A personal look at the trails and triumphs of creating a business from the ground up; of starting a business selling what you create.

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Look Back at 2016

Six months ago I became obsessed with improving my productivity. 

It started after months of being off topic in life and then months of feeling like a failure, over thinking things and analyzing every move I had made the past three months. Some would call what I did the first quarter of the year soul searching. I agree, but over thinking fits too. After that I started doing what I do best, researching. 

I desperately tried to put words to what went wrong and then figure out how to fix it. One thing I focused on was knowing myself and listening to my body and my intuition. We all have those split second moments that speak to us and then we ignore them because, well, they no basis in reality, right? Wrong. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that. I can pick out each time I didn't listen to myself. Whether it was not eating when I first thought about it or not saying no to a new venture because I couldn't remember I had good reason to do so.

Those situations happened way too often and time flies no matter whether you are accomplishing your goals or not. This self reflection coupled with my enjoyment for creating things led to self care. What makes me happy or at least feel better? Making things with my hands, music, laughter, baths, being warm, fed and clean, having space to work, family, friends, writing, art, beaches, color, having enough money, parks, looking at pretty things and helping people. That's my personal list and I endeavored to adjust my life to making sure to get those things when I needed and wanted them. 

My next step was to improve my productivity. One does not run two businesses without being productive. They run you otherwise. Thankfully self care research led me to bullet journaling. Finally, a place I could write everything down. Kim of Tiny Ray of Sunshine really opened my eyes with her blog and business bullet journal post. I had been struggling with administrative stuff because all the forms and spreadsheets on my computer screen seemed too much and not enough. I don't know if this makes sense but the screen was not big enough. I always felt like I couldn't see enough. 

Anyway, bullet journaling led me to Kara Benz's Boho Berry and the Getting Things Done method. Boho Berry also led me to, or back to because I have come across her before, Marketing Creativity by Lisa Jacobs. Think 90 day plans like the NiceOps Planathon but for an entire year and I think my head blew up when I read Your Best Year 2017. But that was just business.

Bullet journaling also led me to changing habits and habit trackers I use habit trackers to make sure I take care of myself physically and to keep my business endeavors on track. It also led me back to having daily routines, keeping memories, art journaling and spiritual journaling. Oh and YNAB! The more I could remember the better I felt. The more I took care of myself the better I felt. The more I planned the better I felt. The more I did besides read because I didn't get lost for days in books and stories online forgetting that there were other things in life that I enjoyed and missed out on, the better I felt.

By no means is my life now perfect. I still fall back into bad habits. I still argue with myself about eating. This is just a reflection of how 2016 went for me. I can happily tell you most of what I did from July on which is not the case for before that. And not because that's an older time period. I have been more present and more active since then. 

My cousin got married at a family home and she is one of the happiest people I know. I went to Camp Anime and had a better time than the previous year. My coven work has been going good. I finally made it to the beach in California. I read tons of great books. I dressed up and went out for Halloween and my birthday. I went to Kcon, enjoyed every second of it and made some new friends. A man I consider a brother got married and he and his wife planned a spectacular wedding all by themselves. They also bought a house and moved in together. Thanks to an old friend I now have a better relationship with my money and bills than ever before in life. The holidays were pretty damned good with family and good cheer and love even when good cheer was absent. I made twice as much in sales than I did last year. TWICE!! That is mind boggling.

I also have goals for 2017. But that's a post for another day. In 2015 I wrote vaguely about my plans for 2016. This time I wanted to be more structured and concrete and transparent. Details on that will come in my next blog post. So look out for that.

See you next time,
  Scarlet Moon Creations
  Excelsior Events, Inc.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Bullet Journaling

Wow, 2016 is over. Happy New Year everyone. 

Like I vaguely mentioned in my sale post, the goals I had set around this time in 2015 did not go as planned. In fact, I would say I did not achieve any of my goals at all but others would disagree. Suffice it to say I did not do a good enough job setting SMART goals. In my head they meant one thing but do to the limited space in my planner they were written as something else. That being said, I loved the Creativity Planner. It has been the one I have liked the most all throughout my years of planning and being in love with pen and paper. 

The problem I have with most planners is the limited amount if space. They have layouts for where you are supposed to write what, and sometimes when, and even how big your handwriting should be (line space). Unfortunately, my handwriting tends to be too big and I need to write details not just shorthand for appointments. Another issue that throws me off with planners is the empty spaces where I didn't do anything. Either didn't write a to do list or did but never did anything on it. That can be depressing to see. I paid however much for this planner and didn't use half of it. Lastly, my planner needs to be A5 at least but not too heavy and that was a big detraction from the Creativity Planner. My planner is always one of several books I carry to make notes, and one or two for leisure. So it can't add too much weight to my already heavy bag.

But, I have found something better. Earlier this year I came across the Bullet Journal while looking for ways to improve my productivity. I'll be real, I ignored it because what I saw was something I thought would not be enough for me. I like to think I wasn't ready for it then. However, I once again came across the idea of a bullet journal in August. This time it was a blog post showing how Kim of Tiny Ray of Sunshine uses it to keep track of her social media and other small business information. I fell in love. 

I went back and watched the original bullet journal videos again with a better understanding. I joined bullet journal junkies and bujo pros and tons of other Facebook groups. I just enjoy how everyone takes the original system and customizes it to their needs. An action that Ryder Carroll, the creator, wholeheartedly supports.The Bullet Journal, or Bujo for short, is an customizable analog system of organization. For me it is a combination planner, to do list and journaling tool. You just grab any notebook and a pen or pencil and get to writing. To explain the bullet journal I think its best that you check out bullet and watch this quick video where Ryder explains better than I ever could.

As Ryder explained, there are four main modules, or layouts.  First is the future log where you keep track of future events and appointments. Next is the monthly log where you write in any events and appointments coming the immediate month as well as any tasks list for things you plan to get done that month. You can click all the pictures to see larger versions and get a better idea of what each module looks like. I covered my up personal info with pens for privacy purposes.

Next comes the daily log; where you create your to do list as well as any notes or journaling. As you can see you list all of these things using bullets and check them off as you get them done that day. Now, Ryder says to make a key of signifiers, or different types of bullets, you can use so that at a glance you know what type of stuff you planned to do that day.

The last module in the original bullet journal system is called Collections. These are basically lists of similar items you want to keep together. They can be anything from a shopping list to a project brainstorming page. I've seen so many types of collections. One of my favorite collections is my To Read list. These modules are all pulled together with numbered pages, an index and the use of migration.

                                So that's it. That's a bullet journal. But google it or look through the #bulletjournal tag on Instagram and you will see some works of art as well as super efficient spreads that people have added to their bullet journals because they felt they needed the customization. Some people are more visual so they draw out calendars in their monthly view instead of the simple list. Others like to draw, color and otherwise decorate their bullet journals like they would other planners. And like I mentioned before many professionals have created spreads so that they can keep track of their business affairs in their bujos. Tons of links here but these are some of the most inspiring bujos that  have come across. 

The bujo is perfect for me. Since you only create write each day's events as you go, I can pick up any notebook and have as much or as little space as I want. No more being haunted by those empty days when I just couldn't be bothered for whatever reasons. I can use the index and page numbers to help me easily find any notes or journaling that I have done. Knowing how one activity or thought leads to and affects another, I love the ability to keep everything in one place. That's less weight to carry around every day. Lastly, I love how customizable it is. I can literally make my own bullet journal. 

Now since I've only been using a bullet journal since mid-august so its not perfected yet. But I wanted to introduce this concept because I plan on showing more of it here in future blog posts regarding my businesses. Like this content calendar. I tried doing these on a computer but never kept up with them. This has been keeping me on track with social media as well as my email list and sales as you can see.

Writing things down helps me process all the nuts and bolts of running a business better. I can plan everything from events to product launches to rituals in writing. The bullet journal system has streamlined that affect for me and it is wonderfully freeing. Working in my bullet journal has become a part of my mental self care and I love it.

  Scarlet Moon Creations