It's the most wonderful time of the year

The jingly tunes are playing. The shoppers have a slightly panicked look ast they scurry. And the complaints of overpricing and overcrowding at the Edinburgh Christmas market get louder.

Yep, Christmas is here.

It’s an interesting time for a freelancer. For a start, you are faced with the “No Christmas party for you though, eh?” jokes. My attempts to explain that I do celebrate the holidays with other freelancers (and more often than not have more fun) are largely ignored. I’m merely spoiling a punchline it seems.

There’s the bonus of being able to do your Christmas shopping at the slightly quieter times too. No more trudging up town for late night shopping or on a Saturday. Blank out a morning early in December, and you’re done.

Work continues in December, but at times barely. As 1st December approaches, you can feel the batteries of work being to run low in everyone, and the excitement rise for parties, well-earned time off, and having an excuse to enjoy that extra beer or too and eat too much chocolate.

Christmas Decoration on tree

Christmas Decoration on tree

Social media never sleeps of course, so December doesn’t mean putting my feet up entirely. But new projects are pitched before November ends. Miss that deadline and you are into the middle of January before you can realistically go again.

What that allows you though, is the chance to catch up on all the things that you can’t get done the rest of the time. From paperwork to tax returns, office tidying to email inbox cleaning, December is a month to give your admin a Christmas clean, ready for a new year.

It’s a heartening time too, particularly when monitoring social media. Don’t get me started on the need for foodbanks in the UK in 2018, but the way people rally around to provide support and help to those who are hungry, homeless, in need of additional help or even just some company, is frankly, wonderful. Social media has the habit of making you question people at times, but at this time of year it can also be a great mobiliser, and celebrate humanity and good will.

Whatever your plans, have a great time over the Festive period, and look forward to speaking to you in 2019!

Merry Christmas!

The Benefits and Challenges of Working At Home

One of the things that I want to explore in this blog is what it means to be a freelancer these days. It’s something that I find fascinating, exciting and challenging, and it is different for everyone. Which is why it is so fun to explore.

This last week has been the perfect example. Last Monday saw the start of a new kitchen getting installed in our flat. The one we’ve had was here when I moved in 12 years ago, was looking tired, and with a baby on the way, we wanted to make sure it worked well for us, and was as safe as it could be.

It threw up a few logistics. Apart from the lack of somewhere to cook, we also had to make sure that the kitchen fitters were going to have access to the flat. With me working from home, no problem, right? We’ll give one set of keys to the kitchen fitters, and I’ll be around as a back up.

And I have to say, for the most part it worked. But it definitely had an impact on my work.

At times they needed to ask questions, interrupting what I was doing. Sometimes the electricity needed to be switched off, meaning I had to turn my computer off, work offline on my laptop, or use my phone as a hotspot.

Then there was the time I took to make sure they were topped up with cups of caffeine, so they were spurred on to finish it all!

And lastly there was just the general noise. Drilling. Hammering. The music on their radio as they worked in the kitchen. None of it was particularly loud or out of order. But even with my headphones on, it distracted me from what I was trying to do.

I often escape to coffee shops to work, and while I tried that this time, I still often found it hard to get back into a working rhythm after all the stop start.

As I look at our new kitchen, it’s been completely worth it. But I do feel my work has suffered.

Working from home can make life a lot easier. But with it comes a set of new challenges. Even after five years, I’m still learning to navigate them.

Time to get back on track this week. First step, stick the kettle on.

At Last...

Don’t worry, I’m not going to break into Ella Fitzgerald (although I do love that song).

The ‘at last’ instead refers to the new version of this site. It’s the first change since I simplified things down to just two pages in 2014. And it’s been a loooooong time in the planning. It’s been started a few times, but never finished or I’ve changed my mind about the design.

It’s funny what you focus on when you are a freelancer. The value of having my own site to share what I do isn’t lost on me. It’s something that has short and long term benefits. But it’s amazing how it slips down the To Do list when pieces of work that pay you get in the way.

My plan is that this is just the start. As well as updating this blog, I plan to develop the content on the site more, adding and updating as things go on. Having recently celebrated Stay Bright’s fifth birthday, it’s the first step in trying to be even more creative!