Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Working in My Pajamas: A Freelancer’s Guide to Staying Productive

I admit it. I work in my PJs. I roll out of bed in the morning and go right to work without passing go or collecting my $200. (Though, the $200 would be a nice benefit.) This is a luxury that I can afford now because I work at home.

My pajamas are Doctor Who themed, by the way.

Lots of work from home experts suggest that, in order to learn discipline, you should always dress for the home office just like you would for any other office. I decided I wanted to reject that notion entirely. So, unless I have a face-to-face or a skype meeting I skip the morning shower, keep my hair in a ponytail and work in my pajamas.

And I have found that I am not less productive. 

My work is conducted almost entirely on the internet. I source clients through a variety of online sources. I write in Microsoft Word and submit my content either through email or directly onto my client’s blogging platform. I follow up with those clients on line. Even if I do have a phone call, I may not change out of my PJs to talk.

So, how do you remain productive when you work from home with all the potential distractions? I’ve been working from home since 2012 and I find it refreshing and comfortable. But, besides staying in my PJs most of the day, here are the other things I do to keep up with my work.
  •  Weekly To Do list. Each week, I write down everything I have to do Monday through Friday. I don’t use a special calendar, just a notebook. When I complete a task, I cross it off. I can add tasks as they come up too. Over the course of the week, the page gets filled in with lots of other notes as well.
  • Start with breakfast. Okay, with that weekly task out of the way, I start every day with breakfast and a hot cup of chai tea. 
  • Recognize my own patterns. Everyone has different patterns. When you’re working from home, it is more important than ever to understand and work with them. I am a morning person, so I work best between when I wake up and lunch time. Critical tasks are done during this time frame.
  • Return emails. I also make sure I return any emails that I wasn’t able to respond to when I was away from my computer either at night or over the weekend. I do all of this in the morning so I am not tied up with checking back and forth all day.
  • Apply to jobs and market. For a freelance writer, like me, marketing is just a part of the job. For the most part, clients don’t just fall in your lap. I visit the job boards I like best and try to apply to at least one job a day. I also update my social media.  
  • Work on content. Then, I type. I do research. I type some more.
  • Allow myself minor breaks. While I am typing, I allow myself the chance to check Facebook from time to time. If I have to do laundry, I just go do laundry. I get the mail. I pet the cat. I haven’t found that any of these small breaks impede my ability to perform my job.
  • Save the big stuff as a reward. But, I know there are things I love that would inhibit my productivity, so I save those for when I am done with my work for the day. Those big rewards generally include watching a favorite TV show or going out with friends. 
I don’t have set working hours. When I am done with my work, I am done. I may, if I choose to, work on other projects once I have crossed the last thing off my list, but they are not required.

That is how I stay productive during the day while working from home. What works best for you?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Big Boat of Nerdery

February was marked by a lot of travel. At the beginning of the month (and technically, also the end of January) we spent nearly two weeks in Austin, Texas. I had never been to Texas before and found the city delightful.

But then, we went on an event called the JoCo Cruise. It is a strange week on a boat with 1100 of your closest nerdy friends and a whole bunch of Famous People (TM).

In fact, I will not bore you with a play by play of our week, but I will point you to the blog of one of said Famous People (TM), author John Scalzi. Because, yeah - the boat was like that.

Now, I am back in Asheville and creatively rejuvenated. Expect more blog posts soon.

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 Review and 2016 Goals

Last year, I wrote a post about my 2015 writing goals. I thought I would check in on those goals and see where I really ended up this year. Let's take a closer look.
  1. Publish two personal stories that I feel could help others.  Yep, I did that. There were two stories (three total posts) on The NotMom about some experiences I had in 2014 that I thought would be helpful to others. One was about my own medical challenges that year (part one and part two). The other was about my cat's. You will all be pleased to know that 2015 was a great year in terms of health and both of us are doing well. 
  2. Apply for blogging awards. This I did not do. I still feel a little weird nominating myself for anything. However, a friend nominated me for Childfree Woman of the Year and I was awarded that honor for 2015. 
  3. Be of service to others. This one may be the hardest to judge. I believe that I provided consistent, quality services to my clients. I have also been active in local politics here in Ashevlle, including my work with the Asheville Small Home Advocacy Committee. And, I helped launch the NotMom Summit
  4. Focus on some of my personal projects. But this, I did. I published the booklet Your Job Search this year, which is available on Amazon.com. Sure, I probably could have done more work on my own projects, but every little bit counts. 
So what do I want to accomplish for 2016?

As I mentioned in last year's post, I like to assign a word to my year that helps me frame what I am going to do. 2016 is going to be a year of Transition. All good stuff, but stuff that will be revealed over the course of the year.

As for my personal goals, I'll take a stab.
  1. Write more fiction. I haven't written much more than a short story in many, many years. But I was recently invited to a local writer's group and that has given me the motivation to revisit a novel idea that I had. In fact, it is expanded from a short story I wrote a few year's ago.  I'm not going to rush it, but I would love to have a first draft done by the end of the year. 
  2. Get more customers. Marketing doesn't come naturally to most people, especially writer-types who tend to be more introverted. But every writer needs more clients, so I am going to focus on some additional marketing this year. Id' also like to update my branding to reflect what I am doing now.
  3. Sell more books. Speaking of marketing, I need to apply that to my three book titles too. For Your Job Search, I need to focus on high schools, colleges, and staffing agencies. I need to figure out how to get it into the right hands. For How to Drink Craft Beer, maybe beer tourism organizations who often have some non-beer drinkers along for the ride. 
  4. Speak more. I would also like to have more speaking engagements. I really enjoy sharing our tiny house story with others. I also really loved the work I did with the NotMom Summit. I would love to do more of that in 2016.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

My New Book For Job Hunters

Write what you know, they say.

So I did.

After 15 years' experience in recruiting, I managed to store up a lot of knowledge about job hunting and resume writing. I reviewed countless resumes, and interviewed multiple people a day. I checked references, made job offers, and followed up on employee performance. I'd say I know a thing or two about how to be a successful job seeker.

Over the years, so many people have asked me for feedback on writing their resume or interviewing at their dream job, so I thought I would put it all together in my new 55-page booklet intended for anyone who needs advice on job hunting. It is perfect for high school and college graduates or someone looking for a refresher course in the basics.

It is available in both paperback and Kindle editions at Amazon.com. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

New Photo, New Direction

As you can see, I have a new photo. It was taken by the wonderful Gabriel Craft. Gabe made a trip up to my tiny house and was kind enough to snap a couple of photos of me that I could to use for my blogging and professional sites.

That being said, I am looking at making some changes to my personal brand after the first of the year. After the success of the first-ever NotMom Summit I want to expand to add speaking and event assisting to my stable of business. But, of course, blogging will still be my bread and butter.

Join me on my Facebook page to help me with some redesign ideas over the next few months.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The First Ever NotMom Summit was a Fantastic Success

I'm still processing all the thoughts and experiences from the first ever conference for women without childen.

We had attendees from all over the world including from Iceland, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, China. Everything went truly beyond my wildest expectations - and my expectations had been high.

I just want to thank everyone involved. All of the speakers - I was so impressed by the maturity of everyone involved. And I want to thank Karen Malone Wright, the founder of the NotMom, who did all of the back-breaking work to make this happen.

Now we will begin the work on future NotMom Summits! 

I am available for speaking engagements on a wide variety of subjects, including NotMom issues, tiny houses, and even beer!  Contact me to learn more.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The First Ever NotMom Summit

In 2012 I couldn’t have imagined that I would be getting ready for the biggest event of my career.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I could imagine it. I did imagine it. But in 3 years? That was 

I imagined The NotMom Summit back in 2013, not long after I started writing for the website. 
Would it be useful for women like us to have a place to go and share our experiences and lessons learned? Whether we have chosen this path or have come to it under other circumstances, we all have stories to tell.
And, so we did it. We really, really did it. I can’t take that much credit. Karen Malone Wright has been the fearless leader that this kind of event needs. I helped out when and where I could and on Wednesday I fly to Cleveland to meet Karen face-to-face for the first time – a woman I’ve been working with, very closely, for the last three years. 

This reality is somewhat overwhelming. All of the work we’ve done comes down to this and now whatever happens, happens. 

This weekend attended the wedding of two of our closest friends here in Asheville. I put the NotMom Summit out of my head for two days as I celebrated with an amazing group of people – moms and NotMoms alike. There is always a combination in any crowd whether you realize it or not. The wedding was a beautiful distraction. But today is back to reality, and the reality that I am about to step on a plane and get off in a strange town where I’ve had a hand in bringing together what I hope is the largest crowd of women without children in one place. 

Here we can share our stories, enjoy our company, learn from each other, and celebrate our lives.  

Thanks to everyone who has helped make this dream come true. 

Will I see you all in Cleveland?