Monday Series: A First!


For the first time since I began this self-employment journey, I can report that I finished just about everything I set out to do last week. I'll elaborate (of course I will).

  1. Find a way to incorporate 20hrs of work on the design job—Done—It's become clear to me that this is not going to occur in neat little pockets of 4 hours a day. Also, I may not necessarily hit 20 hours each week if I'm able to finish the task I set out to do in less time. This is fine. 20 hours is a guidepost, not a law.
  2. Complete 2 milestones for the design job—Done—10 years of estimating design work has finally left me with a somewhat reasonable understanding of how long it takes me to get stuff done and I was able to use that to finish what I set out to do; stress-free.
  3. Determine which commission I'm going to tackle next—Done.
  4. Finish it, if possible—Not Done—but I have made significant progress on it. I consider this a victory even though it isn't finished. It's well ahead of its deadline.
  5. Make small progress on the A&C pattern—Done—I actually made a lot of progress on this! I used Friday's extended studio time with my artist mastermind group to work on it exclusively. 
  6. DO. TAXES. (At least the estimated quarterly)—Done—And I didn't even have to pay estimated quarterly taxes because I didn't make enough profit. Lol... womp womp. The silver lining is that I did, in fact, turn a profit in my first year of business which few can say and 65% of the expenses I incurred in said year were due to education fees that I shouldn't need in future years. So this is all positive.

Things I'm learning:

  • It may be more beneficial to devote entire days (or half-days) to certain projects instead of trying to segment hour by hour. The time and energy it takes to shift gears from one thing to another is inefficient and stressful. This means I may work 2ish full days per week on my design job and 2ish full days on commissions, and most of a day on stuff like admin or order fulfillment.
  • Related to the above: Daily goals are fine unless they cause unnecessary stress. Then they're stupid. Consistency over a longer period of time is more important than trying to check a box every day. This has come up in more than one blog post from more than one person I follow. I've also been slowly stumbling upon this realization in my own life at the same time. Some things are worth doing every day (yoga and meditation perhaps). Some things are not (4 very structured hours of a design contract, 30-minutes of pattern deign, not drinking alcohol, etc). My daily to do list was getting out of control. It's more important to me to make large, life-altering changes over time rather than small aggressive changes for like a 14 day stretch.
  • Sometimes it's nice to exercise in the middle of the day. I get restless very easily. Exercise helps. Sometimes doing it in the middle of the day makes me unproductive for the rest of the day. Sometimes it doesn't. I'll play with this more. If I don't do it midday, I'll almost always do it at 4. I'm finding that I can't wake up early enough to get a full 8 hours of work in before 4pm (and I almost never get back to work after that) so shifting exercise to midday makes a little more sense if I can pull myself back in to work when I'm done. 

I feel kind-of-good about my velocity at the moment. This is weird. Maybe I've gotten more productive. Maybe I've reduced my expectations to something more realistic. Likely, it's a combo of the two. I'm not naive enough to assume I'll feel this way every week for the rest of my life but I suspect that it will begin happening more often. I'm slowly beginning to find the balance between freedom and rigidity when it comes to scheduling and I'm also becoming a little better at focusing on one task at a time.

What is helping:

  • My artist mastermind group—We meet from 9ish to noonish on Monday/Wednesday/Friday and work silently alongside one another. Having someone to say hello to at 9am is SO helpful in getting my ass in my desk chair on time.
  • Meditation—In just two weeks of regular meditation, I find that I am better able to recognize when my thoughts are drifting away from the present and I am able to softly pull my attention back into place. TWO WEEKS. What will a year of this do for me?
  • Accomplishing Things—It's a snowball effect. Finishing something gives me energy to start something else, etc etc. It's the inertia thing I've mentioned before. Moniques at rest tend to stay at rest. Moniques in motion tend to stay in motion. I'm picking up speed now. The danger at this point is burning myself out by picking up TOO much speed. (This is why it's nice to end the day with exercise... I just don't like running in the dark.)

Here are my goals for the week ahead:

  1. Finish the commission I started last week
  2. Possibly start another commission if I finish early enough
  3. Accomplish a milestone in the design job (intentionally vague due to the NDA I signed)
  4. Make more progress with the A&C pattern (maybe even finish it? we'll see)
  5. Explore Pinterest options as it relates to my business

General time goals:

  • Approximately 20 hours of work on the design project
  • Approximately 10 hours of work on commissions
  • Approximately 10 hours of work on A&C pattern creation, admin, and other miscellaneous tasks.

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