Category Archives: Career

14 Ways to Take Meaningful Breaks

As the queen of leaving projects to the last minute, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to settle in for the long haul without losing my mind. I think we’ve all been there. (Especially if you’re someone who enjoys working under pressure.) The rest of life got in the way in the weeks leading up to a deadline, and you find yourself chained to your laptop with a marathon’s worth of work to tackle.

My secret to making it out unscathed? Meaningful breaks.

Choose an amount of time (like 45 minutes to an hour), set a timer, and start ticking things off the to-do list without stopping. Then, when the time is up TAKE A BREAK (like for 15-30 minutes).

Related: A Formula for Perfect Productivity: Work for 52 Minutes, Break for 17 ]

Below, I’ve listed 14 meaningful breaks that I find helpful to cycle through as I hammer away on a project.

Take a shower.

This is especially helpful if you didn’t get a lot of great rest. Showers are like liquid sleep! Use a body wash like this one and breathe in deep. Massage your scalp as you lather up your hair. Get that blood flowing to your brain!

Fill up your water bottle.

Gotta stay hydrated! Fill up your favorite vessel and take time to drink as much as you like as you stare into space. Feelin’ fancy? Add some fruit or cucumbers or herbs and get a lil infusion action going.

Watch a YouTube video.

Sometimes you just need to switch your brain off for a few minutes. But turning on the TV or firing up Netflix may distract to the point of disaster. YouTube to the rescue! There’s a zillion different kinds of content to choose from (Cats! Makeup tutorials! Hydraulic press! Cooking miniature meals!) and most are a reasonable length. Go nuts for 10-15 minutes and then switch that brain back on.

Make a list of the day’s accomplishments.

I’ve mentioned this before, but a “shit I’ve already done list” can sometimes quell the panic of a seemingly insurmountable “shit I still need to do list.”

Eat a snack.

Go fix yourself something healthy to eat!

Love on your pet.

Taking care of someone else for a few minutes is a great way to snap out of it if you’re feeling like EVERYTHING IS THE WORST. So if you have a pet, go make sure they have food and fresh water. Take them outside to run or toss around a toy. Get out their brush for a lil grooming sesh. Give them lots of pets.

Head to your closet for a costume change.

I like to capitalize on the surge of productivity I feel as soon as I wake up…which usually means I’m in pj’s and then *whoops* several hours have gone by. So a simple costume change if you’re in my boat is to just go get dressed. But you can also change from your everyday clothes to workout clothes if you plan on working out later. Change from uncomfortable clothes to comfy ones. Or switch it up for a change of pace in the aesthetics department.

Handle a “personal admin” task.

You can’t press pause on life because you’re under a deadline. Reply to an email. Pay your phone bill. Grab groceries. Schedule that dentist appointment. You get the drift.

Work up a sweat.

One time, during a looooong (and boring) day of work-from-home projects, I did 10 push-ups/10 sit-ups/10 squats during every break. Not only did the time FLY by…but I was sore as heck the next day. Ha! For a less crazy approach, go for a jog outside or queue up a 30 min HIIT workout on YouTube. Roll out your yoga mat and stretch out.

Have a solo dance party.

Put on your favorite song and jam like no one’s watching. Because they aren’t. Repeat until you’re sufficiently pumped.

Tidy up a little.

Just like with the “personal admin” tasks, tackling a quick chore or two will feel like you’re accomplishing something…even when your BIG accomplishment for the day is hours away. I like to do the dishes or make my bed. (Which also helps to make your space feel more productive.)

Chat with another human being.

Working on a project solo can start to feel really isolating. Pick up the phone and catch up with a friend or meet a friend for a quick cup of coffee.

Switch up your surroundings.

Usually if I feel like I’ve hit a plateau, it’s time to pack up and head somewhere new. It’s amazing the second wind you can achieve just by heading to a second location!

Go for a walk.

Fresh air! Natural light! Even if you only circle the block, you might just have that break-through “A-HA!” moment once your legs are pumping and your mind is allowed to wander a little.

Over to you! What are your favorite ways to take meaningful breaks in the midst of a marathon work sesh? Share below!! xoxo 

P.S. 4 Career Building Tips for the Newly Hired and Let’s Talk Personality (Tests).

Advertisements

Don’t Hide Your Hustle: Deanna, Associate Designer

Welcome to Don’t Hide Your Hustle, a new series on Finding Delight that explores the myriad of ways to make a living in 2017. I’m asking folks to share how they hustle over the course of one work-day (which usually extends far beyond a 9 – 5 situation).

Today, I present you with Deanna’s story. She is a super talented artist working in the fashion industry in New York City. Deanna is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology and her first book illustrations were recently published in The International Fashionista’s Lookbook Diary. Let’s check out her hustle!

Hi! My name is Deanna and I’m a fashion designer and illustrator. I work full time as a designer for a brand in NYC. On weekends and during the evenings I work as an Illustrator and take on side projects and commissions. It’s not always easy but you’ve got to make time for the things you love. Follow along for a day in my life from early 2017…

6:00 am – My second alarm goes off and it’s game time. I rush to have breakfast and do the essentials. There isn’t time for much else. My lunch and bag are set from the night before.

7:15 am – I rush to the bus stop. There’s this great app that tells me how many minutes away from the stop my bus is. Somehow I am always just on the verge of missing it. I have to sprint 4 out of 5 days a week—not the most ideal thing to do with a full stomach of breakfast. I usually make it. I’ve honed my bus-chasing skills over the years. It’s a pretty long commute so I can catch a nap occasionally. Otherwise I answer emails and set up my illustration Instagram posts for the day. I’m also trying to grow my Pinterest so I send a few pins to a Facebook Pinterest group I’m a part of.

9:00 am – The work day starts. I check my emails and get started right away. I finish up some technical sketches and confirm details with the pattern-maker.

11:00 am – I’ve finished up all the technical work I had to do so I can finally get started on the fun stuff! We’re starting our SS18 line today and the creative director has left me a folder of images she wants to use for our inspiration board. The board takes up a good chunk of a whole wall!

12:00 pm – I’m still sorting the images and grouping them by trend category. There must be around 100 images cut out. Now it’s time to pin them up on the wall. I need a small stepladder to reach the top. As I’m ¾ of the way through with the images it becomes apparent that there’s no way I’m fitting them all on this board. I double back and try to condense things. I still haven’t gotten the knitwear up or any of the fabrics.

2:30 pm – Time for lunch. It’s freezing in NY so I eat my packed lunch in an indoor seating area around Bryant Park. I sift through my emails and set up my Instagram post. (I get most of my illustrations commissions through Instagram so it’s important for me to keep it updated.) Afterwards, I’ve still got enough time left to shop in Kinokuniya for a last minute birthday present. On my walk back I realize the Calvin Klein runway show location is on my block. Darn! I can’t see inside. They’ve got the windows covered. There are a few girls who look suspiciously like models standing outside smoking but the show isn’t for a few more days so who knows!

3:30 pm – Back inside. Instead of continuing with the inspiration wall I’m instructed to finish off a tech pack on the computer. I’ve already completed the sketch of the jacket so I work on the details. I add in the lining construction information, too. I don’t mind the change. It’s pretty quiet and I find it easy to concentrate.

5:00 pm – I’m getting hungry again. I have some carrots with me. Talk about breaking the silence. I look through WGSN and check out some of the runway shows on Vogue. I’m working on the Spring/Summer line but there are some amazing references in the Fall shows that are going on right now. I take notes and start to sketch some concepts roughly. I also take a moment to put my Instagram post through.

6:00 pm – It’s time to clock out but I hang around for 15 minutes to finish up and talk with a co-worker. Then it’s off to the bus stop. Passing through Times Square during rush hour is not fun. There’s a huge line for my bus but I manage to get a seat. I reply to Instagram comments, a few emails that came up, check Pinterest a bit and then fall asleep.

7:40 pm- The walk home is COLD. I call my mom to make it go faster.

7:50 pm- I’m home. Time to make dinner, a vegetable and chicken stir-fry (again), eat and shower. This part of the day always seems to go so fast.

9:00 pm – After I’ve been home a bit I boot up my laptop. There are a few bills to pay. Then I’ve got some art to finish off in Photoshop. I usually start my sketches by hand and then digitize them for a cleaner finish. Today I’m working on a fashion illustration for a friend. I recently finished up a big commission that took several weeks so I finally have a small break to do a personal piece.

11:00 pm – I watch a quick show with my husband and then start making my lunch and setting up my bag for tomorrow.

11:50 pm – I brush my teeth and finally make it to bed. I’ll hear the morning alarm again all too soon!

(Illustration by Deanna Kei.)

Thanks so much for sharing your hustle, Deanna! Do you guys have any questions for her? Do any of you work in the fashion industry, too?  

P.S. Are you a hustler willing to share your story? Let’s chat! I would love to know how you’re making money while following your dreams in 2017. Shoot me an email — ebeth.berger@gmail.com. Thanks!

Don’t Hide Your Hustle: Amy, Infant & Child Sleep Consultant

Welcome to Don’t Hide Your Hustle, a new series on Finding Delight that explores the myriad of ways to make a living in 2017. I’m asking folks to share how they hustle over the course of one work-day (which usually extends far beyond a 9 – 5 situation).

Today, I present you with Amy’s story. Her clients are the teeniest of tiniest and she helps parents regain the sanity that comes with a good night of sleep. She has a strong background in maternal and child wellness and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Clinical Therapy. Let’s check out her hustle!

“An Infant & Child Sleep Consultant, what in the heck is that?” Well, for starters, that’s me, Amy Douglas of Baby Sleep Central. I get that question a lot when I excitedly announce my career of choice. In a nutshell, I help sleep deprived parents of babies and toddlers take back their sleep. This involves helping little ones learn to love the act of sleeping, while also uncovering any potential issues that could be bothersome or disruptive to children. Boy, I know what you might be thinking… “Sleep is so boring!” To the contrary, I can talk sleep for days and my head starts spinning with wild ideas when I connect with new clients. I was once an exhausted parent myself. My first born was anti-sleep (or so I thought) and preferred to throw angry parties in his crib about 10 times each night. Flash forward to today – nothing brings me greater joy than helping families like mine restore their sleep. And not just in my wonderful city of Columbus, Ohio, but all around the world. So how do I accomplish this? Well, there are no two days alike, but let’s take a recent Friday as an example!

7:30 – 8:30 am – Wowzers! This day has me out the door early (so much for working from home and making my own perfect schedule – ha!). I find myself in a nearby suburb picking up some tasty gluten-free pastries for a local pediatrician’s office. They’ve recently been referring sleep deprived parents my way, and I’ve been wanting to thank them properly. Eh, doctors eat pastries, right? Too late, I’m here with the staff and they seem really excited. Phew!

9:00 am – In the last half hour I’ve rushed home to relieve my husband, so he can get to stepping! He mainly works out of our home, but he is very diligent with timing – that’s the key to success my friends! It’s a preschool/daycare day, and I’ve gotten the kiddos fed, dressed, and out the door in quite a jiffy. I won’t get to spend much time with them today, so I hug them long and hard at drop-off. Don’t worry, tomorrow I have a plan for us to bake and decorate sugar cookies. Geesh, what’s up with me and the sweets today?

9:30 am – Driving to Powell, Ohio while listening to my favorite Podcast: Momcast. I was a guest on their show last week discussing sleep hacks, and man – I wish I had one of their sultry radio voices. I sound like a chipmunk in comparison. Hey, at least I had a ball!

10:00 am – 12:00 pm – These 2 hours are spent doing something I especially LOVE to do. Once a month I visit my favorite local coffee shop and host complimentary mini-sessions with parents and professionals. This allows me to give back to the community and offer free tips and advice when I can. But more importantly, this time is for individuals to give me a glimpse into their world. I often hear personal accounts of how lack of sleep affects day to day activities, influences parenting decisions, and even impacts careers or relationships. Sleep deprivation has no boundaries, folks. The info shared is confidential, but it dances around in my brain as I determine if we’re a nice fit for each other for future consulting services.

12:00 pm – Commuting back home. Borrrrring.

12:30 pm – Nourishing my body with real food. Soup and salad, though it may be hard to believe me based on my documented love for sugar.

12:30 – 2:00 pm – Did I mention I am a part-time student? I spend this time submerged in my Abnormal Psychology textbook. I’m inching closer towards a Master’s in Clinical Therapy. It’s certainly a work in progress; taking 1-2 classes at a time will have me there in about 100 years. Never give up, folks!

2:00 pm – Yes, time for an appointment! I have a follow-up call with a family I’ve previously helped. Baby was sleeping through the night, but due to recent illness and holiday travel, they feel they’ve veered off course. It happens. And I advise them how to get back to a good place with sleep – for once and for all!

3:00 pm – Catching up on social media and e-mail responses. 12 messages have been ignored for hours, eek! After further review, it’s not bad – a couple new client inquires, and a few spam too (boo)!

4:00 pm – I’m back at it again! Driving 20 minutes north for an In-Home Sleep Consult session. Some people like driving; I’m not one of those people. I’m anxiously awaiting the invention of the flying hover-board and thought we would have that by 2017.  

4:30 – 6:30 pm – I’ve arrived safe and sound. Dearest toddler is in and out of his parent’s room all night long. He’s lost his blankets, he needs another drink, and he’s too tired to sleep. Yep – you read that right! I have a real soft spot for the toddler crowd. I go easy on him, and help his parents create a gentle plan they can self-implement. No question goes unturned before I head back home to see my family.

6:30 pm – Picking up fast food for the kids. Hey, I’m not perfect. Wendy’s it is! I get nuggets (that’s “chicky nuggies” according to my 2-year old) and I’ll round those out with steamed carrots and blackberries from home for a complete meal. Voila! Praying my husband already ate, because I forget I own a crock pot sometimes.

7:00 pm – And, he is amazing. He not only picked up the kids from daycare with his tight schedule, but he’s also prepared dinner for us both. We eat, talk about our day, and we laugh. Always.

7:30 – 8:30 pm – Connecting with my kids for a bit before my husband and I divide and conquer bedtime duties. The toddler wants rocked by Daddy, and the almost 4-year old is in full on diva mode wanting his mass-sausages (I don’t have the heart to correct him to say massage. Before long he’ll be saying it the right way. And I’ll be so sad!). They are great sleepers, and we won’t see them again until 7:30am.

8:30 pm – Circling back to social media and unfinished email business. (Follow Baby Sleep Central on Facebook & Instagram for free sleep tips and some laughs!) There just aren’t enough hours in the day!

9:00 – 11:00 pm – Sometimes this chunk of time is spent video conferencing with clients in other countries (Australia later this week!). That pesky time difference sometimes has them waking up to my going to sleep. Tonight, is NOT one of these nights! Instead, I get to relax with my husband. I make a very tough decision to “put my phone to bed” at 9pm, and not look at it until morning. We watch This is Us on Hulu (please tell me you all watch this) while I draft out a new blog post.

11:00 pm – Aww, shucks. It’s bedtime, but I was going to prep some cookie dough in advance. Nothing a little Pillsbury can’t fix in the morning. It’s off to Sleeper’s Town I go, and I rest my head on lavender sheets. Tomorrow is a new day –  a slower one for work, but much busier with the ones I love.

Thanks so much for sharing your hustle, Amy! Do you guys have any questions for her? Do any of you work with parents or cater to teeny-tiny clients, too?  

P.S. Are you a hustler willing to share your story? Let’s chat! I would love to know how you’re making money while following your dreams in 2017. Shoot me an email — ebeth.berger@gmail.com. Thanks!

Don’t Hide Your Hustle: Megan, Book Coach

Welcome to Don’t Hide Your Hustle, a new series on Finding Delight that explores the myriad of ways to make a living in 2017. I’m asking folks to share how they hustle over the course of one work-day (which usually extends far beyond a 9 – 5 situation).

Today, I present you with Megan’s story. She’s a book coach and literary agent whose passion for the written word runs deep. With a baby on the way, Megan is not only juggling her expanding career but an expanding family as well.  Let’s check out her hustle!

dhyh-megan-b-and-w

Hello!  My name is Megan Close Zavala and I am a literary agent and book coach. While I do still represent clients from time to time, I am currently focused on my coaching practice.  Just like a health coach helps their clients find ways to make their bodies the best that they can be, I do the same with authors and their writing.  I also provide editorial services, so I am often busy proofreading and copy editing various documents.  When I’m not reading for work, I’m reading for fun, and I love what I do!

7:30AM – Wake up and have breakfast.  Secretly wish I hadn’t given up caffeine when I got pregnant.  I usually try to give myself a few minutes before I start looking at emails, so I go on Facebook for a while.  I also like to read something more substantial than Facebook in the mornings, and it is usually a writing- or publishing- related magazine.  Today I’m reading Writer’s Digest and Publisher’s Weekly.  In addition to helping me wake up and get into the right mindset, magazines always give me inspiration for services to offer, blogs to write, and ways to help my clients succeed!

9:00AM – Now it’s time to really get to work.  I look over my to-do list for the day, in case there is something urgent that needs to be attended to first thing.  Luckily, today there isn’t anything super pressing, so I begin to sift through emails.  I respond to a few client emails and a few requests to appear on folks’ podcasts or blogs.  I look over my calendar to make sure I know what I’m supposed to be doing for the rest of the day!  Then I spend some time updating my social media, especially Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

9:30AM – Call two potential clients to give them quotes on services that they have requested.  Potential clients are able to schedule calls with me through my website.  I post my starting rates there, but very few projects are exactly the same.  Once I finish my calls, I invoice the clients for the agreed upon amount.

10:00AM – Draft two guest blogs.  One is on how publishing a book can help entrepreneurs and small business owners grow their business, and another is on keeping yourself on track when it comes to finishing your novel.  I really like doing these – I think they’re helpful for people who read them, and it’s fun to get to be the writer once in awhile!

11:00AM – Phone call with monthly consulting client.  We discuss his latest pages and some steps he can take to improve them.  He needs to work on his dialogue – he is having difficulty giving each of his characters a distinct voice, and we brainstormed some ways that he can get through that.

12:00PM – Work on improving website.  My new website just launched, so I am constantly trying to improve the copy and fix little issues I find along the way.  There is always something to do!

12:30PM – Begin proofreading for client.  Proofreading is basically just looking for punctuation, grammar, or spelling errors, and is less involved that some of the more in depth editing services I offer.  

1:00PM – Take a quick lunch break and watch a couple episodes of Forensic Files on Netflix.  Contemplate taking a nap (I’m seven months pregnant), but decide I better keep going with my day!

2:00PM – Complete proofreading for client.  I will send her the final, clean version tomorrow once I take one last glance at everything.

2:45PM – Prepare for a podcast interview by re-reading the questions they sent over and doing some research on the podcast and my interviewer.  Put on a nice scarf and some perfume – I find that when I feel professional, I’m more likely to come off that way!

3:00PM – Podcast begins.  I’m grateful I gussied up a bit because the first section was done via webcam.  Give myself a pat on the back for changing out of pajamas!  I get to talk about my circuitous path to becoming a book coach, give some advice to writers, and make a great new contact.

3:35PM – Podcast is over.  I give myself a little break and then start going through emails that have built up throughout the day.  I receive an invitation to appear at a writers’ conference but have to turn it down because it is only a few days after my baby is due.

4:00PM – Read through material sent over for a 1-on-1 coaching session tomorrow and take notes.  Clients who do coaching sessions send me their book project (in whatever form it is currently in!) in advance, I review it, and then we discuss what is great and not so great when we talk on the phone.  These are really gratifying to do, and a lot of time these folks turn into monthly coaching clients as well!

5:30PM – Take a marketing webinar.  No matter how much I think I already know, there is always more to learn.  I always take advantage of free webinars or interesting newsletters that I get introduced to.  This webinar talks a lot about Facebook ads, which is definitely taking some time for me to master!

6:15PM – Wrap up my work day.  Respond to last emails, clean off my desk, and do some necessary filing.  I find it’s much easier to start the day with a smile on your face when your desk is not a total disaster zone.

6:30PM – Curl up with The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, my pick for book club.  I am hosting on Sunday, so I want to make sure I finish reading in time!  Start brainstorming food ideas for our meeting.

7:30PM – Dinnertime (breakfast burritos!) and hang out with my husband.  Talk about baby stuff.  Learning how to balance my time has been a big hurdle to get over, and time management is always a struggle.  But I have gotten a lot better at it, and I think the time I spend on each area of my life is more meaningful than it used to me.  We watch a little TV and I check in on the Facebook groups I am part of.

10:30PM – I put together my to-do list for the following day.  This helps me feel organized when I go to bed, which has helped to prevent many sleepless nights of lying awake thinking, “Did I do that?” and “When is that due?”  Tomorrow I will be doing more coaching calls and work on the website, and I am going to pitch some article ideas to a few different periodicals.  I’m also hoping to get more of my webinar slides completed for an upcoming presentation!

10:45PM – Read more of The Nightingale – it’s really good!  It’s so nice to be able to actually give myself some time to read “for pleasure.”  Husband reads his book, too: my idea of marital bliss.

11:30PM – Finally fall asleep.  I look forward to starting another busy but enjoyable day helping authors!

Thanks so much for sharing your hustle, Megan! Do you guys have any questions for her? Do any of you work in the literary world? Would you like to?  

P.S. Are you a hustler willing to share your story? Let’s chat! I would love to know how you’re making money while following your dreams in 2017. Shoot me an email — ebeth.berger@gmail.com. Thanks!

Don’t Hide Your Hustle: Latasha, Social Media Manager

Welcome to Don’t Hide Your Hustle, a new series on Finding Delight that explores the myriad of ways to make a living in 2017. I’m asking folks to share how they hustle over the course of one work-day (which usually extends far beyond a 9 – 5 situation).

Today, I present you with Latasha’s story. She’s a social media whiz-kid in the corporate world and produces a stellar YouTube channel. (Seriously, I binge watched her videos recently and they’re a magnificent mix of beauty, lifestyle, and smart lady opinions.) Let’s check out her hustle!

dhyh-latasha

Hello! My name is Latasha James and I am a social media community manager. Although my official job title is pretty standard and well-known nowadays, my life is anything but average. Because I work full-time doing corporate social media, freelance for clients across the globe, and manage my own personal branding efforts (which include a blog and YouTube channel), it goes without saying that I lead a pretty busy life. I wouldn’t want it any other way though — there’s never a dull moment and my life is always full of surprises. Come along with me for a recent Monday in my life!

6:30 am – I try to wake up a couple of hours before I have to leave the house so I have time to pull together a nice outfit, sip some coffee, and get a little bit of freelance work done. This morning I spent my free time checking emails and jotting down notes for a conference call with a client in Paris tomorrow.

8 am – I hop into my car and prepare for my sometimes treacherous commute… which usually involves a podcast. The Ask Gary Vee Show, Online Marketing Made Easy With Amy Porterfield, and Social Media Social Hour are my favorites. If I’m feeling like I need some extra self-care, I’ll turn on Nahko and Medicine for the People and belt it out on the highway instead… which is exactly what I did today.

9 am – I arrive at the office, sip more coffee 😉, check emails, and start a to-do list for the day.  I also use the beginning of my day to check the social media inbox for any urgent questions or inquiries.

10 am – After the immediate maintenance is taken care of, I start to schedule social posts for the day — this can take some time since I manage quite a few accounts.

11:30 am – Time for some personal branding! My company uses an employee advocacy tool that encourages us to share posts about the company and other relevant content with our networks, so I add a couple of articles to my Twitter queue. I also make sure to share some of my own personal posts and general social media industry content.

12 pm – Lunch time! I almost always work through lunch. Today I grabbed a quick salad from my company’s cafe, turned on a Podcast, and worked on the engagement piece of social media management aka ‘liking’ our social mentions, retweeting relevant accounts, and responding to comments that weren’t considered ‘urgent’ from this morning. This is the fun part of social media management — it involves lots of thank you’s and smiley faces. 😃

1 pm – I like to use my post-lunch energy to tackle a bigger project like implementing a large social plan, creating a video, or publishing something on the website. My company has quite a few events coming up, so today I worked on social support for those.

3:30 pm – This is the point in the day where I get started on scheduling social posts for the following day, close the loop on any customer service issues, and make a to-do list for the next day.

5 pm – Waste no commute time! I usually take a call with a client or listen to another Podcast, and today I choose to have a check-in with a local client.

5:30 pm – Immediately after getting home, I take some time to rest and unwind. Today I make a light meal, catch up on The View (I can’t help it, I’m addicted), and touch base with my partner, Norris.

6:30 pm – I send out a newsletter for a freelance client every Monday, which takes up quite a bit of my evening. I like to get started on that sooner than later.

8 pm – For another client, I am in charge of team organization and weekly social analytics. Once the newsletter is complete, I work on sending out an internal update email to my team and updating a spreadsheet full of metrics from the week before.

8:30 pm – More social media scheduling… 😃 This time as a freelancer. Since I only manage two accounts for this client, versus several at my company, this is pretty quick. I use Buffer, which is super user-friendly, very inexpensive for small businesses and freelancers, and makes it easy to recycle posts.

9:30 pm – More relaxation… with a twist. My boyfriend and I throw a silly TV show on in the background while we work on other things. Today I’m working on getting a YouTube video published, so I update the metadata, create a thumbnail with Picmonkey, and post it to my social networks while vegging out in my onesie.

10:30 pm – Winding down is important to me, and so is communication. Norris and I usually have a cup of tea, turn off the TV, and just talk for a little while before bed. Tonight the topics range from politics to goofy memes. It’s such a nice way to end the day. I’m a night owl and rarely fall asleep before midnight, but I like to start winding down well before then.

Thanks so much for sharing your hustle, Latasha! Do you guys have any questions for her? Do any of you spend your weekend and evening free-time working on personal branding efforts?  

P.S. Are you a hustler willing to share your story? Let’s chat! I would love to know how you’re making money while following your dreams in 2017. Shoot me an email — ebeth.berger@gmail.com. Thanks!

Don’t Hide Your Hustle: Kelsey, Concierge Hairstylist and Makeup Artist

Welcome to Don’t Hide Your Hustle, a new series on Finding Delight that explores the myriad of ways to make a living in 2017. I’m asking folks to share how they hustle over the course of one work-day (which usually extends far beyond a 9 – 5 situation).

Today, I present you with Kelsey’s story (whose hustle changes so drastically from day to day that we just had to include two!). Kelsey has been a licensed cosmetologist in Texas for many years and she also has a social media management and virtual assistant business. Let’s check out her hustle!

dhyh-kelsey-black-and-white

Hey ya’ll!  My name is Kelsey and what I do changes from day-to-day and seasonally.  The one consistent in my life is lots and lots of coffee: black with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a coconut milk latte with light foam.  Monday thru Thursday I am a Social Media Strategist and Marketing Manager.  I create content for other businesses including: blog posts, brochures, email campaigns and press releases.  I also create “less fun” content including Annual Reports, Investor Relations presentations, and Proxy Statements.  Like many I sit in front of my computer for hours answering emails and typing until my nails are blue.  Friday, Saturday, and some Sundays I am a stylist.  I have eleven years as a licensed cosmetologist in Texas and absolutely love working with brides.  I book wedding parties across the state as well as across the country and internationally.  I love that every day with a new client brings new challenges!

A recent Thursday working as the Marketing Guru at Styled Startup:

5:30 am – Wake-up and immediately check today’s calendar. Looks like it is going to be a busy one!

6:00 am – Drink my first cup of coffee and check emails. I have eight (!) email accounts so this can take a while.  I delete the spam, try not to get distracted by shopping deals, and favorite the emails I need to respond to.

7:00 am – Reach out to Virtual Assistants to discuss the daily to-do list.

7:30 am – Get more coffee.  Fix my hair and put on makeup.  Usually I only straighten my bangs and throw the rest of my hair into a messy bun. I contour, put on eyeshadow, eyeliner, two coats of mascara, bronzer, and a burgundy lip color.

9:00 am – Skype with a client to discuss new materials and social media strategy for the next month.  We are amping up her email campaigns to make them look more exciting.   I take notes outlining upcoming events and promotions.

9:30 am – Time for morning Instagram posts. I schedule my Instagram posts for a curated feed and to track hashtags across my accounts and client accounts.

9:45 am – Respond to 165 emails.  Trade secret: I have auto-responses set for most occasions but there are some responses that require a non-template response.

10:30 am – I head out for brunch with a local photographer. We enjoy crepes and lattes.  I like savory crepes with lots of veggies and feta but she opted for sweet. This sort of networking is a huge part of all of my businesses!  I use photographers to style and shoot flat-lays for my websites. Plus, photographer referrals are my favorite way to book brides.  

noon – More emails!

1:00 pm – I work on marketing materials for a client.  I create brochures and update their website.  Of course I have to link all these new materials to social media, too.

4:00 pm – Touch base with Virtual Assistants to make sure all their work was completed.  If any tasks are remaining by this time of day, we discuss options for finishing in the evening or the next day.

4:45 pm – Afternoon/Evening Instagram posts.

5:30 pm – I hit up Happy Hour with a bride I’ll soon by styling.  Since it is winter I opt for red wine but during the hot, Texas summer you can find me with a French 75 or margarita on the rocks!  I meet all of my brides for coffee or drinks prior to booking their wedding.  This has helped me significantly reduce “bridezillas” and make sure that I’m compatible with all my brides.  A bride should feel comfortable on her wedding day! Since she and her bridesmaids will spend a significant amount of time with me, it’s important that I’m someone she wants to hang out with on her big day! She also needs to make sure my portfolio is able to accommodate the hair and makeup aesthetic she’s looking to achieve.

7:00 pm – Another round of emails.

8:00 pm –  I have a good friend who is a small business owner in another state who acts as my accountability partner.  We have a nightly call or FaceTime to discuss our daily wins and losses.  I call her now to discuss our daily activities.

8:45 pm – Final Instagram posts go up.  I scroll through the feeds and correspond with like minded creatives.  Did you know for a comment to gain traction with Instagram’s new algorithm it has to be at least three words?  I try to be genuine and only comment on pictures I can directly relate to or that tug at my heartstrings.

9:00 pm – I fire off a Facebook chat to my photographer friend. The convo started out personal but quickly turns into a business discussion.  This leads to me scrolling through the friend’s Instagram account to perform a quick audit.  We discuss where disconnect with potential clients may be.

9:30 pm – Now I am performing hashtag searches to determine which hashtags will drive the most traffic to her Instagram.  I create a list of twenty hashtags to use in every Instagram post and send it over to her.  

11:00 pm – Scrolling through Instagram, I find a few more accounts to interact with before checking my email one last time and then heading to bed.

A recent Friday working as a Concierge Hairstylist and Makeup Artist:

5:30 am – Wake-up, check the calendar, drink coffee, and attend to emails.

6:45 am – Check that hair and makeup bags were properly packed and make sure we have enough applicators and lashes for the bride and all her bridesmaids.

7:00 am – Drink more coffee while fixing my hair and doing my makeup.

8:30 am – Fill up my 30 ounce Yeti with (more) coffee, grab the bags, and head out the door.

9:00 am – Arrive at the venue, meet with my team, and unpack hair and makeup bags.  It is crucial to get everything organized right away to stay on schedule throughout the day.

9:15 am – Airbrush Makeup for Bridesmaid #1.

10:00 am – Hairstyle for Bridesmaid #1.

10:45 am – Airbrush Makeup for Bridesmaid #2.

11:30 am – Hairstyle for Bridesmaid #2.

12:15 pm – Airbrush Makeup for the Bride.

1:00 pm – Hairstyle for the Bride.

1:45 pm – Hair and Makeup for the Flower Girl. This doesn’t take long as flower girls usually just get a little shimmer eye shadow, blush, and some lip gloss. Just enough to feel like a princess!

2:30 pm – I collect any outstanding payments, Square has made this a huge time saver.  Before, I had issues with checks bouncing or bridesmaids forgetting to bring cash.  Luckily everyone always has a card on them and Square has my back with transaction protection.

2:45 pm – Pack-up hair and makeup-bags.  The team leaves together and heads their separate ways.

3:15 pm – Arrive home and unpack the bags. I inventory all the items and make lists of those we are running low or out of.

4:30 pm – Payroll for the day in Square dashboard.

5:00 pm – I deep clean and sanitize all the makeup brushes.

5:15 pm – I fire off a response to an email from my dream venue for Wedded Weekend 2018 and book a follow-up call with the owner.  Proceed to do a happy dance around the townhouse!!!

5:30 pm – I work on the budget spreadsheet for Wedded Weekend 2018. I created Wedded Weekend, a three day creatives retreat and styled shoot workshop for wedding vendors, in 2016. The weekends are filled with collaboration, learning, and lots of fun. But the prep is a LOT of work. I try to carve out a few hours on weekend evenings to check a few items off my Wedded Weekend to-do list.

Thanks so much for sharing your hustle, Kelsey! Do you guys have any questions for her? Do any of you completely switch professional gears between weekdays and weekends?  

(Photo by Nicki Evans Photography.)

P.S. Are you a hustler willing to share your story? Let’s chat! I would love to know how you’re making money while following your dreams in 2017. Shoot me an email — ebeth.berger@gmail.com. Thanks!

Don’t Hide Your Hustle: Katie, Reservation Specialist

Welcome to Don’t Hide Your Hustle, a new series on Finding Delight that explores the myriad of ways to make a living in 2017. I’m asking folks to share how they hustle over the course of one work-day (which usually extends far beyond a 9 – 5 situation).

Today, I’m starting close to home and bringing you my sister Katie’s story. Her official job title is “Reservation Specialist” but you’ll soon learn that her talents and passions lead her to wear many more hats, even in a single day.

katie-head-shot-4-0

Hi there!  My name is Katie and if you asked me what I do for a living, I would probably answer “I’m a professional actress and playwright” without blinking an eye.  If we are being completely honest with each other though, that’s not always how I make my living. I also work full time at an Italian restaurant in Downtown St. Petersburg.  My official title is Reservation Specialist (I even have a business card!  Fancy!). Since taking on this position I’ve had to learn how to balance my artistic endeavors while pulling a paycheck in a completely different industry.  It’s a lot, but I thrive on stress.  What follows is an account of a recent Monday where I had to juggle several facets of my career.  Come along with me and make sure you have had a LOT of coffee. 

9:00am – Up and fed and caffeinated.  I don’t have to be at the restaurant until 10am so I usually use this time to look at upcoming auditions, make my to do list, or write.  For whatever reason, I tend to write my best stuff after I just wake up. Today, I also update my acting resume for my auditions this evening.

10:00am – We open at 11:30am so I clock in, fill up my water bottle, put my stuff in the back room, and say hi to the day bartender, Jessica.  I start flipping chairs off  the bar and high tops.  The openers arrive and start cutting lemons and setting up the outside dining area while I check my emails.  I get through as many emails as I can before we open, while Jessica and I watch the morning news on the TV at the bar.  

11:15am – The manager on duty gives me the floor plan for the day and I make a copy of it.  I check in with the servers to make sure they’re ready to go.

11:30am – I unlock the front doors and seat the first few tables.  It’s a slow start today because it’s cloudy and gloomy.  It’s amazing how much the weather affects our business, but it truly does.

12:00pm – 2:00pm – It’s a pretty slow lunch rush today so I have plenty of time to take phone calls and answer emails as they come in.  We are closing in on the holiday season so there are lots of big party reservations coming up!  There are already days that are completely booked, and I have started having to tell people we don’t have room for their parties.  

4:00pm – I go upstairs to the office but instead of printing menus, I have to print my acting resume because I have THREE auditions this evening.

4:30pm – I go back downstairs to gather my things and say bye to my coworkers.  I get plenty of “break a legs!” from all my friends.  I love these people.

5:00pm – I run to Staples to print my new head-shots!  I just got them done (thanks Beth!).  I go home and trim them and my resumes down to 8×10 inches, and staple them back to back.  I have done this so many times that it only takes me a few minutes to do 10 of them. 

6:00 pm – I drive to Tampa, where my first audition of the night is.  

7:00pm – I audition for A Skull in Connemara, a play by Irish playwright (and one of my favorites) Martin McDonagh.  It goes pretty dang well.

7:15pm – I say a hurried goodbye to my friends who are also going in for the same role and drive back to St. Pete for my other auditions.  

8:00pm – I arrive at USF – St. Pete’s campus and check in for my St. Pete Shakespeare Festival auditions.  I’m auditioning for Ophelia in Hamlet and Viola in Twelfth Night.  Two different shows.  Two different directors.  Lots of words.  I read a lot of scenes with some of my favorite people and I’m the last person of the night to be released.  

9:30pm – I arrive back home, feeling great about my reads.  I say hi to my two roommates and get out my music binder.  I’m playing in the pit for Blake High School’s production of Full the Musical and I need to make my script and music a little neater and easier to read for rehearsal tomorrow.  (Oh yeah, and I wrote Full.)  I’m pretty hyped up from all the audition adrenaline, so I work on music until my eyes start to slam shut.  

12:00am – I set my alarm for the following day, which includes work at Bella, Full tech rehearsal at the high school, and helping my friend plan her wedding. Because why not.

Thanks so much for sharing your hustle, Katie! Do you guys have any questions for her? Do any of you balance creative endeavors alongside a 9-to-5?  

P.S. Are you a hustler willing to share your story? Let’s chat! I would love to know how you’re making money while following your dreams in 2017. Shoot me an email — ebeth.berger@gmail.com. Thanks!

Three Fun Office Updates

Is your office feeling a little blah? When the weather is so beautiful, it can be that much more difficult to drag your butt to work and get productive. Luckily, a little decor transformation can go a long way in motivating you to meet those deadlines! (Even when the sun is calling your name.) With that idea in mind, I decided to put together three office style updates.  Here they are…
Parisian Chic

For Parisian Chic I went with an executive look with lots of white and gold.

Show off your fashion-forward side with a sweet spiral bound notebook, geometric desk tray,  polka dot pen, and designer style pencil cup. Keep all your important papers organized in a super stacked desk organizer and a wide drawer filing cabinet. Place a sleek side table in the corner for plants and a convenient spot for co-workers to set coffee cups when they drop by for a morning chat. Don’t forget to keep a clipboard handy for boss-lady chic on the go!

Quirky + Colorful

For Quirky + Colorful I went with an artist look with lots of bright elements to foster creativity.

Decorate your artistic alcove by adding tons of colorful notepads, notebooks, and sticky notes along with a few quirky pieces like a stapler shaped like a bunny and a rolling shelf unit that doubles as a comfy place to sit. Add a few Eiffel Slope chairs for even MORE pops of color. Don’t forget to stock your desk with a slew of markers for doodles and taking (colorful) notes.

Ethereal Elements

For Ethereal Elements I went with a dreamy look with lots of light and airy pieces.

Draw inspiration from the earth around you and the sky above with a wooden filing cabinet, a branch bundle table lamp, a chair decked out with beautiful songbirds, and pendant lights. Pay attention to adorable little details by including a magazine file to store inspirational periodicals and a whole bunch of butterfly sticky notes to jot down your great ideas. Ever a fan of the written word, cheeky phrases on mouse pads and pencil pouches are always a plus.

What do you think? Which would suit your personality best? 

My Notebook System

notebook system

Do you have a system to keep track of all your to-do’s for the day? It may seem like a no-brainer to some folks out there, but once I developed a set-up that worked for me it was a game changer.

As you can see above, I devote a full page to each day. I borrow elements from the bullet journal system, but it’s a WAY scaled down version. Each of my tasks are given a tick box that I check off as it gets completed. If I didn’t complete the task it gets an arrow so that I know to migrate it onto my list of to-do’s for the following day. If an item no longer needs completing for whatever reason I give it a strike-through.

In the middle of the page are my notes. These are items I encounter through out the day that I want to return to and investigate further when I have more time. This little section is instrumental in keeping me focused on the task at hand. And I don’t forget about things that may be useful or interest me later. Sorta like leaving myself little breadcrumbs in the form of bullet points!

And finally, something I started in 2016, a MANTRA! I kicked off the new year with Yoga with Adriene’s Yoga Camp. The challenge included 30 yoga videos to be done every day for 30 days and each one came with their own mantra. I found these daily affirmations wildly helpful and inspirational in January so I figured, why stop here!? When I sit down with my list at the beginning of each day I find a phrase, quote, or affirmation that I can focus my thoughts towards in the coming hours.

I also borrow The Monthly Log or Calendar Page from the Bullet Journal method. That’s where the Bullet Journal similarities end. For me, keeping an index (a key Bullet Journaling component) just feels too cluttered. The full Bullet Journal system, though I tried and enjoyed it for awhile, just isn’t for me. And ya gotta find what works for you. I love my system and love that it’s adapted over time to keep me productive and my brain-space uncluttered.

OH! And for forward-planning (ie. weekly and monthly planning as opposed to daily to-do’s) I use a mini-binder planner from the Target Dollar Spot. I just started it at the beginning of April and have been trying my hand at planner decorating…..totally something I never thought I would get into but I’m absolutely loving it. Perhaps I’ll post some pictures at some point if y’all are into it.

How do you stay on top of your daily to-do list? Do you keep paper lists or are you totally digital? Have you ever tried keeping a bullet journal? Into planner decorating? Tell me everything!!! 

5 Tips for Writing Killer Emails

5 tips for writing killer emails

There’s a fair few things I’ve learned over the years out in the rough real world. Nobody seems to have a working knowledge of basic traffic laws the moment they have a license in hand. After a certain age, going without specific foods can be considered a hobby. And, generally speaking, people are really bad at writing emails. Like, painfully bad. Over the years, I’ve witnessed some doozies. From over zealous “Reply All” users to simple task management turning into a tome rivaling Moby Dick. Not to mention the spelling errors, grammatical nightmares, and misinformation. Thinking this would be a fairly easy way to stand out at any job, I took it upon myself a few years back to take email writing seriously. Here’s the method to my madness…

1. Make the subject line work for the reader. I would wager a guess that most email recipients treat their inboxes pretty similarly. After receiving an email you either deal with it’s contents immediately OR you read/skim and let it hang out in your inbox until the stars align and you feel like responding and/or performing the tasks requested therein. I would say most of us treat our incoming messages as a sort of “To Do” list. So, keep this in mind when typing that dreaded subject line. If an email titled Hey there is hanging out in your boss’ inbox, chances are every time they glance over the days messages they won’t associate a response or action with this item. However, a message called Mockups needed for next step will alert them to what you are after AND that it’s time sensitive.

These more specific subject lines will also come in handy if the reader sorts their messages into folders after responding/completing. They will be super easy to locate after the fact!

There may be instances where you need to send a cold email. Subject lines are still important for these first impression correspondences! Here are a few possibilities I’ve found successful…

a. Question concerning [name of their company/business/blog/etc]

b. Trying to connect

c. Quick request

d. Introduction: [Your Name and Company]

2. Keep the message organized, concise, and free from errors. One of the first things we learn about writing is that any good piece should have a beginning, middle, and end. So, why does this go out the window when we log in to Gmail? There are certainly instances where it’s appropriate to shoot off a quick sentence but the majority of the time, your emails should consist of three parts…

BeginningThis is where you provide a greeting and offer some pleasantries. I know you may think this step is a waste of your time but offering a quick “It was so good to see you at the softball game last weekend,” is a great reminder to your reader that you’re a human and not just an annoying pop-up that’s going to add a bullet to their “To do” list. We’re way more likely to extend favors gladly to a friendly, ACTUAL person. This is also where you can set up the nature of your email and provide some context.

MiddleThe real point to your message comes here. Make sure, no matter the nature, that you’re providing your recipient with all the information they are going to need to respond, carry out a task, or follow through with a favor. If the message is just a decision provide ample reasoning, if it’s informational provide plenty of context.

End Here’s where you can clarify next steps and any action items. Provide any important dates or deadlines. Finish everything off with a bit of thanks and, of course, a signature.

Now, don’t get it twisted. Just because your email has three parts doesn’t mean it needs to be super long. As with subject lines, put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Have you ever opened a particularly lengthy email and felt immediately annoyed, even before you started reading? Don’t be that guy. Just get to the point. And then, before you hit send, for the love of GOD read what you’ve written. It will only take a few seconds and you’ll save yourself the embarrassment of any errors.

3. Be conspicuous. Beating around the bush is annoying. Don’t leave it to the person opening up your email to figure out what it is you want or why you need their help. If you’re sending a cold email because you want to pick the brain’s of someone successful in your dream field, tell them why you admire them! Don’t be shy with flattery. They won’t know why the meeting is important to you unless you tell them!! If you’re sending a request for a favor or asking for anything at ALL….just come right out and ask for it. Of course there are times when asking for someone’s help (or money or expertise) can be nerve wracking. But the VERY worst that can happen is they’ll say no. (And then you can move on. And ask the next person.)

britney emails

4. Include a clear timeline. Dates, times, deadlines, and time-frames are important pieces of info. Your hope is that they’ll get added to the reader’s diary, planner or Google calendar. Double check for accuracy and set them apart where need be. Safeguard yourself against email skimmers and BOLD if you feel it necessary. There’s no shame in the bold game, my friends. We’re visual people. And it’s definitely no more obnoxious than your co-worker who includes smiley emojis after every sentence.

5. Know when to respond. Finally, for the sanity of all you work with, think twice before responding. If you find yourself in the midst of a mass email which turns into an email THREAD, ask yourself who needs to actually READ your response. Let’s turn to an example. If you, and your entire company, receive an email from a co-worker about an upcoming meeting, and you want to respond–

“Thanks for organizing this meeting!”

Only the original sender needs to read that message. If you want to respond–

“I’ll be administering a short survey at this meeting so please come prepared to answer a few questions on staff communication practices.”

Go ahead…you can hit REPLY ALL! BUT if you want to write the following to your beloved work bestie–

“These meetings are the literal worst!!!! What a waste of time!!!! I HATE THIS JOB!”

You better TRIPLE check that “Send To” box.

Now, enjoy this hilarious video about what our workplace emails would look like if they were, in fact, real life. Let’s try to do better, shall we?

What tips do YOU have for professional emails? What irks you the most? Would you be more likely to respond to or help a person who followed the guidelines above? Let me know in the comments below!