Dress like a freelancer

I should be writing, not searching for pics of Lil Bub. When I quit my office job, I spent the first couple days surfing the web for writing inspiration. After three days, I had exhausted my patience for silly memes. Before transitioning to full-on writing, I combed my hair and changed into slacks and blouse. I didn't change my workspace or routine, but dressing professionally made me feel like I was on the clock.

Psychologically, putting on comfortable but professional clothing can signal your brain and body that it's time for work. When you change out of your pajamas, you're able to stop resting and start knocking out tasks on your to-do list. Since minimizing distractions is crucial in succeeding as a freelancer of any kind, taking all possible steps to delineate work time from play time is essential.

By dressing up, you're enforcing a small measure of self-accountability. When practiced on a regular basis, it can help increase productivity and focus. If you surf the web for cat pictures instead of potential pitches, you're wasting your own valuable time. I've found that it's much more difficult to justify an hour spent on Pinterest or Facebook when I have set goals for the day's writing.

That said, my one pair of dress slacks is more comfortable any of my jeans. As a result, I'm more comfortable in business casual. By dressing up, I'm also able to schedule and attend last minute meetings away from my couch. More importantly, as I build my freelance base, learning how to define the border between work and personal time will be absolutely crucial to maintaining my passions -- and my sanity.

Balancing all of these aspects of my life will be tricky, but it will be doable with practice and support. Luckily, if any of these gets too overwhelming, I will take a step back and rest. All the freelance pitches will still be out in the world tomorrow -- and so will the cat pictures.

If you freelance, do you dress up to go to work?

Stuck inside this rut that I fell into by mistake

kittehIn college, overcommitment and sleep deprivation were not the norm. They were the expectation. Studying physics and English literature, interning (then freelancing), working the occasional part-time job and tutoring filled my days and much of my nights. Starting a job in a corporate environment after college didn’t help my schedule. Instead of freeing up time I would have tutored to make ends meet, my desk job motivated me to tutor more so that I would be doing some meaningful work. After each day of 7-10 hours of mind-numbing digital paper pushing, it became one of the only reminders that I had the potential to make a difference in the world.

During these days, I honed my social media connectivity skills and plumbed the depths of my nerdiness with the podcasts and amazing websites that my friends had shared. At work, I made one close friend within my department. We quickly figured out a schedule of legitimate-ish activities that broke up the (web surfing and) data entry. However, the first few days were rough. Neither of us knew if the other was a well-disguised psychopath or, as it turned out, an Archer aficionado and YouTube master. He started roughly three weeks before I did and turned in his two weeks' notice four days before I did the same.

After we stopped working way out Highway 280 (Pass the "Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here" sign, go up the hill and it'll be your next right), we kept up through e-mail and social media. Kind of.

Aside from the friends I work or live with, most of my social interactions resemble a game of catch up. Most of what I know about their lives comes from either their social media profiles or their responses to a random text. Part of it comes from an inherent fear of what will happen if I let go of a part of my busyness. I have been a tutor AND student AND freelance writer for long enough living any other way is ... inconceivable.

Recently, I have started trying to pry away little pieces of that busyness to make time for family, friends and self-care. My budget got even tighter, but the time I have to enjoy is much more valuable. If not for social media, most of these conversations would be inquiries about mutual friends and their quotidian activities. Instead, we talk music and religion and beer and science and love.

The main problem now is figuring out a way to allot just a bit more time each day to communicating with friends. For now, I'll stick with the relationships I have -- they're way more entertaining than cable.

Today’s title courtesy of Relient K’s “Be My Escape.”

All my lovin', I will give to you

Ben King's nerdy Valentine When Adam and I had been dating for about six months, a friend told me that he wanted the kind of online relationship that my beau and I had. Ladies and gents, I present to you the social media contract we signed when we started dating.

I will leave you notes on your Facebook wall and send you articles I think you would appreciate. I will travel to the ends of the Internet to find witty cat pictures that will make you smile. I will never post the pictures I took of you that time you were sleeping. I mean, what?

I will occasionally post things that make me laugh hysterically but that don't amuse you. Deal with it. If you're nice, I'll offset those posts by making you dinner. If not, I'll carry on posting. Outside of Facebook, you can have your forum memberships if I can stay on Twitter. I don't have that much to say about cars or fashion outside of "Ooo. Pretty!"

If you watch television shows that I do not or cannot, I promise to read summaries so we can discuss the broader points of the show. I will get angry about people posting spoilers even if I'm never, ever going to watch the episodes. I promise to find funny related memes and post them where all our friends can see.

Most importantly, I promise to keep the personal details of our relationship off of social media. Any information I wouldn't freely share with my grandmother does not belong on the Internet. I care for you, and that means respecting your privacy ... even if I start a blog.

Title today comes from one of my favorite Beatles songs, "All My Loving." 

Author's note: Adam and I joke about having signed this type of contract. It's not a literal document.