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Why It’s 11:00 a.m. And I’m Just Now Sitting Down At My Desk To Work

My calendar has been very empty this week until the kiddos get home from school (then all hell breaks loose and I run around like a crazy person for 4 hours!). So why is it that someone with a calendar free of meetings or appointments or committments from 7:50 a.m. (kiddos get on the bus) until 3:40 p.m. (kiddos walk in the door from school) doesn’t sit down at her desk until 11:00 a.m.?

6:00 a.m. – Wake up and turn on the news to see what the temperature will be today. Princess will certainly ask. Even if she could look outside and see a raging blizzard, she’d ask what the temperature will be just on the off chance she MIGHT be able to wear flip flops.

6:15 a.m. – Take Duma outside to do her business. Duma is 10 days post-op for TPLO surgery to fix her torn ACL. She can’t go outside off leash for another 10 weeks. What a PITA!

6:30 a.m. – Feed dog and give her the last day of her cocktail of meds.

6:45 a.m. – Start making pancackes for the kiddos for breakfast.

7:00 a.m. – Kiddos get up. Princess asks what temperature it will be today (70 – yay, flip flops!). We all eat pancakes.

7:15 a.m. – We all get ready for school.

7:40 a.m. – Walk out the door to the bus.

7:50 a.m. – Kids on bus, I head to gym.

9:00 a.m. – After workout, check my messages. I can go to the school to pick up our coolers anytime (loaned them, full of freeze pops, to the elementary school for field day).

9:05 a.m. – Arrive at Starbucks for a ginormous Iced Green Tea (thank you everyone who gave me Starbucks GCs for my birthday!).

9:25 a.m. – Arrive at school to pick up the coolers.

9:35 a.m. – Decide to run to the grocery store to pick up some ham, bread, colby jack (Dude needs sandwiches – all. the. time!).

10:00 a.m. – Arrive home. Put away coolers and groceries.

10:15 a.m. – Take Duma out to pee – again – because even though she could go an entire day without going out to pee if I were just sitting here at my desk or gone all day, when someone leaves and comes back, no matter how long they’ve been gone, she’s going to absolutely DIE if she doesn’t get out RIGHT NOW!

10:30 a.m. – Finish putting groceries away. Hop in the shower.

10:50 a.m. – Head out to the kitchen to grab my phone and tea to head to my office. Notice the dishwasher is finished and there are two knives in the kitchen sink. I HATE dirty dishes in my sink. So I empty the dishwasher and put the two dirty knives in their proper location in the dishwasher.

11:00 a.m. – Sit down at my desk to start my work day. Look at the clock. Realize it’s already 11:00 a.m. Decide I should write a blog post about why I’m not working before 11:00 a.m.

11:05 a.m. – Finish blog post.

11:06 a.m. – Think to myself, it’s almost time for lunch. It would be CRAZY to start working on something so close to lunch, just to have to turn it all off, then start up again – I’d lose half the work time!

Lunch anyone?

 

Earn My Business

This business tip brought to you by Jodie :-)

I’m getting quotes to have 100 course catalogs printed for our business to take to trade shows this fall. Full color cover with full bleed and black and white interior pages. Pretty easy job.

I got 4 quotes from local companies. Two were outrageous and 2 were almost identical in price.

So I decided I’d let them make the decision for me.

I sent the cover file to each company and asked for a sample. In the past, printers have had trouble printing the cover in good quality because it is PURPLE . . . very purple . . . think Barney purple. And apparently lots of solid purple is difficult to print.

Both printed a sample within a couple hours and invited me to come take a look.

Company #1 printed exactly what I’d sent them on a huge piece of paper with no editing or trimming. Company #1 said they could work more with the cover and would like to earn my business by showing me what they could do.

Company #2 printed exactly what I’d sent them on a huge piece of paper with no editing. Then they weren’t pleased with the result, so they messed around with the color and the printer until it was how they liked it. Then they trimmed the paper so I could see exactly how the cover would look trimmed to the correct size with the full bleed. It was beautiful . . . well, as beautiful as a purple course catalog cover can be :-)

Sorry Company #1 . . . Company #2 already earned my business by doing the work before I got there and showing me a quality finished product instead of one they could still work on for me.

Business tip of the day: the customer sample should be exactly how you’d reproduce the final product. If it’s not, you didn’t do your job and you will not earn my business.

Busy Brain

OK. So apparently it’s been quite a while (like possibly years) since I’ve had to actually budget my time.

How do I know this?

I know this because I can’t remember the last time I felt “stressed” about how I was going to finish a task. Everything on my To Do list was pretty much finishable in one sitting. So even though my calendar could have a bunch of items on it on any given day and my To Do list could sometimes grow to 2 pages because I deemed watching re-runs of The Big Bang Theory MUCH more important than doing my “stuff”, I never got stressed about it because one morning of discipline and I could knock out a good chunk of the list – if not the entire list.

But yesterday, for the first time in – well years – I had items on my To Do list that I couldn’t complete in one sitting. I have actual WORK to do! Things that will take weeks and even months to complete!

I guess that’s why you get hired for more than a couple hours to do most jobs – because they take longer than that 😉

So last night I didn’t sleep well because I was trying to figure out how I was going to get all of this stuff done OMG what have I done WTH was I thinking?!!!

Then I “woke up” this morning and went – um duh! Just like everyone else on the planet, you’ll sit down at your desk in the morning (not afternoon after putzing around all morning going to the gym and making coffee and possibly writing a blog post) and work. You’ll finish what you can and the rest will wait until tomorrow.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

***I know it’s now 10:40 and getting dangerously close to not morning. But I had things to do this morning! Like get the car washed (which you have to do before 9:00 a.m. to get the discounted price!). Make coffee. Get into comfy clothes. Send emails about snowboarding this coming weekend and wondering if anyone can come play with us. Updating my Facebook status. Reading other blogs. Writing my own blog post about how I’m not going to do exactly what I’m doing right now. Filling out paperwork for the kids’ upcoming sports seasons. Making eye exam appointments. Petting the dog. Petting the cat.

Does anyone else see a problem here?

Get Back To Work! Part Deux

Amazing how things seem to just work out!

I quit my job with Convergent in July of 2011 because things were too hectic at home. Hubby was working super hard at both jobs, plus travelling to speak at conferences. The kiddos are getting older and we’re getting more involved in extracurricular activities. Something had to give, so I quit my job. Huge relief for the entire family!

Then Hubby gave his notice (finally!) and quit his job at Flight Options. His last day was December 31st. Yay! Now we’re both working at home for our own company, which is awesome! Except, we lose that one income. And even though I’ll be busier with our business now that Hubby is home to concentrate on his part (which comes before my part), I still won’t make nearly as much money as he did or work as many hours as I could in any given day.

And, quite frankly, my brain needs a new challenge.

So, I’m proud to announce that 15 months after being contacted by my former boss to possibly do some contract work for my previous previous company (software), we have approval to start the project. I’ve got a small orientation tomorrow morning, a mere 10 days after Hubby quit his job. It’s a short contract that will probably get me just to summer, which is awesome because then I can have more time this summer to play with the kiddos!

Wish me luck!

Slow

I’ve always been a working mom. I never thought it would be any other way. I need adult interaction every day (not always possible with a traveling Hubby). I need time away from the kids. I need to feel my brain challenged. I need to feel like I’m contributing.

Until last July . . . when I quit my contract job and started “working” at home. Yes, I do work for our little business. And yes, I do a little work for the big business and have quite a to do list at the moment (entirely my fault!). But this summer, I haven’t really done much work at all. Since the day the kids got out of school last May, I’ve been playing with them, toting them around, planning vacations, setting up play dates, etc. I got to sit on the deck and watch them play airsoft and tag and whatever else it was they did with their friends all day. All kinds of stuff I never got to do over a summer before. This was my first summer as a non-working parent. I must say that I LOVED it.

Dude and Princess are both at awesome ages where they’re so fun to do stuff with, and they can totally be relied on to entertain themselves if I need to get some work done.

I will continue to work at home for our two businesses, and while it does not satisfy my need to feel like I’m contributing, for adult interaction, and for keeping my mind busy and learning, I’ve got enough volunteer gigs to last me until the kids graduate to fulfill all those needs.

If you ask my family, I think they’d all agree that I’m much less stressed than I was a year ago. If you ask me, I KNOW I’m much less stressed than I was a year ago.

But what have I noticed most about my new setup? I’ve slowed down . . . physically and mentally. I ran some errands today – had to return some things, pick some things up. I was walking into Sports Authority, and as I was walking across the parking lot, it hit me. I was walking slowly.

I wasn’t speed-walking.

I wasn’t mapping out the store in my mind so I could get what I needed and get out as quickly as possible.

I was enjoying a leisurely walk across the parking lot on a beautiful day.

I realized how good the cool breeze felt.

I recognized how comfortable my tennies were :-)

I noticed how happy it made me to see them putting up the Sniagrab tent!

I realized I was actually thinking these things!

It was a nice feeling, to slow down and take in what was around me.

And even with all of the travelling we did this summer, it’s been really nice to be able to slow down and take in what’s going on with my kiddos, rather than just trying to figure out how we’re going to fit it all into each day.

Now that they’re going back to school this week, I’ll get back on my work horse and actually start contributing to the businesses and making a little moolah . . . wish me luck on getting back to work!

It’s Official – I Have An Office

After 8 months of “working” on a 6 foot folding table in my “hobby room” – I finally bought a desk.

I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t gone crazy with actually working since I quite my job and started working for our own companies last July. I’ve done work, but not as much paid work as I could be doing. I have, however, enjoyed some free time in the evenings, not being overwhelmed trying to fit in the volunteer stuff that I love, and not running around like a crazy person trying to get from work to kid events to home to whatever else it is we have going on.

But, the time came . . . and I figured if I was actually going to make myself work at home, I needed a desk – with drawers for supplies and files and all that jazz. OK, so anyone who knows me has probably figured out that not having  a desk wasn’t the problem. The real problem was that I had a cluttered work space – and I HATE clutter.

Anyhoo – I went shopping and ordered a desk. Surprisingly, knowing you have 2 days to wait for a desk to arrive is enough to convince yourself that you can’t possibly work until you get the desk, even though you haven’t ever had a desk at home before! Apparently this was only a surprise to me . . . Hubby and QT knew full well I would do absolutely no work until I got my desk 😉

It’s amazing how a nice organized clean desk and office has changed my attitude about working . . . it hasn’t convinced me to get out of my pajamas before noon, but it has made it much easier to sit down and work in my new office.

And, it’s really the first time I had an office to myself in all my years of employment. I had to give up my hobby room for it, but it was worth it – however, Hubby and the kiddos might not agree if I leave all my scrapbooking stuff set up out in the living room much longer!

COGS

Sooooo, way back in January of 1995, I was in the middle of my 3rd year of college. I’d opted not to play softball for a 3rd season . . . I REALLY wanted to graduate and be finished in 4 years. I was majoring in Accounting. I have no clue what ever possessed me to do that! The first test of the semester was on Cost of Goods Sold. I spent many nights in my fleece pajama pants and slippers studying for this friggin’ test. I just didn’t get it. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I HATED that test. Great teacher, but hated the class and that test in particular. I hated it so much, in fact, that figuring out the COGS changed my life. I went home that day after the test, decided I did NOT want to be an accountant, and set out to find my new major.

It’s weird how when you decide to do something, everything seems to fall in place. In one week, I ran into so many random people that I just happened to need to talk to about what I needed to do next. I ran into an English professor (literally, ran into him while riding my bike on campus). We chatted – about writing and editing, which I was good at. He took me to his office and gave me the name and number of a girl in one of his classes – same age as me, but an English major. Turns out, it was a classmate of mine from high school! Later that day, I ran into another high school classmate I hadn’t seen in years. We started chatting, and he mentioned the same girl, totally out of the blue! Total sign! So I  called her. We chatted about her major – English with emphasis in Technical Writing. Sounded right up my alley!

I was so excited that the next day I made an appointment with my counselor and told him I was changing my major from Accounting to English/Technical Writing. He highly suggested I not do that because it would put back my graduation at least a year since I was already half way through my junior year. I didn’t care. That was how much I hated accounting at the moment. We looked at my transcript and it turned out I liked English so much that I had taken enough electives and was very close to being able to have that as a second major anyway! So he said OK. Then he asked what my minor would be. I said “Um, accounting since I’ve already completed all the requirements for that.” He said that wasn’t possible because accounting was not an approved minor for english majors. Um, WHAT?!

I said I thought that was stupid and convinced him that it was a great minor for an English major . . . who wanted to finish in 4 years and not stick around any longer than she had to. Turned out I had to convince the English professor that it was acceptable. After a few days of chatting and convincing and presenting arguments to the English dude, he agreed and sent his blessing to the head of the English department – who said no. So I went to Mr. Head of the English department and had to convince all over again. It worked.

Three weeks after COGS made me hate accounting, I was an English major with an Accounting minor. My accounting professor, my counselor, and my English professor thought I was crazy and wouldn’t get a job with that accounting minor. My English professor even said so . . . “You will have a hard time getting a writing job with an accounting minor. It has nothing to do with writing.”

Turns out, he was wrong. My first job out of college after Hubby and I moved to Colorado? Writing user guides for accounting software :-) A big fat I Told You So came out of my mouth!

After many years enjoying my job writing user guides and online help for accounting software, I am now self-employed, working with Hubby for our two businesses. And precisely 17 years after COGS made me hate accounting and change my life, guess what I got to do last week . . .

Taxes. For our company. Which sells books and posters. Which are inventory. Which means I had to reconcile the COGS. I may or may not have been wearing fleece pajama pants and slippers at the time.

Pros and Cons of Working at Home

In June, Hubby and I decided it was time for me to quit my outside the home paying job and work for our own company at home. In the spirit of full disclosure, the decision may have happened something like this . . .

I get the kids on the bus. I go to work. I am home 15 minutes after they get off the bus. We do homework. We think about food. We do a family evening activity. We go to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Add into that a perpetually stressed out Mommy who is frustrated at work (love the coworkers, boss, and company – just not everything that’s happening), is grumpy when she gets home, and has no time to do any of the “stuff” you have to do at home when you have 2 kiddos and a husband who runs his own business and also has another job. Cooking dinner, cleaning the house – at all – playing with the kids, keeping up with volunteer activites (which I love and will not give up) . . . all of these things were taking a huge hit. Quite frankly, I was not being a very good wife, mother, or friend.

Ultimately, we decided it wasn’t worth it. We have enough work for me to do with our company, which I am now the CEO of (ha!) and I was also approved to work 40 hours/month for Hubby and his buddy’s company, which is doing awesome. AND, I’d have time to keep up with the adult stuff you need to do when you have kiddos and own a home as well as continue with the volunteering stuff we do.

Do I love my new gig? Absolutely! Do I miss some things about leaving the house every day? Of course!

Pro – I don’t have to be up and ready to walk out the door before the kiddos get up in the morning. I can sleep a little longer and actually make them breakfast in the morning if they want me to.
Con – I don’t have to be up and ready to walk out the door before the kiddos get up in the morning. This means, that on any given day, I may not shower until after lunch. Working in fleece pants and a t-shirt is pretty darned comfy!

Pro – I am home when the kiddos get on the bus and at the bus stop when they get off. This has really always been the case – I’ve had awesome employers who were flexible with my hours – but it’s nice to not have to worry about those days when I had an early meeting or a late phone call. I just don’t schedule them for those times.
Con – There is no con for this. It’s always been important to me and will be until the day my kiddos graduate.

Pro – I can take Duma on her run/walk every morning. This has been awesome for getting myself exercise every day, which was not happening, and also for getting her exercise every day.
Con – Duma’s expectations for how often and how much she should get to exercise is directly proportionate to the previous week’s activity 😉 I can no longer get away with no exercise for her for a couple days if we just can’t fit it in. This is a good thing, I guess, except for when 9:30 p.m. rolls around and she wants to play ball!

Pro – I’ve saved quite a bit of moolah and time not having to commute to work. My commute involves me walking downstairs :-)
Con – I don’t get to see adults as much as I’d like. Maybe that’s not true – but I don’t get to interact with other adults that have things to talk about other than their kids. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kiddos and I love to talk about them and their friends and what they’re doing . . . HOWEVER I’m still my own person and I like to talk about adult things. This, I miss. I have to make more of an effort to connect with my adult friends.

Pro – I am not such a bitch. For me, the amount of stress I feel is directly related to the amount of sleep I get.
Con –  I see no con for this. I’m a much better wife, mother, and friend nowadays :-)

Pro – I can read! And do many other things I want to after the kiddos get home from school. Where I used to come home from work and have to try to figure out how to get my other stuff done around the house while still spending time with the kiddos, now I do that stuff during the way. The work stuff and the non-paying jobs. I LOVE reading again. Been awhile since I’ve had enough energy or felt I had the time to just read for pleasure.
Con – I find myself maybe quite possibly wasting some time here and there since it seems to be so abundant compared to previously.

Pro – I get to spend more time with my kiddos. Plain and simple. The older they get, the more the need me. Not necessarily to do things for them or even with them . . . but they do need me to be available more often.
Con – They think I’m available and at their disposal 24/7 because “I’m around” all the time. So not true. I find myself reminding them that I still have full days and lots of work to do. They get it and they understand – most of the time :-)

Pro – I get to chat more with Hubby. It used to be that we were both so involved with just trying to get everything done that “we” came last. Don’t get me wrong – we’ve always done lots of family stuff together, but it’s been nice to just get to sit and chat and do what we want every now and then. Me taking over our tiny little business has taken a little bit off of his plate so he can concentrate on his other two jobs :-)

Pro – I have more time to think about and cook dinner at home.
Con – I have more time to think about and cook dinner at home :-)

I could go on and on. Obviously, the pros outweigh the cons. I am so thankful that we were in a position to make the decision for me to quite my “other” job and work at home. I am even more thankful that I have a loving, understanding husband who realized that the change needed to happen and was willing to change a few things to make it happen.

Working From Home

Yesterday was my first official day working from home for mine and Hubby’s business. Yup – I quit my other job . . . my last day was last Friday, July 1st. It was a tough decision . . . I really liked my employer and what the company did. I liked my flexible hours and the people I worked with. For the most part, I even liked the actual work 😉 Even with all that, it was becoming a stress that we didn’t need. The hours were becoming less part-time, mostly because there were never enough people to do the job and I held that in my head all the time. I just didn’t see that changing, and it wasn’t making me a very good wife, mother, or employee. I didn’t have enough left-over time after my volunteer stuff with the kiddos (which I am not willing to give up) to help Hubby with the home and business and even though we spend tons of great time with our kiddos, I didn’t feel like I was giving them the best of my time, so I gave my notice. My employer was surprised, but also very understanding. We definitely parted ways on excellent terms, and who knows, maybe we’ll work together again some time.

For the time being, I’ve been promoted from Production Specialist to CEO Aviation Solutions 😉 HA! Basically, that means Hubby can hand off our goofy little book and cockpit poster business to me and I get to do the shipping and quarterly taxes . . . I might actually get to use that accounting minor my diploma says I earned! I’m also going to be doing content editing and reviewing as well as a handfull of other stuff for his other company, which I’m way excited for! Hoping that my availability to work for him will lessen the load he’s been carrying. I continue to be amazed at how he does all he does without completely losing it or ignoring his family and friends.

Yesterday was so unstressful it was amazing! In my first 3 hours as an unemployed/self-employed person, I was crazy productive! It felt awesome :-)

Now I just need to finish setting up my home office and actually commit myself to some working hours. Wish me luck!

The Accidental Manager

So I’ve been at my new job for 18 months now, and I LOVE it! In August, I started working 30 hours/week when the kids went back to school. I wasn’t sure how the extra days/hours would fit in my volunteer/play/mommy schedule, but I’m LOVING it! Total stress relief. I was always stressed about not being able to get my stuff done “on time and on budget” as my bosses love to say – weekly/daily/hourly. Now, I have time to get my stuff done – there’s still more work than I could ever possibly do in my available hours, but I can at least give it a good college try :-)

I also feel like I’m actually doing something worthwhile at this job. In my previous job (which I had for 13 years!) I was very good at what I did, and in theory I helped people and companies, but in reality, how many people actually read and use a software user manual or online help system? Just me? Yup :-) Now I’m doing work that will actually help save lives, and I can’t tell you how good that feels – knowing that I’m doing something worthwhile and knowing that people will actually use and appreciate what I do.

I know my coworkers appreciated me at my other job, just as I appreciated them, but it’s nice to have your bosses actaully make a special effort to tell you how happy they are to have you working with them – that’s right, working WITH them, not FOR them. My bosses are the 4 partners of the company – so ya, hearing that from them makes me feel like I’ve found the kind of place I’ve been wanting to work at for quite a while. I’m definitely a small company kind of girl. I didn’t realize until after my previous company laid me off that I had gotten unhappier and unhappier there as the company got bigger and bigger. Getting laid off was a blessing in disguise.

And finally, as of the 18th of this month, I have, as my bosses call it, “a minion” :-) Yup – I got to actually hire a full-time writer to help me out with the ginormous projects we’re working on. We interviewed 8 people after screening about 30 resumes. A few people had awesome experience and could have done this job with their eyes closed. But I highly recommended someone who graduated from college in 2008. This person I chose seemed like a perfect fit, which is weird since he has no experience whatsoever in technical writing. He graduated with his degree in English/Technical Writing just as the technical market here was taking a hit. So he’s been working in a call center since then to support his new family. He has a great personality, definitely seemed to know what he was talking about, was very eager to get going in his chosen profession, and was totally confident. And while I totally think he’ll be great at this job, I REALLY wanted to give him a shot – everyone deserves a shot, right? I mean, the company I worked for previously for 13 years gave me a shot when I was a newbie, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it (thank you Gail!). I also believe personality and corporate culture fit are almost as important as skills when choosing someone to hire. No fun to share an office with someone 4 days a week if you can’t stand them! So I guess I’m a manager now :-) And my bosses tell me that if we do this project right, I’ll have lots of people working for me in the very near future. I’m calling myself the accidental manager. I never wanted to be a manager, but I’m loving having someone to mentor.

So ya, work is going well while still leaving me all the time I need to be home when the kids get on the bus and home when they get off of it, volunteer in the kids’ school, co-lead Princess’s Brownie troop, get the kiddos to all their extra-curriculars, spend some concentrated time with Hubby, and still have time for myself and my friends.

Oh – and did I mention that work is sending me to Italy for a week in January? That’s a nice perk, too :-)