The time consuming part of my job

My brother Jerry is a hoot.  He knows I’ve been stressing this week trying to get the March Horizons Magazine done on time, and it has to be to press by sunset tonight.  He is always offering to help me.  Cancer male that he is, his nurturing nature wants to lighten my load.  So he emailed me this early morning and asked what version of Adobe InDesign I use to layout the magazine.  He is a whiz at learning new software, and he has a real intuitive gift for it.

But I answered him back and said “Someone having InDesign doesn’t help me.  Layout is a breeze and is maybe only 20% of the job.  The time consuming part is me getting through all the emails. Like I have 207 emails to go through now but none of them are for the March Horizons, so I’ll start on them when the mag is done.  I usually only run about 100 behind but I’ve got a bunch of address changes for the newsletter all waiting for me now, too.

The emails are either asking about ads, or the emails contain ads I copy and paste into layout and then format.  The time consuming part is answering the phone all day while trying to download the emails, and for people who don’t have email, I take their ad over the phone unless they mail it early enough to arrive before deadline.

Half the calls go to voice mail starting about the 8th of the month and then I have to find time to take the voice mail off.  I don’t have anyone else check the voice mail, I do it myself. Friends know not to call to chat between the 5th and 25th.

Another big time consuming part is every day getting the mail at the post office.  I separate the mail as it comes in as bills to be paid, review copies and then everything else.  The bills go into my desktop flip calendar on the date I need to order their check.  The review copies of books and cds go in the back office to be logged in later. I haven’t logged any in for maybe 3 months.  They don’t go on the shelf or get played until they get logged in.

Every few days I have to pay a bill that is in the calendar, and I have 41 monthly bills right now, I just counted.  I don’t keep extra money in the checking account because what goes in, goes right out again each month for expenses.  That means I have to make sure the money is in the account by the time I have to pay the bill.  So that means 3-4 times I week I have to drive a deposit to the bank, a one hour round trip since I always combine errands when I’m out, post office, market.

So then in the daily mail, people send me their address changes and their ads by mail, so I have to open them as they come in to make sure the sender included all the info.

Then there’s the daily emails of people inquiring about ads or emailing to tell me they like Horizons or people asking for demographics or people trying to sell me something or convince me they should get their ad for free or wanting to schedule readings.  I get a lot of calls asking to be referred to someone or somewhere for this and that.

The people who ask for a copy of Horizons, I put one in the mail to them.  I get half a dozen of these a week.  When I see a Paypal receipt for an mp3 file, I email the buyer back with the mp3 file download instructions. I know this is a redundant step and I could bypass it, but I use it as a way to let them know I received it, and am answering them personally.  When someone gives me money, I want them to feel acknowledged for it right away.  I know I like mine to be acknowledged.

A lot of callers don’t have email and I sit with them and figure out what their ad should say and how many phone directory lines does that come to and how much is that?  If I am creating an ad for someone, I create it in Indesign, then I print it to a pdf file. Then I open the pdf in Photoshop and convert it to a small jpg file to email to them.  I may do several of these a day.  When they approve the ad, I take it back into Photoshop and convert it to a 200 dpi CMYK tif to place on the page in the magazine file in Indesign.

When I get a new advertiser, I enter all their info into a card in my bookkeeping program MYOB.  I create an invoice for them and make it recur every month.  I have about 200 that go out each month.  It keeps track for me who has paid a year in advance for their subscriptions and when I need to bill them for their renewals.  It keeps track for me who has paid for their display ad 6 months in advance and when I need to bill them for renewal.  Same for the calendar and phone directory and classified ads.  One client may have 4 ads that all expire on different months, so it keeps track of when I should bill for each renewal.  So although it’s just one advertiser, it’s 4 jobs to the system and to me.  I have dozens of those.

Everyone who has paid gets on the subscription list and people email and mail me with renewals cancellations and address changes.  For each I make the change in the bookkeeping program, on their invoice, on the recurring invoice, and on the subscription label itself.  Every few months, I call the churches and stores to make sure they are getting the right number of magazines each month and to make sure they are still open.  The post office does not let me know.

Ah, the post office, it now takes me 3 days for the mailing when they deliver the magazines.  About 6,000 are mailed in stacks of 25 and 50 to locations where I have no drivers and that is the cheapest way to get it to them.  They get mailed out of the bulk mailing facility that has rules for sorting, bagging, labeling, weighing and pricing.  We put the stacks of 25 and 50 mags each into approved polyvinyl mailers, and label them by zone and zip code.

So two full days ahead of mailing I am doing the post office paperwork of how many sacks weighing how much are going to which zone and what is the rate I used to calculate it and updating labels, putting them in the order that helps me bundle them correctly into the mail sacks, and label them and hope Gerald’s truck is available and drive them to the post office.

It’s about 150 sacks a month right now, weighing about 30 pounds each.  The day of mailing, I’m helped by Beth, Sally, Julie, Melanie and Gerald . I am done with the post office by 2:00pm usually.  Then I just need to drive it to Cassadaga and everyone else drives it everywhere else.

Before the post office rules changed, it used to take me half a day to update and prepare the labels, and 3 hours to get the stacks of magazines ready for the post office to pick up.  Now it’s 3 days.

I’m not complaining here, I’m just letting you know what the time consuming parts of my job are and why you having InDesign doesn’t help me.

Ok I sat down here at 5:00 to do a quick blog post and go back to bed and now it’s 7:11am, maybe I’ll just let this be today’s blog post…”

How lazy is that?  Actually using that email as today’s blog post?  Wait, it’s not lazy!  Today is a day of rest.  Even though I will be working later, it is only because last week I spent much time goofing off one day making Facebook posts with friends when I should have been more focused.  So since time is an illusion anyway, simply man’s mental construct, I’m trading that day for this.

And now, I’m headed for a nap for a few hours before getting up to finish the magazine and it will be done in perfect time.  It always is.  Synchronistic how it all works out, huh?  Almost, as if the Universe were watching out for me or something…

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