Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ten reasons Why I Didn’t Blog About Working At Home Today:

In no particular order. From the Home Office of Karina Fabian:

Kids kept interrupting me for help on their schoolwork. (If I have to spell “privacy” one more time…)

Steven was yelling at Liam because Liam hit him, but that was because Amber was kicking him because he (Liam) was in her spot and she couldn’t see the TV, and besides, Steven is grounded from TV and Alex even told him so, but he wouldn’t move so Liam hit him but…

The toilet backed up, and I’m the janitorial staff.

My friend IM’d about a problem she was having with her latest story, so of course, we worked on that and then we chatted about moving and kids… They should call it Yahoo! Watercooler.

I couldn’t concentrate, so I took a long shower to think about it. Had a great idea for a story and wrote that instead. Took another shower to think about the blog.

I went to make a pot of coffee and realized the dishes hadn’t been put away. Putting away the dishes reminded me I still had clothes in the dryer, and as long as I was folding them I may as well put another load in…Did those ever get put in the dryer? I’d better check.

Husband came home “frisky.”

The dog wanted to play. Who can resist a dog with a squeak toy in her mouth?

It was 90 out and the pool looked sooooo good!

Oh, wait—I just did it! Never mind.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


by Mary Andrews

It’s all about time…Organization….and the pursuit of happiness.

It’s easy to get all worked up over everything that needs to be done, in fact, it can become so overwhelming sometimes, that nothing gets done at all.

Ready... set... Categorize your needs…

........................Food: shopping, preparation…

........................House work: daily & weekly…

........................Outdoor chores: maintenance, lawn, garden…

........................'Children/animal care: feed, clothe, play, exercise…

.........................Relationship: quality time

.........................Scheduled Outside activities: church, clubs,

.........................Work: email, blogs, website, writing, marketing

Prioritize what is important and what isn’t.

When I first started my website, I had an arm long list of subjects to present. After about a week of killing myself trying to figure out how to do what I wanted, I found myself coming to loathe the thought of touching the computer.

This is not a good thing for a writer, so one day I got up and deleted three of the pages that I had not yet started working on. Lo and behold, my website looked so much better! I could actually announce that my website existed.

And you know what? I can still add those pages any time I want.

Schedule your time.

My mother raised seven kids with all that entailed, belonged to a bowling league, became a girl scout leader and a boy scout leader (at the same time), and kept an immaculate house. I marvel at that accomplishment even more than the fact she survived us.

I asked her once how she handled everything. She told me she kept to a schedule and a semblance of order prevailed.

Cut your chore time down by dividing them up per day. (Laundry on Monday, shopping on Tuesdays, yard work on Wednesdays….for example.) OR, do them all on one hell-or-high-water day, if you can.

Use ergonomicsdesign factors, as for the workplace, intended to maximize productivity by minimizing operator fatigue and discomfort. (dictionary.com)

For instance, cook two suppers at a time and tomorrow’s will need only reheating. OR set a crock pot up for tomorrow’s supper while you cook for today. Tomorrow, you plug it in.

Prepare school lunches the night before. Supper left-over’s making for a hearty lunch for anyone with a microwave at work.

Check your email during your kids’ favorite shows….

Back in my child rearing days, I would put the kids to bed and could write after 10:00pm. To optimize my available time, I would pour a Pepsi and play the same music over and over each time I sat down to write. Good ‘ol Pavlov was right. To this day, when I play that music I get creative…and crave a soft drink (same principle works for going to sleep, doing housework, exercising etc).

If you are working at home, set some rules.
As a writer, let others know that when your hat is turned to the front, you are at work. Tell friends your work hours. Establish a work area and make it inviolate (nobody uses your equipment).


It is amazing how hard we can be on ourselves—how easy it is to negate our own accomplishments. When I used to run reset crews in stores, I always made it a point to gather my people together and tell them to look at the results of their day's work before quitting time.

If you are working at home, remember to be kind to yourself. Who knows, maybe as a happy employee you'll become even more productive.

...........** for more 'me sightings' check out http://www.freewebs.com/mary-andrews/ **

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Routine Routine Routine

I work both at home and away from home. Outside of my job as a publisher and writer, I have another job out in the real world where I am a Human Resources Manager. I put in my 8 hours at the office, then drive home and put in another 3-4 hours at my "other life." And on weekends I totally spend my time at my "other life."

I've had to learn to minimize distractions. I make a list of everything I hope to accomplish each evening, and I stay focused on it. I don't answer the phone or pay attention to most of my email. It's not easy-- some nights I don't get to bed until 2 or 3 o'clock AM and then I'm up again at 6:00 AM to go to my day job. But my evening job (Swimming Kangaroo) is my passion and I am committed to it!

I don't have a problem staying away from the TV because I don't watch much to begin with, but I have to make sure I don't get distracted by surfing on the web, getting onto one of my listservs or reading a good book.

Throughout my working life I've had periods where I have worked at home. When my girls were little, I took jobs that allowed me to work from home during the summers and school breaks so I could be with them. They slept in so I could get stuff done in the morning. Once they got up I'd take a break and spend some time with them. During the afternoon they would usually get into the swimming pool so I would go back to my computer and keep an eye on them through the window. Evenings, once again, I took a break to spend time with my husband and the kids and then finally, once the girls went to bed, I went back to work. Over the course of the day I would put in more than 8 hours at work.

I have found that I am actually more productive at home than I am at my office because I don't have so many distractions. While I'm at my day job, people stop by my office frequently to chat. I don't have that at home-- once I make up my mind that I'm not going to pay attention to the phone or to email, I don't have to worry about anybody dropping in. Our neighbors, fortunately, (or unfortunately depending on your point of view) pretty much keep to themselves, so I don't have to worry about them coming by. When the girls were little we usually had other parents, who worked outside the home, drop their kids off at our house to spend the day. I never minded because that gave the girls some entertainment and allowed me to get some more work done.

I love working at home for another reason-- I am a night person. My natural inclination, if left to myself, is to stay up all night working and to sleep during the day. When I am working from home, I have the freedom to do that. Unfortunately I haven't managed to convince my boss at my day job that my hours should be switched to midnight to 8!

Before I sign off, I have to mention that CJ, the lead character in the mystery novel I wrote with my husband, The Dead Detective (under the pseudonym of Lorene Robbins) has a unique distraction while working at home-- the ghost of a murdered pawnbroker won't leave her alone. CJ discovered the pawnbroker's body, and she is the only person who can hear him. It makes things just a little difficult when she is trying to attend to her freelance computer consulting business. The ghost, Budge, is a pest, to put it bluntly, and insists that CJ spend time solving the mystery of his murder instead of working at her freelance computer consulting business.

I am fortunate not to have that problem-- no ghosts disturb my work at home moments-- just the occasional husband popping in or the occasional daughter calling me to "Mom" duty. For me, working at home is a privilege, and I hope to get to a point where I can do it full time!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Working at Home - Time Management Tips

Hello everyone and apologies for my absence. I was away in Greece since April. My father passed away and I made it just in time to see him, talk with him, and tell him how much I loved him. Dad was my best friend, my motivator, and my writing inspiration and his teachings will continue to inspire me for many years to come.

This month's topic is Working at Home - Time Management Tips.

As a full time writer/editor, finding time to read, review books, write my own stories, and edit for several publishing houses and my own freelance editing business is a chore and a half.

Try living in a house where family members 'think' you are playing on the computer and not actually 'working. Imagine a home where five kids, four of them being adults, come and go, "Mom, what's for dinner?", "Mom, did you wash my...", "Mom, tell her to stop taking my clothes!". Yes, imagine trying to edit 'peacefully' in these circumstances.

But guess what? I do? Perhaps it's the mother in me and quite capable of tuning in and out whenever I want but I do get work done, most of the time on the proposed deadlines.

Most of the time I try to get up early to catch up with some editing while everyone is still asleep. That time fluctuates anytime between 4am - 5:30am.

Then the making of beds, preparing breakfast and figuring out the supper meal begins. When everyone is out of the house again, usually before lunch, I hop on my laptop and work nonstop until 4pm.

Most of the time, I hop on and off the computer between 4pm and 8pm, working around the house in-between. Then my fulltime ritual begins again around 10pm when everyone is too booped out to call out my name, and I'll continue until my eyes begin to droop, maybe midnight or 1am.

Is this a sane schedule to follow? No.

Then what motivates me to follow it? Simple...a love for what I'm doing.

When you have a passion for something as much as I have for writing, then you will find the time during the day to devote even an hour to it.

Oh, there are many excuses I've heard from not only writers, but from other at-home professionals:

-but the phone keeps me from working-- then don't answer it when you are in your scheduled 'work' time. If you were working from out of your home, would you allow your family and friends to interrupt you at work? I have call display so I see who is calling and make a mental note to call them later on, when I'm 'off' work. Make sure to tell your friends you won't answer the phone between so and so a time.

-there's so much to do around the house--then delegate. If you were working somewhere else, you'd still have to do this after you came home, right? Ask everyone to pitch in and help you around the house.

and many more excuses. As I wrote above and I stick by that: when you have a passion for what you are doing you will always find the time to accomodate it somewhere in your daily routine. Think of your at-home business as your baby. You need to nurture it from young in order for it to build into something you'll be proud of. You'd never neglect a child, then why neglect your business? You always find the extra time for play time with your child, then why can't you find one hour for your business?

As the saying goes: where there's a will there's a way.

Make sure to bookmark us and come back often and read what some of the other participating members have to offer in this month's topic: WORKING AT HOME- TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS.

Here are some of our upcoming topics to look forward to:

June: Fantasy: What I love about Fantasy

July: Losing weight after 40

Lea Schizas