No More Notifications

Apparently, I’m one of the last people to do this, but this past week I removed all of the notification dots from my iphone. It has been amazing. The week before, I stopped all notifications from popping up on my locked screen or when I was using the phone. I didn’t really think about the dots when I made the initial adjustment, so it was a kind of baby stepping withdrawal, and it feet so good that I just kept going.

What made me want to do this was that as social media was such a large part of my day work wise, it was getting harder than ever to feel like I was not being constantly interrupted. I was feeling bombarded with work, news and mostly, a whole lot of spam at all times and add to that a stream of ig likes and comments scrolling through my screen, I felt like I was drowning trying to keep up with staying on top of this and all the usual work.

When I finally reached the point where I was close to panicking every time a message notification came though because I felt I had to answer NOW (I will say that FB biz pages constantly rating your page based on response time is largely at fault for this), I was at my breaking point. I was feeling like I was getting nothing done, and was irritable at constantly being interrupted. I was beginning to resent everything I was stopping work to do and was in a constant state of irritation.

So I did two things. I closed my email on my computer and shut off all notifications on my phone, requiring that I open an app to see if there are notifications (except phone calls and texts, which still pop up, soundlessly). I also stopped reading my email when I first wake up. I do my morning routine, and then I sit down at my desk with time to answer anything I need to get to. I close everything and a few hours later, open the email to check it.

Doing these two small changes has made a world of difference in my mental state and my productivity. I felt calmer within hours of the red dots going away and I no longer stop work to stare at a spam email that i just delete. Of course, I also can absolutely still obsessively check things if I’m in the mood, I simply have to open the app.

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Dealing with ups and downs of self employment

Bowls all over the place in the studio = busy = good

It’s no secret that owning a business means dealing with the ebbs and flows, the mountains and valleys, the busy and slow, however you choose to define it. All businesses have their busy and slow times and really, everyone who works deals with this…well except data entry. In my mind, data entry produces a never ending stream of monotonous work, and I fear that. But anyway…no matter how calm I am about the ebbs and how seasoned I am to knowing they will pass, and using that time to get the the little stuff done…when the flow hits I get caught off guard. All of a sudden I wake up to a full inbox containing all sort of !! and with an abundance of demands that I’m not quite used to at the moment. Sorta like taking a nap and waking up to remember  that 20 people were coming to your house in an hour for a party and you totally had forgotten. You get up and as the sleep leaves your eyes, you start to get all…yeah thats what I’m talking about…party time!!! I realize I just admitted that I equate having a crazy amount of work to do as party time…but why fake it, we all know I feel that way.

What’s the point of this rambling on a Monday morning…well mainly I’m using it to stall dealing with all of the emails. Ok, I’m really waiting for my studio manager, Lauren to arrive so she can deal with them but whatever…apples and oranges. The point is that I’m having a “woah, I was totally in slow mode and not prepared for what this week is really going to be like” panic attack in a public place. One of those moments when you wonder if the internet is being put to good use…your call. Ok…deep breaths…yay for busy!!

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The sounds of silence…

I try as hard as I can to take Faye for very brisk 40 minutes walks 4-5 nights a week. Millbrook has oodles of well lit sidewalks and hilly streets that wind in loopy tree lined routes all around the village. If we walk after 11pm I rarely even see a car as the two of bustle along silently. I usually have my ipod motivating me as we go, but as I seem to have worn out yet another one, I have been starting to really dig the crunch of leaves underfoot and the sound of silence around me these past few days. At first I was a bit anxious without music filling my head, but tonight for the first time I let myself enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, these walks are a time when I mentally problem solve design issues and business stresses, so I am by no means in a meditative state. I have however started to realize that during the holiday craziness which has just begun, that it might do me a world of good to skip the music and just be.

I actually had a great conversation recently with an older veteran of the long hours and hard work of entrepreneurship who gave me some fantastic advice which really hit home. If you decide to take the time time to have a cup of coffee and read the paper, hang out with a friend, or spend some down time with your special someone…then really do it. Focus completely on enjoying that time, no matter how short it may be or how much work you know you have to do….if you don’t take the time to enjoy your little snippets time off, you’ll burn out and never be able to put in the long hours necessary.

Since I was offered that advice I have started to put it into action…I even sat on a couch Friday night for a few hours just being silly and watching tv with a special someone. I had a hard time letting myself let go at first, but I managed to get over myself and just do it. And you know what…it felt incredibly liberating to just stop and do nothing absolutely guilt free…I might just try it more often…

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Summer road trips…

I have reached a new level of workaholic tendencies right now…I am blogging while riding in a car…I like it. An odd road trip of sorts, visiting a city where I went to college and lived for 7 years and going there with someone whom I knew way back when and have recently reconnect with…kind of surreal, but nice.

We have now entered a storm that is so severe that the rain/hail sounds like someone is shooting at the car…no bueno…but I have a car that handles the rain like a champ, so on we drive…well, I type…but anyway…

This is the first summer where I am fully set up to function on the go…a wonderfully freeing feeling to know I can leave my studio for the night and be able to almost completely run Manic Trout. I now also have the added luxury of having studio help, so I can actually have the girls send out orders if I need to be gone for longer. It’s a fantastic feeling to know I can almost have a life again!

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Deep thoughts…from Manic Trout

So I was just reading a forum I am part of that makes my life less stressful, a forum for women in creative business and a question was raised about watching tv or movies with people with seemingly instant success in their fields, or the tales you hear of the fabulous idea with an overnight rise to success and it got me thinking…it was a bit off topic for the forum, so I thought I’d share it here…

I always get all irritated about the simple success of people on tv and movies…or the stories you read and hear about that just get you all frustrated and hating everyone…you know the ones, wealthy husband supports wifeys venture and she rises to the top…but I was also realizing that if you think about it, its all of us in this community of women following an internal drive to make it on their own, doing what we love that are the real basis of these tales. These success stories that we read about and see on tv are all versions of our real lives, we are these women…you just never see the huge amounts of work, focus and determination that goes on behind the scenes when you watch it on the big screen. It never seems like I am experiencing success when I worry every single day if I will make enough that month to pay my rent and all of my bills as I am self employed and single, or that every night I lay in bed thinking that I will have to go and get a job that I really don’t have time for if things go downhill. Of course until two months ago I was lying in bed every night thinking I had to leave my day job because it was killing me doing both a very full time job and very full time Manic Trout. I may not be in a comfortable place yet, but I’m getting there and sometimes I have to put it all in perspective…I of coarse am focused on goals I am working towards, but I have been fortunate enough to have already reached so many goals and I am really proud of that!

The whole point of this winded post is that I think as we climb the ladder of our personal successes we so often forget how far we’ve come, I know I do and I also know that in order to continue on you have to stop every once in a while look behind you and really see how far you’ve come!

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What would life be like, without stress?

I think about this every often, and then I also think that realistically I think I am sure that I tend to push to stressful areas in my relationships and work…its the over achiever in me I guess. I did however realize that as it gets increasingly harder to balance being a bar manager and running the ever growing Manic Trout that I tend to accumulate people who have to maintain my life. So far Manic Trout has only had PR wonder woman and accountant added to the list…but in my personal life I am having a crisis over fitting in everyone. I have to fit in the mechanic, vet, (the last two are not for me, but I still have to be there and pay for them) hair stylist, pedicurist, podiatrist and acupuncturist this week I need to get a facial, but I have no idea when that is even possible. I should also see the dentist as I clench my jaw so much when I sleep that I have headaches, so who knows what it is doing to my teeth. oh crap and I just remember my inspection needs to be done on my car.

The mountain of work is also piling higher each day, and I am getting buried under it all. I am prepping at the moment for the next Open See at Bendels, which is next Monday…the stress from that alone is enough to make me burst into tears…I did manage to go running yesterday, which helped, but as I have to go into work at 2 today, its not a possibility.

However, I have heard that stress is one of the best fuels to power a successful entrepreneur, so maybe its all for the best…I’ll just keep thinking that…OK deep breaths and power on…

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