Tag Archives: working from home

WFH: Time Management

*This article was written 20.04.29th, when the corona-virus lock down was beginning to go into full swing in Canada. Please excuse any reference/comment that is no longer applicable.


Now that everyone is pretty much forced to work from home*, you may be scouring the internet trying to find ways to make it work. After all, you’ve always had a physical separation of your work space from your home, so how are you supposed to focus on work while wearing pj’s, and being so close to the dirty laundry?

Maybe you have set work hours from your job, or maybe you’re trying to start a work from home business and the line is a bit blurrier. Either way, you’ll need to know when to close your laptop and switch from Work Mode to Home Mode.

Walking the line between getting work done and having time to relax can be difficult for those who aren’t use to it. Fortunately for you, I’ve been working from home since I started my writing career, which was around 2016, and while I’m not a master, I’ve definitely picked up a few things.

The best thing tip I’ve found is learning how to time manage. Without time management, you’re pretty much lost in the sea of work and relaxing.

But, never fear! Below are the best tips to help you with your time management, so you can take some practical steps into getting things rolling.

 

Tip #1: Have Clear Work Hours

Scheduling your work hours is probably the #1 most important tip for being able to pull this off. If you don’t draw the line in the sand of when Work Mode begins and ends, you’ll constantly be feeling like you could be working when trying to relax, and trust me, feeling guilty for not working 24/7 is not conducive to a good work environment.

Whether you have set hours from your job, or you’re making it up as you go, set yourself work hours. I personally work (about) 10am-8pm. This will help ease your planning of say, knowing when to take a break and do some chores, or when to get dinner ready.

And don’t forget to allow yourself to take breaks within those work hours! You get breaks in the office, and your home office shouldn’t be any different. It’s okay to take a quick coffee/smoke/pee break during your work hours. Or, if you have an unexpected knock at the door? (Which you shouldn’t unless you’re getting stuff delivered) Get up! Don’t feel that just because you’ve set work hours, you need to be glued to your chair.

That’s actually not healthy at all! If you’re able, get up and stretch every few hours, or stand at your desk so you aren’t sitting all day. This will also help you feel less like you’re ‘stuck’ doing work. Just because it’s ‘business hours’ doesn’t mean you can’t take a quick break.

If you worked in an office and used to take regular breaks, do that at home! Try to keep as much of your routine the same, so it’s easier to stick to.

And, once the scheduled Work Hours are up? Get off your computer. I’m serious, especially if you’re starting your own business, I know how tempting it is to keep going. But then the next time you look up it will be 3am. Detaching yourself immediately from your computer once work is done is a big help in mentally keeping those work boundaries straight.

 

Tip #2: Schedule/Make a To-Do List

I know, I know, not everyone is great at scheduling, and not everyone likes to-do lists. But, scheduling stuff is honestly not as hard as some would make it seem. You can schedule literally as much or as little as you want/need to. If your brain will explode at the near thought of having to plan out your whole year (or week), start smaller!

Start with a to-do list for just today. Or, you could break it up even more by making a morning/afternoon (or hour by hour) to-do list. Everyone loves checking/crossing things off a to-do list – it gives you a sense of accomplishment, so go ahead and make one!

Now, again, if you are working a regular job from home, you may have clearly marked things to do, but if you’re a blogger, or similar ‘not real’ job person, this may be more essential to you.

As a blogger (and author!), I’ve found it imperative that I schedule my posts. Back when I started really getting into blogging and making my website functional, I would post 5-10 posts in a few days, and then wouldn’t touch it for a few weeks/months. That’s not exactly a good business model, neither for gaining fans, nor for your sanity.

Having a set schedule will take a lot of pressure off, so you don’t feel like you have to do everything right now, and it will give your fans a dedicated time to check in. It’s hard to see what’s new with someone you like if they post sporadically.


AterImber.com - Writing Tips - Zazzle - Novel Idea Merch - writing merch, writing community, writer jokes, indie author, mugs, coffee, canadian author

Looking for a new mug to hold your creative juice? Check out my writing merch here!


I’ve found it helpful to list out everything you want to eventually get posted/done, and then organize from there what takes priority. For me, when I’m deciding on what posts to do, it’s actually kind of easy. Since I have a bunch of different interests, I cycle through them.

The way that works the best for me, is to list all the posts I want to (eventually) post, and then fill them in (rotationally) to an editable calendar. This helps keep me organized, since I plan out the entire year, and it takes the edge off my anxiety, because I know it will all get done.

For example, this post is scheduled for publishing August 3rd, but I’m writing it April 29th.  (Hello from the past!) That kind of advanced planning doesn’t happen by accident! Since I have the entire year planned out, it allows me to schedule posts as far in advanced as I need, thus giving me more time to do other things I enjoy. (Like starting the next book, or working on merch, or even just relaxing/having time to spend with family)

Being organized and scheduling my shit actually feeds my lazy side. If I don’t want to do any work at all and take a day off? Sure, I’m scheduled till August, so why not?

The one downside to this method is that you will eventually have to kick your own butt to make sure things are getting done. Which actually leads us into the last tip:

 

Tip #3: Discipline

Not everyone can thrive while working from home. I understand this kind of not-as-structured lifestyle is for everyone. But, I also think one of the main reasons why so many people fail is because they lack the discipline.

Having the ability to kick your own ass is a dying art, but it’s something you’re gonna have to learn to do if you want to succeed.

A lot of people in my life have complained to me about being ‘stuck’ working a job they don’t like, and thus they don’t have the life they thought they would. And, not to sound like a privileged white lady, all I can think is nobody forced you to get that job. Sure, there may have been people who forced you to get a job – but other people can’t force you to make decisions.

They can try to manipulate you either emotionally or some other way, but ultimately, it’s your life, and you just need to find the inner strength and courage to stand up for yourself and say ‘hey, this is my life. I’m going to do whatever I want.’ And if they don’t like it? Well then maybe you need to analyze what it is they’re adding to your life.

If you’re unhappy with your life, take some time and really think about why. Where did things go wrong and what steps can you do to change your life? It’s your life, you have the power to make yourself happy. Do some soul searching and think about what you want your ideal life to look like. What way of life would make you happy?

Once you see the figurative light at the end of the tunnel, start thinking about how to connect yourself from where you’re at now to there. What steps can you take – even if they’re small – to get yourself to your ultimate life? It’s never too late to make yourself happy, you just have to try.

Honestly it is that simple.


Like this article? Check out more here!

Working From Home: Focusing

While I think I touched on this in my Top 5 Pros and Cons of Working From Home article, I thought I’d dedicate a whole post to perhaps the biggest/hardest part about working from home: focusing.

(If you live alone feel free to disregard most of the following)

When you’re working from home – especially a home that you share with others – sh*t is gonna get loud, especially around the time everyone else comes in from work. They just got back from work, so they want to relax with watching T.V., playing video games, and they most definitely need to cook dinner. You may need to call/text friends and family through out the day, go to the store and if there are pets you need to attend to?

And that’s not even mentioning digital distractions, like social media. So, with all these distractions, how are you ever going to focus? Well, the answer is both simple and complicated: You just gotta make yourself do it.

Whether this means waking up earlier/staying up later than everyone else so you can have a few hours of quiet, working with headphones on, or having a dedicated ‘work’ room (or space), do something that will allow you to get your shit done.

Is it fair that you may have to work around others’ schedules just so you can get what you want done? Not really. But what is the other option? Sitting there doing nothing day after day when you could be working? Everybody has to start somewhere, and one day when you’re in the middle of living your dream, you’ll thank your past self for taking the initiative.

Anything that’s worth getting is worth the work.

If interruptions are unavoidable/people absolutely need to talk to you, maybe try giving them certain times they can interrupt you. Like a short recess, it allows you a quick break from your work, and allows the people in your life to not feel like you’re blowing them off. As your list of things that need to get done grows, it will be increasingly good to schedule yourself breaks and check-in times with those around you, so you don’t go down the work spiral. It can be hard to keep to your scheduled breaks, but working constantly isn’t good for your health. And, there are studies that show that constantly working and not taking breaks can actually make you less productive.

I actually gave myself a ‘quitting time’ of 8pm. This may sound late, but since most days I wake up at 10am, it’s actually only 9 hours of work a day – which is only 1 hour more than the typical 9-5.

I also usually write with headphones on, so if people are talking, being loud, etc. it doesn’t usually bother me. And, if I need extra non-distractions? I just close my door. (My desk is set up in my bedroom.)

Everyone in my house knows that if my door is closed, not to bother me, unless it’s really important. Or, a less invasive way to get my attention? Shoot me a text! I always have my phone to the left of my computer, so I can see it light up. This system has been working since I started publishing books in 2016, and so far there haven’t been many issues. (This may be because my mom is also a freelance writer, so she understands the need for space)

However, as life tends to do, things won’t always run smoothly. No matter how many scheduled times/breaks, meetings times, etc. you have, some days it will just feel like people can not give you time to yourself to complete your work. I understand the frustration (trust me), but try not to let this get you agitated. Sure, it’s annoying, but these people care about you, and chances are they don’t realize they’re being annoying.

This is why having a conversation about what you need to be productive can help. (Instead of not saying anything and then blowing up at people when they do the thing that’s secretly been annoying you) I’ve found most people aren’t actively trying to be assholes/annoying, etc. so just tell them what you need so you can get things done.

Okay, I feel like maybe things got a bit muddled up there (I was actually writing this while fielding interruptions… go figure!), so in the interest of keeping things simple:

Ways to Focus:

  • Get up earlier/stay up later than others
  • Work with headphones on
  • Have a designated ‘work’ space (that people know not to bother you)
  • Schedule breaks/check-ins with people so they don’t constantly interrupt (or feel ignored)

Like this article? Check out more here!

Top 3 Tips to Running Your (New) Website

Running a website is hard as sh*t.

Especially if you choose to post… oh, I don’t know, let’s say roughly five times a month.

Before I had started my website, every article I read basically said the exact same thing: posting once a month is more then enough. Once a month? How am I supposed to build a following if I only post once a month?

I can see now that… well, not that I was wrong, but I was pretty naïve to think that I knew better then other professionals. My thought process was something akin to, ‘a month is a long time, I can definitely post every week and be fine.’ So that’s what I did at the very beginning.

Posting every single week got old/infuriating real fast. I felt like I was losing my mind, having to constantly be preparing the next post, worrying about how was I going to tackle the vastly different topics that interested me, and perhaps the worst of all – it didn’t leave me any time for continuing with my books.

Needless to say, that was not a good way to run my website, nor a good way to keep my sanity in check. It took me probably the better half of 2017 to get into a groove and set myself a schedule for what was to be posted when. I still struggle with the system I’ve put into place sometimes – we all know how life likes to ruin our plans – so while I haven’t quite perfected the art of managing my website – and it’s not even close to being everything I want it to be – I’ve definitely learned a lot in the process.

This article is to share 3 tips I wish I’d known when I was starting out.

 

  1. Start with One Idea

This is probably one of the hardest things I had to learn when I was starting out. I had been ‘planning’ all the different elements/topics I wanted my website to have, so when I finally went for it, I was all over the place. One week I’d post a TAF (short story), the next I’d post a recipe, and still another would be a product review. There was absolutely no structure, and it was driving me crazy flipping back and forth each week between different ideas.

One thing I wish I had read/or heard, was this: Your website will expand. It takes time to establish a website from nothing. You have to pick things like layout, theme, how you want it to look, and that’s all before you start adding content. Your best bet when you’re just starting out is to focus your energy and time on one thing – preferably the main thing you’d want the website to be about – and only post that.

You may feel like you’re limiting yourself, since you’re bursting with ideas about this and that, but trust me – focus on one thing, and get yourself to fall into the pattern of posting that one thing. Remember, you can always add more once you’re more established. Give yourself time to get used to having a website before you try to go whole hog.

 

2. Pick a Posting Schedule (That You Can Realistically Keep Up With)

Give yourself a posting schedule that you think you’ll be able to stick to. It doesn’t have to be just once a month, it could be more, or less then that. When you’re just starting out, I’m sorry to say but no one is looking at your website yet. Now is the time to experiment and find what works for you. Before you begin to build a following, and especially before people start expecting you to post in the schedule you’ve set.

Give yourself enough time between posts that you’ll be able to do the following three things:

  • Write the post that needs to be posted
  • Write the next post (or at least, have the idea)
  • Have a personal life (hang out with friends, be able to go to family functions [like holidays], have a few ‘off’ days, etc.)

Let’s say you tell yourself you’ll be able to post each week. Will you have enough time in one week to come up with an idea for next weeks’ post, while simultaneously writing this weeks post, and still be able to go to grandma’s birthday/Christmas, etc.? Also, if you’re too stressed, feel like you never have a day off, and are constantly wracking your brain for the next idea? You need to dial back your scheduling.

Remember, you can always add more things to post later. You don’t have to come out of the gate doing everything all at once.

You gotta walk before you can run.

 

3. Plan Your Posts

It sounds simple, and yet… it can be one of the hardest things to do. You don’t want to wake up on your posting day with an ‘oh shit, I don’t have an idea for what to post today!’

True, you could always just skip that day, and get yourself ready for the next one, but, you’ll want to get yourself into the habit of not skipping posting days. Since your website is still new, and you’re still getting used to having it, you’ll want to be able to schedule your time so you’re able to do your work and still have fun. Think of it like you’re forming a new habit – you gotta find ways to incorporate it into your already established routine, without disrupting the rest of your life.

I’m assuming you didn’t quit your day-job while you’re starting this website, so let’s pretend you just got in from work, perhaps you have kids who need to be fed/put to bed, or a pet that needs to be taken care of – next thing you know it’s 11pm, you’re just about to collapse into bed when you suddenly remember: you were supposed to post something to your website today. You begrudgingly drag yourself to your website, and double-check and it’s just as you thought: no posts were scheduled, and you don’t have any finished/ready to post.

Now you have to spend your precious sleeping time thinking/writing/editing and finally posting an article to your website.

Enter: Planning.

You have a schedule you want to stick to – awesome! Now it’s time to put it to good use, and start planning out the posts you want to put up on those days. For simplicity sake, we’ll just use my posting schedule for this example. Which is every two weeks, and the 13th of every month.

This past Friday (Nov. 2nd) I posted what I call a Throw Away Fic, (which is just a short story), and today (Nov. 5th) I posted this, which internally I just call an Article. Next thing I need to post this month is a Product Review, which I do on the 13th of each month.

After that, my next two posts are:

Nov. 16th: Another TAF

Nov. 19th: Another article

I try to alternate my article content between writing tips and veganism, as these are the prime two other things I post, excluding the Throw Away Fics. Back when I was first starting my website, I had sat myself down and wrote out a list of all the possible article topics I wanted to post, and saved them to my computer. Now, I go to that list and plan out my next few articles, usually till the end of the month.

Organization is key here. I know it’s not fun, and is probably one of the least fun parts of having your website, but this saves me from having those last-minute freak outs of not having content, and not having an idea for content, too. I try to schedule out my articles at least one month in advance.

My TAFs are a bit of a different story. Last time I’d counted, I had roughly 60-something short stories that I could finish and post. I schedule those, but sometimes, plans change. For example, if a holiday is coming up, I will write a new TAF specific for the holiday, and leave the scheduled one to be posted at a later time. I don’t always know exactly which story idea I’ll be posting – sometimes it’s one of the ones from The Vault, and sometimes it’s new stories I write on my commute – but I try to get it done/scheduled at least the week before it’s supposed to go up.

Planning out your posts can put your mind to ease and not make you feel like you’re scrabbling each week (or month) to get a post to your website. This will also allow you to actually schedule the posts in your website.

In WordPress, when you make a new post, it enables you to Post Now, or you can schedule the post for a later date. This is extremely helpful when life decides to get in the way, and you’re not able to make it to a computer to manually post your article on your scheduled day – you can set it to go up automatically.

It may seem like a small thing, but it can be a life saver, especially around the holidays, when you’re pre-occupied with holiday-related worries. This gives you one less thing to try to remember after you finish cooking/hosting/buying presents, etc.

And there you have it. My top three tips of website running help I wish somebody had told me when I was starting out. It will take some time for you to adjust your schedule no matter how much of your time you commit to your website, so if you hit a few bumps along the way, don’t get discouraged – that’s just part of doing something new.


Like this article? Check out more here!

Top 5 Pros/Cons of Working From Home




You don’t have to get up early every morning, deal with rush hour, you’re your own boss, you get to work on your schedule. What could be better, right?

Wrong.

It’s not all sunshine and good times. Working from home is actually a giant pain in the ass. It’s one of those things you love-hate. On the one hand it can get pretty stressful/hectic, especially because you’re trying to do everything, but on the other there is no way in hell you would trade the stress for a ‘regular’ 9-5. I’m not saying it can’t be great, but there is much more to it then what meets the eye.

Below are my Top 5 pro’s/con’s of working from home:

#1: You’re Your Own Boss

This is absolutely the number one best and worst thing about working from home. Being your own boss means you don’t have anybody to answer to. Sure, this means that if you forget a deadline you won’t get yelled at, and you have the freedom to move said deadline to whatever you want. But the flipside is: you have no one to answer to.

Nobody’s going to hold you accountable for missing a post, not writing an article, skipping a day because you’re bored/lazy/just don’t want to. There’s nobody else writing articles for you, scheduling your social media – basically nobody’s there to save your ass. If you aren’t doing it it’s not getting done. No matter how much you wish it would do it by itself, you have to dedicate a bit of time to everything in order to keep things running. And, trust me, when you really sit down and start trying to plan all the things you want to accomplish, things can get stressful very fast. I’m not saying it’ll all fall apart and all your readers will leave if you miss one post, but they’ll at least be disappointed if it doesn’t come.

Think that doesn’t apply because you’re just starting out and don’t have anyone looking at your stuff? Not quite. If you’re just starting out, sure it can be tempting to not post if you don’t feel like it because nobody’s watching, but if you want to grow and get people to start looking at your stuff, you’re gonna have to post at least somewhat consistently.

#2: It’s Hard To Detach

Another big con is that since you’re already home, it might take you longer to get out of Work Mode. Also, since you work from home, even when you do decide to relax/shut it down for the night/take a day off, the temptation is always there, and you might find yourself feeling guilty during your days off for ‘slacking off’. It’s tempting to say, ‘my laptop/notebook, etc is just upstairs/in the other room, I should be working, not wasting time doing nothing.’This is something I’m certainly guilty of.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m a writer or what, but I always feel like I’m ‘on’ anyway, whether it’s scanning crowds of people for character descriptions, accidentally listening a bit too hard to that conversation on the subway for a funny line I could put in a story, or running over whatever plot-line I’ve been stuck on when I’m supposed to be not thinking about work – I feel like writers/singers/artists are in a weird state of limbo between working and not working that ‘regular people’ just don’t understand. Our jobs while amazing, make it hard to truly turn off Work Mode.

We’re constantly scanning our life for inspiration, which makes it hard to truly be done at 5pm like most other jobs. Most other jobs you go to the office, work on whatever and then punch out at a certain time. For artists that’s not really an option. It also makes it hard to find the line between ‘I’ve worked enough today’ and ‘I should be cramming as much work as I possibly can into each day because I work from home’.

Is there any fix for this? Not really. It’s always gonna be hard to detach from work, but one thing that might help is trying to put some sort of organization/structure to your work.

For example, I post on my website every two weeks, on Fridays and Mondays, so I try to break up my weeks like this:

Week 1 (Non-Post Week)

  • Search for/work on freelance work
  • Begin new articles/stories for next week
  • Finish at least 2 (other) short stories/articles (to throw in The Vault [so their ready for other weeks])
  • Work on upcoming novel/books
  • Think/Begin new designs for merch
  • Schedule posts for social media (usually done on weekends)

Week 2 (Post Week)

  • Make sure article/short story for this week are done
  • Schedule posts for respective days
  • Finish merch design/s from previous week and add to store
  • Keep working on/finish other short stories/articles from last week
  • Schedule social media posts

If you give yourself some sort of structure like this, it should help ease your guilt when you decide to call it a day, because then you can at least say you ticked off everything you wanted to get done. If you organize everything you need/want to get done, it can also help manage your stress, instead of trying to do everything at once, once you write it all out, you can sort it into whatever you feel are your top priorities and work on those first.

And, this of course you should make sure to schedule days off for yourself as well. I like to keep it simple, and stick with having the weekends ‘off’. (I do ‘easy’ stuff on these days, like photoshop) You can’t constantly be working all day every day – seriously, look it up, it’s bad for your health. Make sure to cut yourself a break every once in a while. You’re the boss, you’re allowed. (Just don’t give yourself too many days off)

#3: Ignoring The People Around You

In this same line of reasoning, with it being hard to detach, it’s not just hard on you. The people around you can feel jaded when you’re constantly blowing them off to work, or, if they work all day, come in and you’re still working. It can feel like you’re actively ignoring them in favour of work. While that might not be your intention, it can (and will) start to wear on those around you if you can’t find a dedicated ‘stopping time’.

I personally have had conversations with the people in my life about this issue. Now that it’s been brought to my attention, I try not to do that, but it’s not always that simple. Sometimes it’s hard to stick to my self-imposed ‘quitting time’, especially if I’m on a writing roll, or, if it’s someone’s day off. That’s when I feel really guilty.

Also, I feel like sometimes they assume since you work from home and you can do it whenever, (especially when you’re just starting out) and they might not see why it’s so important this thing gets done on a certain day. Stick to your guns on this. Sit them down and explain why this is important, and what you need from them first.

While it’s tempting to give in, it’s also important you talk to the people around you so they understand exactly why you have to do things the way you say, and why it’s important you don’t skip the work days.



#4: You Can Focus On What You Want

A giant plus of being your own boss? You get to push your blog/business in whatever direction you want. You want to write about why puppies aren’t really that cute? You can. Why ‘not all men’ say ___? Go for it. You don’t really like cake? Sure, that works too.

One of the biggest pro’s is that you don’t have to write/focus/dedicate your time to someone else’s vision/dream – it’s all you all the time. Whether or not you’re 100% sure of where you’re going doesn’t matter, as long as you’re pushing forward.

Nobody likes writing about a topic they don’t like (or worse, have the opposite view-point on) and working from home gives you the freedom to write what you want, how you want.

#5: You Can Work In Your PJ’s

Definitely one of my favourite things in life is getting to get up and not have to wear any uncomfortable ‘work’ clothes to get my sh*t done. Nobody sees me so if I don’t wanna get dressed? No problem, I can type in just about anything, pj’s included.

I don’t recommend doing this all the time, but every once in a while it’s nice to literally roll out of bed and then get to work. I usually do this once every few Fridays, since it’s the end of the week, it’s kind of like my version of Casual Fridays. It also helps to get some of the stress of the rest of the week out of my head. Pj’s are comfy, so they fit perfectly with the ‘do some work’ vibe I get on Fridays, instead of the ‘try to do everything in the universe’ of the rest of the week.


Like this article? Check out my other Writing Tips!