My Golden Rules for Working From Home

I’ve now been self employed and working from home for over a month now, and while I’m absolutely living the dream, its also somewhat of a shock to the system.

I knew that I’d find it strange going from always working ‘somewhere’, but the excitement of finally being able to do my own thing full time sorta overshadowed that. Its taken some getting used to, but I’ve finally set myself some guidelines, as it were, to not only help me stay on track with my work, but also to make sure I’m keeping work-life and home-life separate.

Wherever possible, stick to set working hours

The great thing about working from home for most people is the ability to set your own working hours, and fit work around other commitments such as school runs, appointments etc. As I personally don’t really have any of those fixed commitments, I generally keep myself to a normal 9-5 type of day, but I also have the flexibility to start later, finish later, split my day up, work a longer day or whatever I need to do.

I also try, again, as much as possible, to keep my weekends as work free as possible, although if I’m super busy I have the option to work through the weekend as well.

Keep work away from play

I have my own office to work in at home, which means that at least 90% of what I do is kept separate from my home life. Sure, occasionally I’ll sneak out and sit on the sofa to work while watching some tv, but for the most part I keep in my little bubble.

Of course, not everyone has a home-office, but even if you can work in a set place, like at a desk or even just a table, it will help keep the balance.

Try and get out sometimes

When you work from home, sure you get to skip the commute, but it can mean that you have very few reasons to get out of the house. As my work essentially relies on me being at my sewing machine for the majority of my day, I don’t really have many work related reasons to get out apart from going to the post office at the end of my road, so I’m trying to find more ways to get out and about as part of my job, such as getting stalls at craft fairs and markets.

If your work is more computer based, then you can go and work from a cafe from time to time – I even know of some places who have specific ‘events’ for people who work from home to come in for and work but also have the ability to socialise with others which is pretty cool!

Switch off at the end of the day

At my old job, when I left the office at the end of the day I could completely tune out work for the rest of the evening because once I was logged off, there was nothing else I could do. Now, however, I get that little feeling in the evenings that I could go back and do one more thing, or finish up something else, and the temptation to get back into my office can be quite strong, but I have to fight it if I’m gonna keep that first rule of mine!

Honestly, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been working from home and for myself, and while my office looks nowhere near as tidy as it does in these photos anymore, its such a joy and I’m so glad that I was able to have this opportunity! Want to check out what I do? Head over to my Etsy store!

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1000 Blog Posts Later

This is it, blog post #1000.

In reality, this blog post is no different to any other post I’ve written, but it does mark an incredible milestone in my blogging life. Honestly, there are not many things in my life that I have stuck with for this long.

This year has probably been the hardest year for me in terms of blogging. In previous years I have always maintained at least 5-6 blog posts a week, which I know is a pretty impressive achievement considering I’ve always done this along side working full time, but this year there has just been so many other distractions and changes in my life which have got in the way.

D’you know what? That’s ok. The things that have distracted me from blogging this year have been mainly wonderful. So much time has gone into buying and moving into our house, but as the the biggest adventure of my life to date, of course it was going to take priority over blogging, and the great thing about it is that I now have a whole load of new content ideas because of it.

A huge portion of my spare time this year has also gone into my Etsy store. At the start of the year, I set myself a little target of what I wanted to make from my store each month, and when in January I surpassed it within the first week, I knew that something good was happening, and things just got better and better. Well, long story short, now we’ve moved, my Etsy store is now my full time job, along with my other small businesses. In my wildest dreams I did not think I’d be doing this back at the start of the year, but we’re only just a week into August and I’ve already covered my mortgage payment, which makes me so frickin’ proud. It also means that I’m not squeezing custom orders into my evenings and weekends, so hello more time for blogging again!

So 1000 posts later, I’m still here, and I’m still loving this little corner of the internet of mine. In October, Lottie Does will be 5 years old, and of course I’ll be celebrating big time then, but this post is a little mini celebration for me!

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My Life With A Lisp

So something that hardly anyone will know about me, because you only read what I say and don’t hear it, is that I have a lisp, and as far as I’m aware, I have done my whole life.

I say as far as I’m aware because if I’m being perfectly honest, I can’t remember what age it was when I realised I had it, but it was a LOT later in life than you’d think; I’m pretty sure it may not have been until I was in my teens. Now I’m sure you’re thinking ‘how on earth could you not know you have a lisp for all those years?’, and well, I think I thought the same thing, but when I started to think about the reason why, its actually pretty amazing. Quite simply, I never knew, because no one ever made a fuss of it. My family never mentioned it, or treated me any differently (with the exception of my nan, who I remember trying to train me out of it when I was very little, except at the time I had no idea that’s what she was doing), and I think that’s a pretty great thing, because I think had I been treated any way but normal, I’d have been so much more conscious of it, and felt a lot worse.

Fast forward to the point that I discovered my lisp, and I felt a lot of questions got answered. I knew there was something about the way I spoke that wasn’t quite right, but I could never put my finger on it. I had been teased a little in primary school, but never understood why, and I just became increasingly nervous about talking in front of people that I didn’t know. When I realised that I’d been speaking with a lisp all these years, it made sense, but it didn’t solve my problems.

I have what I guess is considered the ‘normal’ lisp, where I don’t quite pronounce the letter ‘s’ correctly. Being aware of it only made it harder. At this time, I was doing a lot of singing, and I quickly found myself worrying about song lyrics, trying to avoid songs that had too many words starting with an s, and I even started doing this with general conversation. While talking, I’d be rapidly thinking ahead to the next few words I knew would come out of my mouth, and often rewording phrases on the spot so that I wouldn’t use words starting with s too often. My brain was like a constant thesaurus.

Being aware of the ‘problem’ meant I was also that much more aware of the little comments or jokes that I’d previously been able to naively brush over. As a teenager I had a lot of guy friends, and while the majority wouldn’t dream of making fun of me, there’s always a few teenage boys who think they’re funny to make little digs, and of course I’d never let them see that it was bothering me, but it did, and this just drove me further into avoiding the letter as much as I could.

I also can’t remember at what point I got over this. Who knows, maybe I haven’t and I’ve just got better at it, but I certainly don’t feel in any way as self-conscious as I used to. I do also think I’ve maybe started to grow out of it more over recent years; I’m certainly not going to kid myself into believing its totally gone, but I do feel like I notice it less. But the fact is, there is nothing wrong with the way I talk. It my voice, slight hiss or not, and I’m learning to accept it. I think back to the many many years when I had no idea I even had a lisp, and I’m actually so grateful that I was never treated differently, or taken to speech therapy, because if anything I’ve owned it for so long that I’m not going to stop owning it.

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The Test of Time

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I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately. This is mainly because I’m leaving the town I grew up in, and am faced daily with the question of ‘aren’t you gonna miss things?’. If I’m being honest, leaving Bournemouth has always been a fairly easy decision for me because other than my family, I haven’t felt like I have that many other ties to this place. I’ve quite honestly felt like I’ve had no friends in Bournemouth for quite some time now.

I was one of the only people in my group of friends who didn’t go to university after sixth form, and I maintain to this day that that was the right decision for me, but it did mean I isolated myself quite early on. Even before we left school, I was getting a bit sick of hearing everyone talk non-stop about what uni they were going to, sorting things out etc, and although they’d probably never admit it, I know that my friends judged the decision that I made in choosing not to go.

So I left them drift away. I kept in touch with a few, and there would be the occasional gathering when people were back at Christmas or in the summer, but again I tended to steer clear for fear of that inferiority feeling I would get around them. Just over two years ago was the last time I went to a party with these friends, and to be honest, it was great, and I was starting to feel a little more confident about being around people again, but then a personal situation messed everything up, and I pulled myself away again because there were two people in the group that I couldn’t face seeing again. I’m still in a group chat with all these people, but I stay silent, and I can’t bring myself to show up to any of these gatherings.

But that’s just back story, and not what this post is really about.

Yesterday I ran into an old friend in the supermarket. He was one of my best friends during my last few years of school, but he went off to uni and although we’d occasionally chat on Facebook, it’s been about 2-3 years since I saw him last, and even those times would have been fairly brief.

So when I saw him in the supermarket my head went two ways. The first was ‘oh my gosh I need to go and talk to him’, and the other was ‘he probably really doesn’t care about seeing me’. Luckily, the first won out. We stood and caught up right in the middle of an aisle in Sainsbury’s, and d’you know what? It was so good to talk to him again.

We talked like old friends, which is exactly what we are, but it wasn’t one of those conversations you have with someone you used to know, where you just blurt out whatever’s happening in your own life and don’t really pay attention to what they’re saying back, it was a proper conversation. Old jokes from years ago were being thrown about, nothing was fake or forced and I walked away at the end of it with the biggest smile on my face.

I guess through all the recent years where I haven’t felt like I had that many friends, I forgot about the friends that are still there even when you can’t see them. The true friends that no matter how many miles are between you or how many months or years go by will still always consider you to be a friend, and treat you like a friend, and sometimes it just takes an unexpected moment to remind you of those things.

Tackling Self Doubt

I think you’d have to be pretty damn confident to not ever suffer from just a smidgen of self doubt every now and then. Or this just might be how I, a severe lacker of confidence, feels about the matter. You tell me. Anyway..

Self doubt is that little voice in your head that pops up from time to time and tries to knock you down a peg or two (or a hundred) whenever you’re feeling good about yourself, or an aspect of your life; for me, the subjects that hit me hardest are related to my blog or my businesses. In fact, I’m so used to these little episodes now that at the same time as totally sucking, I know that they’re just a phase that will inevitably pass, but I’ve also started to develop my own little coping tactics for when that sinking feeling starts to take over.

Firstly, I vent

Self doubt is absolutely no good bottled up, so I tweet about it, or stick something on my Instagram story. It might look attention seeking to some, y’know, the whole ‘I feel like I’m rubbish at everything I do’ sorta thing, but I honestly am not fishing for any compliments when I do this, its just better out than in. Sometimes I don’t even vent publicly, and its a message to a friend, or a quick chat with someone, just to get it off my chest and out of my head, where otherwise I know it will fester into an endless pit of suckiness.

Then I take time out

Because a lot of my self doubt is about my small business, if I’m having a bit of a time of it, I step away, and its the same with my blog. Forcing something out doesn’t often lead to the best results, and sometimes stepping away gives you a chance to miss what you love, which motivates you to get back to it after a little bit of time. This doesn’t even have to be a vast amount of time; it can be as small as 10 minutes to go and get a drink or check your phone.

Next, I remind myself I am awesome

I don’t often compliment myself, but its always when I’m struck with self doubt that I find myself being nice to myself. Its a bit cliche but I give myself a proper pep talk and really hype myself up, but not to the point that I’m big headed, just enough to kick myself back into gear again and then I let my actions do the talking again.

And then I back it up with proof

Often, I need more than just the hype to really see my worth again, but I think that’s just because I’m a proof-liking person. So I pull up my Etsy sales, or my blog stats, or I look back at something to show how far I’ve come, and suddenly all the words I’ve been telling myself to make me feel better are actual truths, not just motivational rubbish.

Then, I can get back and smash it

I always like to come back fighting, so I get back to things with all guns blazing. Sometimes that means I have to fake a little bit of confidence, but as the old saying goes, you’ve gotta fake it ’til you make it, right?

And remember, just because you doubt yourself, doesn’t mean anyone else doubts you.

Self doubt is just that – yourself. These feelings can come and go and come back again over and over, but I bet through all this you’ve got your own little cheer squad who believe in you no matter what you think of yourself. These people will be your rock through these moments. Believe what they tell you.

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My Best Self

I’ve been thinking about myself a lot recently, but not in a narcissistic sort of way. You see lately, I haven’t always been liking myself that much.

Its no secret that there is a lot going on in my life right now. Matthew and I have just bought our first house, and I am in the process of moving away from my home town, which has been massively drawn out as I’m still working my notice period in my current job. I’ve felt in a real state of limbo over the last few weeks, and honestly its been getting to me a bit. I feel so on top of certain aspects of my life, while simultaneously drowning in others, and this position has been messing with me more than anything else. To put it simply, I just haven’t felt like I’ve been my best self lately.

I’ve not been doing the things that make me happy. I love going to the gym in the morning, and normally that’s at least 4 times a week, but lately I’ve been struggling with managing twice a week due to just feeling overwhelmingly tired and unmotivated most mornings when my alarm goes off. There’s a little voice in my head that tells me I should go back to sleep instead of getting up, and it just keeps winning out.

I haven’t even been making an effort with my appearance lately. Makeup has been absolutely non-existent on my face, with the exception of a little eyebrow maintenance, and instead of dressing how I like dressing, I’ve just been throwing on whatever I can find, which primarily has been baggy, stretchy trousers and loose tops, and I tell myself that it’s more comfortable but I just end up feeling like a slob all day.

This just isn’t the me that I want to be. I’m losing confidence and it’s all my own doing – like another part of me is sabotaging everything that the good part of me is trying to do. I keep telling myself that it’s just a phase that I’m going through while everything is up in the air, and I just hope to god that that’s true and that it will all sort itself out very soon, but I’m not going to stand by and wait for it to happen; I’m making changes.

Sometimes it’s not always possible to be your best self, and that’s completely ok, but when it’s making you unhappy, you don’t have to just stand by and watch it spiral out of control. I’m going to do my best to by my best from today onwards.

Five Things I Learned From Jobs I Didn’t Get

They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. Well, I’ve worked a number of days in my life. And while I’ve learned a lot of things in my working life, many of the things I have learned have actually been from the jobs that I didn’t get along the way.

Just because its your dream company, doesn’t mean its your dream job

A few years ago I squealed for joy when I found out my local Lush store was reopening after a huge shop refurb, and were looking to hire a whole bunch of new staff. I smashed out a cover letter that very night and was absolutely buzzed when I was not only invited to a group interview, but also invited back to a trial shift/second interview. Where I fell down was the trial shift, because I wasn’t as totally in your face as your typical Lush employee (if you’ve ever been in a store, you know what I mean) and because I didn’t jump on shoppers the second they walked in through the door, I wasn’t Lush material. I was semi-devastated at the time, but then I realised that the pushy sales assistant thing is definitely not my thing, and I would have felt really pressured in that job.

Passion counts for a lot

You can prepare for an interview all you like, but some interviewers want to see how much you want the job more than necessarily having all perfect answers. Feedback from one interview that I didn’t get hired from was that while I had great answers and they said I could have easily got the job, but other candidates showed more enthusiasm about the role and were more passionate about starting a career in that field, and that was just something that I couldn’t beat.

Just because you don’t get the job first time, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reapply

Technically, this isn’t about a job that I didn’t get, because its about the job I have now, but that’s exactly the point. I interviewed for this job once, and when I didn’t hear back for a while, I assumed that it was a no, which was then confirmed when I heard back about a month later, but I was invited to a meeting to get some feedback. During this meeting, I was told that there were two positions to be filled, and three people that they were torn between, one of which was me, but they settled on the other two. However, another role had just become vacant, and while they had to advertise the role again properly, they asked me to interview again, and well the rest is history!

Ask for feedback

Whenever you here back from a job that you didn’t get, don’t be afraid to ask the question of why you didn’t get the job. Take any ‘negative’ reasons as constructive criticism and learn for the next time, but also listen to the good things they will inevitably say about you, and also don’t feel hard done by if the reasons are that other candidates had more experience or were better suited – that’s not a problem with you!

Sometimes you’ll just never hear back

Unfortunately, there are some jobs that won’t even reject you, they’ll just ignore you. A lot of companies now even put it on their job applications to say that they won’t respond if you’re unsuccessful, leaving you completely in the unknown as to if you’ll ever hear back, and why you didn’t get it if you never do. I’ve learned not to take it personally and just move onto the next, their loss!

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