Ditch the Suit, Telecommute
By Jessi StaffordPosted Dec 7, 2011
As a college student in the Midwest, I had always imagined my post-degree life as some sort of cross between Sex and the City and The Office. My first couple of jobs after school were indeed in office settings; however, my tastes evolved to prefer web-based start-ups and creative firms over rigid, traditional workplace environments.
Then, after moving to Louisiana, I met The Telecommute. A corner office and direct phone line fell dim to the glow of collaborations and online brainstorming. Having bum luck finding a nine-to-five that appealed to me, I began to source careers of the work-from-home variety. I even attached my name to the title, Freelancer. Business cards could look just how I wanted them, my time was my own, and hell, pants became optional, giving casual Friday a run for its money. But, there is one trap those belonging to the “freelance” crowd fall prey to: distractions. Here is a relatively accurate projection of an, ahem, anonymous telecommuter’s day:
6:30 a.m. Alarm goes off. Immediately hit snooze. Wonder why I set the alarm to play Shania Twain and roll over. Ten minutes later... Alarm goes off again. This pattern repeats for roughly an hour.
8:00 a.m. Open computer. Login to Gmail. Turn on speakers. See “online” notifications on gchat for friends with regular jobs. Set status to “Busy” so they think you’re working on a big project. Open tabs for Facebook, Twitter and Google Reader while you shake off a hangover.
8:30 a.m. Contemplate going back to bed. Leave your computer’s sound on so you can hear incoming gchat notifications from your bosses, if necessary. Fall back asleep.
9:00 a.m. Wake up and finally hop in the shower. Think about getting dressed, but opt for sweatpants and a trench coat instead. Wonder if working from home gives nudists a viable chance at competing in the workforce. Make coffee.
9:15 a.m. Google “nudists in advertising.” Spend a half hour looking up “relevant” blog posts for your hypothetical article about the benefits of writing in the nude. Get more coffee.
9:45 a.m. Switch from doing work in bed to doing work on the couch. Add items to Google Tasks. Make some major headway in returning all those emails you received at 5:00 p.m. the previous night. Make some social media posts from Hootsuite, or whatever software you use to promote your clients’ pages. Think it’s amazing how much people will pay someone else to update their Facebook pages. Pat yourself on the back. Reward yourself for being part of a lucky few with a Netflix break. Keep Gmail open.
10:30 a.m. Think about billing time to Breaking Bad. Realize you have to conduct an interview at 11:00 a.m. Quickly review your questions. Get pen, paper and tape recorder ready. Then, make a Facebook post about your impending interview. Open and close the page 5 more times before getting more coffee.
10:45 a.m. As you wait for your phone call, find yourself randomly clicking around on the Internet. Bookmark everything to your Read Later folder. Wait in silence, drawing doodles all over your notepad.
11:30 a.m. After the interview is over, save the audio notes on your Desktop. Don’t transcribe yet. Start thinking about lunch.
1:00 p.m. After a lengthy existential crisis about lunch options and some more “research,” decide to get to work on The Project. Headphones in, music on.
1:30 p.m. Heartbeats by The Knife comes on your Spotify. Login to Facebook to see if anyone commented on this fact. Think, “I used to love this song.” Post it to your friend from college’s wall and say, “Remember when I used to love this song?” Realize she works in an office where Facebook is banned. Visit The Knife’s Wikipedia page. Notice Wikipedia is requesting donations. Consider making one. Look up other bands who have covered the same song. Post their videos to your blog.
2:00 p.m. Resume working on The Project.
2:03 p.m. Look up Youtube tutorial for photoshop effects. See related video for recreating Lady Gaga’s eye-makeup. Push play.
3:00 p.m. Several videos later, hear the mail lady on your front porch. Go to greet her. Get excited when you see a package has arrived for you. Bring it inside and open it. You see it’s from the company you ordered from, but instead of new iPod earbuds, they’ve sent you a manual on jailbreaking a smartphone. Call the company. After hanging up, open up your Gmail to confirm the tracking number for the new package. See your friend is messaging you in gchat. Respond. When asked how work is going, type “Oh, haha you know, freelancing is so busy!”
3:45 p.m. Get back to The Project. Email your employers that you’ll have it in by this evening at an unspecified time.
4:00 p.m. Make a new pot of coffee. Intend to stay put until The Project is finished.
4:30 p.m. Take a break to read articles from your Read Later folder. Post the interesting ones on Facebook and Twitter.
5:00 p.m. Clean up your computer desktop. Empty your Gmail Spam folder. Label any unread messages with a star. Take one last stab at The Project. Move any incomplete Google Tasks to the next day.
5:45 p.m. Schedule social media posts for the next twelve hours. Send The Project off with a note explaining it’s just a draft and you’ll revise in the morning.
6:00 p.m. See incoming emails. Don’t respond. Close Gmail. Head to happy hour. Basically what I’m saying is, the life of a freelancer is hard in the modern age Google and its accoutrements. Be aware of distractions.