The winter cold has finally decided to stay here in Ohio (it’s supposed to snow on Sunday!!!! Hurray!) and if you know me at all, you know I try to celebrate Christmas for as long as humanly possible. I’m starting TODAY. And to celebrate, I’m opening up my 3rd Annual Christmas City Swap to the masses! You can read about the last two years here.
I was considered an artist and a painter most of my childhood (into my teens). In college and up until this year, I was called a designer. The other day Adam called me a photographer and I kind of freaked out. I’m not sure if any of you can relate but it’s been a transition this year. Over half of our income has come from photography and it sometimes it’s just weird. Am I weird?
Ohhhhh right! I have a blog! Damn. I forgot. But I’m back because I remembered and then I realized I miss you all! I usually call these “Let’s Get Coffee” but I’ve already had three cups. You know the drill. I’m asking 5 questions. Answer them in the comments so I can “meet” you and see who’s still here. I’m secretly asking five things that I just want to share.
- What’s one album that you can’t stop listening to?
- What’s one thing you’re doing lately to make yourself better?
- Where does your best friend live? And how did you meet him/her?
- What have you been wanting to do but just…haven’t?
- Do you think I should host another Christmas City Swap (it would be the 3rd annual!)?
- Taylor Swift’s 1989. No shame.
- I’m currently doing Whole 30. I’m on day 8! Feeling GREAT! Yes, that rhymes.
- Huntsville, Alabama. I met her on the internet. I have a few other soulmates but we don’t talk as often.
- Take a whole week off working. I’m honestly thinking about taking a whole Christmas break off work. !!!!
- I’m on the fence…should I do it??
LET’S HEAR IT!
I live in Ohio and we (generally) have four solid seasons throughout the year. I grew up in Illinois and so the landscape tends to be quite the same but just a bit more flat. For the last 27 years of my life, I’ve been romanced by each season and it never gets old. Isn’t that funny? I never tire of the humid summers, the spring rain, the crisp autumn air or the dark, bleak winter. Never.
Things like sweater weather, pumpkin spiced lattes, boots and bonfires become “typical” and worthy of an eye roll.
But guess what? We should all do what makes us smile. A little siesta during the day to get a flavored coffee doesn’t make you typical. You know what makes us typical? Needing a little siesta at a Starbucks because we’re working 24/7 or denying ourselves self-care.
So figure out what makes you smile during the day and DO THAT. It will become a habit. And those habits are the best.
“Oh my gosh! You’re so busy! I don’t know how you do it!”
I hear this phrase almost weekly. And I hate it. Busy shouldn’t be glorified. 80-100 hour work weeks is embarrassing. Being unorganized + chaotic steps from a deeper issue. I listened to Kathleen’s Circles talk a few days ago and really resonated with it (listen to it!). She talks about how changing her perspective really shaped the way her day-to-day work life felt. I decided to try this yesterday and I’m pleased to say…it works!
Some other things I’ve been doing to make myself better:
- Choosing positivity (sounds lame but when my mental state is positive…life is sweet)
- Hiring a business coach
- Working with the right clients
- Turning off all iPhone notifications
For the past 6 months, I’ve been really attentive to myself and self-care. While I haven’t mastered it (and most weeks, utterly fail), I do see a difference when I’m aware and when I prioritize myself. While chatting with my friend Blaine last month, he shared that he was launching a really amazing online experience called Make Better. The concept: when YOU are better, you MAKE better. I’m excited to dive into the class, meet others who are dealing with the same issues but also who are proactive. Those that are tired of this being the “norm.”
I asked Blaine if I could share with my readers + he graciously offered the first week free. Instead of $197, you’ll pay $172! You can click here to sign up. Then comment below so I know we’ll be going through it together.
I’m off to Vegas (first time I won’t work during a vacation since 2012!) but I wanted to share two things:
- It’s my husband Adam’s birthday. To celebrate, you can donate.
- And if you’re still in the giving mood, I just launched my eBook today! I co-authored the book with Claire and we are so excited to share it! It’s called Charge Up and it’s all about being an introvert, building a business and managing your energy. I can’t wait to hear what you think! Comment below and let me know! You can read more about it + purchase it here.
*Photo was a double exposure in my Canon 5D Mark III that Adam took. SO FUN!
At any point of the day I’ll look down at my notebook and when I glance back at my computer (or my phone), I’ll see:
- 7 new emails from clients, one from Refinery29, and a shipping notification from Amazon.
- 3 texts from another client.
- A missed call. Oh it’s an 800 number. Also, I have 66 unread voicemails because some guy who used to have my number is wanted by the police.
- A flashing gchat message from our developer.
- And a Skype chat from my good friend in Australia (who I’m also co-publishing a book with).
- Not to mention FB and Twitter private messages that I tend to always miss.
“Oh wow, I’m so popular,” I’ll think to myself. But seriously I’ll pause whatever I was sketching or writing to tend to these messages. After fifteen minutes, I’ll have handled everything. I look back up and they’ve all replenished (because, go figure, people respond) and I’ll cry a little on the inside. Because I’m so distracted, I’ll get on Twitter or start online shipping.
SIDENOTE: THIS IS THE MOST UNPRODUCTIVE SEQUENCE OF EVENTS, EVER
So this week I’m putting my foot down and taking control of all these forms of communication. Here’s my approach. I’d love to hear your thoughts or if you have any better ideas.
- EMAIL: As I have been doing (but sometimes slack on), I’m only checking email 3 times a day. I check it in depth at 9am once I’m in our studio. I respond to emails, get clients files/feedback, write guests posts or respond to interviews from fellow bloggers and archive. At 2pm, I check it again. The third time takes place at 6-6:30pm before I shut down for the day. Truthfully, I check my email WAY more than those 3 times but since putting this in my footer, I at least know that most people don’t expect an instant response. There’s a part of me that loves to be organized and messy inbox is troubling. This week I’m implementing a more customized auto-responder while I’m working for certain chunks of time. I was inspired by Lisa’s post.
- TEXTS: I turned iMessages on on my computer and I can’t decide if it was a good decision or not. Most of my texts that come through are from friends and I love being able to talk to them all day. Having the messages come through on my computer makes it easier to reply and a bit less distracting than picking up my phone every time. I also have one client that texts me consistently but I know I could transition them into Skype. I know fellow designers/entrepreneurs who don’t text back because…they’re at work! Still debating how I should handle this.
- PHONE CALLS: I’m changing my voicemail to: “Hi this is Allie’s phone. Thanks for calling. I probably didn’t answer because your number is not stored in my phone as a contact. Please feel free to text or email me at email@example.com if you need anything. I don’t listen to voicemails.” <- obviously this will annoy a lot of people but I can’t be on top of every form of communication.
- GCHAT OR SKYPE? I’m going to make myself invisible on Google chat. Most people don’t message me there except Adam and our developer. I also talk to both of them via Skype randomly. I think Skype will be an easier place to consolidate chats because it’s also how I take calls from clients virtually and where I talk to Claire (almost daily).
- FB/TWITTER MESSAGES: I wish I could automate a message when someone DMs me on either social network. I tend to read them and immediately forget about them. I haven’t installed the FB messenger app on my iPhone and don’t get notifications from Twitter on my phone. Anyone else have this problem?
This might seem like such an insignificant problem but I noticed how it was negatively impacting my productivity. When it comes down to it, I don’t owe anyone my availability in 7 different ways. Gosh, I miss letters in the mail. Hopefully my thoughts helped any of you running into the same issues but secretly I hope you share some of your own tips with me!
I only blogged once last week because it was THE WEEK OF PHOTOSHOOTS! It was pretty rad but (as an introvert) I’m excited for a pretty chill week this week! Up above you can see some behind the scene looks from the shoots:
- 12-hour photo and video shoot for Ecco Domani on Tuesday. I project managed and planned the entire day! We hired a mixologist to create 9 original winetails (cocktails with a wine focus), we filmed how-to videos for 7 of the winetails and photographed the complete list of 15! It was pretty amazing. Two of the clients flew out to Columbus from LA and we finally got to meet in person. It was so fun.
- Fit Food shoot for their new fall menu on Friday. Think deep colors, moody vibes and comfort food. Plus how amazing is the new container they might use for salads?
- Then on Saturday I shot a wedding in Hocking Hills! It was muggy, humid but BEAUTIFUL. It didn’t rain so it was fine by me. Excited to show more photos from the day later…
- + not pictured…gearing up for September 2nd’s Death to Stock pack drop!
Food prep Sundays are a big thing in the blogging/online health world. I actually tend to prep food all weekend long. I don’t like to spend most of my Sunday in the kitchen so I try to spread it out a bit. I thought I’d give you a quick breakdown of how I plan meals + prepare meals for a busy week. I eat gluten-free and usually grain free/sugar free.
First, I go to the farmers’ market
I usually go to the farmers’ market or the nearby indoor market first. I like to get the produce that’s in season and looks the most appetizing. This past weekend I stopped by the neighborhood farmers’ market on Saturday and picked up:
- Lots of tomatoes
- A quart of sweet onions
- Green beans
- 3 large sweet potatoes
- Beets to juice
I figured I’d make a bit batch of tomato basil soup for lunches and know that I always crave sweet potatoes and green beans. I’m a bit sick of zucchini and I regret not getting some white potatoes.
Then I list out what we’ll eat for breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the upcoming week!
I find a scrap piece of paper and a list out Saturday through the following Thursday. I know that by Friday nights, neither of us wants to cook so we usually get takeout. I look at our schedule and decide which nights I’ll have time to spend in the kitchen and the other nights where I might be a bit rushed due to social events or meetings. I also lump in breakfasts and lunches and try to only eat 1-2 varying meals. This week looked like this:
- Breakfasts: Smoothies, bacon and peanut butter/banana crepes
- Lunches: Quesadillas, tomato basil soup, sweet potato hash
- Saturday dinner: Lentil pasta and alfredo sauce
- Sunday dinner: The Domestic Man’s fried chicken + green beans
- Monday dinner: Quinoa bake
- Tuesday dinner: Out with clients
- Wednesday dinner: Honey sriracha chicken + sweet potato
- Thursday dinner: Out for date night
Once my list is complete, I round out what else I need from the grocery
This past weekend I had to grab basil, canned plum tomatoes and bananas. I already had meat + everything else! I try to get all my protein from Whole Foods or the local market/local butcher and then I go to Kroger for almost everything else!
Time to prep!
I try to keep my prep to a minimum. I like fresh food and I don’t like to snack a lot. On Saturday I peeled and shredded two large sweet potatoes and made the tomato basil soup!
I love that I can just grab a container of shredded sweet potatoes and create a quick hash. I love to top with goat cheese, ricotta or bacon. While I did that, I was roasting my tomatoes. The soup takes a bit of time but it’s so delicious.
On Sunday, I made a huge batch of bacon in the oven and made a cup of quinoa in the rice cooker. While it was cooking, I also made about 8-10 crepes/tortillas. I don’t know what to call this but it’s originally a Paleo naan recipe. I always have a frozen batch on hand. I just heat it on a skillet and top with cream cheese/smoked salmon, peanut butter and bananas or straight cheese! I love these because they don’t taste coconut-y at all. Very neutral and delicious. Excuse my poor photo quality on day! Ha! 10pm and on my iPhone.
So that’s how I prepare for a busy week! It prevents us from eating crappy food and spending a ton of money. I leave dinners to be a bit more complex but at any time I can eat a crepe/tortilla, whip up some eggs to go with my bacon, make a sweet potato hash or add quinoa to a salad! Also, that soup is deeeelish.
How to you prepare for the week? Do you tend to make everything day-by-day? Or do you get some of this stuff out of the way before the week starts? Also, link to any great recipes!
Last week I wrote about how I’ve been handling my schedule and my friend Kathyrn left a comment about how Jessica Hische recently posted about her schedule as well! I really loved Jessica’s post and decided to implement a little more structure to my own self-care and personal life. She outlined her mornings, how she handles her lunch breaks and exercise. I need to prioritize my own self-care just as much as my meetings and productivity.
THEN I read Jeff Finley’s post about how he’s maintained a morning routine for over a year. I loved how he wakes up to do anything and everything he loves. Want to watch a tv show? Do it. Love working out? Yep that too. Breakfast, reading and yoga? OK! A lot of times we’re constantly told that we need to wake up, meditate without falling asleep and then BECOME PRODUCTIVE ASAP!
For those of you who know me at all, you know that I’m a night owl. For about a decade I’ve been staying up until 2-3am and then allowing myself a semi/decent night’s sleep. If you’re at all living in the professional world, you know that waking up at 10 or 11am doesn’t really cut it. By then, the entire world has been chugging along for quite some time. You wake up to an ungodly amount of emails, you feel behind and you begin your day feeling rushed.
Last week, I decided to change my life pretty radically. For an entire week, I woke up at 7am and stopped working by 6:30pm and I’m pretty sure I’ll never go back. Heck, I might wake up even earlier!
But here’s the truth: I don’t like waking up early. I do love having two hours to myself before I start my day. I was able to sit outside when it was still cool, eat breakfast, drink coffee and do my makeup. Those are four things that I hardly ever do. I’m a nicer person when I have done those four things. As an introvert, I’m a nicer person when I’ve had time to myself. I get a jump start on my emails and then I can dive into being creative and productive. This week a woke up a bit later mostly because we had family staying with us so I was limited to staying upstairs so I didn’t wake anyone up! Without coffee, loud music and breakfast, I end up just hitting my snooze. What does your morning schedule look like? Do you have a routine? Do you allow yourself to do the things you enjoy or do you jump straight into tasks?
PS: In case you missed it, you can sign up for a sneak peek of my new book Charge Up! Learn to build a business and manage your energy as an introvert.