on organization, getting help, and never being “done”

I usually don’t share a lot of personal stuff on this blog because I’m told it’s “not professional”. But I’ve had some epiphanies lately and I want to share with you, my awesome clients and friends. Before you read the rest of this blog entry I think it’s important for you to know that I’ve been doing a LOT of serious personal work over the last year and a half. It all began with the very disheartening news that I am incapable of conceiving a child without a lot of medical intervention and even more money. Then there was a series of deaths in the family, including my grandmother and my dad. For better or for worse, these two people were very crucial factors in my becoming who I am. Their passings, coupled with the infertility news, completely rocked my world. If the one thing I’ve ever really wanted in my life is now not an option and my role within my family is changing as I move into my 40s…Well, who am I now? I am certainly not the gal you hired 11 years ago…5 years ago…last year. Believe me, I’ve never been the philosophical “why are we here” and “what is our purpose” kind of person, so all of this soul searching and Life Reassessment has really been very interesting.

Long story short: I am on a mission to do a Life Makeover. This affects my work, my art, my relationships…every single aspect of my life. It’s been a slow process, but I wanted to share some of the stuff I’ve been learning.

For example, I have my moments of clarity and I have my moments of being completely overwhelmed…and everything in between the two extremes. Sometimes I am stricken with panic, fear and am frozen in my tracks. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone in order to grow has resulted in a whole new realm of thinking and behaving.

Big Change #1: Listening to my body and soul more often. The fact is that I am not a morning person. So why do I force myself to get up early? Didn’t I start freelancing because I wanted to have a more flexible schedule and to make my own rules? If I am most productive between the hours of 10 and 3, then that’s when I should be working. Likewise, if a design isn’t coming together, I can’t force it. I need to go work on another project, or take a walk to clear my head and work on the task at hand when the juices are there for it.

Big Change #2: Instead of fighting the universe and trying to make it bend to my will, I am trying to go with the flow. This is a really tough one for me, because I am a bit of a Type A. A bit of a “if you want something done right, you better do it yourself” kind of gal. You know the old joke, “if you want to make God laugh, make some plans.” Well, I know I won’t sleep at night if I have a to-do list swimming around in my brain. I know that if I don’t have a master plan for my projects and task lists, I will feel out of sorts and confused. But I needed a flexible enough system so that I can be all organized in the manner I wish, but still be able to bend to the surprises that life throws in my way.

Big Change #3: Realizing it’s the journey, the process, not the end goal, because, frankly, it’s never going to be “all done.” I was exhausting myself by pushing and pushing to get irrational amounts of things done each day. My to-do lists could wallpaper my office, they’re so long. I have so many ideas bubbling up inside of me that they could only be put in motion if I had a staff like Martha Stewart has. I need to take a step back, refill my well (more on this in a future post) and accept that the stuff that’s really important (client work, walking the dogs, watching a movie with my husband, doing the dishes and laundry) will get done and the rest (organizing photos or making the husband’s chore list or cleaning the toilets) doesn’t really matter as much as I think.

Enter the M Group, Authentic Alternatives, Bonnie Cochran, Wild Hearts Studio and The Cult of Done Manifesto.

Granted, friends and family have a lot to do with my regaining my sanity, but these entities have each participated in saving my life. Here’s how:

Matthew Bookspan of the M Group (Follow him on Twitter!) found me via Twitter when I asked about an application called Daylite. Daylite seems to be the best solution for Mac users when it comes to managing contacts, projects, events and appointments. It blows me away with all of the things you can do. I’m still setting it up, but it’s already making me more calm as I consolidate all of my sticky notes, scraps of paper and all of my random to do lists from all over my desk and my hard drive. Matthew is very good at assessing a challenge, making recommendations and at teaching the ins and outs of the software. This man spent many hours helping me install the software, making sure it worked right and was extremely patient with my personal set of challenges. I plan to be working with him for a long time and if you’re a Mac user and need this sort of assistance, he’s your guy.

Anne Alexander of Authentic Alternatives (Follow her on Twitter!) was the result of my searching for a business consultant in my town. (Of course, she’ll work with you even if you aren’t in Fort Collins!) The headline on her site reads: Attention Small Business Owners With 0 – 10 Employees
Are You Tired Of Working So Hard To Grow Your Business…Without Getting All The Results You Want?
She has supplied me with so much information in the few months I’ve known her that it will take me a few more months to finish reading through and implementing all of it. Her coaching calls are incredibly useful and she opened my eyes to a number of things I’ve been doing that aren’t benefiting my customers…or myself. I’ve been freelancing for 11 years and this is the first time I looked outside of my little world for assistance. I just wish I had done it sooner!

Bonnie Cochran is my therapist. She specializes in grief, loss and infertility. Her calm presence has helped me greatly and I feel stronger every time I meet with her.

The Cult of Done Manifesto is something that my friend Dave shared with me. These two guys boiled down efficiency and moving forward into 13 points that really moved me. Another guy created a poster with these points and I have printed it out and hung it close to my desk. Whenever I am frozen into inaction or despair because of how long my to-do lists are, I read this poster and am prompted back into action.

Ok, that’s all for today. Thanks for reading. I welcome your comments and ideas. Newsletter subscribers, you will be receiving a mailing from me soon (hopefully tomorrow) with a pile of really important information. Be sure to read it. If you are not subscribed to my mailing list, you can do that here.

And PS…
Twitter. Are you using it yet? I’ve been talking about it for months now, kids! Get on the stick.
Microblog Your Way To Success With Twitter – The Ultimate Networking Tool is a really nice, easy-to-read article with a ton of tips on how to use Twitter, with links to a gazillion helpful resources. And when you do join all of the cool kids, follow me on Twitter.

Be nice. Be real. Be happy.