15 Reasons to Fix Your Flow

Organizing is the process by which we design systems and environments that enable us to work, live, and create exactly as we want to. When we are in a state of flow, our offices, schedules, and tasks reflect and support our vision.

 

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How do you know if you need to fix your flow?

  • You just started your own business, as a freelancer or small studio

  • You were just tasked with forming an in-house creative "agency" within your enterprise

  • A company downsize or merger means your remaining employees inherited the workloads of others

  • Your business is currently undergoing a major growth spurt

  • Your team’s roles and responsibilities are vague - resulting in tasks falling through the cracks because “it’s not my job”

  • You receive over 100 emails/IMs/VMs/memos a day, and feel pressured to instantly respond to each as they come in

  • You feel frustrated from constant interruptions in your workday

  • You work in a deadline-driven business

  • You work in a version-intensive business

  • You are unable to quickly identify the profit margin on a particular client or project

  • You work for a global business or with international clients - operating 24 hours a day

  • Your company just moved from private offices to an open plan arrangement

  • Company partners or team leads have conflicting opinions regarding the value of a systematic workflow process

  • Each member on your team organizes their tasks and operates in a completely different way than the others

  • Your team disregards or works around your current system

Forge & Flow is a unique consultancy designed to determine and implement the best possible workflow system for your creative agency or in-house team. We dig deep into your pain points and business objectives, and come to you with a solution that will be easy to implement and will run seamlessly in the background, allowing your team to do what you do best - make epic sh*t. We can even train your employees and check in to ensure that all is running smoothly. Whether you have a staff of 1 or 51, the right workflow system is the foundation to solid, lasting growth and profitability.

Contact us for a no-commitment workflow diagnostic.

letsgo@forgeandflow.co

9 to 5 and My Cup of Ambition

"Let's face it, we are in a pink collar ghetto." - Lily Tomlin, 9 to 5

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Your'e a sexist, hypocritical, lyiing, egotiscal bigot. 

Goodbye bossman, It's quittin' time.

This movie imprinted what work was to me - at age 5 - when I had the 45" of Dolly Parton's glorious single. I blame the "Girls Night" showing of this moving at Alamo Drafthouse for kicking me in the ass. 

Margaret, Doralee, Judy, and of course... Violet - Goddamnit she is me. And my mom. My heroines.

Hey let's use some sports analogies!

Hey let's give you some goddamn personal things to do. Like make dinner reservations for me and my mistress and drive down to the dealership and make my car payment (by check - this was THE 90S people...)

What's so sad and amazing to me is that so little has changed since 1980 - 19 f*cking 80 - that would be 37 years ago. I WAS FIVE. I'm not even traditonally "cute," and I've had my boobs honked, been propositioned, received a "date" corsage, gotten a proposal of marriage from a married man, squirmed out of an unsolicited massage or 10 , been complimented on my butt (which is pretty awesome, BTW)... I can't imagine what it's like to be young and hot. God bless you, ladies, I have your backs.

37 years later and the same shit is still going on in the average, American workplace.

  • Men are still running things – 7 in 10 senior executives are white men (Fortune)
  • Flextime, while on the uptick (thanks, millennials) is still not the norm – with only 57% of employers offering it (Bernard Health)
  • In-house daycare centers, f*cking get serious – a paltry 4-8% offer this perk (The Outline)
  • And of course, those pervasive attitudes – women as den mother, secretary, server, coffee maker/fetcher and just plain “less than…” is the order of the day (NY Times)

But hey, if you want foosball tables – most companies have you covered!

It’s still 1980 for the vast majority of us, and it sucks. The only way we’ll ever change things is to start our own businesses, to patronize woman-owned or woman-allied businesses, to only work for people who share our values and genuinely want to see us advance.

I know this is easier said than done. I need a paycheck too, and I most certainly have put in time working for dudes who treated me as “less than.” So blog about it, write an honest review on Glassdoor, make some space for yourself with a side hustle, join a local BossBabes group, mentor and protect the people coming up in your place of work, or stand up and walk out (or in my case, get pushed out) of a bad situation. And, by all means, watch 9 to 5 with your crew of fellow boss babes. Laugh and get mad – and get to work!

mrschrislopez@gmail.com

ocdelight.me

forgeandflow.co

"I expect to be treated equally. With a little dignity. And a little respect."

 

 

Getting to Inbox Zero

Do you even Zero, bro?

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What if I told you that you had absolute power and control over how you spend your time and when you choose to deal with incoming messages of all kinds...? ' Coz you totally do, babe.

Merlin Mann invented the concept of "Inbox Zero" about a decade ago. You might think that this exercise necessitates having literally zero emails in your inbox. However, it's a little more lenient than that.

Here’s what it Inbox Zero actually means, as defined by Mann:

“It’s about how to reclaim your email, your atten­tion, and your life. That “zero?” It’s not how many mes­sages are in your inbox–it’s how much of your own brain is in that inbox. Especially when you don’t want it to be. That’s it.” – Merlin Mann

I have a robust but simple folder system for all of my email platforms (professional and personal) - typically organized by clients at the office, or buckets like "bills," "orders," kids" IRL. I am also, admittedly, a tree-killing #oldlady because I print out the emails that require action on my part and put them into a physical "inbox" (it's rose gold, natch) and then I knock them out or file them over the course of my day.  I like to look at an actual empty inbox before I unplug for the night. Feels damn good. Inbox zero is only meaningful if you actually do something with the action items that come across your email.

Inbox Zero shouldn't put needless pressure on you to stop what you are doing to deal with every email or document that comes across your desk. Which is why I highly recommend the time blocking method. Block 30 minutes 1+ times per day, when it makes the most sense, to deal with your emails (respond, print, sort, file) and 30 minutes 1+ times per day to deal with your physical inbox or to-do list. Beginnings and ends of the day are ideal, but please use whatever blocking method aligns best with your flow, your circadian rhythms. Optimally, you should only be dealing with this type of intake and sorting 2x per day. And if you want to get super hardcore, and you really want this method to work, turn off your email alerts.

When you're ready to get into your emails, when it's that time of the day, quickly categorize them as you go. For example, here's how I break it down:

  • Reply/forward immediately (you know the answer, or can keep it moving)
  • Reply/forward after further research, task completion (will take more work to keep it moving)
  • File/no action needed, drag to appropriate folder for future reference (in case of CYA later)
  • Trash/no need to keep it (f that noise)

Some folks choose to get to inbox zero by creating additional folders on their email platform - like "to do - now," "pending information," etc. I tried that and personally, I just couldn't get myself in the habit of returning back to those folders to wade through everything. I'm hopelessly analog like that - I like folders and neat piles to help me to visually prioritize my work. I'm more likely to respond to something if it's in my face, not sitting in a folder. That's why my emails only get filed in folders once I've categorized them.

To paraphrase William Ernest Henley: "You are the master of your email. You are the captain of your inbox.

Your time is priceless, treat it as such. Everyone else's emergency is not your problem. Get a handle on it. Go forth and kick ass

@mrschrislopez

ocdelight.me

forgeandflow.co

And God Created Gen X Earth

Recently I read "And God Created Millennial Earth" via McSweeney's, one of my favorite sites for satirical writing, despite the fact I am clearly no longer in the target demographic (at over-the-hill 42). This article was different in its ridiculousness, however, because it didn't come off as satire - this is how they talk now. I recommend reading the source material (McSweeney's, duh - not the actual Bible) first...

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As #olds, none of my friends nor I could relate. So, I decided to make a Gen X version of the Creation story - for those of us born before 1980. Enjoy.

The Beginning

Genesis (The Invisible Touch)

1 - In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth...because the Holy Ghost was out golfing and taking away our healthcare with the other Senior VPs, and the Son was Instagramming thigh gaps at the Fyre Festival and well, someone has to get this shit done.

2 - Now the earth was without form and void like an awesome Peter Murphy song that you listen to in your room with all the lights off, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God cranked like a badass upon the surface of the waters like Bodhi in Point Break (the original one, not the bullshit reboot) - we're talking 100% pure adrenaline.

3 - And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And in this bright light, He could tell that He had yet another motherfucking chin hair and where the hell do these things come from anyway and how do they grow from nothing to one inch in length seemingly overnight?

4 - And God checked out the light, and figured that it wasn't really going to get any better than this, so what's the point: and God divided the light from the darkness because there are rules, dammit and besides, the New Kids people and the Pixies people really shouldn't mix. 

5 - And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.. 24 hours, party people.

6 - And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters because no one else is going to do this shit right. I'm on a deadline and I don't have time to hold your hand, Medamnit.

7 - And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters above it - kinda like how a McDLT separated the cold from the hot right up until you ate it: and it was so. 

8 - And God called the firmament Heaven because it was just like His favorite Cure song. And there was evening and there was morning and there was New Coke, a second day. Word.

9 - And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the land appear: and it was so. And nobody really noticed. It's not like He's going to get a promotion for this crap anyway.

10- And God called the land Earth; and the waters He called Seas: and God saw that there were now many places for Carmen Sandiego to go and it was sweet as hell.

11 + 12 - And God said: 'Let the earth bring forth grass, herb (hehe, just like on Cheech and Chong) yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit... and let Whole Foods charge like $8 per organic pear because they're turned into a bunch of fucking corporate shills. And God saw that it was awesome and - oh shit - He's late to pick up the kids and daycare charges $1/minute after 6pm. Fuck.

13 - And there was evening and there was morning, a third day. So He wrote about it in His gratitude journal because that damn Gretchen Rubin book said it would ease his anxiety if He wrote three things in it every night before bed. So far it hasn't worked, but whatever...

14 + 15 - And God said: ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them mark seasons, days and years' but He's still not going to buy one of those Apple watches because they're dumb as hell and He'd look like kind of a poser douchebag.

16 - And God made the two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; and the stars. But the lesser light was all butthurt about being called out for being "lesser," so He gave it a trophy and an extra PTO day so it would get the hell out of his cubicle.

17 + 18 - And God set the lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night. And it was killer. Except for during daylight savings when the kids think they can go to bed at fucking 10pm just because the sun is still out. Then it sucks.

19- And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. So He let himself into the house alone and made Hot Pockets in the microwave because he can take care of himself, damnit. He doesn't need anybody. Everyone is a lie.

20 - And God said: ‘Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let fowl fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.’ Because eating too much red meat will fuck with your cholesterol (He read it in the Times) and really, who wants to be on another prescription at this point? Not Him. Not at these prices.

21 - And God created the great sea-monsters, and every living creature that creepeth, wherewith the waters swarmed, after its kind, and every winged fowl after its kind. Like literally everything - He made everything Himself because no one ever pitches in, they're too busy playing foosball or loitering around the damn beer cart. And God saw that it was good, and made a note in his self-evaluation that his boss will totally ignore come review time.

22 - And God blessed them, saying: ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. But don't multiply too much because you'll never be able to afford to support that many offspring with a gutted 401K, lingering student loans and stagnant wages. Thanks, Obama. Just saying."

23- And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. So He tried meditating before bed, because someone told Him it was good for fostering creativity, but He said "fuck it" and decided to take an Ambien instead because five minutes of sitting still just wasn't cutting it.

24 + 25 - And God said: ‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after its kind.’ And it was so. He even posted about it on Facebook, because IG and Snapchat are for kids - and got 37 likes! But He used a picture of the cattle because selfies call attention to His matronly upper arms.

26 - And God said: ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them be in charge of everything on earth' even though people can't be trusted and they'll just break your damn heart and ruin everything. Morrissey was totally right.

27- And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created him; male and female He created them. And then he was all "Are you there God? It's me, God?" and promptly laughed His ass off because He cracks Himself up and no one gets His sense of humor these days.

28 - And God blessed them; and God said unto them: ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, but wear a condom and a dental dam because AIDS is no fucking joke and JUST SAY NO to drugs and don't be a fool stay in school. I'm out.'

29 - And God said: ‘Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed—to you it shall be for food; so please learn how to cook for yourself because Blue Apron is pricey bullshit and you're Meddamn adults - read a recipe." And it was bomb ass.

30 - And so He has given unto us the internet as you know it, smartphones, video games, hip-hop, the best comedians, John Hughes movies, and indie EVERYTHING - not that you'd ever thank Him for it. But yeah sure, call Him a fucking slacker. Nobody gave Him a ribbon just for showing up. Whatever, assholes. And it was so.

31 - And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was pretty fucking awesome. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. So naturally the Holy Ghost and the Son took credit for everything - because no one believes in paying their dues anymore. Sigh.

On the seventh day, He slipped on his threadbare Sub Pop tee shirt and hunkered down to watch Goonies and have a Skype happy hour with His best girlfriends after the Son went to bed (who is still living in the basement, BTW), and He waited for the inevitable Reddit posts about how the Holy Ghost or the Son would have done a better job at making this Creation shit happen because you know, "we're digital natives and makers and Woodstock ruled and fuck the man" and all that shit and blah blah blah...Until the Ambien kicked in.

#blessed

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OCD Gets Dressed

My casual, thrown-together look is actually pretty well thought out. This isn't entirely in the interest of fashion, but more so in the interest of time and having one less thing to stress out about in the morning when I'm attempting to get four people out the door. I have a system, getting all of my outfits for the following week together every Sunday evening. This is my weekly "me time" ritual that typically involves a glass or two of red and some girly Netflix programming I couldn't otherwise watch in the presence of my spouse (The Devil Wears Prada is a particular favorite - #sorrynotsorry).

Mine Pinterest + Fashion Blogs - I've been a style geek since I could talk (chalk it up to having a fashion designer mom who went to FIT), so occasionally combing through Pinterest and my favorite blogs is an enjoyable time suck for me. I clean out the closet twice annually and either sell back to ThredUp or take pieces to Goodwill, but there are some items I'll never get rid of - the investment pieces I paid for before I had to pay for daycare. Sadly I just don't have the time for Vogue these days unless I'm in the pedi chair. To make things easier, I follow my favorite style bloggers on Pinterest, so that their pinned looks come up in my feed. I pin the OOTDs that I like to my "Covetous and Beauteous" board. "C+B" is a board dedicated to full looks, or styling ideas - if I'm pinning individual items to consider for later purchase, I have a secret board for that...

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Weather Forecast - It's August. It's Texas. It's basically going to be 95-105 every single day and I get that. I also don't wear anything above the knee or above the elbow because I have a serious case of body dysmorphic disorder and I like to keep all this jelly contained (this is for the greater good, mind you - you're welcome). However, when we are in the rare month where temps can fluctuate, I go through the weekly forecast and add the projected highs/lows and rain percentage to my trusty Moleskine planner in the lower right corner. It's good info to have regardless. Plus I can consult my planner as I'm pulling daily outfits to make sure I'm covered in case of some freak "Day After Tomorrow" incident where it might possibly be below 72 degrees outside and warrant some sorely missed layering opportunities.

Check My Calendar - Even more important than dressing appropriately for the weather is dressing for what I have on the schedule that day. Client meetings or happy hours call for maybe slightly more effort than the usual denim and sneakers vibe. I take plans into account when I'm getting everything set up for the week to come. It's also a good opportunity to just step back and take a holistic look at what is on deck in the subsequent days - helps to calm the Sunday night bad juju and get me in a good headspace for GOT.

Closet Organization - Pulling outfits for the week is easier because of the way I have my closet set up. It's a u-shaped closet with a pocket door. When I walk in, my week's selections are right in front of me - I have dividers with the day written on each. That's where that day's look will go after I figure it out. Dresses are to the right of the dividers - since that section only has one bar and I have some long dresses (again, going for full burqua to hide the sausage thighs). The right hand side is all mine - shirts on top, bottoms on...well...the bottom. Shirts arranged left to right: tank tops, short-sleeved knits, long-sleeved knits, wovens, pullover sweaters, cardigans. Bottoms: jeans, pants, skirts. Within these categories, each item is organized by color - light to dark from left to right. Sounds like a pain in the ass - but you only have to set up your system once and keep up with it as you put new/clean/recently worn clothes away. 

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Pull the Week + One Spare - I'm a girl on a budget, so I shop my closet. I have some go-to combos that I can grab immediately and file by the right day. When I want to play, I'll pull a few pieces I haven't worn in a while, some funky items, a couple of basics, and play mix and match on the bed. I'll gather each day's look together and place outfits in that divider section. I also add a super basic, foolproof option (black trapeze knit dress and leopard gladiators, for example) and file in front of the Monday in case I'm not feeling it on a certain day and need to make a last-minute substitution. I line up shoes under each day's outfit - on a shelf below. 

Mise en Place - Add accessories and (if you're feeling ambitious), your selected underpinnings in velvet drawstring pouches. Hang the pouches over the hangers. I like my stack of purple Crown Royal bags (thanks for the tip, Nina Garcia). This way, I have every single item for the day all in one place.

Another time saver: I pull outfits for each child the night before school and leave it all out on their special "tomorrow" hooks in their bedrooms. No one is safe from my OCD. I let the older boy consult with me on his selections - although I usually have to overrule his choice in sweatpants. Not everything is genetic, I guess.

Go forth and make it fun. 

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Kanban Your Weekend

I make no secret of the fact that I like to run our family like a creative studio - it's all I know (been doing it a lot longer than parenting, after all...), and it's also a low-risk way to experiment with new ways to optimize our time - before I implement changes in a work setting where money is at stake. So we were faced with a pretty massive to-do list this weekend - a little out of the ordinary - prepping the house for my mom to come and stay with us for the week. Wanted to up our game beyond our usual baseline level of filth. A walkthrough of the place generated about eleventy billion little things to do. Anytime I can apply lean project management to my life - I'm going to jump on it. Also anytime I can use the term "lean" for something I am doing is a bonus (insert thick girl joke here). So hubs and I decided to Kanban that shit, pronto. 

Kanban is a method of visualizing your work and the intended flow; team members have visibility to all tasks and can "pull" a task to perform based on their capacity. Kanban can be as simple as you want it to be. I love it for breaking up a big project into visual chunks that I can move around. The physical act of moving a task from "to do" through "doing" and finally to "done" is massively satisfying. Plus all contributing team members (in this case me, F and the kids) know the status of all tasks with a quick take. You can get all fancy and color code your cards (sticky notes, in our case) according to the assignee, or according to priority - but I stuck with purple for all of our tasks. No joke, kids love this method. They like to see a big stack under "done" that demonstrates the work they put in around the house. 

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The family went super low-tech and used our side door (centrally located in the house) as our board. I'm thinking I might pick up a board for the den so that we can graduate from the door. There are also digital kanban boards like Trello and the "Board" view in Asana (my chosen digital personal project management tool). I also played with Kanban Flow for a while a few years ago. We use a version of Kanban at the office that is generated by data that we enter into Filemaker Pro (used to be a whiteboard prior...). If you're in a pinch and need to constantly have your tasks in view - I've gone as basic as just putting stickies on my monitor at work in those three groupings - and moving them as I am in progress or have completed a task. It helps make a seemingly overwhelming day that much more approachable and possible. And who wouldn't want that?

"Creative" Types vs. "Detail" Types

I once worked for a place that liked to categorize people. I understand this need at a fundamental level. It's comforting to be able to put someone in a box and then move the various boxes around based on project need. Or, you form an opinion on a staff member based on personality tests and job descriptions. But boxes are limiting and people are more than what you perceive - and as a manager - wouldn't you rather engage with the whole person? There could be skills and talents there yet to be unlocked. 

Some common stereotypes:

Creative Types (also known as "Big Picture" Types) - visionary, strategic, perceptive disorganized, ideas people, no patience for busywork, expansive talkers

Detail Types - conscientious, overthinkers, prioritizers, anal, rigid, strong on follow-through, common sense, focused on momentum and completion

As you might imagine, I've always been lumped in with the latter group. From my very first job where I lobbied hard to be a copywriter at 21 and ended up a production manager, I've been stuck in the "detail" category. I find that "creative" people are very protective of their craft and believe themselves to be uniquely, innately talented - and not the product of nurturing skills over years of work. The detail people get short shrift and little respect in a setting where ideas are what's for sale. Creativity is a skill you can build. So is self discipline.

I dig the HBR version of this: "What Kind of Thinker Are You?" I'm definitely a planner type - which is designing systems - big picture meets process. That's my jam. Other types include explorer, coach, producer - under the umbrella of either "macro" or "detail" orientations. Take a look. What type are you?

Also being a "visionary" is often just an excuse for forgetting to schedule meetings, or make a deadline. Yeah, I get it, you're too much of a genius to remember the weekly status meeting despite the calendar reminder - sometimes I forget I'm in the presence of greatness. Now don't let me keep you from creating that groundbreaking email banner campaign...

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So I guess what I'm saying here is - managers, don't box your people in. Hold your big picture types to deadlines, and encourage your detail people to ideate. Sure everyone has strengths and tendencies toward either the creative or detail category - but if you get a unicorn who can play well in both sandboxes, nurture the hell out of that. Or someone else will. 

 

In Praise of Listeners

I've often been criticized for being "too quiet" in meetings - not asserting my opinions over those of others in the room. I used to feel self-conscious about this, but now I'm owning it. I'n not shy or retiring (anyone who knows me can tell you that) - instead, I keep my mouth shut and pay rapt attention to the spoken (and unspoken) things my clients and colleagues are saying. I come to meetings so damn prepared there's no room for error. I don't feel the need for everyone to think I'm the smartest person in the room - there's always something I can learn from others.

There's a trend lately toward "power poses," and "commanding a room" in a meeting. As a services professional, I'm there to learn and deeply empathize with my clients' pain points so that I can come up with the best-fitting solution that meets their needs. How is that possible if I stride into the gathering with a fully formed opinion I'm trying to implement without input. I trust my intuition and abilities enough to let others do the talking - to go away and think deeply about what I have heard - synthesize the information, and come back with a well-argued POV that directly answers my clients' concerns and objectives, rather than serving my own.

You can call it "soft skills" or "emotional intelligence," but I find those terms to be gendered and therefore not as "valuable" to employers who value the ability to swagger into a meeting, stand expansively with your fists on the conference room table, and sell the hell out of their idea - whether it answers the client's problem or not...

My power pose is perched at the edge of my seat, Moleskine and Sharpie Ultra Fine point in hand with an open, inquisitive mind and quiet confidence in my abilities. 

I find many women (and quite a few introverted men) in the same place.  In a working world where you must assert your dominance or be passed over, do you put on a mask, or do you bring people around to appreciating your unique skill set and its expression? Project your power in a way that feels authentic to you - and if you get brushed past, talked over, or ignored, you're in the wrong place. I know, easier said than done...

Or, just blow the whole damn thing off and play with this handy "WHO TALKS MOST" widget to kill an hour. Beats getting stuck taking meeting notes.

A Few of My Favorite Things

In the age of Trump and terrorism, curated lifestyles, Pinterest parenting, and 24/7 work availability, I understand the need to exercise as much control over our personal worlds as humanly (or technically) possible. 

Here are just a few little tools (updated for Summer 2017) that help keep my world chugging along somewhat smoothly so I can concentrate on the bigger things:


Google Keep - I'm a huge proponent of the G Suite system, probably just because it has its tentacles into every facet of my life (freelance, side hustling, personal life, family to-dos...). 

Google Keep is a notepad / slash / to-do list that syncs to your Google Drive. It also supports photo notes (I often snap a screen shot of something I want to remember to do or research) and voice notes (perfect for driving!). It's color coded (OCD requirement) and works on my iPhone, the Macbook and the Chromebook. It's accessible anywhere. I keep my blog post ideas, shopping lists, recurring to-dos by day, expected deliveries, etc. Highly recommend.


Asana - Again, my life is split into 3 parts: current work, work in development, everything else (i.e.: IRL). While Keep is a quick capture of what's immediately on my mind, Asana helps me to create projects and then write and assign tasks by date for each project. This also sorts itself into a calendar. Asana is what you want if you are in a partnership or team. I have Asana accounts for each of those three life parts - since I work with different people on each. Asana is a recommended app integration for G Suite - so these two platforms won't fight each other, they work together. You can also integrate your different Asana lists via email notifications. Or create one Asana account and keep your different "teams" walled off from one another via admin permissions. There is also a Chrome extension to allow you to pull to-dos from the internets. 


Closet Dividers - Talk about a simple solve that has a major impact for me... I like to plan out clothes for the upcoming week just to keep my mornings as streamlined as possible. I have 2 sets of 5. One for the five days of the workweek (increasingly easy now that I work from home), then weekend, then all of the other pieces by category (dresses, shirts, pants, skirts). Yeah, yeah - super basic, I know - but anything you can do to save yourself 10 minutes of staring blankly into the closet every morning so that you have  more time to fight with the kids about the fact they hate their breakfast - is a bonus. I take it a notch farther by researching the temps for the week ahead on Sunday and then selecting the subsequent 5 days' outfits (and shoes... and accessories...) accordingly. Because I'm certifiable. 


Roomba - Dear Jeebus, I love my Roomba. Expensive, yes - but worth every. I have two pets, hardwood floors and HAAAAATE vacuuming. It's working right now - humming delightfully in the den. I can control it from my iPhone - it lets me know when it is trapped under that damn Ikea chair (which happens often, sadly). The dog hates it, but the dog is a cause of the problem - so, deal with it Sally. This blessed device saves me a couple of hours a week and my house (for the most part) is always in presentable shape for an impromptu hosted brunch or happy hour, or... drinks.... They make one that mops too. I neeeeeeeed it. Where are those scratch-off lottery tix again?


Like with any tool, your mileage may vary. The best workflow solutions for your personal needs or your organization depend entirely on your objectives, lifestyle, tech specs. If you're looking for recommendations, hit me up.

Yours in OCD,

c

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Analog + Digital

Love...

When the Other Shoe Drops

I've been accused of being paranoid - but sometimes when you're paranoid, it turns out you're right. What do you do when the worst possible thing (that you've built up in your imagination) actually comes to pass?

Admittedly, my worst fears are all around disappointing other people or having harm come to people I love. I don't worry so much about what could happen to me, personally. So when I had a shockabuku (see: Gross Pointe Blank) a couple of weeks ago, I had to pick up the pieces - and fast.

Now, most "self-care" types recommend a period of mourning, regrouping - say a week - after a major failure and/or loss. I find that too much laying in bed, with the covers up to my neck, watching Netflix just makes me obsess on everywhere I've gone wrong and everything I've done wrong in my life (plus I'm not focusing on Kimmy Schmidt as much as I should). Admittedly, I did read one self-help book, and it was a damn good one (thanks, Jenn, for loaning it out). But I don't need to contemplate, I need to work - to settle my monkey mind. 

So I got to work.

I made lists on lists on lists:

  • Personal (teach O how to ride a bike, KonMari this closet, set up legit home office)
  • Short-term professional (pretty much - get paid)
  • Long-term professional (unabashedly capitalize on my 22 years of studio workflow direction for my own benefit)

I scrum'ed, and Asana'ed and Google Kept the hell out of my myriad tasks, prioritizing and checking things off one by one - and that got me calm, settled, and motivated. 

I'm not a failure. I'm not my 9-5 (or rather 7-10) job. Perfectionism has forever been my shield - I tried to be perfect to mask my fear of failing, the fear of being blamed, and the fear of disappointing other people, and I still managed to do all three. So, I'm letting myself be a little messy. Organized, but messy. A little more honest. A little less ashamed. Boundless but with boundaries.

I picked up that other shoe - and put both shoes into their proper place in my perfectly organized closet - because I don't have to wear shoes when I freelance from home, damnit.

I'm good enough right this second, and everyone else is just going to have to deal with it. 

#messed

 

The Upside to Anxiety

I have a vivid memory of waking up, at 4 years old, with the most ominous fear in the pit of my stomach. It felt like what some might recognize as stage fright - but there was no immediate threat. I was perfectly still - wondering what the hell was going on - and going deeper into panic mode. In the 38 years since, I have woken up most mornings feeling this way. 

We're taught to think of anxiety as a negative thing, and I mostly believe this to be true. Mostly. The problem is - what if my sense of impending doom and failure is the very trait that drives me to do a better job? And if that's the case, should we panicky types take steps to alleviate anxiety or just ride it out? 

Decided to see a specialist and get a mix of meds specifically to address my genetic predispositions. Turns out I'm unable to make dopamine, GABA or seratonin because of a gene mutation (MTFR - appropriate...) and evidently I have ADHD. Handy information to know at 42... I suppose it explains my need for systems and order to keep myself on track, otherwise I'd just be constantly distracted. It's been 3 months and so far so good. So great, in fact, that I've gotten over my crippling fear of driving on the highway. My work doesn't seem to have suffered (although my boss may disagree) - however, I am not tending toward manic when I'm super overwhelmed. Nothing is perfect, I guess. I highly recommend the genetic test to tailor the right mix of meds - if you have the type of insurance company that will pick up (most of) the tab.