Blogging

Time Management: A Full-Circle Attitude Adjustment

Posted by on Jul 5, 2012 | 3 comments

Hello Crafting Crazy friends!  I’m sure it seems a bit like crickets chirping here at my corner of the internet.  I will say that potty training a 3-year-old boy, dealing with a sick dog, and learning so much behind-the-scenes  material about blogging and photography has really thrown my brain for a loop. So today, I’m throwing out some material that I shared way back in April over at Chronically Distracted.  It’s actually very timely for me- I need to re-evaluate my time-management…. yet again!   I’d love to hear how you do it, too.  We can always learn from each other, right?  Enjoy!

………..

I’ll be honest here: I’m really a bit of a mess these days.  I’ve gone through a huge transition (for me) in the last eight months, and I’m still sorting myself out.  Here’s my backstory in bullet form:

  • elementary music teacher for 12 years
  • had three kids between 2007 & 2011.  Bam-bam-bam (done).
  • After becoming a mom, I didn’t want to teach anymore.  I wanted to be with my babes, but had to wait a bit.
  • Resigned from teaching in June of 2011.  Hooray!
  • Took on dreams and reality.  Dreams= being with kids, crafting & blogging.  Reality= we ain’t got no cash flow! Must earn cash!
  • Took on a WAH job that I love, but this new life is throwing me for a loop!

There ya go- me in a six-bullet-nutshell.

Today I’m going to share with you my full-circle journey in time management.  I say full-circle because while I have learned a lot in the last few months, I still feel like I am right back where I was when I started.  The difference?  My attitude is much more relaxed about time management than it was when I started because I made some minor changes in my approach.

What I wanted was to have a picture perfect day-to-day life.  I wanted to play with my kids, keep my house clean, work, craft, blog, cook, be a wife, and smile through it all.  Instead, I found myself tumbling into bed at night feeling stressed out that I didn’t get enough done, and wondering how I was going to “catch up” the next day.  I was also short-fused with my kids- I was inflexible with them and it showed.  It was time for a change.  Some action.  Some order.  So I got some books and I started reading about time management and organization.

One book instructed me to draw up a fairly detailed weekly schedule.  “This is exactly what I need!” I thought to myself.  “I need to plot out my week and just follow the schedule!”  So I tried.  I sat for several hours developing a schedule, and for one week… I was quite successful.  I did the laundry for our entire family of five in two days flat- folded and put away.  I cleaned a little each day, and my house looked awesome.  I assigned different tasks to different days in terms of blogging and work.   I even called my sister and told her that I really liked this new time-management thing- it was really helping!

I learned a week later, when “life” happened (husband working late, kids getting sick, etc.) and the schedule went out the window…it wasn’t realistic.  It was too rigid for me.   I’d allot time to blog while my kids were napping, but then one of them wouldn’t nap and I’d end up disappointed and stressed about not being able to finish what I started.  Or something would come up and I’d have to put the intended agenda on the back burner.  Does this mean the book was a waste of time?  Not at all.  It helped me prioritize and helped me examine the different hats I wear in my life.  And through trying a rigid schedule that I wanted so very much to live by, I realized that now, as a WAHM, I have to approach things differently.  I have to roll with the punches in a way I haven’t had to before.  Most importantly, I have to change my attitude.  Instead of getting frustrated when the kids have to take priority over editing photos or blogging, I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that they are the reason I’m trying to work from home- I want to be with them, not working away from them at a traditional job.

So here are those minor changes I mentioned earlier.   Maybe some of these would help you, or maybe they’ll spark an idea that would work even better for your situation.

{Get. Out.}  I get out of the house by myself at least one night a week, but usually/hopefully twice.  I go to Starbucks, I take my laptop and papers, and I work.  Without interruption.  I put the baby to bed and head out the door while my husband puts the big kids to bed.  I come home and I’ve accomplished something, not to mention I’ve had some hot chocolate that I didn’t have to make.

{Prioritize.}Family comes first.  Work comes before my blog.  This will hopefully change slightly as I craft and blog more and get more experience under my belt.  For now, I have to prioritize, and work gives me income, which is most important for my family right now, so that’s my focus.

{Keep it clean. But sane.}  One thing I did keep from that rigid schedule:  I still clean a little each day.  It just works better for me.  For example, Wednesday is bathroom day. (I hate Wednesdays.)  We have a decent sized house- if I leave it alone too long then it’s such a hassle to try and catch up.

{Wash it up- when needed.} I do NOT have a “laundry day”.  For some reason it irks me to wash a small pile of clothes every dang week.  I’d rather have my kids nearly run out of clothes and do a huge load for each of them.  So I do laundry as it needs to be done, no sooner.

{Ask and you shall receive.}  When I need help from my husband, I ask for it.  I don’t assume that he realizes I need it.  Thankfully, he obliges as often as he can.  If I need an extra night at Starbucks, he tells me to go.  Likewise, when he has projects crop up at work and has to stay until 2 a.m., I have to go with it.  He does, after all, bring home the bacon, so he should probably do his job.

{Give it Up}  I gave something up.  Sometimes you can’t just do it all.  For me, right now, that something is the self-induced pressure of getting to the gym.  I even wrote a post about rededicating myself to the gym once I was done breastfeeding my youngest, and that milestone has come and gone.  I have two mornings a week when my two big kids are at preschool, and technically I could take the baby to the child watch place and workout for an hour and a half.  The problem is that my baby naps in that window, and I think naps are super important for babies.  I could also drag all three kids with me to the gym, and… eventually I will.  But I need to feel more balance in my life in other areas before I throw a workout routine in the mix.

{Say “om.”} I relax.  I hate it when people say to “just relax,” but I need to.  Four-year-old giving up naps (somethingIholdsacredwhichgivesmepersonaltime)?  Deep breath.  I can handle this.  Nearly-three-year-old taking forever to potty train?  No biggie.  He’ll get there.  I’m trying to see the big picture- nobody naps forever, and no one cares when you stopped wearing diapers once you’re grown.  Right now I need to just meet my kids where they are, keep tabs on my attitude, and enjoy the moment.

Do you have any time management tricks?  Do you need a schedule or something more loose and fancy-free?  Do you throw a schedule out the window if things get crazy, or stick to it even more?

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Nobody’s Perfect: Blogging!

Posted by on Jun 4, 2012 | 4 comments

{Click here to read about the reasoning behind my Nobody’s Perfect series!}

sunflower taken at baby shower

I took this photo this weekend at a baby shower.  Good, right?  I’m getting better every day!

Today I’m starting a slightly-more-than-one-week class that is hopefully going to help me a LOT.  If you look in my sidebar over there on the right you’ll see a button for Content Brew.  It’s run by an amazing blogger, Melissa, who runs momcomm, and happens to work for the amazing Burts Bees, too.  Rad, right?

Melissa is going to enlighten us with how to plan the content for our blogs more efficiently. I need this.  I need this soooo bad.  I’m hoping a magic wand is involved somewhere.  And maybe some glitter.

In the last few days I’ve come to understand that I have lots of goals, and no plan.  I have so many things I want to accomplish, and no way to get there.  Don’t get me wrong- my life is AWESOME and I totally made the right choice in leaving my teaching career.  And I know I’m learning right now because I am so uncomfortable.  I have no idea what I’m currently doing, I just know what I want to be doing.  I’d be a great visualizer if I could just get a second to sit down and do it.

My biggest challenge is that I want to be a present mother to my children.  I want to play with them, sit with them, read with them, and create with them.  At the same time I am yearning, dreaming of being this creative, independent woman with a job/business/career that allows me to be creative and independent all by my lonesome.  I need some me time.

The ultimate conundrum is that the only time I have to work on these dreams is at night.  And the rub:  I need sleep like nobody’s business.  If I don’t get a good night’s sleep, I am dead on my feet.  So I can’t be a night work horse- it just won’t work.

All this is to say that I’m using this week and this class to reassess my approach to blogging, crafting, creating, and sharing.  I want to do it so desperately, and yet the way I’m working right now isn’t working on many levels.   I want to put quality content out there.  I want to improve the content I already have, and do many more behind-the-scenes improvements for my blog.   It’s overwhelming thinking about all that I need & want to do in order to consider this little plot of mine a success.   But I want to do it.  Small steps, right?

 

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How To Be A Photographer

Posted by on May 21, 2012 | 5 comments

I’ve been wanting to learn how to be a photographer.  More than just a point and shoot camera kind of gal.  For my birthday in March, my husband scraped together enough funds to buy me a new {used} camera, and I’ve been failing horribly.  Even in auto mode I felt like I was taking horrible pictures.  It took me two weeks just to figure out how to take auto photos with no flash.  …Yeah, it was bad.  If you want to see some examples of some awful photos I’ve taken you can check them out here, here, or here.  That’s just a few.

A few weeks ago, my friend Tonya of Create-Celebrate-Explore called me up and said, “I found a photography class.  Want to go?” Um, let me think.  Heck. YES!  And folks, let me tell ya- it was amazing.  I needed this experience for so many reasons!  It was so great to get away for a day and focus on something, learn a new skill, and feel confident about it.

This past Saturday Tonya and I headed up to Santa Ana.  The class was put on by the lovely and amazingly friendly Cynthia Shaffer.  Cynthia was so welcoming, and we immediately started talking as if we had known each other for years.  She’s just that easy to be around.  Another nice thing was that there were four people signed up for the class- we got a really personal experience.  Cynthia said that there have been as many as ten participants, and even that is manageable, but I’m still glad we had a small group.

The class was put on by Studio Crescendoh.  If you haven’t checked out this place and you live in So-Cal, go check it out.  They offer classes in all sorts of art mediums.  I went up a few months ago with my friend Dana and we were so taken with the lovely people and atmosphere of this little gem.

The format of the class was wonderful.  Everyone started at square one together.  Cynthia gave us a tour of our cameras- we were accessing parts I didn’t even know existed.  There was lots of, “Hey! How did you do that?!”  After the intro, she talked about all sorts of fancy photographer terms like ISO, shutter speed, and aperture.  I understood all of these things individually but didn’t really understand how to sync them all together to be…. a real photographer.   All of a sudden under Cynthia’s instruction… I could take pictures!  We spent some time in the studio- there were tons of things to take pictures of.  Then, after lunch we went on a walk and Cynthia showed us more about taking photos outdoors, metering light, and taking portraits.  It was so great.  The day ended with a look at photo editing.  When we left my brain was on overload, but in a good way.  Below are some of my favorite photos that I took.  With my camera.  Like a real photographer.

 

This lovely little candle cozy is in one of Cynthia’s crafting books.   They are so sweet, and a great first subject.

This was a great photo where we talked about how to position and light things for studio shots.  Cynthia takes a lot of photos for craft and art books (many of which she made herself), as well as doing portraits and events.

I got to use one of Cynthia’s lenses for this photo.  It was a long lens, so I was probably standing a good 15 feet away from these little shoes.

This is the ceiling in the old building that houses Studio Crescendoh.  It’s so unique, and a good photography study- it’s hard to get bright colors to show when they are surrounded by black.

Some paintings on the wall inside Studio Crescendoh.

On our walk outside we came to these trees; their bark is like sheets of paper- so cool!

One of my favorites- dripping water!  I also had fun editing this photo.  I also just stared at it a lot.

This is just outside the studio- I love the colors of this art against the bland sidewalk.

The lovely Tonya.  She would not say as much about herself, but she is lovely.  Yes, Tonya.  You’re lovely.  And now you’re a lovely photographer.

This is Beth.  She is super sweet. (Beth, if you’re reading this- I can’t find your blog- send me a link!)

This is Jenn.  She’s also super sweet.  She also has a blog.  You can see it here.

The biggest lesson for me in this was that when you want to learn something, don’t spend your time futzing around with trying to do it yourself.  Ask a totally awesome professional to help.  This class was worth every penny and more- and it wasn’t even that expensive!  If you want to see what other classes Studio Crescendoh offers, click here.

 

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Clean Up Your Pinterest Boards!

Posted by on Apr 16, 2012 | 14 comments

 


The time has come.  Someone needs to say it.

As a Pinterest Population, we are getting sloppy, friends.  We’re pinning and repinning and we’re not doing right by each other.

You know what I’m talking about- I’m sure it’s happened to you:  You see something you like on Pinterest, and when you go to repin, the source is not direct.  Maybe it’s a Google image of a project you would be interested in, and there’s no link provided; just a lovely picture.  Maybe it’s an awesome top you’d love to buy, but you have no idea where to find it.  Regardless of the type of pin, the source is all out of whack.

Let’s talk about your boards, too.  Are they organized?  My boards have an organized facade, especially since Pinterest started letting us choose covers for our boards.  But underneath…. there’s a whole bunch of chaos going on.

The pinning party is over.

It’s time to get real.

On April 26th myself, Wendy at Wendy Will Blog, and Ashley at It’s Fitting, are dedicating the whole day to cleaning up our Pinterest boards.  We’re going to take a day to reorganize, refresh, and yes (gasp!) we may even delete a few pins.  We’re calling it Clean Up Your Pinterest Boards Day.

Want to join us?  Here are the details:

On April 26th, devote as much time as you can (within reason) to not pinning, but doing a digital clean up of your own Pinterest boards.  If you plan to participate you can grab the button in my sidebar and post it in your own sidebar to help spread the word.  You could even write a post about it!  We will also be using the hashtag #CUYPB2012 if you are a Twitter geek rockstar.  You could also pin the button onto a Pinterest board to spread the word on Pinterest itself!

“But what does it mean?”  This will be different for everyone.  Everyone uses Pinterest for their own greater good, so do what feels right.  Hopefully, in the end, we’ll help future pinners because they will repin legit pins, and we’ll save ourselves some headaches, too.

Some things to help you out if you’re not sure where to start:

{Check Sources}

Do your pins lead you to the correct place?  Do they lead you ANYwhere?  If you click on a pin and it takes you to Google or some other search engine, right back to Pinterest, or if you get an error message…  it’s not pinned correctly.  From here you have to decide if it’s worth your time- either find the original source and update your pin, or delete it.

{insert record scratching here} “Wait, you mean I have to go through all my pins and check them all?”

That’s up to you.  But think about how many times you’ve seen something on Pinterest and just pinned it instantly without checking the source. Not only is that not fair to other pinners, it’s horribly unfair to the person who created the content you are pinning.

If editing all of your boards is overwhelming, consider just working on your biggest board.  Then you could go back and work on smaller boards as time allows.

{Update Descriptions; Make Pins More Searchable}

Do you have any bad pinning habits?  Pins are not very searchable (and therefore not very useful) if you just write “Love this.”  Or “OMG!  So cute!”  Go back to those pins and write “Love this headboard for my bedroom” or “OMG this leather Coach purse is so cute!”  Also, if your pin comes from a blogger of any kind, consider adding the name of their blog to the description.  They worked hard on that post and are proud that you pinned or repinned it.  It would be nice to give them credit.  For example, when I write a description for a pin from a crafting blog, I will type, “I love this teacher appreciation gift @ Skip To My Lou.”

{Update Your Board Covers}

It’s easy to do, and it makes it easy to visually distinguish them from other boards.  If you haven’t done it yet, read this.

{Update Your Followers}

Take a few minutes and look through people who are following you.  You can see all of them by going to your main board page and clicking on your number of followers.  You’ll see everyone who is following you.  Is your aunt on there?  Maybe you should follow her back.  Your best friend from college?  I bet she’d like you to show her some love, too.   Take another few minutes and follow some new people.

When you’re done you will feel like you’ve completed a digital spring cleaning of your Pinterest boards.  You can pat yourself on the back, and then pin with more knowledge.  Be sure to keep up your good pinning habits so that we can keep Pinterest a great place to be!

If you’re going to participate and are a blogger, please copy the code for the button in my right side bar (towards the top).  You can add the button to your sidebar or post and help spread the word however you like- Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest itself, or any other venue you choose.  Not a blogger?  You’re still rad!  You could share this post on Facebook to let others know.

Remember, our Twitter hashtag is #CUYPB2012.  

Hope to hear from you on April 26th!  I’m looking into having a linky party and lots of tweeting!

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VLOG! Chronically Distracted & the Happiness Project Update

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 | 1 comment

Helloooo there to all of my friends participating in the Happiness Project!  I am so thankful to these two ladies, Meagan and Wendy, for having such a fabulous blog.  They are awesome.

Check out my video.  It’s a bit long, but I think I make some good points.  And you can also see how my brain works because I birdwalk juuuuuust a wee bit.  That’s okay.  It’s all good.  :)

 

For some reason the sound is better than the video- my lips don’t seem to keep up.  Oh well.


Can’t wait to link up and see what others post!

 

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Happiness Project

Posted by on Feb 9, 2012 | 1 comment

I’ve decided to join up with a great new blog, Chronically Distracted.  These ladies say in their elevator pitch:

“We’re two moms trying to strike a balance between family, fun, and friendship. We believe we represent, truly represent, a lot of parents out there who want to do and be everything but some days we just don’t have the attention span or patience to balance it all. Are you with us? I’m guessing you are.”

Every Thursday is about The Happiness Project.  Now, in keeping with my theme for 2012, “Keep it Happy,” I simply must participate.  I also love to write, and would like to improve my writing skills.  I think this is a great way to do both.   I’m jumping in a bit late, and have not read the book they are talking about, but I hope to get it soon and catch up.

On Mondays, participants are sent a prompt to write about.  {I could say, “about which to write” but that feels so snooty.}  Then, we post on Thursday and link up.  I can’t wait to see what others write, too!

This week’s prompt:

  • Are your day-to-day actions supporting your choices of change (resolutions)?
  • Is your MIND propelling you in the direction you want your actions and resolutions to take you?
  • If the answer is No, how can you make it happen?
Wowzers.  That’s quite a prompt to start with!  In short, my answers would be:
  • yes
  • not always
  • focus

In more detail, though, it gets complicated.  I was talking to my husband about this just a few nights ago.  I’ve found that, now that I have a new “work world” here on the computer {more about that later}, I have a new form of ADD.   I think it should be called “TADD” which would stand for “Technology Attention Deficit Disorder.”

 

You see, I sit down at the computer and am faced with so many tasks.  They can be whittled down and placed under these things:

  • personal business (emails, bills, etc.)
  • personal fun (Facebook, reading blogs, surfing the net, etc.)
  • blog
  • work

Then there’s the fact that one of the main focuses of my blog is to craft things.  To make things.  Hmmm…where to find time for that these days? It’s getting more challenging when I have three kids and none of them are on the same schedule anymore.

 

At times I sit at the computer and stare.  Other times I just click from tab to tab in my browser, click over to Photoshop, click over to iPhoto, and then… press “repeat.”  I think a majority of my inability to focus is due to the fact that I am overwhelmed.

 

I was talking to my sister this week, mentioning to her that it’s been interesting shifting from having a job in the classroom to having a part-time job on a computer, and also having a passion for blogging, which is also computer-centered.   It’s different than being in a classroom with 20-30 little faces staring at you, waiting for you to bestow knowledge upon them.  That puts you on the spot.  When it’s just you and your computer, there’s no one holding you accountable except you and your bank account.

 

One thing I recognized in this overwhelmed state that I have been in, is:

 

I need clarity in my home.

 

Because of that I’m going to be sharing soon how I’m making things a little more sane around here. I love it.  I’m nearly done organizing a few last areas of our house and some other tasks, and then it will be so much easier for me to do all of the things I want to do.  As much as I’d like to think that I have it all together, I don’t.  And that’s okay.  But I really do want to achieve a new lifestyle for myself and my family.  In order to do that, I have to be willing to put forth the effort to make it happen, and I have to be able to focus.  That effort is going to feel different and pretty uncomfortable at first because it’s so new and unfamiliar.  But if it means that I can stay with my kids, raise them, and make some money to help my family out, then I simply must give it my best effort.

 

 

Thanks again to the ladies at Chronically Distracted for providing an excellent venue to talk about our resolutions and goals.  Love it!

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