Learning to Roll Forward
[my daily coffee ritual in the äventyr bicycle bags studio]
Three years ago today I transitioned myself out of my professional life as I had known it, and walked out into a cold January day ~ into the unknown. There was no äventyr, and there was no äventyr studio (pictured above). There was just me coming to the realization it was up to me from here, and it would always be.
[January 2017, one of our first äventyr business meetings]
What I did not foresee, or expect, was how difficult the transition would be, or that it would lead me to the path of running a creative business.
[One of the first events I took myself to was a wine tasting at Gyst Fermentation Bar (Gyst had such great events for me to go to when I needed them! I have also been to some great book-related events.)]
It has taken me these three years to get to a place that feels like 'mine' and 'me', but getting there took a lot of self determination, skill building, and being with positive supportive people (you know, the sayings about the people you should surround yourself with - it's true!).
[Excerpt from "The Crossroads of Should and Must" by Elle Luna, p. 102 (I heard Elle speak at my second Alt Summit in 2016, exactly one year before I left my job)]
2019 was the most important year for me in regard to 'settling in' on a routine with a framework that is getting me where I need to be - creatively, personally, and professionally.
[Current äventyr design studio situation - me learning on the You Tube, and all the things that come with designing.]
Some of the things I do during my week remain consistent from before I transitioned my career (cycling) [more on that coming up in the next post!]. But one important thing I have learned is time-blocking my day to maximize sanity and productivity.
- There are things that are 'have-to's' during my day (take care of dogs, run errands, go to appointments).
- There are things that I need to do to move our business forward (studio time being the most important one after I took over production in 2019).
- And there are things I need to do for myself (that also help make my business successful).
Below I created examples of what one of my days and weeks typically look like and how I use time-blocking.
Typical Week Day:
(Yellow=Happy time, Purple='rest'/regroup time, Orange='Have-to's, Flamingo=äventyr time, Sage=Exercise/Meditation time).
Colored areas are what I am time-blocking my day around
This is a loose, not firm, framework from which I operate. I actually did block out my calendar like this when I first started getting into a studio routine last year. Now that my schedule is learned and routine, I now mostly block out appointments/errands/events. But I still use this blocking strategy.
And, even though I may not technically be working all day, I am thinking about work often during the day. Design doesn't happen at a desk, I am often mulling over construction concepts in my head for a long time before I start sketching and sampling. And I am always thinking about things I can do to move äventyr forward. And then there are the business have-to's, like paying quarterly sales tax - I definitely time-block that into my schedule.
As you can expect from a person who owns a cycling-related business, biking (typically 4 days a week year-round) is a non-negotiable part of my day that I typically build around. The place I Spin at in the winter has a set schedule, so I build my days around that. Last winter was the first winter I started spinning in the middle of the day; it was a big adjustment but now I really look forward to that break in the middle of my day. Spin in the winter, and outdoor cycling in the Summer, is like a four-for-one deal for me;
- I take care of my physical health.
- Taking care of my physical health has lead me to understand I am taking care of my mental health.
- Cycling for me is meditative ~ particularly indoor cycling when I am not concentrating on traffic, cars, and potholes, and it is GREAT thinking time ~ typically once I am in flow I get clarity on our business and my personal life.
- I get to see people and get out of the house! My Spin buddies teach me a lot about life, and support me in just the right ways.
Here are some general notes about how time-blocking has benefitted me on a personal and professional level.
- KNOW WHEN YOU ARE MOST PRODUCTIVE. I time-block my most productive hours (typically early morning) to be in the studio with my coffee and work. Before I started doing this I wasted too much time scrolling through Instagram and was getting nothing done for äventyr. Which brings me to...
- LIMIT INSTAGRAM TIME and time-block it into your day (for me it is usually during lunch, and then a bit again in the evening while I am watching tv to unwind). *Pro tip: As soon as I stopped looking at Instagram first thing in the morning I noticed that I was making significant progress in not only moving äventyr forward, but defining myself as a person who makes and creating a routine practice around this. And, I stopped feeling as concerned about what other people were doing and bad about not accomplishing things because Instagram wasn't telling me that ~ or actually making me be that person.
- PHYSICAL HEALTH IS MENTAL HEALTH IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS. Exercise days are non-negotiable (for all these reasons).
- GIVE YOURSELF TIME - OPEN DAYS. It is important to have 'open days'. Typically I leave Wednesdays and Thursdays open for coffee get-togethers, business events and errands, lunch with friends, volunteering, and time off-the-bike. Having these flexible days not built around my exercise schedule back-to-back gives me a much needed break from the regiment of being a cyclist, physically and mentally. And I get really excited to head back to Spin class at Noon on Friday - it is a great way to celebrate the end of the week with other people!
- SPECIAL MOMENTS. Having a weekly special event, and monthly special events helps to get me out of the house, see humanity, and keep myself in-check.
- BE OPEN TO OPPORTUNITIES. On that note, I am always keeping an eye out for special opportunities that align with me developing as a creative business owner and meet other like-minded individuals. I have gone to book signings, taken classes, and attended talks for business owners.
- WRITE. Leave time to write. I enjoy writing, but it is also a necessity for my business that takes time and focus. Luckily, like the meditative state I attain when biking, I find writing to also be meditative and a good time for me to reflect and push myself forward.
- PODCASTS help you feel less lonely, and teach you a lot. I often listen to podcasts when I am in the studio in the afternoon. It helps SO much to hear someone else's voice, and for me usually the voice of someone who has 'been there' or inspires me.
- LIFE HAPPENS - schedule it in. When I first transitioned to working from home, I REALLY struggled with being the 'domestic' partner in our home (more on that here). But now I acknowledge that part of my day is taking care of mundane tasks and accepting how they benefit my time with my family later (i.e. going to the grocery store, bringing the car in for an appointment, taking the dogs to the vet, etc.)
- COOKING TIME can be rewarding. I will be the first to admit I have never been the cook in our family, but with the 'domestic' partner bit, and Kurt's career moving forward (again, more here), cooking time became a 'have-to' part of my day. I now use this time to also listen to podcasts for my business, catch up on news, spend time with my dogs, and feel good about the fact I am preparing healthy food for Kurt and I to put in our bodies that helps us have our best days, particularly our best bicycle rides.
- GET DRESSED & BRUSH YOUR HAIR! This really is huge when you work from home, people say it all the time - but it is true. I ALWAYS brush my hair as soon as I get up in the morning, and after breakfast I either shower and get dressed for the day, or put on my dog walking clothing. This all makes me feel better, human, like a person who has a day just like everyone else.
- TAKE A LUNCH BREAK! I learned this when I worked in San Francisco; when I started my job there lunch breaks were required. I hated that I had to waste an hour in my day, at first. Eventually I learned to take advantage of this hour and get to know myself better, spend time in the sunshine (I frequently had lunch outside at Yerba Buena Gardens), and most importantly - I escaped and unwinded; sometimes from other people and their drama, and sometimes from mine, and came back with a clear and rested head. This was an important gift I was given in my early 30's, and in retrospect I am so thankful SFMOMA made us schedule in lunch.
- DOGS ARE SMART - they teach you what matters and when to take a break, they ask you to take them for walks and play to get outside and enjoy the world and step away from yourself. Working at home alone with two dogs sometimes can make me feel a bit crazy, but they know how to keep it real. And I know all-too-well the limited time we have together, so these moments in my day are also a gift.
["We aren't excited that it is 2F either, but a dog's gotta do what a dog's gotta do...Let's GO!".]
I certainly don't have it all figured out, but my hope in posting this is that you can find something that inspires you, or that motivates you - whether you have your own business or just need to get through the week more postively and productively. Afterall, that is why we are on this äventyr - to share with you and build community. Thanks for reading! ~ DeAnn