planning

Last month I shared how to get out of a creative funk. This month I wanted to share how I plan my days because it was requested that I share what I do. What I do obviously won’t work for everyone, but it’s something that works really well for me. I’m the type of person that if it’s not written down, it doesn’t get done. I can go to the store for a dozen eggs but if it’s not on my shopping list, I’ll get everything (that I don’t need) and forget the eggs. I’m a mess that way. So much so that when my mom asks me to do something she tells me (every time), “write yourself a note.” At least I know I’m this way, right? So here’s how I plan my days, because with three businesses (this, this and this), two kids, a hubby and house to take care of I’m feeling spread pretty thin these days. I know you all can relate. Life’s hard. Life’s busy. Life’s expensive. This method helps me to be a little less crazy. A little.

monthly planning

Before the nuttiness of summertime, I was doing great making Monthly, Weekly and Daily goals with the help of Lara Casey’s Power Sheets. I plan to go back to using them as soon as I make the time to set some goals again. (you can see previous goals here when I was diligent about them). Basically you set a few monthly goals – I did mine by categories: business, spiritual, physical, relational, finances. When you go through the power sheets she walks you through what your big goals are and then how to split them into smaller goals in order to help you better accomplish them. It’s a really great system…you don’t have to use power sheets to complete your goals but this sure helped me break them down. After monthly goals you set weekly ones (something you do once a week) and then also daily goals (shown below). As you can see already from my checkboxes in the picture, there were days when my goals didn’t get done. And I’m okay with that. Progress, not perfection as Lara says!

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Once I knew my goals, I could start putting them into my planner. In 2013 I used an Erin Condren Planner and this year I’m using Emily Ley’s. I haven’t decided what I’ll use in 2015 – I like to try new ones so I might try the Day Designer. Or I might make my own planning sheets. Jury’s still out on that one. I’ve gone back and forth with a paper planner vs. just my phone. I do keep my schedule in my phone, but I still transfer it to my planner weekly. There’s just something about me and paper.

blog calendar

On the monthly view of the calendar in my planner I plan my blog posts. Yes, I color code the calendar so that I can see which posts are for Amy Cornwell, LLC and which are for Natural Living Real Life. Plus I love colorful pens. And really any office supplies. I digress. So the month is all planned out with my posts, then I check off when they’re complete. That way I know what to start thinking about when I have time on my calendar for blogging. I also put extras on that calendar like photo shoots and freebie fridays. Just to keep my eyes on what’s going out to the world on the blog and enews.

daily planner

Once I have my blog planned for the month, I can start planning my days. Normally I like to plan my days on Sunday – I put all of my appointments in then plan out production days for the jewelry business. It takes priority over anything else, I want people to get their orders in a timely manner. After I plan production days, I plan what days I need to focus on getting my blog posts done and other tasks. I simply fill in the week. If something doesn’t get done on a certain day, it gets bumped to the next (see above where orders have a little arrow…apparently I didn’t get them all done with everything else so they were finished the next day). As I look at my tasks for the day, I refer back to the monthly calendar to make sure no blog posts get forgotten.

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For me, there’s something so gratifying about checking things off the list. Some days I only have one thing to do, other days I have 10 little things to do. But they all go “on the list” so that I can make sure nothing is missed and I can also look back and make sure that I actually did something I was supposed to do. Now it’s your turn – how to do plan your days? Do you plan them at all ahead of time or just take one day at a time? Weigh in below and we’ll learn from each other!

Tell me if this ever happens to you.  Let’s say I’m kind of having a not-so-great day.  Maybe it’s that day a few months ago when I had a two year old, a one year old, and an infant, the washer caught on fire (not even kidding), the hose to it popped off and flooded the hallway, and I had to turn the water in the whole house off until it got fixed.  And it was winter.  I’m sure there were other “crises” that day – I’m sure someone blew out a diaper, more than likely I got spit up on, I cooked three meals, and no doubt cleaned up the same toys 16 times.  Even if you’re not a mom, you’ve had this day.

You’ve gotten to work and you had a project due.  Your network went down, leaving you high and dry.  The other guy who was supposed to help you on the project called in sick, you forgot your lunch, and when the network finally comes back up at 3:30, you get busy, until the power goes out.

I mean, right? I’m sure there’s some Murphy’s Law about all this, or some expression about raining and pouring.  There’s a mountain of work to be done, people to be pleased or helped, and these roadblocks leave us wondering if it’s really worth it.  If it really all matters.  Because no one’s calling me a hero for solving the washer problem.

I’ve asked myself a million times what the value is in one more load of laundry, one more encouraging text to someone who doesn’t reply, cooking one more meal, and realized it came down to who I thought I was giving up for.  Who was I giving up my free time, my rest, my night’s sleep, my family time, my vacation,…who did I give them up for?  My kids?  My coworkers?  My parents?  Friends?

It came down to something Jesus said – If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. (Matt. 16:25)

And here all along, the reason I was getting discouraged was I was looking to the wrong people for affirmation, to notice.  I was doing those things for his sake, or her sake, or their sake, but not His sake.

Next time you’re having that day, remember this one – it always packs a punch: “Work willingly at whatever you do, though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Col. 3: 23)

I’m Amber Pierre, mother of 3 (ages 3, 2 and 1) and expecting baby #4.  I love to sew, but I’m not that great at it, and I love to cook, and no one has had food poisoning yet, which is totally how I determine that I’m a fantastic cook.  I am home with my kids, and work part-time as a translator from home.  Sometimes the lines of my “work” get blurry, and I wonder if one more load of laundry is going to make any kind of eternal impact.  After doing some Bible reading, I’ve realized that it’s my attitude about doing the laundry (or whatever) that matters…

 

The last few months have been slow in the shop – the normal summer lull. I’ve been unmotivated and quite honestly in a creative funk. Now that school is back in session I’m excited to get back into things and get pumped about the Christmas season ahead. Today I thought I’d share a few tips on how to kick a creative funk. Be sure to leave your own in the comments below.

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have an encouragement wall in your studio/office

I just recently moved my sewing/computer desk under my encouragement wall, so that when I’m working on the blog, shop or Natural Living Real Life, I can look up and see the encouragement of my family, friends & customers from throughout the years. It’s such a joy to look up and see these handwritten notes and it encourages me to keep moving forward with what I’m doing. I’d suggest that everyone have an encouragement wall or at least a box to keep cards in to revisit on a regular basis.

think outside of your normal box

For the last 11+ years I’ve created things that I like personally for my jewelry shop. Lately I feel like that mindset has been stifling me, so I’m working now to branch out and create some styles that might not be my cup of tea but that could be someone else’s. It’s fun to think outside my normal jewelry box (pun intended) and helps stretch my creative muscles. I believe we all need that. We need to be stretched and challenged to come up with something new and different.

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collaborate with someone else

Collaborating is so important! Of course, you want to be sure that you know who the person is and how they work before you collaborate to protect yourself. However, collaborations can help you get out of that normal box that I spoke about earlier and can stretch you to do something new. It’s also a great way to cross-promote and energize your creativity. I did this the other day with a friend who has a fashion blog. She and I came up with a Belle of the Midwest collection that we’ll be launching next month. At first I was nervous because it’s not necessarily the style that I’ve been doing in my shop, but then I got really excited about what this collaboration can bring. Finally I became excited to create again!

have an inspiration wall or binder (or pinterest board)

We all need inspiration! Creative funks hit everyone. So start saving things that inspire you or that you like. Clip things out of magazines, even if they don’t have anything to do with what you create in your shop. Clip out favorite colors, textures, ideas, quotes – and then put them up on the wall or in a binder that you can look through when you’re in a rut. If you’re more the electronic type, keep a Pinterest board. If you don’t want other people to see it, make it a hidden board that is for your eyes only. We all do it, no shame.

How do you kick a creative funk?

At our house, we really love having company over.  Friends, family, neighbors…we don’t really care, we just like having people over.  Now, I do, in fact, subscribe to that 3-day rule about fish and houseguests, but for a time, they’re fun, we love the newness, the laughing, late night card games, the schedule change, and fancier desserts.

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The thing about sleep-over company, though, is that after a little while, I need some space.  I need the freedom to be cranky for a minute, to make sandwiches tonight for supper, to stop washing towels for a day or two, and everyone to be quiet.  (My mom told me it gets easier, that I just need to “keep practicing.”  Then she quoted that verse about practicing hospitality and said, “It doesn’t say you have to be good at it, it just says keep practicing.”  Oh yes. Yes, she did.)

As I was thinking (and feeling kind of guilty) about this the other day, I went ahead and kind of heaped a little more on by realizing that I kind of treat God like company sometimes.  I’m glad to see him when He shows up, I always remember to be really polite and nice, I make sure to put clean towels out, but then I assign Him the guest room for Himself and His convictions.  I don’t really want Him roaming into the pantry, the master bathroom, my junk drawer, or thumbing through my journal.  Because those are none of His business, right?  Right?

We’ve had quite a bit of company this summer, and as I thought this through a little bit, I recognized that none of the company we’d had really gave a flying leap about the state of my pantry or junk drawer.  They were here to see me.  They wanted to spend time with me, play with my kids, talk to my husband, and love on our family.

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Last year, before I had our baby, my sister came and helped me clean out and reorganize all our dressers and closets as we moved kids’ rooms around and made room for another little one.  She didn’t once open a closet and scream or say, “WHAT in the world exploded in here?!”  She’d start throwing out junk she knew I didn’t want and moved and straightened up the rest.  She wasn’t judging me, and didn’t tell her friends about how obscene my dressers were afterward.

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At the risk of sounding like I’m diminishing God, I’ll say that’s the kind of company He is.  The kind that comes to love on us, bless us, take us out to eat, and bring us gifts.  If He gets here and that corner of your heart needs cleaned out, He’s happy to help with that too, without any histrionics.

1 Peter 4:8-10 – Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 

I’m Amber Pierre, mother of 3 (ages 3, 2 and 1) and expecting baby #4.  I love to sew, but I’m not that great at it, and I love to cook, and no one has had food poisoning yet, which is totally how I determine that I’m a fantastic cook.  I am home with my kids, and work part-time as a translator from home.  Sometimes the lines of my “work” get blurry, and I wonder if one more load of laundry is going to make any kind of eternal impact.  After doing some Bible reading, I’ve realized that it’s my attitude about doing the laundry (or whatever) that matters…

 

For the last few months, I’ve been in my slow season for the business. I’ve gone on this health journey and started a new blog since then so I have to assume God has allowed all of this to happen together knowing that otherwise I wouldn’t have had time to start sharing what I’m learning. I’ve been really excited to share with others about food and essential oils as medicine, which in turn has made me less excited about making jewelry. Which has made me sad to think about. I do feel like God has given me the gift of creativity, so I don’t ever see myself not being creative – I just think I’m in an uninspired place right now.

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Until the other day. I have had a vision for making some diffuser necklaces for a while now, at least the last month or so. I’ve searched and searched for another design that I have in my mind but was so excited when the idea came to me to use my wax seals to make wax seal diffuser necklaces. The perfect mixture of both of my worlds. And I was excited again. And the response on social media was awesome. Other people were excited about it as well.

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