What I did in January

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Just to alert my readers that I’ve posted my What I Did In January update on my Libroediting blog, for a more work-orientated view of things …

My first week of full-time self-employment

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Liz in the office

Well, it’s late on Sunday of my first week of self-employment: I had my leaving do on Monday and it’s been go, go, go ever since!  Before last weekend, I just had one transcription booked in for this week, coming in on Thursday. “Fine,” I thought, “I can get my Christmas cards and the cleaning done, and have a bit of a rest”. Well, it wasn’t quite to be like that.

I had an enquiry about a job while I was actually at my leaving do. Thank goodness for the BlackBerry and the fact that I’m almost teetotal these days! I sent a holding message with details of my availability and pricing, and negotiated that job, copy-editing/proof-reading part of a professional rulebook (I was both checking the spelling, etc., and comparing it to last year’s book to make sure no differences had crept in), the next morning: I got it in right away with a deadline of Thursday morning (which moved forward eventually).

I had an edition of the club magazine I’ve been editing for nearly 2 years in on the Monday night, too, plus some pieces from a student proof-reading company I work with and a feature to write from a regular. So that all got done on Tuesday. On Wednesday I finished the big project and did a little bit for a new client. I managed a trip to the gym and I had a Christmas meal with my friends from BookCrossing. I don’t know if I’ll be doing much more BookCrossing this year, but I do want (badly) to spend more time with my friends. On Thursday, having still not written my Christmas cards or done the cleaning, I did more student work, polished a translation from the Polish, did an hour or so of copy-editing for another regular, and popped into town to have a meeting with a potential new client about writing a set of blog posts for them. When I got home, I wrote out my Christmas cards and went for a chilly run.

On Friday, I emailed confirmation of our meeting to the potential new client, looked at a chapter of a PhD for a client whose other chapters I worked on last week, did some more student work, and posted my Christmas cards, AND did the cleaning! Hooray! On Saturday we had a family lunch and then a party at M’s bosses’ house to go to: I transcribed for one of my regular transcription clients and did some student work in the morning before I went out. I got home to a message from the new client that they would like to accept my price and service offer and asking for my invoice for their deposit. And today I finished that transcription and did a bit more copy-editing, around going to the gym and watching the Strictly Come Dancing final on catch-up this morning and visiting a friend in the evening, with a crisp and icy walk home.  I also emailed my regulars to tell them about a commitment I have early next year which may affect response times for a little while.

I have two transcriptions to do for my journalist client and a web page to copy-edit for next week, plus doing final edits and some reference checking on a non-fiction book I’ve been working on for a while. I have a novel and a PhD due in, too.  I have promised to have Christmas Day off!

I wrote out a list of New Job Resolutions, mainly around going outside in the daylight and having proper lunches, and I can report that I have achieved both those things all week. I’ve kept warm, chilly looking picture above notwithstanding!

I’ve done 29 hours 15 mins of billable work this week, beating my targets, and I’ve brought in almost my target for the month in incoming payments, so I’m really pleased about that. I know every week won’t be this good, but it’s been a good one to have to help with the transition into full-time Libro.

However, although in my head I understand I am now with Libro, I have to support myself, etc., etc., I’ve realised that I haven’t really come to terms with it yet. It sort of feels like I’m on annual leave from the library job and will be going back there afterwards, and I suspect it might only hit me after the New Year. Hm; we’ll see how that goes!

A typical week (before)

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I thought it might be useful to write down what happens in a typical work week, just before going full-time with Libro. The work level does usually build to a peak just before I drop some Library hours, and then has a terrifying slump directly afterwards. Anyway, this is what I have done this week:

Monday 28 November – I posted a blog post in my Ron’s Rants series first thing – handily, I’d managed to write up a few posts in advance so could just publish them as I went this week. I worked 7.45-3.50 at the Library. Rushed out of the house as soon as I got back with some post as I needed to wait in for a parcel for M on Tuesday. Came home and did 2 hours’ transcribing and some other bits and bobs. Watched Made in Chelsea for light relief.

Tuesday 29 November – a Libro Day. Did another hour of transcribing; spent 2 hours editing a dissertation in pdf format (annotating it with special software but, even though the English was good, it took me longer than if it had been in Word); spent over 3 hours editing a paper for a journal (including ensuring the bibliography was as the journal requires: this was actually the most time-consuming part); did some bits for a translator I work for. I also did some admin – writing and responding to emails, requests for quotations, etc. I had a proper lunch (hooray) but didn’t get out of the house until after dark, when I met M (my Other Half) in Sainsburys to get some bits and bobs. I try to get out of the house during daylight, but this wasn’t possible today!

Wednesday 30 November – another Libro Day. Published a blog post about emotions in business that I’d been inspired to write last week. Finished off the transcription I was doing in 1 hour 45 mins including spell-checking (a two-person Webinar for a lovely client – the topic is interesting to me, which does help, although I will transcribe just about anything!). I edited another article for yesterday’s client, but a shorter one this time that only took a couple of hours and did a localisation into British English for another regular – this time a website for an international company. In addition to all this I found time to do an hour or so of cleaning (we reimburse me the amount we used to pay our cleaners from the household money to do the heavy cleaning: mopping, hoovering stairs, etc.), cook a batch of meals so I have a quicker dinner time in the week, and go for a 35 minute run (in the daylight!). Before dinner, I got most of my monthly invoicing done – most of my regular clients are sent one invoice a month for all the work I have done for them during that month. What I didn’t do was go to the Birmingham Entrepreneurs Meetup, a monthly event in town that I do enjoy. But I just didn’t have the time and had to send my apologies.

Thursday 1 December – a Library day so worked 7.45-3.50 again. I wrote my first post for this blog at lunch time after deciding to launch it during the morning! Came home and recorded the payments that had already come in from yesterday’s invoicing (I like the beginning of the month). I went through the document one of my coaching clients had sent me for half an hour (I am helping them to get down to writing up their thesis) and replied to a request for a quotation. Then I stopped for the evening and went for a run with M before dinner. After dinner, some frantic BookCrossing admin (a hobby I used to spend a lot of time on!) then some relaxation time, watching a bit of telly.

Friday 2 December – woke up early and sorted out some more books, then lugged them into the Library to stock the BookCrossing Zone I set up here. A colleague took over running the Zone a few months ago, but I like to keep it filled up when I can. I published a prepared Troublesome Pair blog post on the Libro blog. A normal day at the Library, worked till 3.50 then home for some Libro bits and pieces … I logged in to an admin site to upload a business feature onto a client’s local business pages (he’d called me on the Libro mobile to ask me to do it this morning but I’d left the phone at home – this is one of the stressful things about my double life) and finished off negotiations on a piece of work for the weekend, polishing some translated English. I took delivery of some boxes of business directories for my local Business Association – I joined a few months ago, will be on the Committee from January, and M has kindly offered to help me put them through letterboxes tomorrow (my friend at work suggested that this might be so he could actually spend some time with me: I fear she’s right!). Off to the gym to get some exercise in and see a friend who goes on a Friday evening and then relaxed for the rest of the evening. This is actually proving to be quite a light week, but you can see I’m still doing something for Libro every day …

Saturday 3 December – I did a bit of housekeeping before breakfast, putting together, publishing and publicising my weekly “Freelancer/Small Business Chat” feature on a small business – this time Purple Dog Network. Then I had a bit of a read in bed – a rare luxury – before we got ourselves together for the day and spent 2 hours delivering the local Business Association directory to 480 addresses on our road and surrounding side streets. Harder work than I thought – lots of exercise opening gates, running up paths and pushing the book through all sorts of letterboxes! After a late lunch, bought at the Farmers’ Market, I put in a couple of hours working on a translation from an Eastern European language into English – my job was to polish it to make it look like it was written by a native British English speaker. I then spent 30 minutes or so working on a few blog posts for two friends who I help out for free (in one case in return for a look over my accounts every now and then). I recorded another payment from a regular client in my spreadsheet, noting that I’d hit the first of my range of 4 income targets for the month (this one was “replace the money from the 2 days I didn’t work at the library”) and then I was free for dinner, a bit of BookCrossing admin, etc.

Sunday 4 December – a billable-hours free day, I managed to work in my usual Sunday pastimes of a run in the morning, and a visit to the local cafe with a friend in the afternoon. I almost always get the run in; sometimes Libro stops me going to the cafe, mainly because I know I’ll be at the day job on Monday. I put in a couple of hours writing blog posts in the afternoon; I like to get ahead of myself, but I didn’t have one written for Monday and I needed to put together a guest post I’m publishing in the week. I also wrote my newsletter as I’ve realised the next edition is due this week. I also, excitingly, wrote an abstract to submit to the Iris Murdoch Society to see if they’ll invite me to contribute a presentation to the IM Conference in September 2012. Something I really need to do once I’m full-time with Libro is give some time to my research project (this is what it’s all about) and I hadn’t really found time to get this done!

Summary – so, actually this wasn’t a hugely, horribly, frantically busy Libro week like some have been. I did 14 hours of billable Libro work (covering my billable work target) but of course also I did a significant number of hours on admin, including monthly invoicing and the writing today. So it’s more like 18 or so hours if you add those in. Plus the 21 hours at the library. Plus two hours delivering those directories … In the weeks previous to this one I’ve done 23, 20, 16 and 18 hours on Libro, which makes it a lot more difficult. But there you have it – a week in the life “before” …