Tag: the gift shed

A Silver Bullet?

Bullet Journal Washi tape decoration - Misericordia

The Lovely Young Man is in the habit of sending me articles every now and again, and this article about the Bullet Journal was the most recent one.

Bullet journal year to view - Misericordia

I took one look at the combination of diary, sketchbook and planner (on paper no less) and decided I should give it a bash. It corresponded serendipitously with the purchase of a new notebook, so I could get started straight away.

Bullet journal day page - Misericordia

[A note of caution for those who might be thinking of trying this out and turn to the t’Interweb for inspiration; Instagram and Pinterest are full of Bullet Journal aficionados who seem to spend inordinate amounts of time beautifully tracking their water intake in detailed and exquisitely shaded charts. This is not a requirement. If you want to draw pictures of square sausage, more power to your elbow.]

Fry up planning - Misericordia

I’ve only been going just under a week and I know I’m under-utilising the long term planning element and the index (both of which are cornerstones of the technique).

Bullet Journal July page - Misericordia

But for someone who unnecessarily divides aspects of her life into different books and lists, it’s quite freeing to be able to lavish as much beauty on my ‘renew pet insurance’ lists as I do on blog posts and birthday reminders.

Bullet Journal birthday page - Misericordia

The habit of sitting down to plan your day, week or month is equally pleasing (or would be if I could manage to do it properly) especially if you are allowed to doodle in the margins! I’ve started embracing the limited colour pallette, and I think it helps the whole thing look a bit tidier as I swing from random list to random list.

Bullet Journal colour pallette - Misericordia

Niggling in the back of my head is the memory that Emma (from The Gift Shed) sent me an article about the Bullet Journal and a way of organising your To Do Lists with dots, but it was more than my poor binary brain could cope with and I obviously missed the bit I could handle.

So are you all way ahead of me on the Bullet Journal train, or do you prefer electronic lists and the backs of envelopes?

An Organised Life from The Gift Shed

If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that Emma at The Gift Shed is a regular provider of notebooks, link-er to interesting articles and commenter. In addition to her paper-wizardry, Emma also runs a gardening business, and when I found myself particularly swamped running Misericordia and Killer Pilates, I asked Emma for some advice.

She very kindly sent me a very useful email and then followed it up with a guest blog post with lots of lovely tips for people running too many businesses or who are just looking for better organisational living.

I’ve popped in a few photos here and there, but I’ll hand you over to Emma for the really useful stuff:

Back in October (yes, October) Katy asked me if I had any advice on running two businesses without losing my mind. Apparently my advice was helpful because she then asked me if I’d write a guest post about it.

Life got a bit hectic here (new dog, major building work to our house…) and I clean forgot about it until she reminded me at the end of March. So here we are, almost at the end of April, and I’m finally getting around to putting some advice down on paper. I’ll be honest, I’d have forgotten again (because it wasn’t on my list – this is very important) if another friend hadn’t asked me for some time management tips.

Truth be told I’m not naturally an organised person. My default state is to gently drift through life, littering my path with things that I’ve not got round to tidying away. However I learned very early on that this was no way to live, and certainly no way to run a business (let alone two), so I made changes to the way that I think.

That’s all it is really, altering the way you approach things. The friend who recently asked for time management advice said “It’s anathema to me. Always has been but getting pissed off with being caught out by it! Giving myself a hard time and still getting nothing done!”

So this article is more focused on time management in general than aimed specifically at running two businesses successfully, but the two go very much hand in hand.

Let’s leap straight in with a list of key points, which are here in no particular order.

  1. Make a list. I love making lists, and there’s something very satisfying about crossing things off a list as they get done. I don’t seem to get as much done if I don’t have a list, it really does help me to stay focused.

    to do

  2. Give yourself easy wins. Don’t just put “clean the house” or “sort out the filing” – if you know a task is big or time consuming (and thus, usually, undesirable) then break it down into smaller chunks. So “clean the house” can be divided up by room or by type (“vacuuming” “dusting” etc.), and “sort out the filing” can be done by month instead. If you’re able to check things off at regular intervals then you’ll feel better about it. It’s a con, but it works.
  3. Be realistic. Sometimes there’s an almost endless list of things that need to be done. If you have a lot to do then just accept that you won’t get it all done, and stop worrying about it. This goes back to the easy win strategy. Prioritise a few things and get those done, and then anything else is a bonus. I believe that we put unnecessary strain on ourselves by trying to live up to the idea that everything has to be done right now.
  4. Learn to say no. Really, this is quite a big one and I have taught myself to say no due because of work, but it applies just as much at home. If you’re good at your job then you will be in demand – but if you half kill yourself trying to fit too much in then you’ll end up resenting your work, and there’s also a fair chance that you’ll end up being not so good at what you do because you’re cutting corners trying to fit everything in.

    I split my time between garden maintenance and working in my studio. For me this works best if I have a small number of regular gardening clients (and thus a regular income which I can budget around), and I can then take on one-off jobs if they come up and it fits in with my existing work.

    I’m not looking to take on any more regular clients at the moment, so no matter how tempting they sound I simply say no. I could fit more work in, but it would cut into my studio time, and that’s just not acceptable to me. Or I could fit the work in without sacrificing time in the studio but would end up with little leisure time. Also unacceptable. This goes back to the point about being realistic.

  5. Multitask. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t make the most of their time. Most tasks have dead time, when you’re basically waiting for something to happen, so use that time. If I’m waiting for the kettle to boil then I’ll do something else while I’m waiting – if it’s just putting some dishes away then so be it, that’s one less thing to do later.

    When I go down to the studio in the morning it takes five minutes for the computer to boot up and for the light to get properly bright, so I go in and switch everything on and then go out to the garden and water some pots. If I’m going out to walk the dog I’ll take a bag of rubbish (or even just a couple of bottles for recycling) down with me. If I’m going from the sitting room to the kitchen then I pick up any mugs or glasses and take them through with me. This all sounds patently obvious to me (and possibly to you, too), but apparently not everyone does this. I do it on autopilot, if I’m getting up to do something then part of me thinks “ok, I’m going in that direction, is there anything I can take with me?” – no journey is wasted! It has to be said that this habit partly evolved through laziness…why make three separate trips upstairs when I can just make one?

    I multitask in other ways too, the main one being that I knit/crochet/embroider/blog while watching television. This allows me to get in some leisure craft time while still unwinding in front of a show, and also stops me falling asleep while watching.

  6. Scheduling. I don’t think this is the best word to describe this bit, but I couldn’t think of anything better. As I run two businesses, and I work for myself, it’s entirely up to me when I go to work. Over the past year or so I’ve tried to work week on/week off. Which means that I’ll see all my garden clients one week and then have the following week in the studio. Of course it doesn’t always work out quite like that (the wonderful British weather can play havoc!), but it does mean that I have breathing room and am still able to comfortably split my time between my two jobs.

    If I have appointments for non-work things then I’ll try and book them all for the same day, even if that means waiting a while, as it’s more efficient to write off a whole day than to give up two or three mornings/afternoons for separate appointments.

    On the domestic front I also tend to spend a whole morning or afternoon batch cooking things that I can freeze and then just stick in the oven as needed. It might sounds like a lot of time to spend cooking, but it takes pretty much the same amount of time to make a huge batch of pasta sauce (or a pie, or gumbo, etc.) as it does to make enough for one meal, so why not just make a few things at once and get it over and done with. I certainly enjoy meals a lot more when I can just put them in to heat up rather than having to slave over them after a busy day at work, and overall it saves me a lot of time.

I’m trying to think of other examples which might be helpful, but actually I’m struggling because the way you manage your own time is very personal. If you’re really struggling to think where you could save time then make a list (ha!) for a few days detailing what exactly it is you do. List everything, no matter how insignificant you think it is, then look back at the list at the end of the day and see if there are things you could have combined in order to free up time.

My life since November has been very different as we now have a dog, and thus my usual habits are having to be adjusted to accommodate his needs as well as mine. It’s working out well though, and we’re just about into a regular routine. I also had two months when it was almost impossible to do because major work was taking place in my house and half my things were in storage, but I just accepted that and thought of it as a two month hiatus. I spent a lot of that time thinking of ideas and planning projects for later this year (and when I did manage to get some work done in my studio I considered it a happy bonus!). If I had worried about getting lots done while the builders were here then I’d have driven myself mad with stress, but being realistic about it made the whole thing much easier.

So there you have it, my tips for coping when you’ve got too much on your plate. Not the most well-written thing I’ve ever produced, but I’ve really found it quite difficult to put onto paper that which I do on autopilot. I hope you’ll find it useful.

Thanks Emma! Let me know how to get on with these, I’m trying to embrace batch cooking (The aftermath of my Week 1 attempt being shown above – along with the pride of my heart, my chip paper spoon rest) and being realistic. If you have any other useful tips we’d love to have them in the comments!

House Book by The Gift Shed

My dears I am entirely mortified, I have just been having a tidy-out of my blog posts and discovered that I started and never finished the following, my sincere apologies to you and Emma!

They say that an important thing about creativity is having good habits, well here is mine:

I distinctly remember thinking (after I said yes), when the Lovely Young Man proposed – ‘Oh good, now I can buy a sketchbook.’ (In fact, there were many more than that, one for the event, one for the dress, one for each bridesmaid and one for the huppah.)

wedding books

I don’t feel I can get going properly unless I have a dedicated book to collect things in. This has been a little altered by the invention of Pinterest, but I still need to put pen to paper in order to think clearly. (About 80% of my blog posts are written out long hand before being typed up, I’ve always just thought better while I form letters.)

When we decided to get our kitchen done it was apparent that a sketchbook was in order. Luckily, I have a bookbinder (Emma) on hand for just such eventualities and we had a chat about what I wanted. I even managed to dig out a drawing I’d done to grace the cover! (I thought I had a fork drawing but I could only find a key, so it’s a House Book now.)

house tools

It’s a gorgeous book, it feels very nice in the hand and the paper is very fountain pen-friendly, I’ve got plenty of ideas to go in it.

house book

You can read Emma’s post about the book and see photos of it in progress here!

Welcome to my Hovel

Inspired by Emma at The Gift Shed, I thought I’d show you around my new workroom.

hovel 1

It’s a box room off the living room which we started to call The Hovel* when we were students. It was my sewing room for a while, but it was always a little chaotic.

hovel 2

I had a ruthless clear out of sewing supplies before we moved back up, knowing full well that moving from almost a whole floor (attic and cellar in consecutive terraced houses) to a space about 5 foot by 6 foot (with a 10 foot ceiling) was going to be a challenge.

hovel 3

I’m currently planning a waist-height cutting table (you may notice that I do all my work standing up, once a Pilates teacher, always a Pilates teacher) and there will definitely be shelves in my future! In the meantime there is a gently ebbing tideline of flotsam and jetsam that I haven’t found a home for.

hovel 4

One of the joys of this flat is trying to determine the original uses for various rooms. Perhaps this was a cloakroom or wardrobe?

hovel 5

All links to inspiration workspaces and cut price, reclaimed or aspirational furnishings are more than welcome! I keep track of them on a Pinterest board called Workroom Delights, so please help me fill it. After taking these photos (at half past two in the afternoon) I’m starting to seriously consider a daylight bulb!

hovel 6

*I think it was called this because other, less enlightened landlords than the Lovely Young Man would offer box rooms as bedrooms.

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