Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

I'm not a big fan of birthdays. Apparently, I'm not alone...a search of "I don't like birthdays" resulted in many hits.

To me, birthdays are often like other holidays in which a lot of anticipation, planning and preparation lead to pressure to have a great time.  To be happy, whether you are or not.  While I appreciate when friends reach out and wish me a happy day, I took the reminder off Facebook.  I don't usually post on friends' walls for theirs; I prefer to send good wishes in a more personal way.

On the other hand, each birthday is a milestone, and I think worthy of acknowledgement and celebration.  So I'm going to set my full plate aside and take most of the day off.  Which, even though I know we all deserve time off in general and in particular on our special day, still induces twinges of guilt.  It's hard for me to set aside my feelancer drill, "The more you work, the more you'll work."  Intellectually I know that even going on a vacation won't undermine my career or bring the flow of auditions/jobs to a screeching halt.  I know that we all need to refill our creative wells.  But it's a challenge for me to let go of the need to keep moving forward. 

I'll ignore approaching deadlines, a growing to do list (including contest entries to judge, lines/songs to learn for a musical revue performance, manuscript revisions and publicity/promotion preparation for my soon to be released co-authored non-fiction project) and enjoy the fun events I've planned. 

How do you choose to celebrate your birthday?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Is it time for a raise?

Asking for a raise can be a daunting process whether you’re Gainfully Employed or Gainfully Unemployed. We all need to get up the nerve, choose the right time and the right words in order to achieve the desired outcome.

Some questions to consider:
--How much of an increase is appropriate to ensure we’re earning what we’re worth but not pricing ourselves out of the market?

--Do we raise our rates across the board, for certain clients, or only new clients (in which case we can tell our current clients they’re grandfathered in and so now receiving a discount)?

--What factors do we take into long we’ve worked for the client, the state of the economy, what we know about the market, what other feelancers make?

--What evidence should we prepare...client testimonials/accolades, proof of accurate and timely project delivery, any added value we provide?

--How do we make sure we come across as confident, but not off-putting?

--Do you want to make and follow through with some sort of ultimatum if your raise request is denied?

--Is there anything you’re willing to accept in lieu of money?

How to ask for a raise:
Your Office Coach®

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Despite today’s sophisticated technology, weathermen can’t always accurately predict the forecast. With many factors coming into play, Mother Nature is often unpredictable.

So far, today’s Chicago snowstorm is on track with posted weather advisories. But will the bulk of the snow really fall during the afternoon rush hour, and at the rate of one inch per hour? Will winds gust up to 35mph and the wind chill plummet to zero? Time will tell.

There are no models or programs or a Farmer’s Almanac to help us predict the future of our day to day lives. Freelancers rarely know when the phone will ring, or if a scheduled project will show up on time. We can’t be sure that just because last January was busy, this one will be, too. We can run through “what if” scenarios, but we can’t know which, if any, will come to pass. Which makes putting things on the calendar and setting schedules very challenging, especially for a planner like me.

No one can be sure any new venture will work out, whether it’s a new position or getting married. We evaluate decisions based on the information we have.

Often I’ll audition for something that records on, say, the 17th or 18th. Sometimes the shoot date is TBA. Or I’m asked to give my availability for the entire week. As I audition for a couple or even several projects that may shoot or record on the same day or days, I can’t know if I’ll book one or more, or what dates. I might get put on first refusal (meaning if I book another job I have to let the first one know before accepting it) or on ice/on hold (meaning I need to keep that day open), and then not know when I’ll know if I did or didn’t get the job.

At times I still think about what might happen, for example if I book a job that isn’t as good when I might also book another at the same time. Or if I don’t get anything after many auditions in a row.  Usually I can go with the flow, knowing as things change I can make adjustments to others. If I book a job for a day I’d told someone I was available, I can call and say now I’m not. But then that person has to contact whomever he/she gave my availability to, and perhaps that person has to contact others....

As I watch the snow stream past the window, falling harder and heavier, accumlating in the streets below, I'm glad that I don't have to be out in the storm.  Another day, I might.  And the weather might be better or worse than expected.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Internet Temptation

Remember the Lay's potato chip slogan, "Betcha can't eat just one?"  They presume that once you taste the salty goodness, feel the crunch, a single chip won't satisfy, and you'll be tempted to keep popping chips into your mouth...and probably more than a single serving's worth.

Nowadays we face a huge temptation during the workday: the Internet.  From Facebook to Twitter to online shopping to reading articles/blogs, watching videos/movies/TV shows and playing games, many of us could entertain or educate ourselves for hours.  Throw in emails and texting, and you could fritter your whole day away.  You could spend more money than you planned because of the ease of one-click purchasing or buy things you don't really need because the sale price is so low.

Often we say, "I"ll just check Facebook."  Or, "I'll just read the latest about [current issue].  We make one comment or click on one link, then we might need to comment on the comment or click another link.  Soon we're so engrossed that we might not notice how much time has gone by. 
Some sources say that too much time on the Internet can negatively impact our brains.  There's a lot of interest in whether it's actually an addiction or disorder. How do we resist the temptation of all things online?  Or at least stick to a certain amount of time and not let it interfere with productivity?

Some of us might succeed with the work before play approach, and reward themselves with online time at the end of the day.  Some might allocate a certain amount of time, say during a break or lunch, and use a timer.  Others might not be able to rely on their self-control, and could benefit from an accountability partner or utilize an app such as keepmeout and SelfControl, which block you from accessing sites you choose at certain times.

Other ideas:

How to spend less time online
Spend less time on Twitter and Facebook
How to spend less time on e-mail