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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Why I Want to Quit My Day Job

Well, being a crafter, it should be pretty obvious why I need to quit my day job. But it's complicated.  You see, I have worked as a medical transcriptionist since 1985. My first job in this field was in a psychiatric hospital, which was very interesting. After that I moved on to a medical clinic, a hospital, and then back to another psych hospital. After several years of working at this type of work, life threw our family quite a curveball when my oldest son was very seriously injured in an auto accident. I spent the next couple of years caring for him. When I did return to work it was in the field of veterinary medicine, which I absolutely loved, because I am a huge animal lover. But eventually the low pay forced me back into the hospital setting.  I actually loved working in the hospital because of my coworkers, we had great comaraderie and it was so much fun. 

However, about 10 years ago the field of medical transcription started to change drastically. That's when the Internet and new technologies started to alter the very nature of our jobs.  At first it was great because almost everyone started working from home instead of in an office.  You couldn't beat the commute, and the chance to work at home in PJ's if you liked was quite a welcome change at first.  Most people say, "you are so lucky, you get to work at home!"  But the downside of that is that it can be very lonely and isolating. And if you are not a very disciplined person, you are not going to get much work done because of all the distractions.

Anyhow, I settled into the routine of working at home, and most of the time it was pretty good. But all that changed starting about three years ago with the increasing use of something demonic called "voice recognition." Gradually over these past few years the job has changed dramatically, from typing to editing. Almost everyone I have spoken to who has done this type of work for awhile feels the same as I do.  We got into this work because we love to type and learn new things. But now that has all been taken away and we must sit and tediously "edit" all of these reports that come through. So most of my shift is spent with my left hand on the Ctrl key and the right on the arrow keys, editing one mess after another, which is so tedious and bores me to tears (literally). Voice recognition isn't at all what it is cracked up to be. It is supposed to save lots of time and improve something called "turn-around time" which is crucical in this business.  Not only that, but because we have been busted down to editors, or the current job title, "medical language specialist" (MLS), they think we should be saving them lots of time, and hence our pay has been reduced by at least 50% in most cases.

MLS usually get paid by the line, and our line rate has basically been slashed in half, because they think we should be working faster and more efficiently.  I would like to throttle the lamebrain who thought that was a good idea!  So in the past 3 years my income has dropped over 60% because of all these "wonderful" technological advances. Not to mention that it is torture on a body to sit in one position hour after hour doing the same tasks repeatedly.  I do try to take frequent breaks, but sometimes you get so engrossed you forget. That is why I now have severe carpal tunnel, herniated disks in my neck, and nerve damage (another good reason to quit).

At least with crafting I tend to vary my work more and remember to take frequent stretching breaks, etc.  So maybe I am rather desperate at this point, but my dream is to stop being an MLS altogether and become a full-time craftsperson.  I am determined to make it happen, even though at times it gets discouraging.  Sales are slow right now at CJ's Baubles but I have a feeling that if we can make it through the summer months, things will start picking up in the fall.

Today I took a break from crafting too, though, because I am making myself crazy trying to figure out ways to promote my shop, blog, etc.  I actually mowed the lawn and planted some flowers and tomato plants instead.
Until next time, happy crafting!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Question of Time

I remember when I was a kid time moved so slowly. There was all the time in the world to lie down on my back in the fresh-mown grass and look up at the clouds, imaging I could see animals and mystical creatures of all kinds. Look, there is an elephant, and then it would morph into a horse or a dog. Or there would be time to pick dandelions and form them into a chain, which I would try to make my little sister wear in her hair until she would go off to her own pursuits. Maybe those were the times when I first started to form my fondness for creating things. Did you have times like that too when you were little? I hope you did!

"If I could save time in a bottle," Jim Croce sang. Now I realize how true those lyrics are. There are so many song lyrics that make me nostalgic now for all the time that has flown by, like the song by Kenny Chesney, "Don't Blink," where he says, "100 years go by faster than you think."

You are probably wondering, how does this apply to my craft business, or whatever you are pursuing in your own life? Well, I find that since I have started to earnestly try to make my craft buinesses CJ's Baubles successful, there simply aren't enough hours in the day. From the process of creating my beads, jewelry, purses and other items that I have for sale to photography and editing the images, then adding the listings themselves, not to mention tweeting, facebooking, marketing, etc., I am working from morning until night. Despite all of these efforts, I haven't come close to being able to quit my day job, which is medical transcription. Don't get me wrong, I love the entire creative process and just hope and pray that someday all of this effort will pay off. But I wish I could clone myself about 4 times over, or add more hours to the day, or best of all, open up one of those "Bottles of Time."

So I am wondering, what do you do to manage your time/business more effectively? I am sure that starting and operating an online craft business will always be a work in progress. But I am determined to keep trying until I get it right!

So now I am going to go take my dogs for a stroll and maybe stop and study the clouds, pick some dandelions and hope to get those creative juices flowing.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Managing My Time

My husband and I live in a pretty standard suburban neighborhood where most of the homes were built 20 to 25 years ago.  There is a mix of couples our age, where the kids are all grown as well as families with kids still at home.  We have met most of our surrounding neighbors, and everyone seems to be in their own little world where they are busy with work and family and have little time outside of that. So while we may know each others' names, there has never been much socializing or getting acquainted beyond a superficial level.  That is with the exception of one man a few houses away from us who is known to everyone because he is the all around general handyman/remodeling guy/electrician for everyone, or at least he tries to be.  I will call him Bob (not his real name).

Once we saw his advertisement in the community newsletter my husband called him over to do some minor electrical work for us. A few minutes after he was called he showed up at our door and after he learned what we wanted done, he proceeded to explain to us how he was going to do the job, in great and painstaking detail. After repeatedly going over everything, he finally left about 4 hours later to get his tools and do the work. There was something about the guy that rubbed me the wrong way right off the bat.  But then I rationalized that I have never liked someone who could not shut up and yammered on and repeated himself over and over.

Anyway, Bob and dear hubby hit it off and before I knew it he was hiring the guy to do a huge remodeling job for us of adding a bathroom in our basement.  Not only that, but hubby gave him a key to our home so Bob could come and go at will...without consulting me first!  The original agreement was that he would complete the job in one month.  So every day he would show up sometime between eight a.m. and noon, using his key to let himself in.  He would be in the basement working, but would come upstairs frequently to explain to me again, in interminable detail, every step he was going to do. Because I work at home, I did not appreciate these frequent interruptions, to say the least!  And he also had the annoying habit of coming upstairs right at mealtime and if hubby was home, he would always invite to join us.  That was difficult if I didn't have time to plan ahead. Most of the time he would not leave until at least eight or 10 p.m.  But at least he didn't charge us by the hour!

But to make a long story short, Bob had told us the job would be done in a month, which would have been right before Thanksgiving when it was completed.  So guess what?  Thanksgiving came and went and the job was a long way from done. The next thing he said was that it would be done by Christmas, but Christmas came and went and he was maybe halfway through.  By that time I was getting pretty weary of the constant disruption to my days.  He did finally complete the job by mid February.

What is my point to all this and how does it apply to my craft business?  Well, in spite of all the annoyance and aggravation, the finished product was quite gorgeous.  We now have a beautiful extra bathroom to show for it.  So while I can barely tolerate Bob, what I learned from him was that taking your time and not getting in a rush, in fact maybe even being a bit of a perfectionist, can be a good thing. I now realize that sometimes I tend to get in a hurry to see the finished product, but if I slow down and think through each step, my finished product will have a much better result.

My husband and Bob have become good friends, and that's okay, as long as he doesn't do any more work inside our house!  But I do appreciate the lesson he has taught me to slow down and be more meticulous in my work.

Here are some of my newest beads which I have been working on.  The process for making these is a little more time consuming, but well worth the effort.  I love the fuzzy, multicolored look of them and think they are rather unique.  What projects have you been working on lately?