It’s a challenge to be your own boss

safifer:

Great post. Things we need to be conscious of as frreelancers/sole proprietors.

Originally posted on Live to Write - Write to Live:

Being your own boss is thrilling, isn’t it? It’s nice to not have someone to report to every day. You don’t have to deal with someone hassling you if you don’t show up or if you spend all your time chasing dust bunnies, shiny objects, or killing time on Snapchat or Facebook.

Of course you want to impress your clients, but they come and go and care about what you can do for them, not necessarily about your personal success.

There’s a lot of freedom (insert Mel Gibson’s scream from “Braveheart”) in working for yourself. Maybe too much at times.

To be successful and keep your business on track, you need to think like a boss. What do I mean? Here are a few tips.

  • Determine and write down your goals
    • Yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals will help you achieve the success you want. Written goals keep you…

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Habits

safifer:

Thoughts applicable to freelance work-from-home–with the only supervision being the cat!

Originally posted on Live to Write - Write to Live:

I’m in the middle of a project requiring consistent action on my part. I broke down the project into smaller parts, made a check-list of each of the different tasks involved, and started taking tiny steps forward, sometimes doing only one thing that required a few minutes in a day.

I’m at the point now where I have a daily goal to accomplish in order to complete the entire project on time. Each day I mark down where I need to be at the end of the day to stay on task and I try to do a little more than is required in order to stay ahead of the deadline. So far, I’m more than meeting my daily goals and expect to finish in plenty of time.

While I’m totally excited about the project, it has nothing to do with writing. (I’d tell you what it is, but it’s…

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…and another food spot in Charleston

I’ve had another recommendation for a place to have seafood while in Charleston:  Hyman’s Seafood. Great looking menu and not expensive.  This recommendation comes from a good friend who does know how picky I can be about the quality of my food–especially my seafood.  Menu looks interesting, and there is a specific gluten-free menu posted on the website.

Food in Charleston SC

I’m excited about the American Society for Indexing convention–it’s good to get to talk face-to-face with other indexers–there’s always something to learn. I’m excited to see the other who worked on the Best Practices document again–and I’m looking forward to visiting Charleston SC.  I’ve never been there so I’m planning to stay until Sunday morning to have a little time to look around.

I’m told you couldn’t get a bad meal in Charleston–being my naturally skeptical self, I don’t believe that. I’ve had my “feelers” out to friends and acquaintances who are in the restaurant business in one way or another and I got some recommendations for foodies (like me). I’ve gotten a recommendation for Husk.  I’ve just been perusing the menu, and I think that this is a “must” for one dinner–and maybe Sunday brunch before I head back to Durham.

Note that when I asked for recommendations, I didn’t stipulate anything about price, so food quality was the only stipulation. I’ve gotten these recommendations for a chef who has spent a lot of time in Charleston–and who is a very serious, seasonal foodie, and has left out the “touristy” places (although he says some are good.  Included in his suggestions (I asked for his “raves” in addition to Husk) are:

  • McCrady’s Restaurant for seriously good food in an inventive way–sous vide, foams, etc. (As of right now, this link seems very slow to load, but it does eventually do it. The menu looks fantastic.  This Sean Brock’s (as well as Husk).
  • Husk (also Sean Bock presenting local Southern food) is lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch.
  • EVO Pizza (that is for Extra Virgin Oven) and, yes, it’s pizza, but with house-made charcuterie. Features local microbrews, too.  Lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday.
  • Glass Onion (and I’m told that the cookbook is awesome–and this from someone who probably doesn’t really need a cookbook).
  • Bowens Island Restaurant for outstanding seafood (and I’m warned that this is “hole-in-the-wall” when compared to some other restaurants, but unbeatable seafood.  Dinner only, closed Sunday and Monday.
  • Martha Lou’s Kitchen for soul food and “low country” food; lunch only.

I’m sure I’m not going to get to eat at all of these–but Husk is right at the top of my list and I dare say that you can guess my next preferences. I’m going to this convention business, but I’m not passing up some good food.  Anybody want to join me?

It’s almost conference time again!

It really doesn’t seem that long ago that I was getting excited about the 2013 ASI conference–and here it is again–conference time.  I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone again. I appreciate! Facebook, Linked In, and Twitter for staying in contact, but nothing beats getting together face-to-face!

I’ve not been to Charleston SC before so I’m looking forward to that as well–and hope that by then we’ll have some nice weather.

Tips for working at home

Working from home is wonderful, but it takes some discipline. A colleague posted this link on Facebook and I though it was helpful so I thought I’d share it.

Frome the Huffington Post “Working from Home: Here Are Ten Ways to Do It Better”

Some of these things I worked our for myself, but there are some suggestions here that I’m going to try to carry out–especially the workout time. That is the one that slips most for me.

Injury prevention software

I’ve now worked (real world indexing work on the motor disorders book) with both the finalists on the ergonomic break timers for the last 30 days. Of all that I looked at, only  RSIGuard and WorkPace™ seemed worth serious attention.  Here’s what I found:

  • Both offer settings that will let you customize how they interact with your work habits. There are questionnaires in both to help you decide what settings you need–prevention, rehabilitation, etc.
  • Both give good stretch exercises include ones that were given to me by physical therapists in my post-surgical rehabilitation. The exercises are demonstrated and/or described for you, complete with where you should feel the effects if you are performing them properly. The RSIGuard has a verbal description as well as graphic demonstration of exercises, while WorkPace has graphic demonstration only.
  • Both provide work intensity and compliance statistics–in fact both are intended for organizational use and allow managers/supervisors to assess compliance with the data provided, but both have individual licenses as well as organizational licenses.
  • The work intensity information provided by RSIGuard is not easily used by individuals, where WorkPace provides very straight-forward information that is useful without much interpretation: each keystroke, in which software are most of you keystrokes, etc.
  • Both provide some ergonomic tips–RSIGuard can make you aware of some of your work habits with “forget-me-not” questions associated with the micropauses–such as asking you about your wrist position while keyboarding, or if your posture is good, etc.
  • Both can adjust settings manually as your needs change, and both allow you to select the degree of enforcement of breaks and micropauses.
  • Both have a lengthy enough trial period for you to test them adequately.
  • Both are licensed to the user, not to computer, so that they can be used on desktop and laptop by the same user.

…and the winner is WorkPace, even though it’s a bit more expensive ($89.00 versus $65.00).  I liked the straight-forward, uncomplicated statistics, the flexibility in displaying data and the clear graphic demonstration of where you should feel the effects of the exercises. Another plus for WorkPace is that during breaks it displays keyboard shortcuts for Windows. I found the WorkPace just a bit less intrusive–it displays a single status panel (if you wish). The RSIGuard also displayed an additional minute-by-minute work intensity in a separate window which I found to be distracting and I found the signal for breaks and micropauses to be irritating. Were WorkPace not available, I’d certainly use the RSIGuard though.

So–after all that looking, I’m right back with the same program that I’ve used for since about 2001!  Getting the program reinstalled has certainly made a difference in the comfort of indexing for five or six hours at a time. Micropauses DO make a huge difference.

I guess I should add a disclaimer here–no affiliate marketing, no commission for me from this–just a happy indexer with happy hands even with all the keyboarding–helps avoid those irritating wrist splints, even at night.

Great webinar!

I do love technology!  From my desk in my home office I’ve attended an absolutely wonderful webinar on how to increase and maintain speed in indexing.  So much good information, and so accessible.

Kate Mertes is an excellent speaker, as well indexer.  If you’re interested in indexing, this webinar will be available for purchase from the ASI website in a week or so, and it’s well worth purchasing.

This webinar came at a wonderful time for me as I’m getting ready to start indexing a book on motor disorders which is about 400 pages longer than I thought it was going to be. Lots of the techniques that she described will certainly be put to good use shortly. There were some great tips on using technology–indexing software, Adobe Acrobat, etc. to help in the indexing process.

Testing ergonomic break software

One of the things I discovered with the shift in computers is that I must have break-timer  software installed on my computer. (Yes, I’m on again about breaks being necessary for safe, healthy computer use.) Perhaps it is a combination of the warm weather (how about hot and muggy) and the time that I’ve worked without the break timer, but even with the fantastic autocomplete of SKY Index, I’ve had some recurring minor symptoms. That means that it’s time to get back to taking proper breaks!

I tend to get engrossed and let time slip away, only realizing too late that I haven’t taken a break in way too long even though I know breaks are important. WorkPace™ has been on my computers since about 1998, but now that I have to buy a new license, I thought I’d see what else was out there.

Judging by the number of free break timers out there we must be more aware of injury that can occur with intensive computer use. Most of the free programs have the sophistication of my kitchen timer. The only advantage of those is that you can’t forget (read decide not to) set it (but for that, I could just depend on the cat). I need something a little more insistent than that.

Having had both carpal tunnel and Guyon canal decompression on both hands, I want to avoid any further surgery! I want break software that will check and record activity so that if symptoms recur I can see if there has been a change in  the pattern of keyboard or mouse use.

Today I skulked about the Internet with Google looking to see what software was available.  There seem to be more programs for safe computer use now than the last time I looked–everything from the simple timer to software that will put you through an exercise routine at your desk, to some that put you through orthopedic tests to determine your risk and diagnosis.

I have installed the new version of WorkPace™ on the laptop-that-thinks-it’s-a desktop, and another (RSIGuard) on the notebook. The WorkPace program appears to have changed relatively little over the years. The second seems comparable to WorkPace in its flexibility, and monitoring–you can make both of them lock your keyboard or mouse if you really need encouragement to comply with breaks.

I installed several other programs to test; some didn’t have the features that I think are particularly important for prevention of cumulative trauma disorders (CTD)–also sometimes known as repetitive stress injury (RSI), or occupational overuse syndrome (OOS), or even some other epithets depending where in the world you are. Several got quickly uninstalled since they lacked much more sophistication than my kitchen timer, despite the descriptions. One that I tried multiple times to download (DeskDoctor) for a trial kept giving me a server reset error, so it’s bookmarked but on hold for now, but I suspect that one is serious overkill even for what I want.

There will be more information on the specific programs coming as I use each of them  while working.

Remember, prevention is better than rehabilitation!

A huge sigh of relief…

As I listen to the rain coming down as Andrea passes, I can now give a sigh of relief.  New laptop/desktop is set up and ready, awaiting work.  SKY Index is re-installed, as are the Adobe Cloud components–Acrobat XI, and InDesign. The Carbonite back-up is set up again for off-site backup, and there is an external hard-drive, and Dropbox.

It’s a such a relief to know that there is a “spare” computer in reserve–with all the same software and backup capability.  The lesson learned from this episode: backup, backup, backup–on-site and off-site.

Despite the hassle, I really lost no files, and now that there is a resident backup computer, there will be no lost work time either!

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