Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pros and Cons of Online Work

Anybody who has earned money online will tell you that freelancing gives you a sense of independence and also strengthens your people skills. With each new job, you will find yourself interacting via email and/or Skype with project managers and possibly team members from around the world. I've been working online since December of 2011 and have gone through my share of highs and lows. These days, I'm busy working on making my own business, a success while pointing freelancers like myself to success of their own.

The first thing you need to realize is that Business to Business (B2B) relations online can be just as tumultuous as any of the real world relationships one may have with friends and family. It's up to you to value your abilities, even if you're inexperienced. As a freelancer, courage is a must. In my case, I gained my confidence from seeing every instance of getting hired as a gift from God, though there were times I had to relinquish some jobs on the principal of 'All or nothing'. If I couldn't give a client my best, I would end the contract; mentally prepared to absorb any potential hit to reputation I may incur. Why? Because, when I'm hired by a company, its best interest is front and center in my mind and heart. It just doesn't make sense to me that any of my clients should pay for my discrepancies in self discipline.

Yet, our task, as freelancers -with each new job- also involves not getting caught off guard. You must be keen to slight changes in behavior that may precede a complete 180 degree change in your project manager's personality. Such events typically take place if 1) your manager is shady and 2) you like to ask a lot of questions. Despite the fact that you may be getting paid at the lower end of the scale, which is expected for newbies in this competitive field, you still have rights and must make it clear: My conscience is not for sale. It is important to have a strong sense of self-worth prior to entering this work-from-home market. I'm sure some well intentioned individuals, unquestionably followed orders and became 'black hat' or infamous in the eyes of major search engines, in the process. But it's not too late if you can admit to your mistakes and are more wearisome of doing business, in the future, with project managers who expect the following:
  1. work completed although their payment method has yet to be verified
  2. extra work completed despite the fact that it wasn't posted in the job description
  3. employees are to work without questioning any given instruction
  4. cut corners and break rules to complete tasks
  5. work indefinitely, without pay, until a certain arbitrary milestone is achieved
Be aware of these types of opportunist, especially if you are writing articles or building citations[1]. In terms of article writing, find out from the very beginning if you will receive credit for your work; don't get surprised or work naively. Ask lots of questions during the interview stage. Finally, be willing to end a contract if you feel you cannot meet your project manager's expectation. Remember, your dignity is more important than a few dollars.

[1] These are online references to a business, mainly done by submitting a company's business information to local directories for the sole purpose of increasing its rank in search engines.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My Top 3 Ways to Spend Time

 As the title suggest, time is like money. For the most part we spend time with people and on things that will add value to our lives. However, there are times the experiences purchased don't measure up to expectations advertised by the heart and by the time we realize it, we've either overpaid or been robbed. The following are the top three ways I spend time:

1. Obligations
As a writer, I know what it means to pledge time to meeting a client's deadline or spending limit. In order to produce a piece (literary experience) worth the wait, I budget my waking hours with a schedule scripted to ensure that I'm able to afford all my daily obligations. However, there have been times that I've strayed from my budget and paid attention to things I shouldn't have (distractions). At the end of the day, as a result of my weak resolve, I find myself broke (out of time) or not having enough time to get my work due adequately. Either the job is done below my set standard or not complete at all.

Sometimes certain obligations dictate how much attention each time-valued object of a given budget actually gets, producing, with the usually reluctant consent of my will, a list of priorities. As a dad with a three year old son, priorities, many times, need to be redefined. Especially, in the morning, before I head out for work and he cries for me to stay home. I pay for this painful but unavoidable momentary expense, with the hope of giving him a better future, which includes more time to follow his dreams. At this time -quitting isn't an option.

2. Saved-time
As parents, we are willing to go through some things (pay it forward) so our children won't have to. Consider the sacrifice Christ made over 2000 years ago on behalf of all mankind. He experienced the expense (the cross) and glory (resurrection and ascension) of a sinless life, affording anyone who would follow his teaching the costly experience of eternal life. Jesus' selfless act has help those who believe to save time. Now, we have opportunities for good stored up for the right moment (Ephesians 2:10). When we give our time to God, the Lord holds it until needs arise for us to shine His light before mankind.

Note: Efficiency (right living), which comes with great expense, always leads to savings, usually for those you love. Sin, on the other hand, always promises great experiences at cheap prices but instead leads to a sold soul and eternal loss.

3. Redeemed-time
As someone saved, I look back at the times I wasted in sin, settling for less, foolishly expecting more. When I was living sinfully, my soul belonged to the one that controlled my will and budgeted my time. It took the message of Salvation to show me that the saving work of Christ on the cross had redeemed me, long ago, from my obligation to sin. Now, I feel like I've been given a second chance at life, spending wisely this time Jesus redeemed for me. I believe those hours the devil stole, were snatched back on calvary long before I breathed my first breath and wasted my first second.

I realize, now, that my time has value, and that every moment I experience free from sin is the result of the expense Christ paid, for me. The new experiences that redeemed-time affords my soul doesn't leave me feeling empty and hope-deprived. And when I do get sad, it's always for a higher purpose. With redeemed-time, everything I experience draws me closer to knowing Him. Why delay or waste any more time hesitating about making Jesus your lord and savior. Seriously, consider living a redeemed life before the earthly time you’ve been blessed with -runs out.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Quitting Your Job?

During times of extreme stress on a job an individual may consider quitting his or her job. Quitting or the ending of one's service to a company or organization usually occurs when no other recourse is apparent for solving a personal grievance and that grievance directly affects his or her overall performance. Though quitting a job may not appear as stigmatizing as being dismissed by an employer which is commonly referred to as being fired, society may term such a person as being overly sensitive and view him or her as unstable.

There are several reasons for quitting a job. One of the best reasons may be finding another job that is more fulfilling. Persons who excel at their work usually say they are doing what they love. For some innovative individuals who couldn't find a more fulfilling job, they busied themselves while keeping their day jobs until the public's demand for their services or talents became great enough to thrive from. However, being hired by or starting a Fortune 500 company is not a typical reason most employees decide to let go of their single means of earning an income. For the most part most people are willing to do unfulfilling work if they see some future benefit for themselves and/or their children. But when the trade off isn't or doesn't appear fair and balanced, the idea of quitting enters the mind. Common reasons for quitting range from personal issues to external ones and include but are not limited to the following:
  • not being able to carry out one's daily functions due to an ailment,
  • not being paid enough to maintain a certain standard of living and quality of life for oneself and family,
  • not wanting to be involved in unethical, immoral or illegal practices,
  • not being treated by supervisor or employer with dignity.
In most societies and cultures around the world, quitting is rarely encouraged or given as an option even if the reasons are valid. The label 'Quitter' seems to have always been synonymous with term 'Loser'. A male's masculinity may even be questioned if instead of fighting in response to an insult he decides ignore it or walk away from a volatile situation. Though there are times for answering disparaging remarks and moments when standing your ground means something, but when strength is weighed on impartial scales, the will power[1] required to remain silent or walk away is far greater than the power it takes to use derogatory language or become involved in a physical altercation.

One of the most difficult lessons one will find in the teachings of Jesus Christ, is the admonishment he gave over 2000 years ago to his followers in Matthew chapter 5 verse 39 to turn the other cheek, or in other words maintain your sense of worth during an injustice by turning an unwarranted punishment into a challenge that inspires and leaves judgment to God. In our modern times, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his civil rights movement actually put Christ's teaching into practice and after facing the fire hoses, dogs, bats and guns of those fighting to preserve a segregated South, won equal rights for the blacks living in America, culminating in the election of the first black president, Barak Obama in 2008. Whether quitting is right or wrong depends on the situation but as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. proved, quitting isn't always a cowardly or shameful act when one has a vision, ordinarily referred to as 'Plan B'.

For anyone considering quitting his or her job, a plan B is a must especially in these dire economic times. Quitting without having sufficient savings will, if you can't catch a break in time, eventually lead to dependence on family members. The strain in some cases has caused couples to divorce and families to fragment, with children being raised by grandparents as parents struggle to support themselves. Don't take the decision to quit lightly even if your reason makes sense, your action, even if only psychologically, will be taxing on you and those you love, so make sure you've discussed and weighed all your options with those who will be affected before making your move.

[1] The ability to control one's decisions and subsequent actions