a respectable amount of money. I work hard to make that respectable amount of money. I am my own boss and I make my own hours. Some days, I have more time on my hands than other days -- that's the nature of contract work. But more often than not, I spend my entire day working until it's time to pick up my kids from school.'

But to all you same people, what I can do is quick chats on the phone, a text conversation and lunch. In other words, if you would do all those things during your regular work day at your office, than I too do all those things during my regular work day at my office.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pseudo New Year's resolutions

Last year, I made some pseudo New Year's resolutions. I say pseudo, because I don't really believe in making resolutions -- because resolutions are just begging to be broken. Instead, I set goals for 2012 -- things I wanted to accomplish or complete. Let's have a look at that list and see how I did.

Run a half marathon. Check. Managed that in 2 hours and 31 minutes. The crazy thing is I think I'll do it again this year.

Keep the weight off. Check. And with all that half marathon training, I took off a few more inches too. 

Get organzied. Hmm...I obviously procrastinate this one, because we're still mostly paper and I still have a file cabinet that's stuffed so full I don't even know what's in it. Oh yeah, and have I mentioned that I hate filing?

Paint. Whoo hoo! After years of wanting to paint the house, in March we painted the living room, dining room and hallway in one full swoop of a weekend. There's still a small section of the stairway that needs to be finished though.

Scrapbook more often. This was a really big task for me. Because really, I was saying in my spare time I'd like to finish two scrapbooks in 2012 (since at the beginning of the year, I hadn't even started my 2010 scrapbook yet). But really, what spare time? I trained for a half marathon this year -- that meant going out running three times a week -- I was still a stay-at-home mom for eight months of the year and I almost doubled my income with my business in 2012. So again, I say: what spare time? So here's what I did accomplish: I finished the 2010 book (which ended up being 50 pages) and I got halfway through the 2011 book.

So, there's my 2012 in a nutshell, what do I want to accomplish in 2013?

Keep running. I really enjoy running. It clears my head and keeps me fit. But it's definitely easy for me to get lazy about keeping it up when I'm not registered for a race. So, this year's running goal? A 10K in May, a 5K with Austin in June and most likely a 21K in October. That should keep me moving. Oh and I'd like to shave five minutes off my 10K time. Currently, my personal best is 1:09 and change.

Business development: Business was good last year as I successfully turned my little part-time gig into a full-time venture. But, with a few exceptions, my business strategy has pretty much been a 'wait for people to call me' kind of strategy. The up side is I have a few dedicated clients now who do always call me when they have a job. But this year, I need to spend some time (and money) pursuing business instead of always waiting for it to come to me. I've already partnered with one company for 2013 -- and although it's still a wait and see game, at least it's a start.

Scrapbook more often: Hmmm, I said this last year and I'll say it again this year. Maybe by the end of December I'll be all caught up to the end of 2012. One can only hope.

Those are the big ones, really. There's a handful of other things I'd like to accomplish this year -- better organize my bills, my music library, my photo library. You know, everything that I always say I'll do later! And then there's the family tree I started working on last summer. I'd like to spend some more time on that as well. I'd say I'd like to finish it, but well, is a family tree actually ever finished? My goal for this project is not to just find names, birth dates and death dates of my ancestors but, where possible, to find little bits of their story too. Things like the border crossing card I found from when my grandfather came to Canada at age 2. To me, that's just as interesting as tracing back my family tree.