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Work and Schedules

I work somewhere around 5 or 6 different jobs.  I am a tarot reader for half of my jobs and I am a freelance writer for the other half of my jobs.  I have the luxury of being able to work from home more often than not, and this is something I really enjoy.  I have never been able to get the hang of office politics.  It never makes sense to me that we are all supposed to be mad at someone calling in sick – really, morons?  You think it is better for a sick person to come into work and snot all over us instead?  Is answer the phone a couple more times throughout the day, or doing a bit more work really worth being sick?

I never got the hang of who was on the outside that particular week or why.  I always thought it was petty.  Oh, Joanie got ten cents more than you an hour because she’s been here fifteen years longer?  So, we’re mad?  Ok, crazy.  Wait, you have to actually do your job while someone else has a vacation day?  You poor thing. 

I just never really understood the pettiness of many of my office and retail jobs.  When you spend all of your time at work worried about how much you are doing in comparison to someone else, yeah, you are going to spend the day in a state of pissed off pettiness.  However, even after I learned to keep my head down and my mouth shut I found out that NOT being petty can make people dislike you, too.

Therefore, working from home works best for me.  My bosses email me assignments, I complete them, I send the back, and they send me money – on the freelance writing side of things.  For the tarot side of things, I have festivals I attend in person, in person clients, and then the psychic phone line job.  The phone job is my real bread and butter as I get paid weekly for it, however, I only get paid when someone actually calls in to talk to me.  Sometimes you have to be signed into the the site for hours before this happens.  This works because I can get research and writing done while I am waiting, so it is really a good combination, writing and the phone line.  I also can pretty much make my own schedule and it is flexible as long as I get my hours in.

That said, there are times where you get more calls than others.  If I am signed in for 5 hours on a Saturday, I can make as much money as if I am signed in for 20 hours during the week.  Every time I make plans on a Saturday, I have to work tons more hours during the week just break even, and even then, I usually don’t.

People often tell me how nice it must be to have a flexible schedule, and yes, it is, but it is costly.  A flexible schedule gives me more freedom, but often that freedom comes with a lower paycheck for that week.  It is often worth it for me to spend time with people outside of my house.  While I do not have the pettiness of co-workers and the weirdness of office politics that I simply cannot get the hang of, I also have no one but cats, clients, and interview contacts to talk to.  So I can have weeks where I feel like the book I am reading is my friend, or that the cats truly understand what I am saying because they respond in trills and mers that sound like they are having a conversation with me.

This past year, I stopped going out of my way to change my schedule around to accommodate people.  I used to bend over backwards simply to hang out with friends, and with a couple of exceptions, I have stopped doing that.  I would work 20 extra hours during the week to make the plans I had on Saturday, only to have those plans canceled.  While I could then work that Saturday and make extra money, the exhaustion from working so much extra during the week for someone who just canceled anyway irked me.  It would happen again and then it would piss me off.  Then when the same people who canceled plans couldn’t be budged for seemingly silly reasons to accommodate my schedule needs, I would be pretty much done bothering to make plans that did not fit in with my schedule without effort on my part.

Will says this confuses people.  I would go from being completely available anytime someone needed it – although it was hugely inconvenient for me – to not being around at all.  Will says I go from being totally over accommodating to dropping off the face of the planet and people never know why. 

What I’ve started to do instead is simply tell people that I have to work.  I can see that people don’t really believe this is viable – you work from home, you make your own schedule, you can do stuff if you want.  Not really.  I can do whatever I want, if I don’t intend on making enough money to live on.  However, a person doesn’t work 5-6 jobs if they don’t want to make enough money to live on.  Unless they are just stupid or bored or have some serious ADD issues.

In person tarot clients are always first priority and I will move heaven and earth in my schedule to accommodate them – usually I can’t only if I am out of town or have other tarot clients booked for that time. 

Interviews get second place in the my time priority and those times depends solely on when the interview subject has time.  You cannot write without material to write about and interviews provide that material for most of my writing.  Even though the writing I do is almost entirely promotional – meaning the people I interview benefit directly from what I write – getting people to talk to me is almost always a challenge.  Scheduling interviews is a big deal and if you have someone who will talk to you at a certain time prior to your deadline (so many people will call me weeks after my deadline, confused that they are no longer getting interviewed) you make that time and you talk to them.  This one is particularly frustrating because there are a large number of people who really seem to only have time during my yoga classes, but so be it.

Third priority is the phone gig – I can flex this schedule but clients call in when they think you will be there.  If I am normally in every Saturday, people get upset if you are not there for them to talk to on a Saturday if you are doing something else.  When they get mad, you then don’t hear from them for a couple of months, and that is money down the drain.  If people cannot find you, if you are not reliably available for when they need you, they simply call someone else.  Repeat customers are the life blood of this part of my work, so reliability has to be a big part of it, too.

The last thing I will say about working freelance is that you do not have days off.  I get work primarily from email and secondarily through phone calls.  I can get emails for work at midnight on Friday, and many of them are time sensitive.  I don’t check my email compulsively because I love spam, but because I try to be the first to respond to an offer for work.  I want to be the go-to person when they need someone to do something quickly, as one of the talents I was blessed with was the ability to write quickly, so I excel at the fast turn around times when I have the actual time available to do those types of projects.

I am not writing all of this out to say, “Poor me.  I get to work at home in my pajamas all day and my schedule is flexible and I write for a living.”  I am writing this out because I think people feel like I am blowing them off when I say I have to work.  “Really?  Don’t you get to make your own schedule?”  Yes, but the more I work the more money I make.  If by Friday I have only made enough to fill the car with gas and not enough to pay the phone bill or the power bill or both, then I have to work more.

I wouldn’t trade my jobs for anything.  They have their hassles, and I have my complaints, but I love what I do.  I love seeing my name in print and knowing that I can say I have been a professional writer for over a decade.  I also love being able to read tarot for people and help them through trying times in their lives.  I REALLY love not having to spend tons of money on a wardrobe for work because I CAN and I DO work in pajamas or workout clothes.  I am very lucky in being able to work in areas I love, but the trade off is not really having free time.  Anytime I am not working cost me some money, and depending on the day it may be costing me a lot.

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