with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
I tackled my taxes early this year, on account of I knew I was in something of a mess and was enlisting professional help. So Tuesday was just another day, for me, but I know that for many it was a Day Of Reckoning.
If you’re new to freelancing or if you had the good fortune to make a lot more money last year than you did the year before, it’s possible that completing your taxes this year was a good deal more painful than it’s been in the past. This is the part of the program where we hold hands and talk about what we’ve learned, kids!
As for me, I’ve talked about this before, because I figure the one bonus in making stupid mistakes and then recovering from them is that I can share the experience with all of you. (Why yes, they do call me the Spinmaster. Thank you.) I had a lots of bumps in the road this last year in terms of getting myself organized. The one thing that Tax Day gave me this year was actually a deep sense of pride that I’d not only dealt with the mess I made, but that I’d put a system in place such that I will have a much easier time, next year.
Still, there’s always someone who puts things just the right way. Check out this Salon article by Catherine Price, wherein:
[...] I decided to get a handle on the noncreative side of my life — not just my taxes, but on all the mounting challenges of being my own boss.
Are you sensing a recurrent theme, here?
I’ve said it before, Price is saying it here, and we’ll all be saying it again: Freelancing is not just about writing (or whatever it is you do), it’s about running your own business and needs to be treated accordingly.
You should read the whole thing because it’s all a good read, but this is absolutely my favorite part:
Build in rewards. To quote a friend: “Do not get into the habit of drinking beer with lunch. At the same time, you should sometimes drink beer with lunch, because that is one of the reasons you are self-employed in the first place.” His advice isn’t just about alcohol — though I did have a ginger-tini with lunch the other day that made me feel everything was right with the world. The point is that you need to build in rewards for yourself — rewards that take advantage of being your own boss. Go for a walk in the middle of the day. Watch “Oprah.” Take an afternoon off and see a movie. At the same time, though, make sure to set limits, so you don’t cross the line from self-employed to unemployed. Some activities might be such time sucks that you need to outlaw them completely.
When I get busy, the first thing to go is any sort of healthy self-reward. Mustn’t slack! Must work harder! No time to walk (or get up from the desk… or shower… or anything other than work). Once I’ve spent an entire week doing nothing but working at all hours, surrounded by ever-growing stacks of disarray (what, your disarray doesn’t come in stacks?), I can sit back and realize that the only great thing about freelancing this week was that… no one can see how much chocolate I ate while I was sitting here.
Tell me again why that would be a sustainable life choice…?
And so perhaps that’s why—despite my bargain-loving proclivities—I also love this particular item:
Do not own a coffeemaker. I know this goes against the wisdom of those budgeting articles (the money you save on lattes could pay for your child’s college education!). But it’s critical for your mental health to leave the house at least once a day and interact with real, live humans — even if you are only talking about Starbucks. So here’s a compromise: Identify the cheapest drink that you enjoy. Then calculate how much it costs — in my case, $1.50 for iced tea — compared to a $100 therapy session in which you talk about how lonely and depressed you are. My guess? That iced tea is a bargain.
In my case, I do own a coffeemaker and don’t want to be headed out for my jolt of caffeine every day. But I also think it’s good that just about every afternoon I need to take one or both of my kids somewhere—somewhere where there are other grown-ups with whom I can make small talk.
Go read the whole thing. But here’s the Cliff Notes version: Treat your business like a business, and don’t become a hermit. You’re welcome.
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