9.15.2013

I Don't Know How to Relax

Sooo I need some major help guys. I honestly do not know how to relax. Today's post is not financial related, but definitely life-related. I need to vent.

The stress is looming and totally real right now. October is rapidly approaching and I seem to have stuff going on each week. I have my appellate brief, moot court deadlines, and oral argument in October, following closely by my negotiation competition in November and then finals.

Right now, I don't even have time to eat lunch in between classes and activities. I've been juggling a heavy class load with running from Law & Business board meetings to planning and coordinating a mentor/mentee program, attending moot court meetings, drafting a contract for our negotiation competition, interviewing for fall (I'm crazy) and summer jobs, spending hours on flowcharting and outlining evidence, scheduling/coordinating meetings for advocacy, researching for my appellate brief, and on top of that finding the time to maintain relationships and be somewhat social, and exercise and walk my dog everyday.

This happens 7 days a week and it's funny how I am supposed to be adding more to this list: negotiation practices (sparring sessions), appellate brief writing, oral argument prep, trial observing, conference calls for moot court, and outlining for my other class.

Okay wow, I've never seen it all written out like that. The pressure is real. I'm insane. My counselor has told me to stop adding more to my plate, but it's like I'm having some weird competition with myself and trying to see how much I can really handle.

I think I just realized that I can't take on working part-time at this point. I'm in the interviewing process with a company that I really wanted to work for but I will have to tell them that I just can't handle it right now, but I'd like to see if I can work there next semester. I am so glad I decided not to write on for any journals this year (can't imagine fixing citations and writing a 25-page paper this sem).

.......is it really???? via
I am constantly using lists and updating all of my calendars, managing emails, and setting alarms. They're actually really helpful. I've been a list person but this is a whole new level of organization and planning for me. Everything is scheduled in my Outlook calendar and color-coded. So I guess I have one redeeming factor that's keeping me put together and that's my organization and time-management skills.

When I try to stop thinking and relax though, I get more stressed out not doing anything. I don't want to waste time napping but it just feels like I'm in overdrive, all the time. I don't think it's healthy to continue on this streak. Last year I was burnt out right before finals, and got incredibly sick. I would like to avoid that unfortunate luck again this year.

I try to take breaks and watch my favorite TV shows like Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy, but I find myself still doing work while I watch, otherwise I feel unproductive. When I run everyday it is an awesome stress reliever, but there are times during my days that I just want to pause for a few minutes and learn how to calm down. I'm naturally a high-strung person and I fear that I've become more type A. There's nothing wrong with that, but for someone who has never been extremely type A, it's a bit all shocking to me how extreme I've become.

Anyways, do you have any tips on learning how to relax? Would love to hear your suggestions.

9.13.2013

Lessons Learned: Going From Full-Time Executive to Full-TIme Freelancer Part 2

This is Part 2 of the Going From Full-Time Executive to Full-Time Freelancer post! Enjoy!

---------

Freelance writing offers wonderful opportunities; you can work from anywhere, schedule your own hours, pick your own clients and choose your topics. But I often wonder how many give up before they find real success?

I started freelancing in the fall of 2012 after spending 15 years working in television news. It’s common in the news business to work long hours, holidays and weekends - especially when big stories happen, but 12 hour days working until midnight started to add up. When my father’s health began to fail, I knew it was time to reassess my life.

As a person who loves to write, freelancing seemed like the perfect fit. But I have since learned it takes more than talent and hard work to succeed. Here are a few things I have learned so far in my journey.

Pick a Niche
In television news, most people are generalists. They can research and write about any topic, but they don’t necessarily have an expertise. That was my dilemma.

After years of writing about everything from crime and politics to business and weather, I was finally able to write about the things I loved; outdoor activity, health and personal finance. While I had hoped to focus on health, I was often passed up for higher paying jobs because I didn’t have academic credentials.

I started getting regular offers for personal finance articles, as well as pieces about office dynamics and leadership. Since I had training in these areas, I was able to write about what I understood on a deeper level with less time doing research.

Lesson learned: The less time you spend researching, the faster you write and the more money you make an hour. Save passions for your blog until you can get paid for them.

Find Clients
Many bloggers tell you to only take jobs that you really want and that pay well. It’s a great idea - if you have a lot of offers. I didn’t start out with a portfolio of articles, just a handful of blogs that proved I could write complete sentences.

I spent an enormous amount of time searching job postings, researching potential clients and applying for jobs. I still do. It’s a major time suck, but well worth it when the client is pleased and gives you steady work.

Many job boards, like Elance, post extensive client information including reviews, job descriptions and payment terms. They can also post feedback on your work - which helps build up your credentials! Sure you have to bid for jobs, and you are competing with writers around the world, but it is a great way to pick up clients.

Lesson learned: Create several templates for cover letters that can be customized, focus on long-term clients, limit time on job boards.

Be Smart
Not every client is who they claim to be. Some are simply trying to get whatever they can, as cheap as they can and they have little respect for the writer.

I got suckered in - twice. The clients made big promises, then disappeared off the face of the earth along with my paychecks. One was even a preacher! In both cases, I failed to ensure the clients had funded the escrow. My mistake. 

Lesson learned: Keep in constant communication with clients, get payment benchmarks for longer projects and make sure they fund escrows.

Set Your Hours
When I worked in TV, I always worked evenings - so happy hour was just a pipe dream. I quickly discovered going for cocktails at 4pm ended any chance I had at working that day. It’s so hard to go back to a lonely computer when all your friends are out!

Some people write better at night, others early in the morning. I do my best work in the afternoons; after I have checked all my email, Twitter and news sites. I use natural breaks, like phone calls and texts, to update social media and limit my time so it doesn’t slip away.

Lesson learned: Find your best time to write and prioritize other activities around that so you don’t waste time staring at your computer and wishing you were somewhere else.

Stay Focused
As a freelancer you have to handle writing, marketing, clients, accounting, social media, education, training and more!  No matter how many hours I work, I never have enough time. So, I prioritize based on a paycheck. That’s why my blog has been ignored and my social media skills lack consistency. I know, I know - they are key branding tools.

But it’s not easy doing it all. Especially in the beginning when you are spending a lot of time trying to find clients. Staying focused, staying organized and staying motivated is a challenge that every freelancer faces. Add to that all the distractions online and time can easily slip away. I have learned to use lists to keep organized, but it is a work in progress.

Lesson learned: Create lists, goals or other motivating tools to help you stay on track, don’t get too down on yourself, reward yourself when you succeed. 

The Government’s Bite
This is the first year I will be completely self-employed, so I am not entirely sure what to expect. I do know I will be paying the government for the first time. My tax preparer crunched the numbers for things like taxes and social security. It’s more than I thought!

I recommend contacting a tax professional ahead of time so you can prepare better than I did. They can also advise you on keeping records for tax write-offs; like subscription fees and home office expenses.

Lesson learned: Stay organized by keeping folders for online and paper receipts, stash at least 30% of income for taxes and get professional help.

Freelancer’s Friends
In the beginning I was skeptical about freelancers who offered advice to newbies. I kept bumping into writers who bragged they “made millions as a blogger”.  I didn’t want to trick people into click on banners or fill my copy with misleading ads, so I dismissed many advice columns.

Now I realize, I just needed to find the right people. It is a lot of trial and error, but I am glad I took the time. LinkedIn helped me find groups I identified with and MediaBistro aggregates a good range of topics daily.

Lesson learned: There is a lot of advise out there, absorb as much as you can and use what works for you. No one is controlling your path but you, so make sure it’s the right one.

Laura Slawny is a freelancer writer for ConsumerFu.com where she researches and experiences life’s hidden shortcuts to help others save time and money.

9.11.2013

Relationship Chronicles: How to Deal With a Partner's Risky Investment Choice

I thought it would be great to do a post on how to deal with your partner's investing style and particular investing choices. The BF and I have been discussing finances again and I thought I'd share a lot of choices that we've been making or are about to make. If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know that we enjoy having "financial meetings," sometimes planned or sometimes unplanned haha.

A common theme during our meetings is planning. We enjoy discussing our current financial state, including going over income, student loans, living expenses, retirement saving, and other savings goals such as for travel/wedding/ring. I discussed weddings recently, and I will be talking about our plan for an engagement ring soon.

However, one topic that came up last night during one of our meetings was an investment/new venture that BF has been working on for awhile now. It's going to be an online start-up. I've been helping him with the legal research and stuff; I've known about it for about 2 years, but it's always nice to get updates on the finances, discuss the current state of investing, and set expectations.

It's easy to come to an agreement when you are just investing in simple vehicles for retirement such as a 401k or a roth IRA. However, what happens when you or your partner have a certain investing choice that is risky?

Since I've been in that position before and we're still continuing forward with the decision to do so, here are some tips that have really helped us!

1. Communicate all concerns
All relationships require communication. This is definitely no different. I don't know what I would have done if the BF did this on his own without consulting me. We may not have combined finances but we plan to, and I wouldn't want to figure this out in the long run. Open the door for communication by discussing investment options and start off with discussing your concerns. One partner may feel like he/she is alone in the decision, but by offering advice and sharing concerns, I think it shows that you want to be involved and thus your partner will open up more.

2. Ask lots of questions
In a situation like this, it's easy for one person to feel a bit left out. After all, the investing idea was not his/hers and it might not even be something that he/she is interested in. Try to get involved and understand where your partner is coming from. I know my BF is passionate about this endeavor and by asking lots of questions, I was able to ease my mind and also inquire as to his goals and expectations with the future of the business.

3. Estimate risks and balance with potential earnings
This one actually stresses us both out, but it is absolutely necessary in order to gauge whether the investment choice is right for both of you. We like to estimate earnings on the high to low end, and balance it with the potential risks. We play around with numbers and expect for the worse, to understand that it is possible to lose everything; and would we be okay with that?

4. Calculate and allocate for other savings goals
I think a lot of uneasiness comes from the unknown. While investing in a 401k or roth IRA is somewhat safe (with all that data and graphs offered to you), I think comfort can be found even if investing in a risky vehicle such as a start-up business. Consider all other savings goals and whether you are still in line with those.

5. Set a time limit or a budget
There should be an understanding that a risky investment comes with a price to pay. Almost all start-ups fail - I learned that in my entrepreneurship class. However the rewards could be great. We discussed a max amount of money that we wanted to invest but also realized that we couldn't do this forever. We have lots of other savings goals and it's important to account for that. Having a time limit or a budget will help you feel better about the overall cost.

6. Be flexible and prepare for change
With a risky investment choice, there is no automation. We can't automatically send a few hundred bucks to a brokerage firm to handle for us. What we put in has to be monitored closely and possibly used for something else. It's been a great learning experience so far, but being flexible and open-minded helps the process.

7. Get involved
I would say a big part of my enthusiasm for my BF's start-up is the fact that he has kept me in the loop since day one. I enjoy business myself, and I've been helping him with some legal research and website content. If this happens, I'd be ecstatic to work with him. Who knows what the opportunities will be? It's also fun to work with your partner!

I actually didn't intend to come up with a list for this post, but I honestly just put together a few ideas that we've been implementing. It was just easier to organize it all, and you know I love lists! I'm sort of a visual learner, so I like organization!

Of course, these are just tips. At the end of the day, you and your partner decide on what's best for you. It will also depend on either party's response/reaction. I know some people are much more passionate, however I also think it takes compromise and understanding to get down to the bottom of the decision.

Have you ever dealt with a partner's risky investment choice?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...