Viewing category ‘Maybe I can pencil in a nap’

Cornered Office

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/

In defense of the un-schedule

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Maybe I can pencil in a nap, Now I'm free(lancing)

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Take a look around the ‘net for articles on how to be a successful freelancer, and you’ll see it time and time again: advice that either hints our outright claims that without an airtight schedule for your time, you’ll never make it. Successful freelancers are organized! They’re masters of time management! And it’s impossible to get your work done and/or live a balanced life if that’s not how you proceed.

I’ve been doing this for long enough, now, that I feel compelled to respond to this mindset with a resounding “Yeah, not really.”

It is absolutely true that you have to be organized; if you can’t keep track of deadlines, you’re not going to get very far in this business. If you can’t get things done for clients, they’re not going to hire you again. That’s obvious. But must you set a strict schedule for yourself in order to be a successful freelancer? I don’t think so.
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Working moms and working with the schools

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Maybe I can pencil in a nap

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Four years ago my kids and I moved to a new state, a new school district, and what often felt like an entirely new world. (That’s what we get for being a bunch of yankees in the south.) My solution to the stranger-in-a-strange-land predicament was to dive in head-first: I joined the PTA, I volunteered for committees, I did my best to get involved and be there for my kids.

The result of my gung-ho attitude is that I was a cheerful participant for most of the first year, and felt bitter and burnt out by the end of the second. Our third year brought the change of having the kids in two different schools, so my husband and I each sort of manned one school (albeit at a fairly minimal level, attending meetings and such), and this past year—the fourth one—I did nothing. Nothing. Wait, I lied; I did volunteer in my son’s class for a holiday party, and last week I chaperoned a field trip. But basically: nothing.

I work from home. My schedule is flexible. Theoretically I should be all kinds of involved with the schools because I’m potentially more available than parents with conventional jobs. So what’s the problem?
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I forgot about the crash

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Maybe I can pencil in a nap, My boss is an idiot

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I almost have to laugh at the things I conveniently forget even though I know better.

It’s like… childbirth, for example. Any woman who’s ever done it knows it’s excruciating. Worth it? Absolutely! But even the women who go all-natural and birth at home aren’t going to tell you that it doesn’t hurt, because it does. Still, the world is filled with women—myself among them—who voluntarily choose to go through childbirth again, ever after experiencing how traumatizing it can be. We just sort of forget. Or convince ourselves that the outcome is worth the pain. But I think our memories really do soften and fade and we convince ourselves it’s not that bad.

Kind of like how I’ll happily sit down and write out a conference primer, because, after all, I’ve been blogging professionally for half-a-dozen years, and I’ve attended a lot of conferences, and this stuff is old news to me, now, plus I tend to be extremely pragmatic so I’m good at boiling situations down to pros and cons.

I’m good at picking and choosing events to attend and events to skip. But somehow I managed to completely forget that every single time I travel for business I get sick when I come back.
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Going to Mom 2.0? Another quick conference primer!

Categories: Maybe I can pencil in a nap, Now I'm free(lancing)

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In a couple of days I’ll be traveling to New Orleans for this year’s Mom 2.0 Summit, and although I’ve covered various aspects of choosing a conference, preparing for a conference, and what the heck to do at a conference, before, I’m going to do it again.

Because a refresher is always good, even for me. Also because we’ve all mostly forgotten those other posts. Right? Right!

It’s been a while since I did a sizable conference, so either I’ve forgotten what they’re like or this one is particularly packed (maybe a little bit of both?), but I am finding the various announcements of parties and gatherings and suites and things to do kind of overwhelming, to say the least. So maybe you don’t need a refresher, but I think I actually do. I kind of had to have a little talk with myself this morning about how to handle all of this. And now I’m going to share it with you.

It’s very easy to get swept up in the mindset of “Well I’m here, I should do everything.” For some people, that totally works. For those of us for whom it doesn’t, here’s what to remember.
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Working, retiring, and the mythical lottery

Categories: Deep thoughts, Maybe I can pencil in a nap

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My father is “retired.” Not retired, but “retired.” The quotes are necessary because he still works.

Huh?

The deal is this: A few years back, my father decided it was time to retire. He wanted to spend more time on leisure pursuits, and wanted the freedom to be able to travel more often. We all applauded his decision. And I believe the original plan was that he’d continue working something like 10-20 hours at the office each week that he wasn’t out of town. But because he’s my dad, and because he doesn’t really know how to retire, he is, instead, “retired”: He works full time whenever he’s not otherwise occupied, but occasionally takes off for trips and such. We tease him about it, but his justification is simple: He enjoys working.

I enjoy working, too, but make no bones about it: If I could afford to stop, I would. I think. I mean, I don’t know, that’s probably what my dad thought, too.
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When multitasking is mayhem

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Head hitting brick wall, Maybe I can pencil in a nap, Now I'm free(lancing)

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Today is one of those days.

Today I have a kid home and a kid who was late getting ready for school. The kid who’s home is boooooored and I am thinking of locking my office door if I am interrupted one more time. The kid at school just called to say—of course!—that my signature is needed on some forms which I already signed but have mysteriously gone missing, so could I please just swing by to sign a new set, pretty please?

I had a doctor’s appointment this morning, which meant that I saw my husband briefly as I got home from that and he left for work. (Thank goodness he was able to stay home with the kid while I went, at least.) The kid who’s home has a doctor’s appointment this afternoon, after which we will likely have to run over to the hospital for some additional diagnostics, which means I already know my afternoon is toast.

There’s a stack of work on my desk right next to today’s “To Do” list, which has seventeen items on it. So far I’ve completed… two of them. It’s past lunchtime and I just got around to having breakfast.

Some days my flexible schedule feels like it’s trying to strangle me.
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‘Tis the season for total family implosion

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Maybe I can pencil in a nap

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I’m feeling a little bit like my Supermom powers are on the fritz. And the sad thing is that it happens every year around this time, like clockwork. Yet I’m always surprised.

It goes a little something like this: Thanksgiving arrives, and with it, my busiest month of the year. I kick it all off with a 16-hour day of work on Black Friday and then basically work every minute I possibly can for the next three to four weeks. In the meantime, the children have upcoming school project deadlines, band concerts, and fundraiser orders to distribute, there are holiday plans to make, someone falls seriously ill, and (almost always) someone has a big meltdown from the stress. (Hey, it’s not always me.) (Okay, it’s usually me.)

But every year, I think it’s going to be different. Every year I’m sure we’ve got a handle on everything and it’s going to be fine. This year, in fact, Thanksgiving Break was as close to idyllic as I think it’s ever gotten; we hung out at home, relaxed, and unwound. Everyone was feeling refreshed. And maybe that’s why this week has hit us like a ton of bricks.
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I’m an expert. On overload. Calgon, take me away!

Categories: Maybe I can pencil in a nap, My boss is an idiot

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Did you know that it’s time to shop, shop, shop? Did you know that it’s almost Black Friday? Did you know that sometimes being an “expert” at something means you eventually feel like you’re saying the same thing over and over again and you wonder if you’re even making sense anymore?

Yeah.

It’s a weird position to be in; on the one hand, when I started Want Not I was just someone who enjoyed shopping and bargain hunting and getting the best deals, and I didn’t know that anyone other than my friends and my mom would potentially care about what I had to say. So the fact that the site is now not only enjoying some success and increased traffic, but is also leading people to view me as “an expert in this space,” is truly cool. On the other hand, there comes a point when I have the overwhelming urge to respond to the 30th press query about “How do you shop on Black Friday?” with “Black Friday? What are you talking about?”
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Merry Christmas! Wait, already?

Categories: Maybe I can pencil in a nap, Now I'm free(lancing)

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Meeeeeeeeerry Christmas!

Wait. It’s only October. I haven’t even figured out Halloween costumes, yet!

So why am I talking about Christmas, today?

It’s very simple: While I do all sorts of freelancing, all year long, I will earn more money through my shopping site, Want Not, during November and December than I will make there for the entire rest of the year combined. And the only way that happens is if I work my tail off during those two months.

And—coincidentally, haha!—those are the two months when I most want to be able to relax and spend time with my family. Quite the conundrum.

What that means is that now, while it’s still October, I have to start planning how I’m going to do the work I need to do but still get the time with my family (and the down time) I want, as well. Every October I sit down and try to figure this out, and every October I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing.
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Business travel with a side of grin and bear it

Categories: Maybe I can pencil in a nap, Now I'm free(lancing)

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Hey, I’m back from our cruise! It was incredible. Amazing. Trip of a lifetime. I cannot thank my family enough for providing us with such a wonderful experience.

Of course, I got sick at the end of the trip, because I appear to be incapable of traveling anywhere without bringing back a nice little souvenir in the form of germs. And normally that would be fine—I could just go home and sleep it off for a few days—but in this case I ended up leaving the cruise and heading directly to an out-of-town work event, and today I’m speaking at a conference inbetween sneezes and blowing my nose. (Yes, I am well-armed with hand sanitizer. And apologies.)

The truth of the matter is that I don’t even really enjoy traveling all that much when I’m well. I’m a homebody; part of the reason freelance writing suits me is because I get to sit at my desk most of the time, secure in my own little bubble. Heh. But to travel while sick is a special kind of yuck.
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