This post is sponsored by JORD Wood Watches
I think we can all agree on one thing - life is busy. In the last month my work has entered its craziest season, social commitments are at an all-time high and I just got married and went on a whirlwind honeymoon. Whew!
Making time for myself, my family, my work and a side hustle seems nearly impossible when I look at it on paper, but with a little time keeping and management I’ve been able to get my schedule back in control just recently.
Are you feeling stressed out, stretched thin and generally worn out? Know that you’re not alone! I’m sharing a few ways that I’ve learned to maximize my time throughout the week - keep reading, and I hope that these tactics will work wonders for you too:
I’m fully present in the task at hand by working in blocks of time.
I’ve learned that I work much faster, smarter and more efficiently when I give myself time limits to complete a task. Knowing that, I’ve turned my entire workday into multiple time blocks! In the mornings, I know that I’ll give myself 30 minutes to cook breakfast, eat, pop my vitamins and be out the door. Knowing I have a time constraint in place, I’m hardly ever out the door past 7:50 a.m., which puts me at my desk by 8:20 a.m.
The same process works for me while I’m at work. As a social media professional, I’m constantly connected and it’s easy to get distracted by incoming messages to reply to, Instagrams to publish and emails to answer. I combat this by devoting certain hours to certain tasks. For instance, I devote 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. to replying to overnight social responses each and every day, that way there are no surprises when I come into the office I know exactly what to focus on at that moment. 10 to 11 a.m. is devoted to checking emails, and so forth.
Of course there are no “perfect” days and distractions happen, but this process has allowed me to be completely invested in my work while I’m at work, leaving the majority of my work days complete by 5 p.m. each day. Knowing that I have the entire evening ahead of me to focus on other areas of my life is very freeing!
I keep it simple - all the way down to my wardrobe.
I’ve found that decision making can take up a ton of our time - deciding what to make for lunch, where to meet a friend for coffee, and even deciding what to wear. Because of that, I like to keep my decisions to a minimum by keeping a simple closet full of wonderful staples from brands that offer classic silhouettes that go with everything (like Madewell!) and typically choosing my outfit the night before.
When it comes to accessories, I like to keep them even more simple. That’s why I love JORD’s line of gorgeous wood watches. Their women’s watch is one of my fall staples, and the Frankie 35 in dark sandalwood and mint is right up my alley. The unique watch combines the perfect amount of style and charm and I love pairing it with a simple pair of jeans, slouchy tee and blazer for an office-friendly look. Looking for a cool watch for you, or even your significant other? They also have a great men’s watch selection!
I blog and design sans distractions - and relax after.
I love my side hustle work dearly and take it very seriously. Because of that, I like to set up shop in my home office, where I can be away from noisy distractions and truly focus on the task at hand. There’s nothing like plugging in headphones and getting started on a new and exciting design project!
I once again devote blocks of time to my side hustle, and typically limit “office hours” to two hours each day after I get home from the office. That’s 10 hours a week of highly concentrated time devoted to my website, freelance clients and planning future projects, which is pretty great considering that I work full-time 40+ hours a week.
To wind down the day and release any tension or worry that I’m feeling, I like to end my busy workday with a 30-minute session of yoga, either focusing on stretching, correcting my posture or focusing on deep breathing. I can get easily stressed, and I’ve found that yoga is an amazing remedy for natural worriers like myself. It’s absolutely worth the 30-minute block of time to go to bed feeling confident, strong and serene. Another great to unwind? Spending time with my pup, Brooke!
Have time to enter a fun giveaway? Of course you do! I’m partnering with JORD wood watches to give you $20 toward your next purchase as well as $75 store credit to a lucky winners! All you have to do is enter HERE and share your favorite watch style with JORD. Good luck!
Meet kyla donner, the founder and maker behind jewelry and home goods brand genuine & ginger. I first began following kyla and her gorgeous creations on instagram a few months back and was instantly struck by her keen eye for design, unique aesthetic and her honest and poignant perspective on her business. after learning more about genuine & ginger's story, i'm even more enamored with the brand.
Read on to learn more about the beginnings of the brand, what kyla's day-to-day looks like as a creative business owner and more!
Q: What inspired you to launch Genuine & Ginger, and when did jewelry and unique goods-making initially spark your interest?
A: I have always had busy hands, as a kid I was always DIY-ing, making things out of my old clothes, or figuring out how I could make the better version of something that I saw in the store. So I think to build a business based on hand-making things is not surprising to anyone who knows me. This brand was actually created out of a failure. I had taken a couple years off from making and creating things because the business I had prior to Genuine & Ginger had taken over my life, and not in a good way. I lost my voice, my passion and my integrity as a creator. I instantly became someone consumed by a need to make money and push product.
Q: Give us insight into what your typical day looks like while running your business - if there even is a 'typical' day.
A: Well it often starts with me convincing our dog Jeffery that we need to get up and get to work. He is not ever convinced that it is a good idea, haha! But then I make some coffee, head into the studio, light up some candles and begin mapping out the day. I have to make a full-on list of things that need to happen all week and then I list all the tasks under each day of the week that they need to happen on. Otherwise, I will sit scrolling through Instagram thinking I have nothing to do. But everyday is so different, It can be delivering wholesale orders to our in-town stockist, working on woven commissions, fulfilling orders, trip to the post office, designing new items, attempting to get through emails, taking product and lifestyle photos for social media, meeting with potential clients or collaborating with other designers, etc. I am usually the most productive at night, so the bulk of my work happens between 7 p.m. and 1:00 p.m... I don't sleep much.
Q: What roles do social media and product styling play in your business? I'm kind of obsessed with your Instagram feed!
A: Personally I have tried to be very authentic and real when it comes to social media. I am very open and my social media is very clearly just an extension of me as a designer and creative. I don't post anything that I don't feel represents my brand or the vision I am creating. I live and work in the Southwest so I use a ton of earth tones and neutrals in my feed, and try to stay consistent with my editing and caption content because I want people to have an honest and consistent connection with the work we do. I have a love-hate relationship with social media because it does take so much of my time, when if I am honest I would rather be designing and creating new work, but I know that there is a special bond that is created when I share my process, my inspiration and work with people. It allows me to have direct community with the people I create jewelry and woven goods for. So in that way I do love it.
Q: What is the most challenging part of running your own creative business; what's the most fulfilling?
A: There are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I want to get done. I have to know my limits and know what my downfalls are so I can reach out and connect with people who are good at those things. But the hardest thing by far is disconnecting my identity from my work. As a artist that sells my creative work it is hard not to put your worth in whether a design sells well or if it doesn't. Being able to separate yourself from your work and to know that regardless if an item sells out or never sells at all, it doesn't say anything about who I am as a creative, as a human, as a woman.
Q: How does your faith affect your business and creative decisions?
A: I think that knowing that I am not in this alone has been massive for me. Every time things get really hard and I don't know if I can keep doing this, the Lord has been so faithful to remind me that I don't have to fear, because I am taken care of. I don't need to freak out over finances because his promises aren't broken and they belong to me. It has helped me be brave in pursuing things, it has kept me going on the hard days and it has brought me peace that I don't have to have all the answers. I have so much freedom to be who he has made me to be without fear of what people will think.
Q: For other women who want to launch their creative business (on or outside of Etsy), what would your best words of advice be?
A: KNOW YOUR WHY!! Know exactly why you are pursuing your business. On the crappy and stressful days you will need to know why you started to begin with to keep you pushing forward despite all opposition, fatigue or criticism. Have people around you who know your 'why' also, so they can remind you when you haven't showered in days, are deep in piles of work and have tears streaming down your face.
Let’s be real for a minute - working full-time and maintaining a side hustle is hard work. For the last three years I’ve been a professional juggler, balancing a desire to excel at my 8-to-5 while also building my blog, freelance portfolio and finding my niche. A lot of my days look like this: wake up at 6 a.m., chug coffee, scramble to work, get my morning tasks done, work on side hustle emails during lunch, wrap up afternoon tasks, scramble back home, wrap up the day at home with blog work. Whew!
In these last few years, intentionally setting aside time to invest in my creativity has fallen to the wayside, which ultimately had a domino affect on my blog and freelance work. Without investing my time into sketching out ideas, aimlessly playing in Photoshop with the intent to learn, and not touching my camera for months, stale, mundane ideas and designs crept their way into my work.
Scary, I know!
Since realizing that I was in a full-fledged creativity crisis, I’ve taken intentional steps toward setting aside time to read about creativity (I’m lookin’ at you, “Big Magic”!), attend classes where I can create with my hands and more. But first, I had to get over a few lies I was believing about investing in myself. Are you struggling with any of these, too?
I can’t afford creative classes or conferences, and will they even help me?
I believed this lie for a long time. Several creative workshops popped up in St. Louis over the last few months, but I was making excuses to not attend for reasons like ‘not having the money’ or that ‘I was too tired.’ Lame! I now save a percentage of my freelance income specifically for investing back into myself and my creativity. This month I’m taking a flower crown design class that I never would’ve looked at twice in the past. Sure, I’m not a freelance florist, but working with my hands brings me joy and I’m excited to see who I connect with in the class. Pushing yourself to learn new things and be around fellow creatives will help you, no matter what your blog or business’s niche is.
I don’t have the time to invest in my creativity - I’m already so tired!
This was a big one, too. Between work and my “after-work-work” as I like to call it, I was feeling spread very thin. But I took baby steps, looking at 1 to 2-hour events after working hours or seeking our weekend workshops that wouldn’t interfere with my work week. Sure enough opportunities popped up and I jumped at the chance to get involved. I’d recommend checking out event sites like Eventbrite to see what upcoming workshops and creative conferences are happening in your city, and which ones will fit into your schedule. Also, consider looking at your schedule to see where you can trim out unnecessary time that you’re spending - can you cut your workout from 1 hour down to 30 minutes? Can you spend less hours on a certain client’s project? Saying “no” to some projects and “yes” to investing in your creativity and happiness will never do you wrong.
I don’t know if investing in my creative work will make me happier.
This is a dark place to be in, but I’ve been there. Before pouring time into my creativity, I felt very bland and without ideas. This article from the Huffington Post is a great read on why being creative makes us happier, but in short - when we get totally zoned in on the creative process of a project and then step back and witness the final product, uncontrollable feel-good endorphins rush through us and we experience genuine happiness. I totally experienced this that time I dove into Photoshop and designed a brand vision board for hours, only being able to admire the final product once it was complete. It was an amazing feeling, and one that I continually feel when I attend a class, conference or attempt a new creative project at home.
You deserve to invest in your creativity and to experience all of the amazing benefits it brings to your blog, business and brand. You’ll be astounded to see how your community will grow along the way, too. How will you push yourself to pour back into yourself after a long day at the office, the studio or home
Share your thoughts in the comments below, or tweet me at @HeyWorkingGirl!
This post is sponsored by Boise Paper. All opinions and thoughts are my own.
One thing that I love about my home office is my gallery wall – I work hard to design prints that I love and happily print them off to switch out my office wall decor seasonally. Since printing can be expensive, I opt to print my personal designs at home before framing them, and this has worked wonderfully for me.
Thanks to Boise Paper, my art prints always print out colorfully and crisply, with no runny ink or paper jams! I recently put my design prints to the test while printing on Boise Polaris Premium Color Copy Paper and Hammermill Premium Multi-Purpose Paper, and here's what I discovered:
No one loves a flimsy-looking art print that you can see right through. With Boise Paper, I know that my prints will look perfectly opaque and high-quality. Unfortunately, the competitor didn't quite do the trick – I dealt with some opacity issues right off the bat and the ink didn't take to the paper as well.
Shine bright, look right.
Paper brightness affects design prints as well, and the brighter the better! Creamy papers can make your colorful prints look dull and lifeless. Thankfully, I didn't have to worry about any brightness issues with Boise. The colors popped right off the the page and brought the design perfectly to life. Crisis averted! If you look at the two prints in my post header, it's clear to see that that the color richness in the right print is much greater than that of the left. Sure enough, the left print was printed on Boise Paper!
Paper jams aren't my jam.
If there's one thing that gets under my skin during the workday, it's a paper jam that takes forever to fix. There just simply isn't time in the day to deal with these office nuances! Unlike the competitor paper, Boise didn't jam for me once, even when printing off color-rich design projects back-to-back.
What is your paper of preference for printing projects, especially for design work? Share yours in the comments below or tweet me at @HeyWorkingGirl!
This desk styling guide is sponsored by Blue Cow Office Products. All opinions are my own!
One part of my home that I love the most is my personal office – my haven where I crank out all of my blog, freelance and design work after hours! As my work load has increased recently, I've needed to add to my collection of office supplies while also keeping my desk chic and tidy.
Luckily, I discovered Blue Cow Office Products just in the nick of time. Not only does the online destination for all things office products offer an extensive array of of desk essentials like notebooks, organizers, clipboards and more, but they're also available for great value. You can order in bulk for your corporate office, too!
In setting up my office for success, I've learned a thing or two when it comes to styling your space for optimal productivity, success and happy work feelings. Here are a few easy ways that you can amp up the style of your home office:
Surround yourself with positivity.
To me, this is the most important part of my office. I love switching up the art prints that adorn the walls of my office seasonally, while also keeping a frame quote or two around my workspace. Let me tell you – it's hard to wake up each morning feeling motivated and ready to take on the day's tasks and hurdles. However, bringing a few inspirational quotes and images into the mix always seems to do the trick.
Another tip? Jumpstart your time in your workspace with a listen to an inspiring podcast while knocking out admin tasks like emails and social media replies. A few of my recent favorites include The Coffee Commute, Marriage is Funny and The Lively Show – all great, empowering listens that are bound to leave you smiling and inspired!
Keep your most-used items on your desk – the rest away!
I love having a clean and tidy surface on my desk. Regardless, it's important to keep our your essentials – but, of course, I like to make sure that mine are cute! I'm loving my blue Swingline Classic Stapler from Blue Cow, as well my the printed spiral-bound notebook that I've been keeping all of my side hustle to-dos in. To minimize clutter I keep these everyday essentials on my desk along with my obsession – colorful Paper Mate felt tip pens!
One creative way that I've been clearing my desk of unnecessary papers is by keeping them clipped to a clipboard on my wall – it's a great visual way to keep an eye on exactly what I need to get done, and when. I love this fun yellow one, made with recycled plastic.
Add in accessories to make your desk feel like home.
Let's face it – if you're side hustling like me, you're spending a lot of extra hours at your desk. Make it feel like another part of your home! I adore the white faux fur rug that I've included as a part of my office, as well as the comfy blue chair that's an awesome statement piece for the office. During the winter, it's not odd for me to drape a blanket over the back of my chair, just in case I get a little cold. Make your office desk work for you by adding in little personal touches that bring joy and fulfillment to your workday.