As you may already know (my dear IG friends). I take 'caring for myself' quite seriously. Small business does not just run itself. But we need to learn not to run ourselves mad.
It's Monday morning, you hear the order labels printing in the background, the kettle boiling, that crisp smell of ground coffee and you realise that it will be one hell of a long day.
Questions like 'how am I gonna get everything done? I need to organise that pile of cards and prints, I need to prepare for new product launch, there's that custom order I need to finish off today, oh and I totally forgot about that family meeting! How is it 6pm already?!'
Overworking myself became normal and I felt that guilt creeping up every time I allowed myself to rest.
Welcome to my little creative chaos!
This was exactly me when I just started this business one year ago. I have never been a very organised person, but this was a time, when I had to take charge of things. Just for my own sanity you know. I had to take control.
So I started taking care of myself. I put myself first, Because I had to be healthy and have a clear head in order to create good work.
Here are the top 10 things that helped me to stay focused and healthy and filled my days with productivity.
1. TO DO LISTS
I mean the ones when you plan your day hour by hour. This steered away any distractions that would come my way. How many times I would be doing one thing and jump on to the new task before completing something I started. It left things half done - unfinished projects, never completed draft designs etc. Do one thing and do it properly before moving on to the next one.
It also feels very satisfying to cross something off your to do list, you will feel that rewarding sense of 'well done', that pat on the shoulder which always makes us feel good.
Every night, create a list of things you need to do for the next day. Learn to prioritise what is more urgent and what can wait.
Again, another mistake I did was overcrowding my lists. Subconsciously I knew, that it's impossible to complete all those tasks in one day, but I still wrote them down, which only added unwanted stress and disappointment in myself at the end of the day. While I do work better under pressure, I should not be the one pressuring myself.
So stay realistic - little steps every day!
2. WAKE UP EARLY
We live in a 9-5 world. Even if you're not working in a fancy office, when you need to set on your alarm for 7 am sharp every morning - do get into routine of waking up at the same time (ADULTING) at least Monday to Friday. It will set your body ready to kick-start the day, instead of being confused of what day it is and regretting binge watching Gilmore Girls until 1 am last night.
I am not a morning person, so this was very difficult for me to adapt to. I still feel more productive at night, but now I rarely need an alarm to wake up at 8:00, because my body just knows it (body clock is a real thing).
If you are a morning person though - I think it's the best time to have an hour for yourself - just before you start the day. A nice walk, or a yoga session followed by a refreshing shower, will only leave you energised to make the most of the day. Your body will thank you for that!
3. EAT WELL
When I say that, I don't mean go for boring meals and eat three packs of spinach every day (although I love spinach).
Simply by having proper breakfast, lunch and dinner is the least your body expects form you. How many times had I skipped lunch, because I was late for a post run, or had to pick up the prints from a print shop.
Skipped meals, followed by exhaustion and migraines, nobody is up for that.
Food is important. It's what gives us energy. It's what keeps you going.
What I found helps me the most is having a smoothie if I don't have much time for cooking or preparing a meal. You can buy fruits and slice them up in the little smoothie bags to freeze, and all you need is blender and my favourite (almond milk) to make one. Topping it with Chia or pumpkin seeds or anything else you like (pardon my Instastories), makes is it a healthy pick me up' meal throughout the day.
Of course, don't forget to treat yourself sometimes, Fridays always call for that caramel ice cream or a slice of your favourite cake. If only you knew my love for chocolate, but hey, I'm learning to be in control, remember?
4. SEPARATE WORK FROM HOME
It's hard no to mix these two up sometimes. Both, me and my boyfriend work from home and to separate our 'not so big' space from work and not to have it looking like a storage room is not that easily done.
While he has his little office and I have my little studio, I used to keep many of my product boxes in the bedroom, which would remind me of work ALL THE TIME. Every time I'd be catching up on that New Girl episode, I'd see some supplies in the background which would send my brain thinking about work constantly.
As much as I love what I do, it's important to have a work free environment when you're resting. That will help you to recharge fully.
Make your bedroom and living room as work free as possible. And if you do need to answer that e-mail urgently, in the middle of the film, on a Sunday night, then don't do it in your bed or on your couch, turn on that PC and log into your 'work zone'.
5. MAKE TIME FOR FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Have you ever noticed how much more relaxed and fulfilled you feel after a good conversation with your friend?
We are meant to connect with other people and spend a quality time together. Sometimes it helps to shift our perspective and see the things in new light. Being with somebody who truly gets you and inspires you can make you forget your worries and problems. So have a person you can dance with, laugh it off and purely be yourself.
My friends and my boyfriend are a constant motivation while running this business. I wouldn't get this far without their push, their help and a good advice when it's most needed.
It is hard to keep up with the social life, when there are so many deadlines and unfinished projects. But remember that connections matter.
Dream big, work hard and don't forget to enjoy the journey.
I hope you enjoyed reading this. Let me know what are your top tops for taking care of yourself.