Friday, February 29, 2008

Do what you love

There’s that line that we’ve all heard in the realms of career advice – do what you love. Do what you love and get paid for it! It sounds like a dream come true. What do I love? Well, I’m quite into cooking, I love eating cake and cycling on the seafront. Now, the last two are unlikely to help me pocket the pounds and to be honest, I’m sure the thrill of seafront cycling would fade if I had to endure it day in, day out; I’d be longing for a nice cosy day in front of the PC. Cooking? Well, I’ve thought about this one and I’ve come to the conclusion that me and cheffing are not compatible. I like to spend hours thinking of what to cook, cooking only when I feel like it and I hate cooking for other people.

My point, other than to give you snippets of information about my fascinating life, is that there is work and there is play and the two should not necessarily bedfellows be. I thrive on my life outside work; it makes me interesting and it gives my life meaning. Similarly, I thrive on my work, it challenges and stimulates me but you won’t catch me thinking about it on a Sunday morning. I write for a living, I play with software and I design elearning. These things interest me, bore me and stretch me depending on my current task. And I like it that way.

Having a distinct line drawn between work and play works for me. I can switch off in my play times and take off my work hat. I don’t need to be responsible, dynamic and intelligent 24/7. Sometimes I want to zone out with a gossip mag and fall around laughing on the floor. My life and personality are multi-faceted and I step into different roles when appropriate. I can be a friend, girlfriend, boss, colleague, customer, student and teacher, but not all at once.

Therefore, you won’t catch me selling my cake eating skills at the market or reviewing Vista on a night out. I think I have the balance right.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Staying motivated when working on your own

I work from home. It’s an aspect of my job that gives me great flexibility yet at the same time really challenges me to be productive and responsible. It’s a very adult position; I have no-one to babysit me, supervise or check up on me. I’m simply trusted to get the job done. Which I do. Even if I don't strictly do it between 9 and 5. Here's how:

A quick win – If I can achieve something early in the day, I feel capable and positive for the day to come. So I start by focusing on something small, even if it's something entirely unrelated to work, such as my weekly budget. That way I achieve something quickly, I feel good and it benefits my working day.

Have a target – As a content writer, it’s easy to wallow in a sea of words and while away the hours, with no easy sense of closure. I have a target of how much I should produce a day (of course, it's always a rough guide). So that's what I aim for, rather than just putting in the hours or tinkering the text beyond all recogntion.

Do what I feel like – I work to my strengths and I work with my moods. If my brain is stuck in a fog that even a hefty dose of caffeine won’t lift then I won’t waste my time trying to write. What I produce will be bumpy and awkward and I’ll have a thoroughly miserable time.

I’d rather tidy my desk, fill out my expenses or even have a nap. I’ll come back to the writing when my mind’s in the right gear and I’ll work through the night if need be. Of course sometimes the ‘can’t be bothered’ moments need to be pushed through but I'd rather work to my own pattern than just sit at my desk to make others happy.

Creativity doesn’t happen on demand (although it does require a certain discipline) and flexibility benefits workers and business alike.