The Beginner’s Guide to Working from Home

Benedict Cumberbatch in LA gif

Try as I might, I can’t seem to stop being a freelancer. Sometimes I go to an office, but usually I don’t, especially now I’m getting into the final stages of my Open Uni course and working on dragonnovel. I’ve learnt a lot during my time of commuting down a set of stairs or across my bedroom to my desk, and I thought it high time I share some tricks of the trade.

Your wardrobe should be work-appropriate

For example, your trousers should be elasticated to account for all the caffeine you’re drinking and all the angry snacking that takes place after a less than fruitful Skype call. Matching socks can help one focus on the day’s tasks, but as long as they’re clean you’ll be able to sit at your desk with pride. Just kidding – if you’ve cleaned your teeth today, you’re already 99% set for work!

Sometimes working from home does require you to leave the house – perhaps in search of your sanity, which you fear you may have lost underneath paperwork. In these situations, I recommend you consult WikiHow to re-learn what deodorant is. For those days when you’ve got people over, or have an emergency video chat, I recommend you keep a couple of unstained outfits at the back of your wardrobe. Remember, only the parts of you that are visible need to look like you’ve got a self care routine.

 

I wish I could tell you where I found these gifs, but my computer has eaten that information. It was in 2015?

Your workstation should be organised

Even the most organised work from home-er has a tendancy to multitask, especially if you’ve accidentally overbooked yourself, so you need to ensure that your paperwork, computer and faintly stained coffee mugs are well-organised. I find that keeping stationery in odd places, like the key tray by the front door, or in my dressing gown pocket, helps make home feel more like an office, and there’s always the old trick of piling all your papers onto one tiny allocated space so you look far more official than you actually are.

You need several planners

One or two, at least. Probably a wall calendar. They contain nothing but deadlines because you last saw your friends on Halloween 2016, but they’re a nice reminder that the end of the tax year is coming up and you’re not as rich as you thought you would be by now.

Invest in quality headphones

Not to block out your neighbours! Not to listen to interesting podcasts while you work! Your headphones are there for when your family members come home and you’ve accidentally read Atlas Obscura all day so you have to catch up during the evening and need to look focused.

Disconnect your wifi

So you can get lots done with no distractions! Wait, you need the internet to work from home in the first place? Hm. Well. If I ever work out a happy medium, I’ll let you know, but I spent a full thirty seconds this afternoon watching a Facebook video of someone’s pet fox zoom around their living room. You should probably just go and work in a coffee shop or something. Or a library.

Or an office.

 

Sunday Night Broadcasting

Mum is on holiday and I have the house to myself, so I’ve been warding off potential burglars by making as much noise as possible. I’ve decided that this week will be the week in which I learn to cook, so today I made chips and a lasagne. Unless you count melting a bowl and dropping a box of cornflour over a small section of the pantry as issues, which I don’t, the day was faultless. I was too busy eating to take photos, so you’re going to have to trust me on this, but it turns out that if you follow the recipe then cooking is actually quite easy.

Here is a small roundup of my post-Asia attempts to get my life together:

(1 = good, 4 = bad if I remember my school target setting sessions)

EMPLOYMENT: Effort 1 / Attainment 4

PHYSIO & GENERAL HEALTH: Effort 3 / Attainment 3

CLEARING OUT SHIT IN CUPBOARDS USUALLY IGNORED BECAUSE THEY’RE FULL OF SHIT: Effort 1 / Attainment 2

ABILITY TO GET UP BEFORE 7AM: Effort 2 / Attainment 3

CATCHING UP ON BOOKS & FILMS BORROWED FROM FAMILY BETWEEN 4 & 24 MONTHS AGO: Effort 1 / Attainment: 2

So far I’ve seen Girlboss on Netflix, read two books (one of which I think someone gave me when I was still in the womb), sent about forty job applications and/or speculative enquiries, removed about three kilograms of clothing from my wardrobe, dyed a portion of my hair purple and seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and I’m so buzzing I’m telling you all at 10pm on a Sunday. Or that might be because I ate two thirds of the lasagne and I might never sleep again.

Tom and Jerry GIF
from Twitter

Chips are one of your five a day if they’re homemade, right?

Indifferent Ignorance Awards 2016

I’ve been coming up with the annual Indifferent Ignorance awards for long enough that I know to keep ’em cute and to the point. But there’s something about 2016 that’s been so thoroughly appalling that I couldn’t just list a few bits and pieces. So here is the best and absolute worst of 2016.

Book of the Year

The Raven King, because of cars and kissing, or Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, because of cars and kissing. Mostly. Just read them.

Album of the Year

Troye Sivan’s Blue Neighbourhood, or the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack. Neither of them were released this year that’s further proof of 2016’s shittiness. (Actually Frank Iero’s Parachutes came out this year and it’s a gem. Whatever.)

The ‘I Can’t Believe I’m Living Through This Shit, Although it Will Probably Kill Me So At Least There’s That’ Story of the Year

A parent had To Kill a Mockingbird banned from a high school in Virginia, US, for its racist language.

Please kill me soon.

The ‘I Witnessed this Shit Live and Wish It Had Killed Me’ News Story of the Year

Tough one. Brexit? US election? The return of Poldark to our screens? Nah man. The only moment my stomach really dropped at the news this year was at maybe 6:15 on a January morning when Nick Robinson interrupted my dozing to inform me, with audible shock, that David Bowie had died. I did not think anything could shock a Today programme presenter, let alone audibly. The return of Jesus couldn’t have redeemed 2016 from that moment on.

Outstanding Achievement for Distracting Me from the Horror of the Year for Five Minutes

Or an hour, depending on the broadcast.

Nominees:

  • Ed Balls’ Gagnam Style on Strictly Come Dancing It aired the week Trump was elected. Coincidence? Or does a benevolent god exist?
  • When Newsnight listened to their critics and played God Save the Queen Stand up, please.
  • The Twitter users who liveblogged the Rio Olympics and came up with 40 different jokes about green swimming pools
  • The Rio Olympics themselves
  • Whoever started those Joe Biden memes
  • American Idiot (the song, not the people)
  • Planet Earth II

Winner: this song, which someone shared the morning Trump was elected. I really, really felt better and so will you:

Outstanding Social Media Moment

This is another new prize, and the competition was tough.

We have Gary.

(In case you were wondering, Gary came back for more.)

We have when James Blunt dropped some news.

We have Joe Biden existing on camera. (I am genuinely not sure what he did in the Obama administration. I don’t care.)

We have when Sam Smith thought he was the first gay person to win an Oscar and, um, wasn’t.

Coincidentally this is the year I learnt what ‘throwing shade’ means. Oh, I didn’t pick a winner. You guys choose (I assume I can trust you with this more than I did Brexit).

Indifferent Ignorance Homophobic Dick Award

Donald Trump’s voters. All of them.

Indifferent Ignorance Ignorant Fuck Award

Donald Trump’s voters. All of them.


I thought I’d put a line there as a metaphor. Because a line is like a wall, right… seriously though I nearly wrote an essay about how the name I gave my blog aged 14 is coincidentally a term that sums up this year’s election results, but I held off because everyone else was writing the same essay and I am so tired of being tired of all the bullshit I’ve lived through recently. I think in 2017 I might use my outraged liberal millennial viewpoint to make art instead of complaining. And by art I mean small stories and postcards about people who are full of shit.

Anyway that is me done for the year. I wish you all health and happiness in 2017, although at this point it’s probably enough that I wish you make it there. Happy new year!

So Marie Kondo Probably Has Competition

It’s been a week since I last blogged oops. I’ve got a genuine reason instead of the usual ‘I couldn’t think of anything to say and that GWay gif is wearing thin’; I’ve been so busy the week has flown by. And because I’m feeling smug, here are some of the things I’ve been up to lately:

Getting really well acquainted with my local postbox

I’ve had the busiest week on Etsy since February… there’s just something about Halloween that makes people very open to stickers which include the phrase witch ‘n’ bitch.

Francesca's Words Hell's Belles Halloween stickers

Clearing out ridiculously overstocked bedroom cupboards

I can’t show you a photo of my newly organised shelves, because I don’t really want to admit how many toiletry bags I own, but let’s just say that binning a handful of broken hairbands and two years’ worth of Private Eyes (don’t worry, I recycle), putting one adhesive hook into a wardrobe and buying a couple of plastic filing cabinets is both good for your mental health and ridiculously tiring. I’ve even put an empty box in my room to fill with things I don’t need any more, and as a natural hoarder I’m quite surprised (and totally ready to #humblebrag) that I’ve filled and emptied it about four times. I’ve still got clothes to go through, a couple of cupboards that I’m not brave enough to look at yet and way, way too many socks… but I highly advocate browsing Pinterest for cute storage ideas and going through your shit occasionally.

Oh I went dancing

Solid tens. Also, I won a pamper day in a raffle. Pretty sure it’d take more than a day to rescue all my cuticles, ease out the knot in my shoulder and cleanse my inner soul, but you gotta start somewhere…

Reading Game of Thrones

So now I understand the fuss about Ned Stark.

I must dash, I have stickers to post. Oh and if anyone has any tips for getting a lot of storage out of a small space, hit me up.

My To-Do List for 2020

Last week I got philosophical/grumpy about what it’s like being mere mortal during the Olympics, and in the spirit of WINNING THAT GOLD MEDAL, here is a list of ambitions I would like to have fulfilled by the next summer Olympics. There are other, more personal, things as well – but these are the things I want to brag (and complain) about publicly between now and summer 2020.

Finish a screenplay

And then have it optioned in record time by the BBC and win five BAFTAs. Obviously.

It doesn’t have to get anywhere (statistically, it would not get anywhere). I just want to finish one before I qualify for OAP cinema tickets.

Publish a book

I’d love to know the odds of getting a book published next to the odds of having a screenplay made, but since I would be responsible for almost all the content of a book, as opposed to one of many, many people making a film, I prefer my chances of  actually holding a novel in my hand. Plus, I’ve had more practise. Still gotta double check how to spell practise, though.

Earn enough at 1-3 jobs that I don’t need 4-5 jobs

Half of all authors in the UK earn less than £10.5k a year, and although I will never be bothered about making a million pounds a week, I would like to have found something by 2020 that affords me the time and financial security to make things. In the mean time, my Patreon is here, hint hint.

Travel to every country in the EU before my lazy arse has to fill out paperwork to do so

Britain will have Brexited by Tokyo 2020, and there’s nothing like a deadline to spur one on to visit Slovakia while it takes minimum effort. Where is Slovakia.

Travel to basically everywhere

I could probably stand to miss Baghdad, Aleppo and the North and South Poles, but places I haven’t been to yet that I want to write postcards from include but are not limited to:

  • The Colosseum in Rome
  • South East Asia
  • The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland
  • San Francisco
  • The Edinburgh Fringe Festival
  • South America
Travel GIF
I normally can’t stand these GIFs, but in the spirit of optimism… from Twitter.

Learn (or rediscover) a sport that doesn’t bring back horrible memories of PE

They never taught us aerial yoga, maybe I could try that… or trampolining. Ooh, or dog walking.

Pass my driving test

Possibly this is cheating because if I pass my theory test on Friday I will technically be half way there. Then again, I started learning in 2014, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I strive for Maggie Stiefvater-esque skill and style, but I think I’m going to be more like this:

I have some deadlines to attend to (and theory to study for) so I will leave this here and maybe revisit it on a periodic basis to brag/complain/mentally compare notes with the athletes aiming for Tokyo. Do you have any goals or four year plans? Let’s compare ourselves to Olympians together!

 

Things You Can Get Me for My Birthday

I’ll be 21 soon, which is basically the last giant birthday I’ll ever have where I can ask for things without being a dick. Also, I’ve been clearing out some cupboards recently and noticed that I own a lot of shit. I own too much shit. Emphasis on ‘shit’. So I thought I’d make a little list for my loved ones to refer to when scratching your heads in the Yankee Candle aisle. If you’re unsure as to whether a potential gift could also be shit, put it back and write a cheque for a leishmania charity. (Please do not ever buy me a Yankee Candle.)

My 21st Birthday Gift List

  • Car insurance. As in, mine.
  • Patreon support. If you were going to spend £5 on shit I don’t need, pledge that much over however many months you like. Then I get to upgrade my blog and you get art and no one has to clean their cupboards out
  • Etsy support. If you were going to spend £5 on shit I don’t need, spend that much in my shop then send your friends everything you bought (for the love of God please do not give it back to me)
  • A book shop gift card. Not Amazon. Not iBook. Something for a shop where I can smell the products before I buy. I fully intend on contributing books to said shops, and I won’t be able to do that if they’ve all been put out of business by tax-avoiding conglomerates amirite
  • Get me an Etsy gift card or a Society6 gift card so I can buy weird fan art and afford the shipping charges
  • Pretend you’re listening when I talk about my job(s). Just for five minutes, pretend you want to know about professional hashtagging
  • Okay you’re going to give me stuff, declare that £5 to be spent in the MCR store. I do in fact always need MCR shit and I don’t think Warner do gift cards.

Is it possible to do one of those wedding list things for birthdays? Because I might have lots of marriages, but 21 only comes around once.

Gerard Way from sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com
from sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com

The Lazy Person’s Guide to the Olympics

I have lived through several Olympic cycles, and I can actively remember the last three (Athens: I was in Greece at the time and the Greeks were so into it. I was eight and hated sport. Beijing: I was in Greece at the time and the Greeks were less into it. I was 12 and hated sport. London: I was in Greece when it started and couldn’t believe nothing broke at the Opening Ceremony. I was 16 and hated sport).

Now I am 20 and have gone for three runs in the last month. Three! I still hate sport, but have learnt that the Olympics are relevant to my other interests, so I thought I’d put together a little guide for everyone who has bad memories of PE but wants to get their money’s worth from the TV license.

Activity 1: Sit on the sofa, yelling at the TV

Usually I do this during the news. Now I can do it during the 500000m semi sprint or whatever it is Mo Farrah will win. Check out the schedule for a sport you think you can really get into while eating popcorn/shouting.

Homer Olympics from Twitter
from Twitter

Activity 2: Check out attractive people

I’ve done a quick recon (read: Googled volleyball) and here are just some of the sports with maximum exposure to god-like muscles. NB: some of the competitors are minors. Check who’s still in school before you do anything weird.

  1. Diving
  2. Volleyball
  3. Running
  4. Swimming
  5. That one with the people who run and swim simultaneously triathlon
  6. Gymnastics
  7. Boxing
  8. (Added after a couple of days of observation) Rowing
  9. (ditto) Rugby

The Olympics is basically a free way to explore your sexuality, yes?

Mr Bean from Twitter
from Twitter

Activity 3: Explore multiculturalism

Does anyone know exactly where Samoa is? Or St Kitt’s and Nevis? Or Kazakhstan? Me neither, but I’m going to find out – and I’m going to cheer on the refugee team and holler at random people I’ve never heard of from countries with zero funding when they come last, and curse at the Internet when Boris Johnson someone makes an inappropriate comment.

Activity 4: Pretend you know about sport

‘Yeah so the American women’s football team is really spectacular… did you know there’s a record number of out LGBT athletes competing at this Olympics? Hey, I read that one of the girls in the GB shooting team uses pink cartridges…’

I did zero research to write that. Unless you count scrolling through the news when I don’t want to work as research, anyway. I also did zero exercise.

Bring it, Rio.

Rio 216 from Twitter
Also from Twitter I JUST LEARNT THERE’S A WHOLE GIF BANK THERE

Crowdfunding Market Research (aka please have a read and answer)

I’ve been doing up my Patreon lately (still no video because every time I’ve got a minute to make one, I realise I don’t have a minute to make one) but I’ve tidied up my goals and rewards, and I was wondering if you guys could be a lil focus group?

Rewards

Let’s start with the fun bit. I’m offering things that you won’t just get from following me on Twitter – though you can hey hey – like actual handwritten letters and postcards and General Free Shit. You can see your name on the sidebar of this very website and in the thank you notes of every book I write (which will happen, I’m just too superstitious to say any more) too. But I’ve had my Patreon open with various rewards for over a year and have thus far attracted zero beans of investment. That could be because I don’t have a lot of work to show apart from here and a handful of publications – I told you, I’m working on it – or it could be because no one cares about receiving cute mail. So, were you to pledge me a dollar or five or ten a month, what would you want in return?

Goals

#1: Blog Upkeep

Francesca's Patreon Goal 1 THE BLOGS

Aside from domain expenses, I would love dearly to have the money to rid my sites of AdWords completely – but at the moment there’s a chance they could earn me $100 so I’m leaving them up and will use the earnings to pay to get rid of all ads for as long as I can afford. I’ve had AdWords on Indifferent Ignorance since 2012, mind you, and have so far clocked up the grand sum of $15. WordPress won’t pay out until it reaches $100, so unless people get clicking with enthusiasm, having a goal on Patreon is the smarter option. Or is it a bit of a naff goal?

#2 & #3: Health Upkeep 

My other two goals are set predominantly for my mental health. My biggest expenses over the year are train tickets, research costs like entrance fees into places I can’t talk about because I don’t want to give my projects away (patience darlings), accountancy fees and software updates. I also work from home and although it’s fun – dogs are on hand, coffee is there, I can blast CDs – it’s causing massive problems with my family. The way things stand, I have to either quit freelancing and get a ‘real’ job (not my word but don’t get me started) or ask you guys for help to research my work properly, rent office space and take some courses to ultimately progress onto what is deemed a real job.

Francesca's Patreon Goal 2

I have my eye on a really nice shared space in Southend, but the cheapest rent is £100 pre-VAT at three months’ minimum use. I could manage it by myself if I replaced all my business cards with handwritten slips, traded my computer for a typewriter and took a pay cut… Well I could manage it if I took a pay cut, but I’m so far under any type of average earnings threshold that I’m surprised inland revenue haven’t come knocking to check I don’t have a spare bank account in Panama.

Francesca's Patreon Goal 3 THE MOON

I don’t think the goals I’ve set are unreasonable – there are creators on the site looking for a thousand dollars plus towards recording equipment or studios – but they might not be all that interesting?

I’m not expecting to earn a grand a month from the general public, and every dollar I received would go toward work. You guys would be contributing to everything I make even more than you already do, with the added bonus that I could focus my actual wages toward moving out of my mum’s before our relationship deteriorates completely.

So what do you think? Do you see Patreon as an interactive tip jar, or would you consider pledging double figures to my work? Do you have an ideas for rewards? What would you like to see me make? Do you think I should just pack in everything for a real job?

Tell me all.