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PEOPLE IMPACT [Makers Monday Motivation 4.23.18]
 

At some point during my years working at Etsy, I attended a learning lecture on productivity led by our then CEO, Chad Dickerson. I anticipated that the lecture would focus on what software he used, or calendar management system worked best for our work culture. Instead, I walked away with one of the most valuable life tips I’ve ever learned. 

Chad said, the #1 most important factor that will influence your productivity is your relationships. 

He spoke about how the people we surround ourselves with will either inspire, support, and motivate us, or they will weigh us down, distract us, drain us of our energy, and ultimately create roadblocks to our progress and kill our productivity. 

Boom. 

Chad dropped a major truth bomb on me that day. 

Productivity isn’t as simple as an online tool or a calendar system to manage your workload. It involves a holistic approach to how you live your life both personally and professionally. 

I’m confident that regardless if your creative business is primarily a solo-venture or you work with a team, you have relationships, partners, co-workers, vendors, clients, customers and friends that influence what your days look like. For this week’s Makers Monday Motivation, I encourage you to take a few moments to honestly consider how the relationships in your life are currently impacting your creative productivity. 


REFLECT: 

  • Identify the 2-5 people you spend the most time with. How do these individuals impact your productivity? 
  • Do you have any relationships in your life that weigh you down, distract you, drain you of your energy, and ultimately create roadblocks to your creative progress? If so, is there anything you can do to shift the influence of these individuals?

ACT: 

  • Are you currently involved or working with any peer or professional groups? If not, can you make it a priority to research and find some peers you can connect with on a regularly basis? 
  • Set up a coffee with someone you are inspired by or respect and see if you can share about your business and hear their feedback. 
  • Make the space in your schedule to spend time each week (either in person or over the phone) connecting with someone who builds you up and motivates you. 

bviously some relationships in life we don’t get to choose, they are there because of a common association such as a job, a neighborhood, a family, etc. That said, we each have the ability to take ownership of where we want to get our influence and seek out relationships that build us up. IMO, having a business coach is a solid way to insure you always have a teammate on your side that will help you stay motivated and moving forward toward your dreams and goals. If you’d like a supportive partner on your team, I’d love to come beside you. Schedule a free 30 min intro coaching phone-session today

 We’re in this together!

Ashley

 
TAX TIME [Makers Monday Motivation 4.9.18]
 
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“Yeah, it’s tax time!” - said no creative ever

The start of April inevitably means it’s time to do your taxes. Love them or hate them (I’ve yet to meet a maker who really enjoys this annual ritual), taxes are critical to keeping any small creative business running successfully, so for this week’s Maker Monday Motivation I wanted to pass along some words of encouragement and simple tips, to help you as you take on the accounting tasks in your week ahead.


Tips to turn your tax time into an empowering (and possibly even enjoyable) part of running your creative business:

Shift your mindset:

  • Look at tax time as an opportunity to really see how your creative venture preformed.
  • Consider doing your taxes as a great chance to get organized.
  • Be grateful you’ve chosen a creative pursuit instead of crunching numbers all day ;)!
  • Is your studio in your home? Running your own creative biz allows you to write off a portion of your bills such as your rent, utilities, internet...that’s pretty cool!
  • Make your tax prep hours more enjoyable with this Spotify playlist by Billboard.

Prepare throughout the year:

  • Track the miles you drive for business purposes with the MileIQ app.
  • Set up an accounting software to track your income and expenses year round. (I’m a big fan of Freshbooks)
  • Save receipts! Your creative business (even as a side-hustle) allows you to deduct many of the things you spend money on each day (ie: that coffee date where you talked about your products; your design magazine subscriptions; visiting museums for “research”). The Shoeboxed app is a great way to insure you never lose a receipt.

Get help:

  • Taxes stress you out? Hire an accountant and let someone else do the number crunching and tax preparation for you.

Need some help getting organized so tax time isn't so stressful in the future? I’d love to support you. Schedule a free 30 min intro coaching phone-session.

We’re in this together,

Ashley

 
CHECK THE TECH [Makers Monday Motivation 3.26.18]
 
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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship with technology. Particularly my attachment to my smartphone. Despite my best efforts, I’m really struggling to set and keep realistic boundaries when it comes to how many hours of my day I spend looking at a tiny screen. 

Can you relate?

As a small business owner, I’m incredibly grateful for the ways technology enables me to run my business efficiently with low-overhead, and from anywhere. That said, if I’m honest with myself, I know that as a business coach, if one of my clients had an employee that they were as dependent upon, or wasted as much time chatting with as I do with my cell-phone, I’d wave a red flag and advise them on steps to change this!

I can no longer ignore this gnawing feeling that my smart phone is slowly starting to manage meinstead of me managing it.

Inspired by an article I read, my husband and I decided to use our recent vacation as a chance to truly see if we could disconnect from our phones for a week. We made a commitment to each other that we would be truly present for the duration of our vacation, instead of checked-out staring at our screens or sharing each experience on social media with people miles away. We even went so far as to give our parents the number of the hotel we were staying and advising them that if there was an emergency the front desk would be the best way to get in touch.

The result: it was incredibly refreshing and good for our relationship, but it was also incredibly hard. 

What we quickly realized was just how accustom we’ve gotten to using apps to navigate the day-to-day activities in our lives and how much of the modern way of existing is dependent on our phones.

So, being rational folks, from time-to-time we allowed some exceptions: we used Google Maps to find our way to destinations, we used Yelp to help select a restaurant, we used Lyft to get car rides, we used Postmates to order food to our hotel for lunch, and we electronically checked-in for our flight. 

These uses were innocent enough, however the real challenge was once the phone was open and our use of the particular app over...there is a strong impulse to go look at other things on the phone, which inevitably gets you sucked into time wasting screen-staring. 

Smartphones are addicting, and honoring boundaries takes incredible self-discipline. 

We tried our best and yet still we sometimes stumbled.

Since being home, I’ve been considering ways I could realistically stop having my phone be the single tool I use to operate so much of my life: I could get a newspaper subscription, an alarm clock, a landline, carry a camera, find paper maps, use the yellow pages, an address book….you know, like how we did before smart phones.

Is this the right solution? Is it at all realistic? 

I’m not sure. I’m still grappling with it.

That said, I do know I don’t want to spend so many hours of my life staring at a screen. I want more space to think creatively and more time spent actually in the present. It is a priority for me to create more balance and become less dependant on a single device. 

So, for this weeks Monday Motivation Challenge, I’d like to encourage you to consider your relationship with your smartphone and brainstorm together with me ways to create more balance. I believe this effort will inevitably help move your creative ventures forward and allow more space for making.


THINK:

  • How do you feel about your relationship with your devices?
  • Write a list of the ways your phone has made your life better/more productive and also what ways you think it has had a negative impact.
  • Consider what steps could you take to create more balance or set greater boundaries with your devices?

ACT: 

  • Install the Moment app to track how much time you actually spend on your phone
  • Create some attainable boundaries for your devices (no phones in the bedroom, no screens after 8pm, only look at certain sites on your desktop)
  • Delete time-wasting apps
  • Try to not fill down-time with screens (try just wait in a line, or the elevator, or for the train without looking at your phone)

I’m yet to come up with the perfect solution for how to manage my smart phone use, so if you come up with any great ideas in this weeks brainstorm or that you have found work in your own life, please share them with me! In the meantime, if you want to connect one-one-one with someone in real life to talk about how to start crushing your goals for your creative business, schedule a free 30 min intro coaching phone-session.

We’re in this together,

Ashley

 
GUARD YOUR TIME [Makers Monday Motivation
 
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If I were to ask you what you did with your last 24 hours, would you be able to tell me?

Or to take it a step further, would you be able to tell me how many hours in the last week you spent on activities that will bring you income or move your dreams forward? 

If not, you are not alone. 

Most of us spend our days with constant activity, but we are pretty unaware of just where our time is going. However, for the creative small business owner or folks who aspire to start a business, this lack of self-awareness can be a key factor that prevents you from success. 

This is because our time is so valuable. 

If you think about it, time is the one thing in our lives that no matter how rich, poor, smart, driven, or lazy we are...we each only get 24 hours in a day. Many of those hours will be filled with responsibilities that have nothing to do with our creative ventures. Which is why I believe, the ability to make productive use of time is one of the biggest skills that separate those creators who build thriving businesses from those who struggle. 

In an age of being endlessly busy, we often spend our time constantly “doing” but if we are honest with ourselves, we might be “doing” things that are not getting us anywhere near our goals, or even worse doing things that are merely a waste of our precious time.

But I’m here to share that I believe there is hope for the most time challenged among us. Time management is something we all can learn to get better at! One of the first steps is to get self-aware and learn where your time is actually going. By getting more self aware, you can gain a clear picture of how to prioritize the activities that will move you toward doing work that will make you money or move your dreams forward.

For this weeks Monday Motivation Challenge, I’m sharing a simple exercise you can try to help get more clarity on where you time is going so you can make better use of it in the months ahead.


TRACK IT!

Step 1: Spend a week tracking where your time actually goes.

Step 2: For maximum effectiveness, it is important to track all of your time, from that 20 minutes you spent in line getting a coffee to the 30 minutes you spent scrolling through social media before bed. The key to getting self aware is to be honest and make sure you capture everything.

Step 3: I’ve created a chart you can use to keep track of your days activities the low-tech way by carrying around a pen and paper for a week DOWNLOAD HERE, or you can try a digital method by finding an app that helps track your time.

Step 4: After a week, review your chart and see if there are any ways you can make better use of your time to prioritize activites that matter most to you.


Time management may seem like a simple secret to creative success, but the sooner you start getting control of your time, the sooner you will start making more money with your creative business.

We’re in this together,

Ashley

 
ROUTINES MATTER [Makers Monday Motivation 1.15.18]
 
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No matter how tired I am, or how busy a day I have, or how early I have to get up, or even if I’m traveling and it’s a weekend, there is one thing I do every morning without question....

I make my bed.

Surprisingly, this ritual was not something ingrained in me as a child as a chore, rather, something I chose to start on my own in my first year of college, and I’ve continued to do it every day since.

In a profound way, accomplishing this simple daily morning routine makes my days better. Making my bed makes me feel like there is at least some order in my life, gives me confidence to take on bigger tasks throughout my day, and provides me some reassurance that no matter what the world throws at me once I walk out my door, when I get home I will have a made bed to return to.

When the world around us seem crazy and so much of what we experience in life out of our control, our routines - no matter how simple - can keep us grounded and sane.

This is why I’m a firm believer that our morning routines matter.

For creatives, the idea of a routine may seem rigid and boring. However, I know for my own creativity, having some basic structure in place frees up my mental space from thinking about basic tasks and in turn allows me more energy for making.

The start of a new year is a great time to try to implement new habits that will set you up to reach your goals and live a more productive creative life. This week’s Maker Monday Motivation challenge includes a few questions to help you identify what you can do to insure you start your day strong!


Consider the following:

  • Do you have any daily routines?
    • Are there currently any morning rituals that you do that help set you up for a successful day?
    • Are there any habits in your life currently that get in the way of your productivity?
  • Identify one action/task that you can try to do each morning that can help start your day on a positive note.
    • Commit to trying this activity each morning for at least two weeks. Make note of any changes you notice.

Changing up our routines can be challenging, but sometimes little changes can make a big impact on our lives. If this week your reflection time leads you to realize that you have fallen into unproductive habits and routines that are preventing your business from growing, please reach out! I’d love to work with you to implement new daily rhythms that will support a thriving creative life and profitable business.

We’re in this together,

Ashley