Over two years ago, I took on the role of blogger here when my predecessor Karen Waldron of Chookooloonks stopped working full time in a corporate office and started building her own business from her home. My very first post here was about how I felt guilty watching Karen leave the workforce, but how certain I was that working out of the home was the best choice for me and my family. Two years later, I’m writing my last blog because I, too, have left the traditional workforce behind in exchange for self-employment.
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with Britt Reints
Forget the 9 to 5; Full Time, All the Time is a blog about the mobile working life - when you have the freedom to work from anywhere and the responsibility of always having your smartphone turned on. Britt Reints works as a freelance writer while traveling fulltime in an RV with her husband and two kids. She explores balancing real-life bills with an unconventional work life, and finding time to maintain relationships with family and friends.
You can also find Britt at InPursuitOfHappiness.net.
I know that there was a time not so long ago when the Internet didn’t exist. And then the Internet did exist, but it was a luxury. And then it came to our homes in dial-up, then cable, then… well, you see where this is going. We’ve come a long way since Al Gore invented the Internet and today we live in a world in which a great majority of our ideas, products and services are exchanged “in the cloud.”
I make my living entirely online. I don’t have an office and every product I make or service I deliver is digital. And yet, I am currently living without reliable Internet for the first time in almost 15 years.
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. My workload is nearly the same as what it was when I was living in a house with 24/7 wifi service, but I’m getting it done in three days a week instead of five or six.
Ironically, a lack of Internet has made me more productive.
I spent the first 15 years of my career working in sales, with a big chunk of that time being devoted to advertising sales. I’m not sure if there is a more competitive work environment than one that is populated by people who live on commission. There’s a very distinct sense that the pie is finite and anything you get represents something I’m not getting.
There wasn’t a lot of building co-workers up going on in our morning meetings and the only people you’d expect to see offering a salesperson guidance was a sales manager. Sales people are tight lipped about their leads and their tricks of the trade because their co-workers are their competition.
Since changing career paths recently, I’ve been surprised to find that this unwillingness to share is not confined to sales. I’ve seen the proprietary hold on trade secrets in writers, editors, and designers. I’ve heard about it among project managers and legal experts. Time and again I see professionals keep a white knuckle grip on their knowledge in a desperate attempt to avoid helping anyone else get unfairly ahead.
What the heck is that about?
There’s a plethora of advice available on how to get ahead in your career. Whether you work for a Fortune 500 company or own your own one-woman-show, you can find tips on every magazine rack about how to climb higher and earn more.
But have you ever stopped to think if you really want to move up in your career?
Has it only been a week since I was whining about the ineffectiveness of business cards?
Ah, yes. And what a difference a week makes.
In that time I have handed out approximately 10 business cards and received exactly 13. As I sit in the airport lounge, not even home from my business trip yet, I have already scanned and saved every card into Evernote. I have also followed up with every single contact in the manner most appropriate for each.
I have never followed up on a business card exchange after a networking event.
What made me (and the cards) so much more effective this time around?
It pains me to spend the time and resources making new cards, even though my job description has changed significantly over the last few months. I still have well over a hundred perfectly good business cards (except for the outdated job description and really old picture). I have plenty left because I almost never hand them out.
It’s not that I don’t meet new people. I do, often.
But I also use technology to collect, store, and organize contact information. If you have an iPhone, I’ll use the Bump It app to swap details with you. If you’re on twitter, I’ll quickly start following you right from my phone. I rely on Google and Apple to work seamlessly together to keep my contacts organized.
I usually have a lot going on in my life. I’m a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend. I work. I travel and write for fun. I make sure to manage my health with a balanced diet, a little exercise, and adequate rest so as not to sink into the depths of depression. I have been known to cook a meal, wash a load of laundry, and clean a toilet or two when necessary.
No doubt about it; I’m busy.
But, isn’t everyone?
No, really. I’m asking. Because I don’t consider myself anymore busy than most people in today’s society -most of us wear multiple hats and juggle several responsibilities at the same time - and yet I’ve noticed lately that other people comment frequently on how busy I am.
I’ve been purging a lot of stuff from our family’s home and life recently. As most people who have gone through any kind of downsizing will tell you, it makes you stop and think a little bit about the value (or absence of value) of your stuff.
If you’d like to have a similar epiphany without getting rid of your house, try having a garage sale. Something about pricing your items for strangers really brings the idea of “value” into focus.
While part of this process for me has been learning about what I don’t want to spend money on anymore, the fact remains that I work for a living for a reason. I do still spend money. There are things I want to have and do, and that’s why I’m not hanging out in a tent in the woods somewhere living off the land.
We spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how to get more things done. At least, I do.
I tell myself that if I can get what has to be done taken care of more quickly, I’ll have more time to do what I want. That makes perfectly good sense, in theory.
Except that what I really mean is that I have to get work done before I can spend time with my kids and husband. I have to get emails answered before I can go to the gym. I have to turn in all of my projects before I can spend some time in prayer.
Work-life balance often means finding ways to fit life in around the work.
Something about that seems off to me.
Because I like to keep up with the leading edge of technology, I recently started experimenting with Evernote, an online organizational tool that was launched in 2008. If, like me, you’ve been slow to jump on the bandwagon (or have never heard of Evernote), read on to find out why you should give it a shot.
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