Working at Home Isn’t All Fun and Games

I enjoy telling people that I “work at home.” I can see that wistful look in their eyes, and I can hear it in their voices when they say, “That must be nice.” And then for about five minutes, they do a little daydreaming about what it would be like to “work at home.” I never explain to them about the measure of self-discipline it takes, and how great are the temptations to take a “break” and reorganize my sock drawer when I find myself faced with working on a project that is less than interesting (or worse yet, “not as profitable” as other projects). Why burst their bubble? Let them daydream awhile….

Working at home can be all the wonderful things that those people daydream about. Setting my own hours, working at my own pace (project deadlines permitting), running to the market at 1 o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon when there’s nobody there—these are just a few of the plusses of working at home. For parents (whether it is the mom or dad, or both working at home), being able to adjust their working schedule to school schedules, being able to take the kids to the orthodontist or to soccer practice, working at home is a definite plus. For people who don’t work at home and who want to work at home, it is probably hard to think of even one minus. But the fact of the matter is, the minuses do exist—in abundance.

It is not my purpose here to ruin all your hopes or plans to establish yourself as a work-at-homer. In fact, I do encourage you to follow that dream and be your own boss. However, I want you to take just a few minutes to take stock of your situation and once and for all decide if working at home really is in your best interest.

First, and obviously, you have to have a job skill that is amenable to the at-home environment. If you trim poodles on the weekend and think you can turn it into a full-time at-home business, then look around. Do you live in a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor and just do your neighbor’s poodle once a month (but you do it really well)? Or do you live a four-bedroom ranch house with a three-car garage that can be made over into “Donna’s Clip Joint” and happen to live in an urban neighborhood where everyone has pets? And even if you do, what about all the permits that you will need? Will you be able to pursue this type of work at home, and do so legally?

The most applicable work-at-home job skills involve the use of a computer, the Internet, phone, fax, and other small business/office machines. You can hardly drive from home to the grocery store without seeing those signs nailed to telephone poles: “Got a Computer? Earn up to $2000 at home!” Of course, you can, but can you?

For the sake of argument, let’s presume then that you have a computer and an assortment of small business machines, and that you do indeed have some skill that you believe can be marketed. Let’s focus on you for a minute: Are you self-disciplined? Are you organized? Do you have the proper workspace where you can work undisturbed? Are you able to face a workday where you have no supervision or guidance? Can you work at home, day after day, without having the people contact that you would typically find “on the job”? When you have overlapping projects, will you be able to cope with the necessary prioritizing so that you get the time-critical job done on time without jeopardizing the next job in line?

The list of questions goes on. And this doesn’t begin to address the “what ifs” that go hand-in-hand with working at home. What if you don’t have any work this week? What if work doesn’t come in the week after that? What if you get sick and can’t finish a project on time? What if your client doesn’t pay you on time? What if your client doesn’t pay you at all?

Financial gurus recommend that we all should have three months’ wages tucked away in a “bail out” savings account so that in case of illness or work stoppage, we can “bail out” our sinking checking accounts and pay the bills, pay the rent, buy groceries. Let’s face it, how many of us really have three months’ salary bankrolled? Most of us are lucky if we have one months’ salary in a demand savings account that’s hooked to our checking account that gets dipped into on a more regular basis than we’d like to admit. If that is the case, then are you really in a position where you can handle the uncertainties of establishing and maintaining a work-at-home business?

This isn’t to say that even if all these things are true, that you shouldn’t make the move to be your own boss and work at home. I’m a perfect example. I did have the fortunate circumstance that I had a husband working full-time and earning “decent” money (not a fortune, not more than enough, but “enough”). He believed in me and gave me great support while I established my business. It took me more than five years to get to the point where I can count on having work just about every day (based on a five-day, 50-week “normal” annual work schedule). During that time, I had periods when I didn’t work for five weeks or more (and even still, my primary client goes through a month-long “dry spell” while their organization holds its annual meetings). It took me over three years just to finally break the “one client” barrier (I now have five “regular” clients). The point here is that I did it; I built my own at-home business, and I now think of myself as “successful.” I don’t earn a fortune, but I “make a living at it.”

I don’t think that anyone could ever honestly tell you that there is one no-fail method of how to become your own boss and establish a “successful” at-home business. The variables are endless and there is no way to provide you with a formula for how you go about setting yourself up as an entrepreneur. In the end, becoming successful and realizing your dream of working at home depends on you, and you alone. You must have a marketable skill; you need adequate workspace and supporting equipment; you must have the personal demeanor that lends itself to this type of work environment; and you must have confidence in yourself.

With these things, you can be a success. You’ll be able to tell people, “I work at home”…then stand back and watch them daydream.

Family Time – Fun Board Games

In praise of good clean family fun

Ah, the joy of a family night of fun board games played at the dining table!  From Chutes and Ladders to Monopoly, through Tripoly and Clue, to Stratego, Risk, and Battleship, board games are just plain fun.

When we were youngsters, our movies were books and our game consoles were stored in boxes on the closet shelves.  I recently rediscovered this joy with my seven-year-old granddaughter.  We made a decision to watch tv less and spend more time doing things that encouraged conversation and personal interaction.  It was a great decision.  We spent the summer working puzzles, reading books together, and playing games at the dining room table.  I now know which girls in her class giggle too much, which boys will chase you on the playground, and how much homework “they” expect her to get done.  I also had the pleasure of watching my really smart, very funny granddaughter become a card shark.

All of this together time took me back to my childhood.  We never really had to decide to watch less television.  We only got three channels and my father’s interests ran the gamut from the news to football.  Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, and Joe Namath pretty well dominated the airwaves at our house.  The Philco belonged to Daddy.  So we played outside in the sunshine and played inside when the rains came or nightfall drove us indoors.  I can still sense the feeling of sitting around the kitchen table on a cold night with my brothers and sister and sometimes my parents, the smell of goodies cooking, the laughter swelling with the ups and downs of game play.  I remember so clearly knowing the warmth and comfort of my place in the family.  And all of this is connected in my mind with the delightful fun of board games.

Board Games for Adults can be fun!

Board Games for ADULTS???  Okay, “for Adults” doesn’t have to mean “for Adults,” if you know what I mean.

Seriously, most of us just want to have some good conversation, good company, and good clean fun when we socialize.  What better way to enjoy the company of friends than with a peaceable evening spent playing a game or two.  Put on a pot of coffee, heat up some banana bread or a coffee cake, and pull out a crowd-pleasing board game.

Pictionary is a terrific game.  I have a friend who guesses the picture from a straight line.  Honest.  I have trouble identifying a photograph, so they wait until I’m out of the room to choose teams.  I’m much better at Scattergories.  And Trivial Pursuit.  I am a font of useless knowledge.

How about you?  Are you a brain?  Maybe Cranium or Scrabble are to your liking. If your ability lies in strategy you may prefer Chess or Mastermind.  Backgammon and Yahtzee both utilize a combination of strategy and fortune. There’s always Clue if you’re a sneaky son-of-a-gun or if you harbor suspicions and conspiracy theories.  Old reliable Monopoly lets you practice getting wiped out financially.  And for all of you would-be Kings of the World, it’s hard to beat Risk for world domination.

There are lots more.  Pick a favorite board game or two and call the crew.  The adult crew.  Adults – grown-ups – having fun just playing some board games.  Hanging out. You know you want to.  It’s been too long since the last get-together.

Teens want to have a little board game fun, too.

Fun board games for teens just sounds like you’re trying too hard.  Really.  But you’re not.  Young people are just people.  They have friends.  They like to do things with the people they like.  They get tired of trying to say the right thing, wear the right clothes, hang with the right crowd.  Heck, they get tired of just trying to figure out what all of that is.  They need some easy-going time with no big consequences – just a chance to slow down a bit now and then.  Offer them a board game party.

Risk, Yahtzee, Pictionary, Scattergories, Trivial Pursuit – all of these lend themselves to team play.  Trivial Pursuit comes in a number of variations, so if they’re big Lord of the Rings fans, go with that one.

They will, however, play with a different intensity than their parents.  “Soorrryyy” could take on a whole new meaning at your house.  Player pieces may well be slapped around the board with more energy than one might expect.  The Game of Life could be assigned choices not listed in the rules.  Scene It will cause them to monopolize the television while Monopoly will give them time to take over the refrigerator.  Who cares?  They’re home, at your house, laughing like crazy and having more fun than they ever thought.  No keggers, no missing parents, no car trouble – just friends and food and fun.  Even teens have fun with board games.

And how about the children? Do they have any fun playing board games? Mayybeee.

The foundation of board games:  children’s board games.  I’m talking heart of childhood, elementary school, make a game out of everything age group.  They make their own board games.  They play board games at school when the weather is bad.  They play board games all summer long in the floor, usually in the doorway to the kitchen.  They just play.  So what do they play?

Old stand-bys are still loved.  Checkers and Chess are easily obtained and only take two people.  Monopoly can take an entire afternoon and even then may not end with a clear winner.  There’s a Monopoly Jr. now that is perfect for beginning readers and only takes about thirty minutes to play.

Sorry and Trouble, with it’s great Pop-O-Matic dice tumbler, remain crowd favorites.  The Game of Life has become pretty convoluted, but kids still like to play it.  Mouse Trap is fun to build and has the added value of a half hour of trapping mice once the game is done.  Upper grade levels have a great time with Clue and Colonel Mustard and the Library – with the candlestick.  Then there are cartoon-based games (think Spongebob) and Junior versions of Trivial Pursuit and Cranium.  And Chinese Checkers and Parcheesi and Operation and Tri-Bond and Mancala and Aggravation and Backgammon and Scrabble and – oh, you get the idea.  The list of children’s board games is as long as your imagination.

Don’t leave out preschoolers. Board games are not just fun. They’re useful.

We don’t always think about board games for preschoolers when we think about their play.  Little ones run and jump and fall and get up and do it again.  We sometimes limit their calm time to television – cartoons and children’s movies are quite good when Mom and Dad need some quiet time.  Still, we miss out on some important training for small ones, as well as missing time spent together in an atmosphere of calm.  More and more, children are losing the art of polite conversation and civilized interaction with adults.  One solution?  Bring out the games!

Pre-school board games help children to develop skills they will need in reading.  They learn to match colors, count, recognize letters and their sounds, think sequentially, win graciously and lose gracefully.  These are pretty important concepts.  Candyland and Chutes and Ladders will wear you out, because your youngster will want to play again and again.  There are all kinds of dominos (I know – not strictly a board game) that allow children to match cartoon characters rather than dots.  There are games that let them match picture cards arranged on a grid and games that require fine motor skills.  You’ll find that all of them are great fun for your four-year old.

Take the plunge.  Board games with your preschooler.  How much fun can you cram into one day?

WHOOHOO! Most fun section.  Vintage board games.

Yep, fun board games of time gone by, making them vintage.  Nice word for old.  Well, maybe not all that old.  Remember these?

Tripoly.  We played this one with the neighbors.  I don’t remember much about it except we used poker chips. There was a big green mat. And it was pokerish. And rummyish, too, I think. That’s it. That’s all I remember. Probably because I had a crush on the neighbor.

Then there was the Game of the States:  VERY educational.

I’m pretty sure this one was a gift from my aunt.  Very sure.  Really.  Aunt Helen. She was always the best at finding “educational” stuff that was pretty fun. Thanks, Aunt Helen. I miss you.

We really did learn all kinds of things about the states.  We learned capitals, state birds, agricultural products, population – none of which I remember now.  Not that much of it would be the same, anyway.

Now let’s talk about the REAL fun we had with board games. How about Tycoon?  You had to be money-grubbing and free of conscience.  My brothers slaughtered me.  What are some others?  Stratego.  Mystery Date!  Now there’s a great game for a sleep-over.  Surfer dude.  Hmmm.  Remember him? Clue, Monopoly, Scrabble, Rook, Payday, Stock Market – all great games.  I wish I still had all of them.  But there was one we played ALL THE TIME:

Square Mile.   This was the game with plastic roads and bridges.  There was a railroad and a swamp.  There were these little bitty buildings – houses, a school, a church, factories, apartment buildings, a shopping center.  This was a cool game.  Square Mile was the best for a rainy day.

Board games are amazing fun. I recommend their resurrection even if you just pull out the Monopoly game for an evening. Step away from the x-box, look your children in the eye and say,

“That’s Boardwalk with four houses. You owe me $1700.”

How to Write Fresh Graduate Resume Tips

Some simple steps and quick tips can help you draft a perfect resume, just the way HR would like to see and is certain to leave them impressed. Prior to drafting your resume, on a sheet of paper jot down all your details, starting from your contact details, to work history, achievements, educational details, references, seminars or workshops you might have attended… etc. Just make a note of all these things, so that while writing the resume you may not have to think too much and can quickly refer the paper. Read on to learn simple tips and tricks that should help you draft great curriculum vitae to strike the right note!!Picking the Correct Resume Format: There are basically three types of resume format:1. Chronological Resume2. Functional Resume3. Combination ResumeFor fresh graduates it is highly recommended that they go with the functional resume type, instead of going for the traditional chronological resume format. The functional resume format, gives you an opportunity to highlight your skill sets, and relevant experience (internship, volunteer ship… etc) first and than move on to showcase personal details. This makes sure that your most relevant work experience and education gets highlighted and is noticed by the recruiters.Name And Contact Details: As basic it may sound, but it has been noticed that several candidates miss out on providing correct contact information. Your resume should always start with your name followed by your email address and phone number, for easy reference of the reader. Make sure to double check your phone number. An email address on your resume, especially when you are a new graduate gives a positive impression to the recruiter and they know at least you are computer savvy.Career Objective: A well drafted career objective can present you as a sincere and professional candidate. Avoid writing general career objective. As a fresh graduate, we all tend to copy paste the same career objective and it becomes frustrating for the recruiter to see 100s of resume with same objective. So let your creative juices flowing and come up with a unique yet impressive career objective. Here is an example to help you get started: “Fresh graduate looking for an opportunity which can help me utilize my education and knowledge in the right direction and in turn help me reach my career goals successfully”.Educational Qualification: A well formatted and properly summarized educational history, help your resume stand out from other run-of-the-mill resumes. You should always mention your education history in a chronological order. Meaning the highest and most recent degree of education comes first, followed by other degrees.Work Experience: As a fresh graduate there are chances that you do not have anything to show in your work experience section. This is the reason why, most of the colleges emphasize on candidates taking up internships in college or after graduation. If you have volunteered or taken up any internship than mentioning your experience here would be a good idea. Plus if you have attended any workshop or done a project related to the current job profile, it would be worth mentioning here. Other than that summer training or any kind of small related experience would be good enough for this section. Recruiters do not expect you to come with years of experience and hands on expertise as they know that you are fresh college pass out, but internship or summer training surely has an edge over others.Achievements: This is the section where you can list down all your achievements and accomplishments, starting right from your school years. Any awards, certificates… etc which you might have received should be mentioned here. Your achievements will show the recruiters that you are a great team player and an enthusiastic person with a sportive spirit.Personal Details: This section comes last, as the recruiters are more interested in seeing your qualification and experiences. But it is always a good idea to give a concise personal summary like hobbies… etc. Do not get overboard and keep this section short and to the point. In case they need more personal details, it could be discussed during the face-to-face interview.References: Listing down 2 to 3 references is good enough. Do not have a page full of references. In case you are not left with any space on the resume, meaning it is exceeding more than 2 pages than you can simply mention “Reference available on request”. Remember reference should be from people not in direct relation with you like your mom, dad, uncle, aunt… etc. It should be a professional reference.