View Full Version : An army of one

Dark Tiki Studios
04-10-2013, 10:47 AM
This is kind of a different post than you usually find on the forums here, and I don't want to get too "Dr. Phil" with it, but...

I know there are several regulars these forums who spend a lot of time alone every day working on their haunts (making props, sets, business activities). I'm not a pro haunt owner (yet!), but last year I landed a great job working from home (out of my home recording studio---I'm a Composer/Sound Designer). It's been over a year now, but I find I have still not adjusted to the isolation of being alone so much. In fact, I would say it's getting worse as time goes on. I just wondered if any other work-from-home types have any tips for staying happy and sane while spending 10+ hours a day by yourself?

Thank you for your time!

Allen H
04-10-2013, 11:45 AM
Plan on lunch out with a friend, I did that for years. It helps to break up the day and see people. get a group together and cycle through resturants...and friends. Go to them, the sanity break is worth it.
Allen H

Dark Tiki Studios
04-10-2013, 07:05 PM
Thanks, Allen... Good idea!

04-10-2013, 08:15 PM
LOL I've been telecommuting for years. While I don't miss the office I do try to get some outdoor hobbies going in the spring/summer/fall.

Greg Chrise
04-10-2013, 10:07 PM
I am actually a loner and embrase how odd I might or might not be. However as far as work and being productive I found there was no way to care unless I had one or a couple helpers on the clock doing something with the meter running. I have had to look at this like even if it was an employee situation, it would be still with some helpers like you had hired a proffesional and their assistant or perhaps the end price if it is too much isn't the kind of customer I want to be involved with on a regular basis.

It can be very productive or not productive at all but your quality of life is up. After you have had lunch with maybe the 5 people in town you could deal with and listened to their problems instead of your project, a certain mind set occurs. I no longer buy friends or lunch. Or If I buy lunch it is an employee perk or part of some chargable expense. Then when a larger project does come up, you don't have to be supernatural to keep up with work that has been promised. Maybe only partially supernatural.

Keeping the same helpers that evolve a certain understanding over a long period of time of what they can do for you that is genuinely helpful or additive to your projects is key. It may be as stupid as having your own electical chord vice president or a personal assistant you aren't sleeping with, possibly virtual assistants you are working with on side projects to actual onsite collaborators. In all the books I ever studied about artists that became famous it was like there was a crew of people actually helping to make hundreds of works in various stages per year.

You also end up with another brain, some one to remind you of some detail or some project you put on the back burner or running to have some piece of equipment repaired and this frees you up to focus entirely on what ever the actual composition of work is. Instead of spending 10+ hour days you have 4 hour very productive sessions and earn the same amount or more money.

If you are considered an employee, you are super productive and gifted with a posse. Or you are unproductive and take for ever on your own. So these helpers can be part time, only some days of the week or every day but kind of push the cycle of getting things done. Having people seems to be this cycle of training over and over Allen and I seem to be fond of, this whole endevor is a constant reminder telling someone what the customers expect, what makes things a certain quality and is kind of an ongoing reminder of why you are doing this or that. Not losing focus on what is important because the meter is running and you need to be able to communicate and organize what should be done or what you have completed to others.

If you are having lunch with people other than who is about to spend the next 4 hours trying to make something and get it completed, then you are on vacation and it may take a several hours to get over that crap conversation that had nothing to do with what you need to work on and actually get to work. Instead these lunches can be with your helpers kind of meditating about what is about to happen today, if not a full on work meeting.

I do go out to lunch every day to as many restaraunts as I can tolerate. My jobs are all out there in most cases but some are in the shop. In fact finding time off becomes more the issue of it has to happen every once in a while.

If you have people jump in and do things and show some skill, you all of a sudden have a skill that you can find work for and charge for it. Diversity. If the original "good" gig just comes to an end for some reason unexpectedly, you already have several services going on or that can be turned around and focused on some other project you always wanted to get into.

I will take an hour for lunch and an hour once a week or once a month to visit another haunt or vendor or follow up on some business with helpers in tow. Or it might be checking out the art museum or a new supplier. Even some of the vendors we have ends up being a little unproductive visit where serious ideas are openly traded. This makes everyone one of these contacts not only about business but a cut above really keeping in touch with the larger market you are involved in. Networking doesn't have to happen at some tradeshow over drinks, it happens every day in the real world.

Greg Chrise
04-10-2013, 10:38 PM
I have some customers I have known for 20 years that think giving me a job for $15 per hour would really help them out. They are oblivious to the fact that I, only charging them what they said something should cost and not spending all day on that item. I'm really doing 4 times the work they are aware of. With all my life experiences I could never feel comfortable with only one customer or one employer dictating anything. If you are already out in the market I have found you are never out of work or focus more than about a week before another door opens up. You have already been networking continually and not hustling anyone.

In reflection all the jobs I have turned down because the proposed partner thought they should have just me do everything versus a small crew, has saved me getting into a lot of stupid situations where people had not yet developed the skills to make money yet. And people that can make money want higher levels of production so it is a matter of becoming more focused with your use of time and not being worn down for the actual performance of what you need to do. Your first post was at 1 PM being on Hauntworld instead of what you are going to do today and be done by 4 PM or 5 PM and make even more money.

Dark Tiki Studios
04-10-2013, 11:40 PM
Thanks Haunted Paws!

Greg, you make some good points. And yes, I was on HW at 1pm... Sometimes when the the isolation really gets to me, I jump on to the forums.

04-11-2013, 01:26 PM
You have to break it up. Go the gym. Mow the lawn. Hit Starbucks, McDonalds, or someplace where there are people out there. I do a lot of telecommuting, but I also have an office. I prefer telecommuting when I am working on big projects, because my productivity goes way up. But you are right, it can get lonely!

Mike Goff
04-11-2013, 07:34 PM
Know thyself...
Different personality types prefer different working environments. It is what it is. Look at this as an opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone, and grow as an individual. I believe that a person is healthiest, happiest, and more desireable to be around when they embrace that which they are uncomfortable with. You've probably heard the statement that balance is key. It really is the key to just about everything in life. When you recognize what you are not good at, and then become proficient at it, you grow.

04-11-2013, 09:28 PM
I vote gym too.. Major benefits during and after that will also increase your work production. I work from home too.. If you call it that.

04-12-2013, 11:59 AM
Transworld works fine... go hit up a few haunt conventions as well! ;)

Dark Tiki Studios
04-12-2013, 07:19 PM
Thanks everyone!