Thursday, April 30, 2009

Balance: The Calendar is My Best Friend

I've been getting lots of emails lately asking for posts about balancing the crazy schedule of being both mom and a creative. Erika is giving us a little peek today into her daily schedules of preparing for a show and running her daily biz!

by Designing Mom Erika

April is typically my busiest, craziest month of the year, as I prepare to exhibit at The National Stationery Show in May (stop by booth 3327 if you'll be there!).
My days are practically scheduled to the minute, with design work, client graphic design projects, wedding invitation proofs, appointments with brides, conference calls with distributors and reps, running the daily "business" end of having a stationery line, preparing files for my licensing partners, adding customizable files to our website , keeping up with the Delphine-ephemera blog, and photographing new products as they roll off press. Not to mention many, many, many hours (and late nights) at the press, press-checking the new lines.

Especially at this time of year my work life spills over into the weekends. It is easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of work that has to be done. The way I deal with the insane amount of work is to make lists. A lot of them. I make a list of all the things that need to happen before going to the Stationery Show and set deadlines for each task (and, of course, delegate whenever possible). Then I go down the list and break each major task into steps. Take one simple thing, like mailing postcards to buyers. I work back from the show date and find the mailing date that they should go out. Then I schedule in a date to address the postcards and stamp them, a date to buy stamps, a date to order the postcards, and a date to design them.

Because it is scheduled on my calendar, I'm not freaking out in February about the postcards; I know it's scheduled for, say, April 20th, to address the postcards, and I don't stress about it before then. I live by the calendar. I use the same system to schedule in a little balance: I make sure to schedule in time alone with my son. I treat a playdate at the beach just like an appointment with a client. It goes on the calendar. By scheduling a specific time for a trip to the park, it doesn't get pushed off until "later" and it helps me make sure I'm spending enough time with him. I tell S what the plans are, and he's starting to learn time management himself this way. He often invites me outside to watch him play on the swingset. "You can bring your notebook, Mommy," he says. He's also learning about multi-tasking!

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