Prioritising for me is a balance of time, meeting responsibilities and wishes - and following your instincts.
Responsibilities come as a result of choices and commitments we have made in the past, to offer a service or product for sale, to be a parent, to do the work we are contracted to do - and we do have to meet them. It is also about working out how much time you have to do things over a period of time.
How I prioritise
I like to list things to do on my weekly planner, so its isn't just swimming around in my head causing overwhelm or making me freeze.
Good luck with your priorities - let me know how you do it I'm sure I have much room for improvement!!
It started by accident - I had downloaded another app for tracking my daughters phone (at her request) which required a layer of encryption (don't ask me what this means!) which interfered with my email login. And then I couldn't remember my log in details for my mail (just how many login combinations are we expected to remember, modern world?!). A couple of days later I wanted more storage and realised that after a few absent minded checks on the first day that I was living perfectly well without checking my emails at all times during the day. - I deleted it altogether. I had to log in to my laptop to see any emails I received. I know.
I do have apps that inform me of sales on my website and Etsy stores which in my daily life is the most important and timely thing I need to deal with (sometimes I am able to send an order out that same day). But emails? I have never had an email in my current work life that I need to respond to within even a few hours, so I don't even need to see that, certainly not hourly or more. I don't need to urgently know that Anthropologie have beautiful things for me to buy every single day, or that my bill of some kind is available online. So I now have gone back to what I must have done 10 years ago before my phone-is-everything days and I check emails in the morning, around lunch time and maybe a couple more times in the afternoon and evening - when Im not busy doing other life/work things. Because I have to log in and sit at my desk its a bit more of a hassle. Then I only sit down when I have time to actually look, read, reply, delete, and store up lovely things like newsletters for the evenings and weekends. Strangely I reply more quickly than I ever did before, rather than thinking 'I can do it later' - if thats the case, why on earth was I looking in the first place?
I think I have made a lot of time back for myself, by not having the temptation or distraction of another thing to check so I can just get on with things. I don't pull myself away from something and then have that 'now where was I' moment which actually takes some time to get back on track and re-focus.
I feel totally liberated by this for some reason. So how about you? Do you have any good tech management habits you would like to share? I would like to compile a list so please comment or send me a message if you have any great but simple strategies.
Also have you signed up for Makers Musings? if not you can on the homepage or on the contact page: musings from me, a maker, for other makers who muse, and details of mentoring/coaching/consulting for small creative businesses. I bet if you delete your email app from your phone you might even be more likely to read it!!
Although I consider it I don't normally make resolutions at New Year. I often have mixed emotions - full of hope and a feeling of a clean slate and a chance to start again. and on the other hand a house full of last years Christmas detritus, the post-christmas orders busy-ness fall out that I didn't get round to clearing because I was exhausted, my daughter still home from school and sometimes (like yesterday) a little sore headed and tired.
I do know that I want to be kind to myself, to try new things, to exercise and eat well, to carry on growing my small business which I am proud of. This isn't a new year thing though but a daily promise to myself. I like to spend January reflecting on the previous year and see what I want to repeat or keep going, and what I want to leave behind. I can add to this something new too. So its more reflectilutions than resolutions. I don't really enjoy setting myself up only to feel disappointed in myself. January is cold, dark and somewhat tricky. This year it feels very exciting as I begin mentoring which lifts me right out of that foggy feeling.
If you want to see my New Year reflections from 2018 Click Here.
My new thing is the 'Makers Musings' letter I will be sending to subscribers with some ideas and inspiration, thoughts and wonderings, exercises and advice. I'm excited about this as well as the mentoring I start very soon. Like, my heart is jumping kind of excited.
Instead of resolutions this year I have made three wishes which I am sending in my letter this week, subscribe if you want to find out what they are, and for more ideas to navigate the life of maker or small business creative on a regular basis.
Happy New Year everyone!
This is a concept that is deeply simple but can have profound implications. I learned this from a Buddhist teacher who recommended it in the context of meditating though it is relevant across absolutely anything you do. Before you begin, set an intention - what is the purpose of what you are doing, i.e. in my meditation it was to gain awareness, insight, calm, balance, to inquire. This is relevant for every moment of our lives - what we are meeting that friend for, what is the intention for this next hour, day, week or lifetime. Unless we have an intention for something we can get lost without direction, feel disconnected and purposeless. Setting our intention is a form of mindful behaviour which can ensure that on a daily basis you are leading the life you intend to, in small ways and larger ways.
From day to day (each morning I decide what I'll be working on, if I'll fit in yoga or a walk, whether Ill knuckle down and do my admin all day, or simply to be kind all day to me and those around me). We can check in with ourselves to see how we are doing and explore without judgement if we went down a different track. This awareness prevents us getting pulled in other directions in unhelpful ways - demands from others, we may actually be able to resist, emails etc.
When we extend this to setting an intention for your business or project, or perhaps your whole life it can give you a clearer perspective. What is it the intention for your life? To have a family, a thriving business, to be kind, gain knowledge, to make music, to get rich. If we don't have a direction or a destination how will we know which way to go.
I thought about this for myself when beginning to offer mentoring. You can read more about my thoughts in the section 'about me' and also the mentoring introduction blog post. My intention is to continue to lead a life that is satisfying, authentic and sustainable as possible, and be free from regret. Part of this is my wish for others who are like minded to live this way too, as much as possible given the limitations of the modern world, but it is possible!
So, your turn! What is your intention for this moment? for this hour? For this day? For your whole life?
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Getting lost in thoughts happens to me several times a day. This feels so indulgent and luxurious and most of them are wild fantasies about impossible futures. This kind of day-dreaming is a beautiful creative process of possibility, opening the mind in all directions in the most natural and gentle of ways. It reminds me of that lovely quote by Oscar Wilde "Reach for the moon, you will land above the stars" - it starts with just a little thought - and where is there better to land?
Wherever our daydreams take us, if we can have the time and space to let our mind wander a little (when appropriate I mean, please don't loose your job over it, and look both ways when you cross the street!) - we can expand our horizons. Everything good that happened in my life has started with a little moment of a daydream, a spark that was lit, a thought that was made, that turned into the dream, the action, the work and now, a life I actually like living. Looking back to my twenties to imagine that I would be working as a jewellery designer and silversmith, not to mention a psychotherapist and mother, I would never have imagined (as I stood packed into a crowded tube train in London at 8.00am) that this simpler and more rewarding life (in one of the imagined forms) I now lead would ever become a reality. I would love to go back to that me of twenty years ago and whisper into her ear that its possible - it might have saved me a number of years!
That expression 'dare to dream' is also so pertinent. If you don't dare, it will never happen. So please keep dreaming, and I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours - what are your wildest dreams?
This might seem like a strange topic for a blog, though I know that when I'm doing my therapy work, as well as when I was in my own training and therapy, the concept of the shadow was extremely important. I am going to talk about it in different ways here:
firstly, we all have aspects of ourselves that are in our awareness and 'the light' the parts we like, have been accepted as good in childhood and perhaps peers and society, and then there is the shadow side. All the aspects of the self that are normal in human nature but are forbidden or taboo to our conscious mind, our family or society. These aspects get buried, but sometimes they get buried too deep and in a way that their emergence isn't addressed and integrated into the psyche which it needs to be in a healthy functioning mind. For example if something terrible happened to you, and the natural result is pure rage, but then the rage is unacceptable it just gets buried. Unfortunately dynamics this strong can't really stay down and, in this example, can manifest in a different way such as anxiety, inappropriate anger (not directed towards the original source long ago), even obsessiveness or just a general lack of self awareness. This is just an example to illustrate, the purpose being that if we have any parts of ourself that are buried and not dealt with, expressed and integrated into our beings, it can cause blocks to our personal development, ability to grow (healthy humans are constantly growing through their lifetimes), and of course our self esteem and confidence, as a part of ourself that was actually healthy at the time is buried too deep, rather than an anchor when you are trying to swim or sail.
I have a great exercise to help mentees address the more unsavoury parts of the psyche and bring them into their awareness. By being more aware we can then make choices in how we act, towards others, towards ourselves, and this can have a profound impact on our business too.
If it manifests as a sabatour that was originally trying to sabotage something else; or perhaps low self esteem caused by shadow aspects that cause shame, but because the process isnt concious having no idea why they feel this way.
If you're interested in exploring your shadow side you can sign up to my mentoring where one of the many exercises, as well as face to face and email support, will help you address this and release it. We can look at patterns of thinking that are unhelpful, negative self talk, why you might hold back or sabotage your own development and growth.
We all have unpleasant aspects to us, though we do need to be able to hold them and be aware of them so we can be in charge of how to express it safely and healthily, and let go of anything that doesn't need to be there anymore.
I have been thinking about this for a long time now. I run my own business and have knowledge to share. I am also a qualified, practicing psychotherapist with, having completed two trainings and obtaining my Masters I have enough knowledge to be helpful to other people needing a springboard or lift. I wrote a course to help people with Etsy shops in 2017 and love writing my blog for creatives on my website. I feel bursting with information that I want to impart, and I absolutely love people, I even more love people who go against the grain, who are brave enough to forge out a life that fits them most authentically, and take the road less travelled, and to inspire others too - we are like ripples in the ocean.
For me it has felt quite strange for some time that I keep my jewellery business and my counselling practice entirely separate. This is partly to protect my clients who don't really need to know much about my life as they have their own things to deal with of course. Its also been practical as the skills were so different. But increasingly I notice that when I give advice or tips it is well received, and my knowledge and experience will be valuable to a small and very important group of people in the world. Not only that but I realised more and more that creating jewellery in order to inspire and be grounding, to maintain a close connection with nature and ourselves through jewellery, well this is exactly what I do as a counsellor (and now mentor) too.
I know I have said this before but the world does need more people like us. We don't need conformity (although it certainly has its place and I do conform in many other ways). But as long as there is conformity there is a need for freedom, thinkers, and those who can live authentically and creatively. I want to do my small part in making this happen and keeping it going, especially in the changing world we currently live in. I want to give people the skills and confidence to go forward in their path in a sustainable way and not look back. If you're interested in having mentoring or know someone who does please forward or share these details with them so we can keep the movement going.
'Be yourself, everyone else is taken" another Oscar Wilde quote. Please make sure you do your thing, no matter how weird or odd, new or crazy, if its yours and you love it then no doubt someone else will too. And if it has been born in your mind and in your hands then it has every right to exist! What is your thing? I would love to know what project you are devoting your energy to at the moment, big or small.
Also if you have suggestions or requests while I am still writing just drop me a message.
Sign up to my regular 'Makers Musings' direct your inbox for creative inspiration, tips, reflections and more to help you and your small business flourish. Kate x
I'm Kate, a jewellery designer behind @graceandflora, therapist and creative consultant, mentor and coach. I also like to write creative business tips, inspiration and advice
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Living with intention