After almost an 8-year hiatus I have been an employee for just over a year. Over the 8 years, I didn’t completely stop working but I chose to spend more time with my daughters while they were still small, rather than focus on my career. I undertook short-term, ad hoc sub-contracts picking and choosing flexible work that I thought I could fit in between looking after the girls without becoming too exhausted.
One of the best contracts I had was with an IT accounting software company which I held onto for over four years. The work was done completely from home with weekly skype meetings and occasional trips into London usually for the Christmas meal and have a catch-up. The people were friendly and the work was good.
The worst contract
In contrast, one of the worst contracts I had was for a bookkeeping company who constantly cut my hours every time I sent in my timesheet. To be honest I can understand that it can be difficult to trust other people but it was quite demoralising to be told that you’re taking longer than what it should take and so you get paid less.
For both of them, I had made the initial contact through my blogs on Accountingweb. My interview for the second contract was a phone call with the owner and then I was set up on their systems. For the year that I worked on this contract, I did not once meet the owner. Not in real life or through video calls, such as Skype, not that that was an issue just a little odd. Plus she didn’t really have any social media presence that I could follow to keep up with her and know more about her.
The only other contract I had was for another bookkeeping type work. I didn’t mind doing bookkeeping work as I felt it should be less stressful. But it’s quite hard to stay motivated when you know you can do more challenging work. On top of that, the less I was exposed to the type of work I used to do or even wanted to do, the less confidence I had in my ability to be able to do it which started to feel like a catch-22 situation.
Those were the three main contracts I undertook during my time-off being employed in between blogging and half-heartedly attempting to start my own practice.
Starting a practice
I liked the idea of working for myself but in hindsight, starting my own practice probably didn’t flourish because I wasn’t prepared to put the long hours and effort that is required at the beginning. I wanted my work to fit in with my lifestyle (I still do). I didn’t really have a plan or the support I needed. I know there are lots of places you can go to on social media nowadays that can give you lots of support.
At the same time, blogging started becoming a big part of my life. However, I couldn’t see how I could make money blogging and instead vaguely contemplated a career in writing by looking on google for potential writing courses and buying a load of books.
Coming back to my current job, I like having the structure of being in employed work. I work 9.30 to 2.30 and those 5 hours I work whether I am in the office or at home, I am accountable for the work I do. Anything after that is up to me and whether I have the time or not, it’s my choice. As much as I do love having the structure, I do sometimes miss writing in the middle of the night as I know have to be up for work in the morning. Although, I’m starting to realise that I’m not that good a sleeper any more.
Another thing about going to work after having almost 8 years away is that I feel very out of my depth, firstly as it was a big change from what I was used to do but also I’ve been at home, almost a hermit, for 8 years. It doesn’t help that I’m quite shy and reserved anyway. I’m employed to write which I love and can’t believe I’m doing something that I love. But I have never done this before – well, apart from blogging obviously and some written work that I was paid for. But being employed to do it feels like a huge responsibility. Plus, I’ve never really known how good or bad my writing is until now.
Sometimes I feel that maybe they have got the wrong person and that they’ll find out soon and will get rid of me. Plus I sit in an area where all the lecturers sit, some of whose lectures I remember going to and I’m still quite in awe of them. However, I think I have learnt a lot in the time I’ve been here so whatever happens to my contract, I feel lucky to have had this experience.