Viewing category ‘My boss is an idiot’

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/

Ruined for the real world

Categories: My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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Once upon a time I was a productive member of society.

Oh, it’s not that I’m not, now. I contribute what I hope is some useful stuff to the world around me, in various ways. But what I mean is that I went to school for years and years and raised my hand to speak and did group projects with other students and I met deadlines and ran meetings and then went out into the “real world.” There I no longer had to raise my voice to speak, but I did have to do things like put a professional greeting on my voicemail and do things like “follow the chain of command” and be in the office at a certain point every morning and stay until a certain point each evening. I’ve worked in a cube and I’ve had officemates and I’ve had my own office. But all of those were still under the watchful eye of various bosses and assorted colleagues.

For all of the things that freelancing from my home office has given me, I sometimes wonder if it hasn’t rendered me completely incapable of returning to a “regular” job without being fired. Mind you, I have zero desire to go back to that sort of job, but who knows? It’s weird to think about.
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Relearning balance, a.k.a. “for me”

Categories: A mother's work is never done, My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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Balancing all the various facets of my life has never been my strong suit; sometimes I manage better than others, but the fact remains that even during my “best” times I often joke about my life being a series of “short attention span theater” vignettes. I race around, wearing my various hats—I’m a mom! I’m a writer! I’m a wife! I’m a volunteer!—and if things are going relatively well, most everything gets done and I feel pretty good.

But right now I don’t feel good. In fact, I pretty much feel like crap all the time. I’m tired, I’m cranky, and the last however many months of stress have definitely left their mark. I’m working less, ostensibly to give me the time to take care of everything else, yet I feel like I’m accomplishing pretty much nothing in every area of my life, at the same time. (It’s a nifty party trick, if you feel like accompanying the final “TADA!” with a demonstration of exactly how long it’s been since you bothered to, say, dust your house.)

And then came the inevitable question: “What are you doing for you?”
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Confessions of a distracted freelancer

Categories: My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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If you’re reading here and you’re a client of mine, allow me to assure you that absolutely nothing gets in the way of my productivity. Ever! When I have work to do, I just get it done, because I’m a professional. Yup. I am totally not distracted by the string of family crises that currently feels never-ending and completely soul-sucking, so no need to worry at all.

In fact, this post is not for you, because I wouldn’t know anything about distraction. Just move along, and I’ll have that work done for you in no time.

Ahem.

Are they gone? Is the coast clear?

Okay: In reality, the biggest productivity struggle I’m facing is not that time I’m actually unable to work because I’m attending to my children, various appointments, phone calls about the mounting medical bills, or any of that. The biggest struggle is my reaction to this stress, in that even when I have the time to work, my ability to focus is, shall we say, slightly impaired. Or, you know, completely obliterated. There’s something about stress and unhappiness that makes me highly distractible.
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Boost your job appreciation through… television

Categories: My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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I make no secret of the fact that I’m a television junkie. It’s not the most highbrow of hobbies, granted, but I find it incredibly relaxing at the end of a long day to stare at the screen and lose myself in someone else’s story. Bonus points for entertainment that makes me laugh, but lately I’ve been watching more and more reality-based shows and realizing that my low-brow habit is actually having an unintended benefit—it’s growing my appreciation of my own job.

No, really. Hear me out!

I’ve always been quick to extol the virtues of freelancing; there are many things about it which I love, and which I feel I couldn’t get in any other setting. But there are things about it which wear on me, too, and particularly during this year—which has been difficult for numerous reasons—I guess you could say the bloom is off the rose, a bit.

And that’s where my nightly television habit is coming in handy.
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Reclaiming my independence

Categories: A mother's work is never done, My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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Tomorrow is Independence Day here in the USA, and most everyone around me—if you believe the television and radio—is getting ready to kick back at a barbecue with some frosty drinks. Independence in this country is heavily about charred meats and the right to imbibe alcohol. Oh, and there’s also the Blowing Stuff Up aspect, I guess.

Me, I’ve had a rough few months. My family is having a difficult year. For a while there, I didn’t know if I was even going to be able to continue working, as flexible as my freelancer’s schedule supposedly is. The idea of simply taking tomorrow off to hang out with my family feels crazy in the wake of recent life. It definitely feels like I should take the day to buckle down and catch up on work. After all, most folks will be taking the day off, so maybe I’ll finally catch up!

I’m not going to do that, though. Part of what I’ve lost over the last few months is any semblance of balance in my life. Work has suffered, yes, but so has everything else. I’ve become someone who merely reacts, rather than acts. My life feels like a series of crises, and I’m just here with a fire hose turning towards the nearest fire, then the next nearest, etc.

In honor of the holiday (not to mention because I just can’t take it anymore), that all ends this week.
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Affiliate tax nexus laws causing freelancer headaches

Categories: My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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One of the questions I get asked a lot is about diversifying—how, as a freelancer writer, can you fill your days and your workload with enough different kinds of gigs to make sure that a downturn in one area doesn’t wipe out your entire client base?

Part of this is achieved through my favorite balancing act, fun vs. profit. There are jobs that don’t pay particularly well but I really enjoy, and then there are jobs that pay gobs of money but are boring. (Most jobs fall somewhere in the middle, but I confess to always having a few gigs out on the edges, there.) Balance is the key, obviously. And of course I thought I was extra-brilliant when I started my bargain shopping website because it’s a subject about which I’m passionate, but represented my entry into a new earning model: Affiliate revenue.

Most of the links to items I post on Want Not are affiliate links, meaning that they are tracked and I get a commission on purchases made through them. Voila, instant revenue stream! Of course, as online shopping has increased in popularity, so has the government’s desire to make sure they get their cut. And that’s how affiliate tax nexus laws began.
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Does your business have an emergency plan?

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Head hitting brick wall, My boss is an idiot

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I am practically the neurotic poster child for being ready for anything when it comes to freelancing. I’ve been writing here for years about all of the things you need to take into consideration before going into business for yourself—everything from handling your taxes to having redundant computer backups to making sure your work is diversified enough that one client or one particular area of expertise can’t take your business down if there’s an economic downturn.

I dropped out of Girl Scouts, but that doesn’t mean I ever stopped loving Being Prepared. The truth is that I am given to anxiety, and knowing what to expect—or that you’re in a position to weather even the unexpected—is the best offense against that anxiety.

And it’s true that I have come through several disaster-level (smallish, but still) setbacks as I’ve plodded down this path, learning as I go. I’ve had the catastrophic hard drive failure without appropriate backups in place. I’ve had the IRS slap my knuckles before I turned over my finances to an accountant. I kept going even when layoffs were happening all around me (and sometimes even to me).

Today I want to tell you about two things emergency-prep things; one, I did just right. The other, I got all wrong.
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Take a vacation, freelancer!

Categories: Like talking but with more typing, My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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I’ve written before about the challenges that face any freelancer who attempts to take a vacation; unlike those who work salaried jobs, freelancers can (theoretically) take vacation whenever they want. The problem, of course, is that salaried positions limit vacation time, but then you are (usually) not expected to do any work while exercising said vacation days. I can go wherever I want, whenever I want, and if I have my computer, I can work.

The problem is that it’s very hard not to do that. It’s very rare for me to stop working entirely even while “on vacation,” and most of my fellow freelancers suffer from the same malady. All work and no play may make Jack a dull boy, but if Jack was a freelancer writer I suspect all work and no play would make Jack a burned out, bitter person. Just a guess.

I’ve taken several different approaches to various vacations over the years, from killing myself for up to a month beforehand to get work done ahead of time (stressful!) to just telling clients I will be unavailable and giving up income for some time period (also stressful!). This time, I’m winging it.
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Chop chop! Or, the new salt-and-pepper me.

Categories: My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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Because I know you care deeply (ha!) I thought I should come back with an update after the post I wrote about considering going gray. I was, and still am, kind of amazed at the strong opinions people have about whether or not hair color matters.

As you can see from the picture here, I decided to just go ahead and take the plunge; I not only stopped coloring my hair, I decided to remove myself from the two-tone purgatory I’d been living in for the past six months and let my stylist just… cut it all off. I honestly think the cut was way more traumatizing than seeing exactly how gray I’ve become (hint: very), if only because it was such a radical change. I know that in my header picture on this blog my hair is pretty short, but when I went for my cut, my hair was easily down to my bra strap. Long.

The cut itself was like the clown car of hair events. First we discussed what was going to happen, and my stylist had me put my hair into a low ponytail. Then she picked up her scissors and sawed off the ponytail (which was a good 10″-12″ of hair, right there). I figured that would be the worst of it, you know? But then she started cutting. First she shaped the new style, and there was quite a lot of hair falling, but I expected that. But then she started layering/thinning/texturizing and it was surreal. I mean, I was watching in the mirror, and I could see that my hair was already very short… and yet, huge tumbleweeds of hair continued falling to the floor. By the time it was done, it really looked as though several poodles had been skinned in the general vicinity.
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My grays are giving me the blues

Categories: My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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For one of my gigs, I have the freedom to write about pretty much whatever I like (relative to self image and/or my experience of being female), and last week I wrote about my hair. Specifically, I wrote about how I feel like I’m losing the battle against my advancing gray. For me, this was an off-the-cuff musing, resulting mostly from a couple of weeks of extreme stress and very little free time, and realizing that right now my hair looks just plain awful. Three inches of obvious roots isn’t attractive on anyone. Luckily, my hair is very curly—which hides it, somewhat—but still. It’s not a good look. The question was whether I make peace with going gray, and stop coloring (and likely cut my hair short, at least to start), or continue to color even though I sort of hate it, because I’m still relatively young and gray hair on women who aren’t senior citizens is, I think, often viewed as lazy or unprofessional.

What shocked me, though, was that (at last count) there were nearly 90 comments, and while some of them were of the “do whatever feels right to you” variety, many more were vociferous defenses of one camp or the other. “Embrace it!” urged several commenters, while my own father (the source of my early gray!) suggested that I do the extra work for now because I’m too young to go gray. One anonymous commenter not only went all-caps to make their point (”DO NOT GO GRAY”), the justification was that my wonderful husband doesn’t want me to look “OLD.” (The hell?)
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