Homeworker? Break it to make it

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Working from home?  Take your break

Workers need breaks.  Fact.  In the bricks and mortar world, big business insists that employees take their breaks, not because they have big hearts, but rather because they want fat bank accounts.  Science has proven that you get more out of a person if they take some time away from doing their job every day.

Home workers, like the rest of you, often work really hard for little pay.  Home workers, unlike the rest of you, are often forced to put in loads of extra unpaid hours on top.  Due to our isolation, we are often our own HR Department, IT Specialist, Timekeeper, Health and Safety Officer, QC and secretary.  Got training?  Well, nobody is going to tap you on the shoulder five minutes before hand because….. Well, there isn’t anybody. Need information? It’s all there, somewhere on the website or in your email, so if you want/need it, you must go and find it.  Things take longer, there is no Manager’s door to knock on for a quick chat or decision.  Feeling fragile?  Tough.  There is nobody around to notice your red eyes, pale face, sunburn or to bring you a brew because they can see you having an off day.

Despite all of this, friends and family seem to honestly believe that because we work from home, we are available to cover for them at the drop of a hat.  They GET that we are working, but they know we are also at HOME.  As such, receiving parcels, covering their schools runs, taking their dog to vet and babysitting the unwell “he really is no problem” little Johnny should be easy.  For most of us, these things are simply not possible.  Why then, do so many of us squander our break time?  It is the only time we get to be our own buddy, and tend to ourselves.

Breaks.  Tea breaks, lunch breaks, they are VITAL for home workers.  Are you making the most of yours?

 

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Many home workers work on the telephone, a computer, or both.  The work is often repetitive and intense.  Calls are back to back for hours on end, and everything is done live, on a terminal or computer.  Contracts are often designed with clauses that meet bare legal requirements.  Production is measured by the minute if not by the second, and terms can be very restrictive and heavily in the employers favour.  It is common for lunch breaks to be unpaid, and for employers to dodge splurging even on the 15 minute paid tea break by ensuring that shifts stay within 6 hour blocks  – The maximum the law allows without forcing them to finance a tea break.  This is not a crit on the evils of the industry, there are many benefits to working from home.  I am, however,  trying to stress the importance of home workers leveraging their breaks to the full.

So how can we do this?  We work at home, so the temptation to fill our breaks with housework and other chores is very real, assuming we can pry our butts off our office chair at all.  When the (forced, unpaid) break time does come around, it’s very easy to get into the habit of spending it answering emails, paying bills, renewing the household insurance or doing other tasks that keep us in our office.

This is not good practice.  It is neither healthy nor sensible.  The science tells us that we need breaks to remain productive.  If we don’t work, we don’t get paid.  We cannot work if we become unwell.  Home workers often suffer with eyestrain, migraines, muscle tension and circulation problems.  Take control.  You earned your precious break, and you need to spend this time wisely.  Your work is measured by the second on a spreadsheet somewhere, so how can you allow your personal time to slip away from you?  No!  You, me – We are worth more than that.

It doesn’t matter how you invest in your breaks, it does matter that you take them for yourself.  Eat something, drink something.  Get away from the glare of the PC, move a little, stretch a lot.  Try to arrange your chores around your working hours so that you too have a real break from work rather than switching from one job, to another, then rushing back to work.  Save and savour your break time.  Use it for things you enjoy, like walking the dog, nipping next door for a cuppa, watering the garden or dancing around the lounge.

 

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Never forget, we work to live.  Most jobs can be very restrictive, none more so than the kind of jobs that convert well to home working.  So, max out on your breaks.  Set your stopwatch, then get out of the office.  Sing, dance, breathe, move.   Have fun!  It’s YOUR time – Enjoy it, you have earned it.  (Yes, Bones – I did mention walking the dog…….)

How do you spend your break time?

 

Work from home? No, thanks!

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Love and marriage, cats and dogs, fire and ice, love and marriage….. Some combos work better for some people than they do for others.  We all make choices that others might not understand, but many people have told me that they would never consider working from home.  Home is after all where we chill.  Right?

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Is this true?  Do you relax when you are at home, or do you find yourself dashing, dusting and feeling generally quite dazed, manic and exhausted?  Bathing and sleeping aside, home is not really the first place that comes to my mind when I think of chilling and kicking back.  When I walk into my house, the bills leap from the mat and slap me in the face.  Anything that looks important is normally in a few pieces because Bones found it interesting too.  If it’s really engaging, then the piece with the voucher or the one stamped URGENT is simply gone.  Gone presumed eaten, that is.

The carpet that was vacuumed last night looks like a Flokati rug, and my head bangs at the sight of just how much hair a small terrier can shed daily and not be bald.  I turn into the lounge and trip over the vacuum cleaner.  Just as well I never put it away, saves me lugging it back down the stairs later.  Drats!  Not only did I leave the vac out, I left it plugged into the power, which explains the pool of water around the freezer …..

The  ‘phone rings, while I am striding off towards the kitchen with the bath towel that I used to mop up most of the flood, and as I open the washing machine door I notice that yesterday’s washing needs re-washing because the sun stopped shining before I could peg it onto the line.  While pegging, re-mopping and explaining to the ‘phone that I never forgot to pay my tv licence, I was actually protesting some BBC coverage which seemed important at the time but which I cannot identify right now –  It’s time to dirty some more dishes while hovering above the still wet floor.  I start humming that song – It goes something like, “Ain’t it good to be back home again…..”

I realise I can hum in expletives when hubby comes in and chucks his backpack on the wet floor, cap on the tv, shoves the dry washing off the sofa to make space for the dog, and tells me how he fancies frying up a storm for supper.

Working from home is what we DO.  We might not like it, but dust settles for the slob and the houseproud in equal measures and it will gnaw at your nerves until you reach for the yellow duster, after which it’s over.  Another day of working from, around, at, in, and all over that place we call home has begun.

I did mean to write about working from home for a profit, but somehow I lost the context and am now going to head off to bed, to chill, at home.  Yawn.

 

Love the Grindstone : Dealing with today

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Why is it that we work most of days looking forward to the day we can have time off.  I remember that one of my first thoughts after hearing I was pregnant was, “How much time can I get off work?”  Perhaps not the noblest thing to admit, but it is the truth.  I had been working as a journalist and been burning the candle at both ends.  Time out was something I craved – Or so I thought.

Every parent knows that a baby is a full time job and then some, so it’s no mystery how my maternity time off went. Having spoken to others who have either just had leave, given up working for some other reason, the story seems frighteningly universal. Time away from the working mill never seems to live up to our expectations, and for some reason, we MISS working.  Crazy, huh?

It would seem we are social animals, pack animals even.  We dislike drudgery, conforming, being bossed around, and being managed to the millisecond – So why do we miss it stops?  Most people find the euphoria of freedom lasts around a month at most.  Pretty soon after that we seem to actively start replacing our obligations – Some join clubs, get a plot, find someone to care for, visit the pet store.  Others do charity work.  We will go to great lengths to find a grindstone.

It makes sense to love your grindstone.  After all, out of all the shackles in the world you picked yours, if not initially, then by not swapping it for another one as soon as you developed the skills or opportunity to do so.

What is a grindstone? By definition it is a thick disc of stone or other abrasive material mounted so as to revolve, used for grinding, sharpening, or polishing metal objects.  So it’s a hard, repetitive,cyclic thing that polishes /  a harsh, distasteful thing we do over and over again to earn us money, or enhance our world in some way.

Over time, I have had many grindstones, and I sure you have too.  I have learnt that as soon as I shake one off, I pull another one in.  It has been said that a human being can learn to love almost anything, and I don’t know anyone who claims to get pleasure out of feeling irritable.  If we cannot learn to love our grindstones, then at least it would be sensible to try to like them, or at the very least to stop hating or dreading them.  Managing ourselves is never easy, and I do not have the answers, but in my quest to spend less of my life feeling annoyed I have found that introducing some simple habits is slowly improving things.  Nothing big, anyone who knows me will tell you that I am lazy, dis-organised, and like an easy life.  I had to wait until my grindstone annoyed me so much that making some effort to change things was simply easier than just carrying on with things the way they were.

1. Get rid of any nasties that you can (I threw out my toaster and iron so lost the crumbs and gained some creases)

2. Delegate and see if anyone else wants some of your drudge.  We all seek grindstones, so ask around.

3. Remind yourself that you chose your grindstone, so OWN it.  There are no victims here!

4. If you want, swap your current grindstone for a different one.  Ie: You need to earn but you do have options

Once you have sifted through the things you want to change, list the things you will work towards changing.  I have things I can change, but not right away.  Jotting these down gets them out of your head, and doubles as goal setting. It gets a bit easier from there on.  I find that reminding myself that I designed my life and can change it helped for me.  As kids we learnt manners and how to control our behaviour and therefore how to control ourselves.  I use this now to change my worst thoughts and to keep my reactions in check.  Changing thoughts takes a bit of practice but can be done.  When I notice hating thoughts I try to catch them and change them.  I do not want to work a repetitive job that steals half of my day, but I find that telling myself it’s easy and that spending time chatting with work mates and networking on my breaks has value, I do feel the tension in my shoulders ease.

It’s not just the Devil that’s in the detail- The soul food lives there too.  If I focus on the small things that I enjoy within my drudgery it helps me get through the tedium with some sense of enjoyment.  Slowly, the big bug stuff seems to shrink into perspective and I find more things to smile about.

While working on better ways to pay the bills by making money on-line, make money on-line properly  I am also working out ways to have more enjoyable days now.

If you are in the same place as me, and dealing with your grindstone today too, I would be interested to hear what works for you.  Drop me a line or ten and let me know?

 

People and Money. Plenty and Scarce

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It seems strange that the two things the world has most of appear to be the two things most people seem to struggle hardest to find and then to hold onto. What are these two things? Well, they are people, and money.

There are more people alive than ever before, and money is no longer backed by any real wealth. That thing they call “quantitative easing” means that governments can simply print paper money which really is backed by nothing. So why is it that so many people in the world are lonely, poor, or both?

That’s one question I cannot answer. What I do know for sure is that the way we deal with both of these pillars that structure our lives has to change if we have any hope of participating in the world as it is now.

If your friends, children and grandchildren seem to glaze over while you chatter away to the top of the heads, it’s not because they don’t love you, or that they have no interest in you. It’s simply because the way you speak to them no longer holds their attention. People are busy, and leisure time is precious. Technology is designed to be user-friendly, so I encourage you to reach out and get connected. Now. You could be pleasantly surprised.

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Prices rise, budgets are increasingly harder to manage. If you are spending money sending parcels, cards and gifts, then it’s certainly good old fashioned common sense to grab yourself a phone, laptop or tablet, and hook it up to the internet. I you have  been offered a device, or have one in the back of a  cupboard somewhere – Get it out!  If you don’t have one, ask around. Someone close to you will have a spare that they no longer want that’s just too good to throw away. They would love the idea of it being put to good use.

Then what? Well, it’s time to go through that address book, add the information to the contacts list, and add important dates too. This is a basic feature in all devices made in the past decade. Get organised. Add email addresses, grab yourself a free email address. Add an instant chat, free application like WhatsApp or Viber, and suddenly you can send instant messages to anyone, anywhere in the world free of charge. Out shopping and not sure if the bath towel you want to get for your daughter is the right colour blue? No problem. Snap a picture, and sent it to her instantly. This saves time, money and return trips to the mall.

Once you get started, you will find that the people around you gradually start interacting with you again. Communication is still a two-way street. Once you get connected, people will be able to interact with you. The birthday greetings, special day notes, kind thoughts, and virtual roses will start flooding in. Virtual, you’re thinking, what is the use of that? Well, virtual flowers now die, and can be stored for as long as you like. You might also get a brew brought to you if you instant message your request to your granddaughter because she will actually notice that you are speaking to her, even with her headphones on.

So that covers people, what about the money side of things? That I can answer in much fewer words – Get a website, write about something people want to read, and decide which of the many ways to earn money online suits you the best. It’s amazing how a country opens up when you learn to speak the local lingo. It’s equally amazing how the universe unfolds when people understand what you are trying to say.

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Why work from home

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Salaries and wages have not kept up with inflation.  For those of us lucky enough to still have jobs, there is big gap between what we earn and what we bring home.  All earnings are taxed, but the other things really eat into whatever the Taxman leaves behind.

Commuting is expensive for anyone who cannot walk or cycle to work.  Bus or train fares keep going up, taxi cabs are worse.  Cars cost a packet between maintenance, fuel, road tax, insurance and breakdown cover.  Motorbikes are cheaper, but we don’t all live on the equator and seasons can be cruel, roads can be dangerous. Working from home commute costs = 0

Presentation can be expensive, and looking good costs more when you get older.  It costs to keep my hair the right colour and the right shape.  My daughter can grab a sale item off the peg and looks great, but I have to be careful.  What fits on Monday, doesn’t on Wednesday.  The skirt that looked fine in the dressing room mirror hangs like a sack after a day at the office.  The brown trousers I bought really do attract as much dog hair as the black ones they replaced.  I have wasted mega amounts of money buying shoes that seemed comfy, but crippled me a few weeks later. Nails, teeth, cosmetics, they all cost.  Accessories are expensive too. Handbags, headbands, scarves, gloves and other decoration need updating with the seasons.   All cost money, and lots of it.

Lunch is another big one.  While a slice of toast will do fine at home, we can’t source one easily at work.  We have all been there, I won’t say any more about how eating out can make you broke, but pulling out a flask when the rest of the team order their coffee in sometimes can require a level of courage that we do not all possess.

Health issues can make it hard for people to work in a bricks and mortar building.  Aging bodies play up, when it’s not the skeleton or the eyes, it’s the bladder or the other bits.  Sitting or standing abilities may vary from day to day, and these problems can lead to feelings of not being good enough, or pressure to work harder to try to keep up.  We are never going to be able to compete with a person in their 20’s unless we level the playing field.  This is simply easier when we work from home, ideally online.

Flexibility is a factor, but do not confuse this with any ideas of making money for nothing.  Money for Nothing is a great song, but that’s it.  It is not a workable concept in the real world.  You can make money by doing less, and working smarter, but even today, 0+0=0. That said, working from home often means that you work at times that match your body-clock,  and free up time for when you need it the most.  It often means you can make time for tea with friends, or a trip out with family, because you can swap out your working times.

Scroll down for more ……. The Road to Riches follows on.

Categories: Make money at home