Monday, January 30, 2012

The Court Reporting Family

This is an AWESOME profession.  Granted, it's a "niche" and "specialized" skill, and we court reporters are generally solitary in our workspaces, but when we need to, we come together just like a family.

This past weekend, one of our family lost her husband.  She is currently in leadership ascendance and will become President of NCRA at the next annual meeting.  Her husband was a fixture at all of our meetings, a true GOOD MAN and one with a smile and hug for all.  He never met a stranger.  During the two weeks leading up to his departure from this plane, we got daily updates, sent prayers, and generally sat vigil with her from our faraway desks.  This week, many of our family will be with her as she farewells him at his memorial service. The love that has been evident is astounding.  And humbling.

So even though we may be a little dysfunctional at times (what family isn't?), we seem to know how to pull together when one of our own needs our support and love.  I don't know a lot about other professions, but I'm damned proud to be a part of this one.

Godspeed, Richard "Bear" Smith.  Rest assured that your beloved "Cubbie" is being watched over by her family.

Say "I love you" to those you love every day.  No matter what.

Friday, January 27, 2012

On Administrivia

As working reporters, we sometimes get bogged down in the daily work of reporting and producing pages.  But there's more to a business than the actual WORK.  There's the little thing called paperwork.  Most of us hate it.  I challenge you to look at your desk right now.  How big is the pile of bills to be paid, invoices to be filed/mailed, etc?

The thing is, the paperwork - or administrivia as I like to call it - is VITALLY IMPORTANT to the success with your business.  Rather, keeping UP with it is.  Bills have to be paid timely every month to keep your credit score healthy.  Invoices have to be produced and mailed, and collected (which is often the hardest part) in order for your business to have a healthy cash flow.

I've made a date with myself.  Every Friday morning I sit down and clear off my desk and file things, get things ready for the post, and just generally review what's on my plate to be sure nothing falls through the cracks.  I can't guarantee that it works 100 percent, because I might forget to write something down to begin with, but it's a good habit to get into and I think it makes my brain and heart rest a little easier over the weekend if I know I've done all that needed to be done and hit the post office with what needed to go before the close of the week.

Even though you hate it, try to make a date with yourself to keep current on your operating minutiae.  You'll be glad you did (and so will your accountant!).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

1099 Time... Again

How does January 31 sneak up so quickly on me every year?

I mean, really.  Before Christmas I got all - and I do mean all - my personal bills in envelopes, tallied, and ready for just the last bills.  My BUSINESS stuff, well, not so much.  There's a pile there waiting to be filed.  And, of course, miscellaneous income 1099s and the business personal property tax filings are due 1/31 and 2/1, respectively.  Oh, my.

And, inevitably, my week before the due date is chock-full of work.  Daily copy stuff, regular transcription, my own reporting.  Somehow I will find a way to file all this stuff, run the reports, confirm my ownership of stuff.  But, really, couldn't we just wait until February 15th?  Is it too much to ask?


Monday, January 23, 2012

Getting back in the swing...

The last post had to do with freelancing and the freedom we have.  So much freedom do I have that I took FOUR WEEKS off.  And now, for the past week, I'm trying to get back to 'normal' for me.

The cash flow is off, of course, but so is my body clock.  I had to let everyone know I'm back and ready to work.  Had to do all the little things that didn't get done while I was gone (my list is nowhere near finished, either) and get my paperwork back in order (hello, tax time!).

But I hit the ground running!  Took a dep on Friday, picked up two rush scope jobs, accepted two more dep dates from different attorneys (woo-hoo!) and scheduled all of this week.  The 1099s aren't done yet.  Neither is the one transcript that I need to get out.  (Lucky me, my client knew I'd be gone for a long time and wasn't in a rush for it; but it's going out today; colleagues, don't do this - it was DEFINITELY a special situation and a superspecial client.)

I'm glad to be home, sleeping in my own bed, working at my desk and not my mother's kitchen table in the RV.  Glad to have my stuff around me and my crazy life back.  There is no normal in a freelancer's life, but there certainly is familiar.  And the time off really does make you appreciate your freedom.  Back to work!

Happy freelancing.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Freelance Life

Being a freelancer gives you, well, freedom.  It's been a wonderful "holiday" season - I've had a few transcripts to get out, but I've been having a lovely time visiting with family and friends.  Yes, I would have been able to take time off had I been working a full-time job (say, with the State), but I didn't have anywhere near the time I've taken already (since 12/23) and that I have yet to take (perhaps until the 18th?).  The liberation I am feeling is awesome!

Of course, my cash flow for February will probably take a bit of a hit, but how do you quantify the quality of life?

I'm looking forward to getting back to work - eventually.  In the meantime, I love the ability to do my editing on a netbook computer with a WiFi connection, and the ability to finalize transcripts on the Web.

Happy Freelancing!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Welcome 2012

Two years ago I set down a few of my "resolutions" for the year.  Like most people, I didn't achieve them.  I'm not really sure why.  Were they unattainable?  Did I not make out a good plan?  Were they more like dreams than actual goals?  Not sure.  So this year I resolved to not make any New Year's Resolutions.

Instead, I have decided to look at the direction my life and my career is taking and evaluate if it is still the direction I wish to continue in.  What pieces of my old life can I shed?  What facets of my career no longer serve?  What goals do I see that I can attain and what are the steps to take to do so?  What are the things I'd like to do, just for me?

So here they are, in a nutshell.

I'll still be a court reporter for my clients, but I'm not going to be the whirling dervish I have been in the past, working for different agencies all over the place.  I'm going to continue to work in my scoping business, but I'm going to develop a daily-copy client base (based on the west coast would be awesome, especially since we know I'm not a morning person).  I'm going to make myself available to travel with my daily copy reporter(s) - esp. if they need to go overseas!  I have my passport, it's current, and I'm so willing to see new places!  I'm going to train a couple of new scopists so that my client base doesn't have to feel left in the lurch.  I'm going to LEARN how to use the other software that I purchased so that I can be as proficient on it as I am on my main software program.  Oh, that just makes me more versatile.

I'm going to, along with my spouse, clean out the clutter - from our garage, from our closets, from our kitchen cabinets - and really focus on the important stuff.

The lifestyle changes I started at the tail end of 2011 will continue, I hope.  Better eating habits, more exercise (I really am enjoying the yoga), more local stuff, and hanging out with friends.

It won't be horrible if none of these come to pass, but I'm not as daunted by these as I was by the others (giving myself a deadline to take a test and pass?  Sure way for it NOT to happen).

I hope your resolutions/challenges/promises/changes, whatever, are meaningful to you and that you succeed in the direction in which they point you.