Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Working From Home: Adjustment

As I walked down the hallway to the kitchen this morning, I looked down at my bare feet. “When I am in full-time ministry,” I thought, “I wonder how often I’ll wear shoes?”

It’s a strange question. Dale Berning Sawa of The Guardian said in, Extreme loneliness or the perfect balance? How to work from home and stay healthy ,

“That often means getting the small things right, such as having a clearly defined workspace and a routine. Wahle starts work only once she has showered, got dressed and put her shoes on (curiously, she’s not the only remote worker who mentions the need for shoes). As she puts it: “How can you do planning applications, and still be in your pyjamas? It just doesn’t feel right.” (Emphasis mine)

Today was my day off from a 40-hour a week job. I wore jeans, a hoody, and still have yet to comb my hair. Short hair has an advantage. I can put a hat on. I live in the country where people put on their pajamas at 5 pm in the afternoon, door-to-door is taboo, and dressing up your jeans is considered semi-formal. But, walking barefoot reminded me that I need to be thinking of making adjustments to the days or hours I spend volunteering with WorldVenture (which is why Trello’s article on working from home is timely).

Trello wrote 7 Weird Ways to Stay Balanced When Working From Home. In this article, they outlined how to be a more productive person when working from home. I took this article and outlined what my work week might look like from this vantage point when I am in full-time ministry, starting now as a volunteer:

  • Get ready for work as if I was going to commute to an office. I don’t wear make-up these days unless I am speaking in front of a group or visiting a church. Mascara and eyeliner irritate my eyes. Lipstick wears off in ten minutes. Foundation doesn’t really cover up blemishes. Blush makes you look sunburned if done wrong. When I get ready for work, I plan on looking like I’m going to an office off-site. Video conferencing is a normal part of my activities so looking professional will still be important.
  • My hours won’t change in the mornings than what it is now. My morning routine will include coffee, prayer, reading the Bible, and casual and fun reading to relax the brain so it can work all day on creative projects. Writing will be included in my morning activities, maybe even by hand.
  • Going out in public. With no commute in my schedule, I can use that time to take a run or walk, but also I have arranged that I would take my office to a local coffee shop to spend a few hours working at least once per week. The only thing I can’t do remotely is video edit as that is on my desktop.
  • “Place things that need attention out of reach.” I once joked with Tony how I would love a coffee maker in my home office. I could work and refill my coffee without leaving my chair. Trello suggests we need to place these things out of reach. “Taking breaks is a key part of productivity, but it’s too easy to skip them when you’re alone. To avoid permanently bonding to your home office chair, try building regular “required” breaks into your environment.” Trello suggests leaving the phone in the other room so you have to get up every so often to answer it. Or, keeping snacks and drinks (like coffee) out of reach. At work, I would have to rise to refill my coffee. At home, I plan on doing the same thing.
  • Noise in the background makes you feel less lonely. I plan on building a good playlist of music, visit Lynda.com more often to refill the creativity, or have something playing in the background that brings noise and conversation into my quiet space.
  • Most importantly, Trello says, “Work like no one is watching.” Working from home means being diligent in making sure your work is no less than great, you must document you are working, and keep your shared calendar up to date so people are left with no doubt that you are working. Set goals each week to accomplish. You can also sing out loud in the office while you work and no one will hear you.

Yes, I will be wearing shoes when I am in full-time ministry. In the past, when I have worked on projects on the weekends after a full week of work elsewhere, I was more productive sitting in my office, fully dressed, hair combed, and spirit ready to face whatever may come of my day. But, today it’s okay to remain barefoot with hair like Einstein’s, uncombed.

3 Mistakes in My Blogging Journey

 

In 2015, I ended my blog. For years I built it up as a book review and personal blog site, oftentimes pouring my heart out on the screen, hoping someone might care. I met a lot of people in the blogging community, and some I am still friends with online. Today, I permanently deleted my blog.

Years ago, I had printed off the old blog so the work was not wasted. The old book reviews remain on Amazon. The great articles and guest blogs are gone. More importantly, I began a new brand in 2015 and God continues to expand that vision as a worker with WorldVenture.

Here is what I learned from my first blog:

  • Organize your menu simply. Make it easy to find the articles. I kept re-branding my blog every couple of years, creating a mess on my menu.
  • No Regrets. I have no regrets about any blogs I wrote. The pain was immense. Finding comfort in the Christian blogging community was like breathing in the fresh mountain air. For those considering blogging your heart, consider the people around you. Do you have self-control and boundaries and legal knowledge to blog smart? Will blogging your heart help you with the situation or hinder your healing? Not many Ann Voskamp’s exist today. When the blog became more about writing and book reviews, I should have begun a new blog.
  • Website Name Matters. I called it thewritelife2. I wish I had used my name for easier Google searches or used a name to create a sense of place on the website. But, then I was a newbie at the whole website and social media thing.

To those of you who followed my blog regularly, your friendship inspired me. I hope you are enjoying my new direction.

Amazon Says No

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For all of you who blog for books, Amazon just released new community guidelines:

“Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.”

Amazon’s move follows a string of lawsuits against companies who were paid to post positive reviews on their site and cheat Amazon’s system by using reviews to make a book seem like it was one of the top rankings. Over the years, some authors have tried to manipulate the system in the name of marketing. Some secular self-publishing sites even forbid anything less than a three star rating all in the name of “helping” each other sell more books, instead of improving their writing.

Book reviewers are trying to be optimistic. However, most publishing, book reviewing companies, and blog tours require a review in exchange for a free book. This is against Amazon’s new community guidelines. Only those in their Vine program are allowed to post reviews. While book reviewers remain angry with this new move, it is Amazon’s right to protect the integrity of their review system.

I urge you as Christians to also honor this system. Here are some suggestions for posting reviews on Amazon or another retail site:

  • Free Book, But No Review Required. After you write your review, post this below the review: “I have received a free book, but the publisher has not required me to post this review. I do this on my own.” This satisfies the FCC and more than likely, Amazon. 
  • Free Book in Exchange for a Review. Post on other retail sites. Publishers aren’t usually requiring an Amazon review. 
  • Buy The Book You Want to Review. Now you are a customer. You can review the book. 
The FCC requires the following on all blog posts (use your own variation): “Free book received in exchange for a review.” 

Instead of being angry at Amazon, let’s shine as Christians. Let’s respect their guidelines and continue to use book reviewing as a way to influence and reach a lost world with the Gospel.

See You April 1

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Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them,“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

I am going on a blogging sabbatical the next three weeks (four weeks on my other sites). During that time, please pray as I am using this time to:

  • Catch up on some administrator duties.
  • Catch up on studying and start my coding lessons.
  • Focus on PDX training March 20-25 in Littleton, Colorado.
  • Prepare for full support raising on April 1.
  • Refill my creative tank through rest.

On my other site, I will have scheduled reposts of the great content that you might have missed by our volunteers. On this site, graphics will post of prayer reminders and needs.

I’ll still be on social media. With a full time job, things are organized chaos. Blogging, even finding content for another site, is time consuming to get useful posts to help people use social media for cybermissions. While most people get to enjoy a weekend, I dig into missions work on Friday mornings as soon as the day job ends on Thursdays.

This won’t be forever. I have every confidence that God will give what is needed for these ministries. He’s already proven that He will knock down walls, break out windows, and blow open the doors wide to have His will be done. This whole journey from perspective to appointment to support raising is an amazing journey. Flights, travel, material needs, and time have all been provided for by Him; sometimes even through you.

The next digest newsletter will go out on April 1. If you are on this list and would like to submit prayer requests, please submit all prayer requests to me by the last day of March. This is a service I provide to the people on my newsletter list. You can sign up to receive my newsletters by going to the menu at the top of this page.

God considered rest important. So, meanwhile, I am going to make another pot of coffee. The faster I get the work done today, the faster I can start my sabbatical and enjoy my Sabbath on Sunday with a ten mile run.

Nikki

P.S. I know some of you are thinking, “THAT’S a sabbatical?” To me, that is a sabbatical as blogging/writing and finding content are very time consuming for all of my websites. Releasing me from this enables me to work on things I have recently shelved due to lack of time.