How to work from home: a voice actors guide

orange cat sleeping on white bed

When do you work at your best? Do you do the typical 9-5 and call it a day?

Do you try and force yourself to get up at an early hour, get ready and work? Do you beat yourself up when you aren’t productive? Berate yourself and begin to fall down the why can’t I focus, why can’t I get anything done, what’s wrong with me spiral of doom? Anyone? Come on I know its not just me.

man in gray long sleeve shirt sitting on brown wooden chair
the dreaded spiral – Photo by Andrew Neel

But guess what?

This wonderful gig – being a voice actor – means you get to work for yourself, often from your home and you also have the flexibility to decide your own hours!

Caveat: You may need to submit auditions for your agent or favored p2p on “regular” hours, but gosh darn it if I just don’t work better at night Linda.

I so admire those people who are bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and raring to go at 7.  You special and rare creatures, I entreat you to share your secrets! But me? I’m working on it. For now (while I slowly crawl back my hours from the abyss of a year of pandemic sleeps) I’m accepting that my schedule is my own while slowly tweaking and improving it. 

orange cat sleeping on white bed
I, like this cat, am not an early riser

During the beautiful summer months I fall into traps easily (oo garden, ooo walk, ooo laundry) and I sometimes wonder if I’m the reincarnated spirit of a snickerdoodle (the dog, not the cookie).  I see the sunshine outside, feel the vitamin D coursing through my veins and all thoughts of work go right out my head.

I know this isn’t confined to voiceover. Performers and musicians – you get me. I’ve run the gamut from voice teacher, to frontwoman of a band, to opera singer, to game guru at a game café (open until 2 am) and finally to actor and voice over artist. I’ve slowly grown to understand, accept and respect the fact that my work schedule moves. It is a living thing and I needed to cultivate it as such.

woman planting plant in pot
Cultivating my day to day, much like cultivating and taking care of my many plants. Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

This has been a slow realization. As much as I try to follow the cult of self improvement (up at 4 am! meditate! brush teeth with non-dominant hand!) growing to accept and be flexible with my work days was the first step to tailoring a schedule that works well for me and my awesome clients.

Because that’s the truth. I love this gig. I love being able to tell my clients’ stories, to work with so many creative people around the world, to hear and see our work up on the movie screens.  But all of that’s just icing on the cake. The coconut on the snicker doodle (the cookie not the dog). 

The daily ins and outs of being a self-employed business owner means that you are CEO, CFO and CWO (chief waking officer).  You are the captain of your own ship.  And being captain means knowing yourself and learning your flow. Once you sit down and figure this out, you can give your clients all of your energy – and still have a life afterwards.

You are you. You are enough. You may be a perfect 9-5er or 8-4er or maybe a 5am -8 pm-er and I admire you (and also maybe make fun of you a little bit), but you are all valid. You can and you will find ways to create a productive work life for you, your family and for your clients.

As I run my business and learn how to regulate myself day-to-day, I realize: knowing yourself, first and foremost, is central to self-employed success. Accept where you are. See where you want to be (oh for that 7 am wakeup), and slowly make steps to get there.

Unironically, I say: don’t listen to me or any of those self-help gurus out there. You know you. Trust yourself and the rest will follow. 

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