Wearing so many hats (mom, wife, business owner, commuter, employee, artist, myself) I’m finding it increasingly important to find the little things that make a big difference in my day/week.
One of THE most important little investments that we’ve made was purchasing a Microsoft Surface Pro 2. It’s lighter and more portable than a laptop, and since I can work pretty much anywhere in the house, it is significantly easier to get non-design-work done on than my large desktop computer in the upstairs studio. This way I can e-mail Etsy customers through Etsy’s site, order and print shipping labels, order supplies for my brides, do the books and research while at my parent’s house, while watching TV with Mike, and while Luke is otherwise occupied – without having to make Luke play up in my office (which he and I have learned is not a very exciting place for a baby). At least once a month I find myself thanking Mike for suggesting that we purchase the Surface.
I get a lot of e-mail. Be it from wedding, home and lifestyle blogs that I get delivered to my inbox, brides (current and prospective), Etsy customers, vendors, retailers with coupons, shipping notifications, and lord knows what else. When I was in the hospital for the 2 days after having Luke, and stayed off e-mail, I had hundreds (plural) of e-mails in my inbox. It was easy to stay on top of all the incoming mail when I worked full time and spent my entire day in front of a computer, but more recently I’ve been having a hard time keeping up. I tried unsubscribing to anything that 1. I never signed up for in the first place and 2. no longer interested me. The only successful unsubscriptions were from bloggers since they use delivery systems such as Feed Burner and Mail Chimp, systems take that stuff seriously. The retailers and stuff I never signed up for… yeah, no such luck, that was still coming. Enter Unroll.me – it’s this fantastic (free!!!) service that manages one’s inbox. The way it works is this, after you enroll it scans your inbox for any ‘subscriptions’ that you have. It found 247 things that I had allegedly subscribed to. It puts them in a list for you and you click either ‘roll-up’, ‘leave in inbox’, or ‘unsubscribe’. Anything you tell it to leave in your inbox will continue to get delivered as it normally would. Anything that you say to unsubscribe from, it takes the time to unsubscribe you, and if the pesky website keeps sending stuff your way, Unroll.me blocks it. Lastly is the roll-up. It takes anything that you ask it to ‘roll-up’ and stores it in a folder (making it easy to delete in one click later on). At a time of day that you specify, it will send you your roll-up in an e-mail that you can view from your inbox or on their website. Your roll-up is a bunch of thumbnails of those e-mails, making it easy to quickly scroll through and decide what you want to read. When you find something that you’d like to read, you click on it. This has helped keep me off of my phone during the day, constantly reading/deleting non-business related e-mails to keep my inbox from piling up.
If you’ve ever planned a vacation, you know that trip planning can be a serious time-suck. Doing it online is like going down the rabbit hole, you start clicking on link after link after link. Next thing you know, you’re on Amazon shopping for scissors, and not quite sure how your Google search for Kentucky got you there. And you have yet to even book a hotel. Plus, with a baby and a company, who has time to spend hours scrolling through websites that consist mostly of other people’s opinions of ‘top travel destinations’. What I found to be significantly faster: going on each state’s website that interested me… and ordering a free travel guide (they even make city-specific ones as well for once you’ve narrowed down your route). Spending 30 minutes, one day a few months ago, and ordering about 15 travel guides made planning this year’s trip much easier. I can thumb through the guides as they arrive, file away the ones that definitely didn’t make the cut for this year, and then read in more detail the ones that interest me… while I’m on the train, while Luke is playing, while I’m reading in bed before I fall asleep. Oh the flexibility. And, and, and!!! Next year I already have guides waiting for me – no internet required.
This next one seems a little counter-intuitive: make your own baby food. Just the sound of it sounds time consuming and overly complicated. With something like the Baby Bullet, it’s actually fairly simple and quick and yields a ton of baby food with only a little mess to clean up afterwards. And if you’re anything like Mike and me when it comes to grocery shopping (despite our best intentions, it only happens 1-2 times a month), it’s much easier to defrost one of the 30+ servings of baby food that’s currently in our freezer than to run out to the store because Luke needs breakfast and we’ve run out (he obviously doesn’t have the luxury of eating toast like we do when our typical breakfast food has been consumed). Don’t have time to defrost something? As long as you have some form of produce at the house, it takes between 2-10 minutes to whip up something fresh.
Last one for the time being, but certainly not the least: have a bedtime for yourself. Mike’s encouraged me to do that long before I was even pregnant and it has made a significant difference in my life. Rarely am I not in bed (I might not be asleep, but the legwork of getting to bed has already been accomplished), after 10:30. Even when Luke was first born, Mike would usher me off to bed while he stayed awake with Luke until it was time to feed him. Having that kind of consistency and self-discipline keeps me from burning the midnight oil at my computer. There’s always more work to do, and if I stay up late into the night doing it, then I’m going to be useless the next day and the work will pile up again. It’s way easier to just walk away from whatever I’m working on around 10 to start getting ready for bed and to pick up where I left off in the morning. And sometimes, if Mike isn’t ready to head to bed yet and knows how to do whatever it is that I was working on, he’ll finish it for me 🙂
Note: None of the products or services that I mentioned are in any way affiliated with or sponsoring my blog – I’m just letting you know what works for me and my honest opinions of it.