How to Create a Balanced (and Productive!) Working-From-Home Daily Routine

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For many people, working from home is the dream.

No commute time.

No office distractions.

Better work-life balance. 

Setting up an ideal work space. 

The ability to do things in your own time. 

Freedom. 
However, the reality of working from home is that it can create a number of challenges, from losing motivation and direction to feeling isolated. It can be important to set yourself up with a balanced working-from-home routine so you can work to the best of your ability and actually enjoy the opportunity!

Here are some simple ways you can create a balanced and productive working-from-home routine. 

1: Create a daily “will do” list.

Every morning before you get started with your working day, create a “will do” list. 

However, don’t just include work items – be sure to write down anything else you need to do throughout the day. Try to include fun things, too!

Below is an example of what this might look like. 

Today, I will…

  • Write an article

  • Wash and hang the laundry

  • Walk the dogs

  • Eat a nutritious lunch mindfully

  • Answer emails 

  • Meditate

  • Listen to an educational podcast

  • Schedule Instagram posts for the next 5 days

  • Write in a journal

The great thing about working from home is that we can cultivate balance throughout the day – we don’t necessarily need to work flat out all the time. Instead, we can incorporate productive breaks (like self-care and housework) to not only bring balance to the day, but to stay on top of the other “life” stuff. 

As you complete the list, make sure to cross things off so you can easily see what is left to do! If anything is left over at the end of the day, prioritize it on the next “will do” list. 

2. Use a productivity app.

Find an app which helps you stay focused during your work time and encourages you to stay on track with tasks, time-wise.

When you work at home, it can be easy to lose yourself in tasks and forget the time. Before you know it, lunch time rolls around and you’ve spent the whole morning on something unimportant. 

Use an app which allows you to track the amount of time you spend on something (and even better, sounds an alarm when you reach a time limit).

MinimaList can be a great app to do this – it allows you to create to-do lists, then set a timer for a task. 

Forest is another great app that stops you from picking up your phone and scrolling or browsing needlessly. You set a time limit and over that time, a tree will grow in the app. If you pick up your phone during that time, the tree will die. It’s a great way to kick that mid-morning social media scrolling habit!

3. Get out of the house.

Working from home can look shiny and fun and exciting from the outside, but just like any other type of work – it has its challenges. 

  • You might feel lonely and isolated at times. 

  • You might struggle to find a balance that works for you. 

  • You might start to miss your previous colleagues, a predictable income, or your old work environment. 

  • You might find yourself indulging in unhelpful habits (reality television marathon for the afternoon, anyone?). 

Sometimes, a great way to deal with the challenges of working from home is actually to leave your home for a while. 

Spend an afternoon in a library, café, or co-working space. 

Collaborate on projects and actually meet up with your team members in person. 

Find a nearby friend who also works from home and work together for a day. 

Go to in-person conferences, workshops and seminars. 

Make it a priority to leave the house regularly and spend time with people who help you feel energized and refreshed. 

4. Develop a schedule.

Do you often complete similar tasks each week? Rather than creating a “will do” list, try to develop a schedule instead. For example, each Wednesday, your schedule might look like this:

  • 8am – answer social media comments and messages 

  • 8.30am – answer emails

  • 9am – write an article

  • 11am – design images for the article 

  • 11.30am – schedule article on blog and social media

  • 12.30pm – lunch and walk

  • 1.15pm – listen to an educational podcast

  • 2pm – develop content for online course

  • 4pm – housework 

  • 5pm – meditate and write in journal

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Try to block similar tasks together and if you finish something early, take a break!

For example, if your emails only take 15 minutes, use the other 15 minutes to engage in self-care, like a meditation or listening to music. 

Developing a schedule can work really well when you do similar things each week because you get to know how long each activity takes so you can set realistic time frames. 

5. Set fresh goals.

Feeling a bit uninspired as you work from home? Sometimes it can help to set fresh, exciting and meaningful goals. You could even spend some time putting together a vision board to collect ideas (and then keep your vision board near your desk for inspiration). 

Take some time to really think about the big dreams you’d like to achieve in your work and start to break them down into smaller goals. 

For example, do you want to write a book or create an online course? Would you like to start a podcast? Do you feel excited about the idea of studying something and gaining a qualification that will support your work? 

Figure out what you’d really love to achieve and start putting together a solid, step-by-step plan.  

Implement these tips to help yourself create a balanced and productive working-from-home routine and don’t forget to switch off at the end of the day! You deserve time to unwind and take a proper break from your work. 

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Written by Rachael Kable.

Rachael Kable is a mindfulness and meditation teacher from Mount Beauty, Australia. She is the host of The Mindful Kind podcast and her first book – also called The Mindful Kind – was published in early 2019. With a background in psychology, coaching and meditation, Rachael whole-heartedly supports people around the world to implement mindfulness and manage stress.

Connect with Rachael at www.rachaelkable.com or on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.


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How to use Social Media Mindfully: 4 Ways to Use Social Media with Intention

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I have a confession: I’m super guilty of spending far too much time on social media when I should have been focused and in creation mode - and when I say spending time on social media, I mean scrolling through Instagram and confusing it with “work”.

Have you done this too?

When you’re a creative business owner and most of your job largely centers around social media it’s easy to blur the lines between using it intentionally i.e to market your business and build your community vs. spending mindlessly time scrolling.

Spending excessive time on the latter means getting caught up in comparison mode and spiraling into the negative mindset that you and your message isn’t enough. 

Urgh.

And worse? You don’t move forward on your big ideas because you end up second guessing yourself and feeling like you don’t measure up!

Thing is, the way social media is designed by sending you little dose of dopamine each time you get a notification, it keeps you coming back for more! Hence, when the habit of spending so much time on social media starts affecting your mindset and productivity - it’s a vicious cycle that needs to be broken STAT!

Social media is simply a vehicle to market your business and build your community - that’s it.

The truth is, you ARE enough and there is more than enough room for you sharing your gifts with the world. 

But when your focus is on the external world and what everyone else is doing, you will always find someone who is farther along than you.

The trick is to stay in your own lane and focus your energy on what you can control: which is how you spend your energy and time. 

Wouldn’t you rather be in a positive frame of mind so it meant you could spend all of that time in creation mode and working towards the big goals you set for yourself?

Thought so!

Ok, so today I’m going to share 4 simple habits I’ve implemented which have completely transformed how use social media and has radically improved my mood and skyrocketed my productivity, which means I’m focused on making my dreams happen!

  1. Not looking at my phone first thing in the morning.

This was a terrible habit I’d got myself into where I’d keep my phone by my bed and as soon as I woke up, I’d be checking my email and scrolling through Instagram. 

Starting the day like this automatically puts you in the comparison mindset before you’ve even gotten out of bed, so how could you possibly expect to do your best work when you start the day this way?

Creating a morning routine is the foundation of establishing positive habits that support you building the business of your dreams - and that begins with not checking your phone first thing!

Now I keep my phone on airplane mode overnight and then I put my phone in my bedside drawer so I’m not tempted to look at it.

Setting this habit is hard in the beginning but it becomes second nature once your brain goes into autopilot mode and then you don’t even miss it!

2. Creating before consuming.

Once I’d mastered this habit and got into a positive morning routine where I didn’t look at my phone before I meditated and reviewed my goals, things were great. 

But what I wasn’t mindful of was the bad habit of checking my phone as soon as I’d reviewed my goals.

Yep, there I was, getting sucked into the social media vortex again! 

Which meant that by the time I was due to start work, I’d already consumed so much content that it was impacting my creativity and became hard to distinguish between my ideas and the noise going on out there.

Have you done this too?

So, the next boundary I set in place was the rule of not looking at any form of content specifically - social media and checking email - before I had created a piece of content that would be of value to my community. This could be a blog post, social media post, email or any kind of content aligned with my overall goals. 

This has been a game changer!

Now, whenever I go to create a piece of content it’s intentional and coming from a place of truly serving my community.

Winning!

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3. Setting a time limit on social media apps.

When the screen time app first came out, I gave it a go, but I wasn’t really committed to creating any habits around using it. But once I began raising my awareness around the impact social media had on my productivity, I instantly became more mindful of the time I was spending on the various apps. And it wasn’t pretty!

Enter: screen time.

The app itself isn’t magic, which means you can still open the apps if you’re really intent on doing so, but what it does do is create a space between your accessing the app, allowing you to be mindful and ask yourself if opening it is going to serve you.

When you get into the habit of asking yourself: is this supporting the life I am trying to create? this instantly shifts your energy and snaps you back to present so you can make the best decision in any given moment.

I’ve set my screen time up so that I can only access social media apps for 1 hour a day. This means I need to post, show up on Stories and reply to comments etc all within the hour which means I’m much more efficient and less likely to get sucked into the social media vortex.

4. Switching to night mode at 9pm.

Did you know that the blue light your screen emits affects our circadian rhythm? This means that staring at your screen - phone or computer of an evening - could be negatively impacting your ability to have a restful nights’ sleep!

My habit of scrolling on my phone of an evening was definitely not serving me, so by establishing a boundary meant I could practice self-care and prepare for a good night’s sleep.

The screen time app makes it super easy to set this up on your phone and allows you to be more mindful of how you spend your time each evening.


There you have it! I hope these tips were helpful and have given you some ideas on how you could create some positive habits around how you use social media.

To help get you started, I’ve created a 30 day habit tracker so you can set your intentions and track your progress.

Get it free when you sign up for my newsletter below!

 
 

It takes 21 days to establish a habit, and committing to your positive habits for 30 days allows new neural pathways in your brain to form, which means you’ll be much more likely to stick to them!

I’d love to know, how would creating boundaries around social media help improve your focus and productivity? And if you have any other tips on using social media more mindfully, let me know!

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5 Ways to Improve your Daily Productivity: Like a Boss

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Freedom is my number one core value, and I’m guessing it’s yours too?

Imagine having the freedom to run your own schedule, write your own rules and create success on your own terms - this is driving force behind why I started my business and the reason I’m so passionate about helping YOU create this freedom in your own life.

Hands down, freedom is the best part about being a solopreneur and creative and now that I’ve had a taste of it, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s the dream, right?

But here’s what I’ve come to learn: with freedom comes responsibility.

Without being super disciplined, establishing good work habits and being able to maximize the time we have each day, it can ultimately mean the success or failure of our business.

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Procrastination, by way of putting off those ‘hard things’, as well as a lack of focus around where your attention needs to be, are the two main productivity killers and ways to limit your growth and business success.

The good news?

By making some simple tweaks and optimizing how you work - it’s entirely possible to overcome these obstacles. After coming up against these challenges over and over again on the entrepreneurial path, I’ve got some great strategies that will transform the way you work so you can find your focus, get more done, and finally enjoy the level of success you’ve been dreaming about.

Aannndd…. I’m super excited to be taking you on a tour of my workspace!

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1. Eliminate your distractions.

Distractions are the number one productivity killer. It feels like we’re constantly being bombarded with distractions throughout our day. In our technology obsessed, ‘always on’ world it seems impossible to escape the incessant noise - especially when it’s pretty much a job requirement to be connected at all times!

But it is possible to protect your focus by eliminating these distractions altogether. It comes down to being super intentional about how you engage with technology and creating firm boundaries around your focus time.

The first step is identifying where you get tripped up and then setting yourself up for success by taking the necessary action to eliminate these distractions altogether.

The Priority Distraction.

Do you get distracted by other people’s priorities and put their needs before your own?

Perhaps you always do your easiest tasks first and then by the time they’re out of the way, you’ve run out of time to tackle your bigger projects?

Got an eBook you need to write or online course you need to create but never seem to find the time?

If you can relate to any of these scenarios then you need to start blocking out time in your calendar to work on your important projects.

Here’s a reality check: unless you schedule time for these projects they will never get done!

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Use your calendar to block out a regular time each day/week to work on these tasks and then when other things come up, you can easily see whether you’ll be able to take these on as well.

The Digital Distraction.

Do you find yourself picking up your phone and checking your social media notifications 10,000 times a day? Or perhaps when you go to quickly look at something online you end up going down a wormhole and lose hours of time ‘researching’ and learning new and interesting things you never knew existed?!

This is a dangerous game that never ends well!

Here are some ways to combat this:

  • Kill Newsfeed Google Chrome extension - this handy app literally “kills” the Newsfeed from appearing on your desktop application, so each time you login to Facebook you won’t see the timeline appear. This is handy if you need to use Facebook to manage your page; your group, or participate in communities you’re part of without losing hours of time getting distracted by the Newsfeed.

  • Self-Control. - this app is a lifesaver! It allows you to add your most distracting websites e.g Facebook, Pinterest, to a blacklist and then set a time limit for how long you want to be banned from them.

  • Put your phone in another room - a simple but effective way to limit your phone distraction is by leaving it in another room while you’re working. Since I started doing this, my productivity and focus has improved dramatically!

  • Turn off your wi-fi - If you get distracted by the internet, then turn off your wi-fi altogether so you can’t be tempted!

Take action: identify your biggest distractions and put in place the appropriate measures for you to get back to your most important work.


Psst… My eBook The Brand Plan gives you the exact formula for making your brand memorable. Get it free when you sign up for my newsletter below!


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2. Block out your ‘Grade A’ time.

We all have optimal times of the day that we do our best work, AKA: your Grade A time.

This is the time of day you must dedicate to doing work that requires deep thinking and focus, like writing and content creation - any kind of work that requires intense focus and energy.

The goal is to structure your day based on when you’re most productive and blocking out this time like your life depends on it {without being too dramatic, it actually does!}

For me, my most productive time of the day is a 2 hour window from 11am - 1pm. Since I committed blocking out this time and dedicating it to my writing - my productivity has soared! It also helps you feel super accomplished because getting this work done in the morning means you can spend the afternoon, or your less productive time on tasks which don’t require as much focused energy.

Take action: Determine when your Grade A time is and block it out in your calendar each day so you don’t take client calls; have meetings or any other ‘busy’ work eating up your most valuable time of the day.

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3. Distinguish between your Goals / Projects / Tasks.

One of the reasons we procrastinate and things can take much longer than we anticipated is failing to differentiate between goals, projects and tasks and therefore not allocating the appropriate time to dedicate towards these actions.

Here’s how to break them down:

  • Goals are the overarching objective you want to achieve over a set period of time, for example - increase monthly revenue by 20%.

  • Projects are the strategies and larger pieces of work that will support you reaching your overarching goal. e.g a project you could undertake to increase your monthly revenue by 20% is launching a new program; digital product or course.

  • Tasks are the small pieces of work that make up projects, which ultimately support your overarching goal. E.g a Task part of your Project could be to write the sales page for your new program.

This game-changing approach helps you be more strategic in achieving your business objectives, enabling you to plan your time more effectively by:

  1. Taking a big picture view of your business and what you ultimately want to achieve in a given time frame.

  2. Breaking down your projects into manageable tasks that don’t overwhelm you.

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4. Understand your work tendency.

Gretchen Rubin created the Four Tendencies framework which identifies how you are motivated to work. Each of the four tendencies determine what degree you’re internally driven i.e whether you’re a motivated self-starter; or driven by external motivation where you need someone or something like a deadline to propel you into action.

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Understanding how you are motivated to work helps you structure and approach your goals.

If you’re a more externally motivated Obliger, you’ll work best if you’re part of an accountability group or by working with a coach who you establish goals with.

Whereas if you’re more of a Questioner, you’ll need a rational explanation to complete something being driven by an external deadline but will have no issue completing work set for yourself.

And if you’re a Rebel {like me!} who acts from a sense of choice and freedom, you’ll need to get suuppper clear on the driving mission behind your business and why it's so important to you, otherwise it’s going to be challenging to get going at all!

Take the free test and find out your tendency.

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5. Set up an environment conducive to good work habits.

The space you work in plays an important role in how productive you are.

Not only is it where you need to be focused and thinking creatively, it's where you're likely to be spending a lot of time, so it makes sense that it's designed for optimal productivity; as well as looking good!

Essential ingredients that make for a happy and productive workspace, conducive to creating your best work include:

  • Natural lighting - a well lit area for you to work in is essential given the long hours spent in front of an artificially lit computer screen. Not only is it good for your eyes, but studies have shown that natural light makes you more alert, happier and more productive.

  • A comfortable chair - this makes a world of difference, especially when spending long periods sitting at your desk.

  • Keep it organized - don’t buy into the messy desk theory: find a space for all of your belongings and keep your desk area orderly to eliminate distractions and focus your attention on what needs to get done.

  • Surround yourself with positive inspiration - adding personal touches to your space to inspire you lends itself to being more productive. I love decorating my workspace with fresh flowers, delicious smelling candles, inspiring quotes and having my favorite books on display to help boost my mood and make me excited to work!

Time is your most precious resource, so guard it like it’s your full time job! Which one of these strategies will help you the most in being more productive each day?

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If you’re ready to take the next step towards the big goals you've set to build your online presence - I can help! Take a look at my services which are all designed to empower you building a purpose-fueled brand, so you can confidently share your message and have it seen and heard by the right people. 

Photography by Hillary Jeanne

Source list: Furniture: desk, chair, rug, filing cabinet, bookshelf. Art: Jasmine Dowling, Jen & Jennifer, The Aestate. Accessories: marble book ends, candle, microphone, monthly calendar.

4 Smart Strategies to avoid Shiny Object Syndrome

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Have you ever been grabbed by a new idea or seemingly irresistible opportunity, that before you’ve properly questioned whether it’s aligned with your overall vision, you’ve gone off down the path of making it happen?

As a multi-passionate and creative person who’s never short of an idea, I’ve often found myself distracted by new technology and new ways of doing things that appear fresh and super exciting. I’m also an avid learner and get a burst of energy when something new grabs my attention.

Can you relate to this!?

Thing is, I’ve come to recognize when I find myself in these situations and it’s a major warning sign when I’ve begun venturing down a path leading me well-off track from my vision and ultimately preventing me from achieving my big goals.

Have you ever found yourself in this kind of situation too?

This is what is known as Shiny Object Syndrome, which according to Jason Meyers, CEO and founder of Audience Bloom, is a ‘disease of distraction’.

Meyers suggests that entrepreneurs are very susceptible to this ‘disease’ because of our tendency to be highly motivated; unafraid of taking risks; and always craving new technologies and ways of doing things.

While it makes complete sense, it’s important to recognize when you find yourself heading down this path, so you can course correct and get back on track to reaching your goals.

In theory, making new discoveries and having bursts inspiration may seem innocent enough; but there are various ways Shiny Object Syndrome can manifest and negatively impact your business:

Unfinished projects.

This is probably the most obvious and also the easiest to recognize. Do you find yourself abandoning projects mid-way and then by the end of the month or year look back and see a trail of unfinished projects you had committed to?

Overspending.

This one can have a serious sting if you don’t pay close attention to your finances and regularly track expenditures to see where your money is being spent.

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Lack of focus.

Lack of focus can be detrimental to your business. Not only does it mean your time and energy is being misdirected, this can manifest in an inconsistency of showing up for your audience, as well as confusion around your brand messaging and service offering.

When there’s a perceived confusion around your brand and how you help your clients it can negatively impact your bottom line - a confused mind never buys!

At its core, Shiny Object Syndrome is a form of self-sabotage. And like any form of self-sabotage the first key to overcoming its grip is becoming aware of it and your tendency to succumb to this kind of distraction. 

Here are 4 smart strategies to overcoming Shiny Object Syndrome so you can stay focused and on track for reaching your big goals:

  1. Know where you’re headed.

Lack of clarity on the direction you’re headed is a likely sign you’ll be susceptible to distractions that come across your path.

The key here is to get crystal clear on what it is you want and your ultimate vision.

This doesn’t mean you need to have a five year plan all figured out down to the last month, but it does mean you need to have a clear sense of what you’re trying to achieve and a way you can measure whether or not you’ve been successful.

When you’re trying to get this clarity here are a couple of tools that can help:

Do a brain dump.

A brain dump is literally a dump of all the ideas whirling around in your mind. Often when you have so many ideas it can feel overwhelming until you get them out of your head and down onto paper.

You can do this either by getting a large piece of paper and emptying all of your ideas down; or starting a new Google Doc or Evernote to record everything.

I personally love Evernote and have a dedicated notebook for ideas which I use to dump all of my various ideas as they come to me, but work out the way that suits you the best.

Create a mind map.

Mind maps are a creative way to analyze and structure your ideas in visual format to help give you clarity and problem solve how you can compress your big ideas.

From your mind map you can then begin to synthesize the ideas that come out of it and start to formulate your plan around the major themes and topics that come out of it.

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2. Play to your strengths and know your zone of genius.

Knowing and understanding your strengths and zone of genius is key to not letting yourself getting side-tracked by Shiny Object Syndrome!

When you know your zone of genius, you can quickly use this as a way to identify whether that new idea or burst of inspiration is something that will either help you stay on your path or in fact hinder you and veer you off track.


Pssst… Enter your details below and grab the free workbook to discover your zone of genius!


3. Create a 90 day roadmap with actionable and measurable goals.

I’m a huge fan of 90 day plans because they’re a decent enough period for you to set some big goals and complete within this timeframe. They’re also short enough lengths of time to avoid losing interest and becoming disengaged with the goals you set for yourself - which can often happen when setting yearly or six month goals.

 This length of time is perfect if you’re the kind of person who gets jazzed and loves the excitement of starting new projects {like me!} because, let’s be real: 90 days can go by quite quickly.

How to do it:

After you’ve done your brain dump and mind map, then it’s time to start planning out which projects you'd like to focus on over the next 90 days.

  • Pick out the top 3 you’re most energized by and write these on a post-it note, using a different colored post it note for each of your three goals.

  • Then for each goal, start plotting all the tasks that you’d need to do in order to complete the project. All of the tasks that fall under your big goals should be in the same color as the overarching goal.

  • Grab your calendar and then start scheduling your time accordingly over the next 90 days, assigning each of the tasks to the week it will be completed in.

4. Build in time for experimentation.

These strategies provide an excellent framework to stay focused on what’s most important and allow you to prioritize your time accordingly. But when you’re a creatively inclined person it’s also important to build time in for experimentation, so you can not only stay up-to-date with what’s going on in your niche, as well as satisfy your curiosity.

Once you’ve scheduled in time to work on you priority goals, leave some wriggle room in to allow you some freedom to experiment - just don’t allow yourself to go down any rabbit holes!

Tell me, have you experienced shiny object syndrome? Which of these strategies will help you the most to stay on track?

Behind the Brand :: Sweet & Spark

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I first discovered Sweet & Spark on Pinterest after eyeing off one of their divine pieces and was excited to see they were based in San Francisco!

I caught up with Jillian and Em, the creative duo behind Sweet & Spark, over a coffee at Jane {one of my favorite local spots and turns out theirs too!} and loved learning about their business journey and how they met after bonding over a mutual love of vintage jewelry.

With Jillian’s well-trained eye and business savvy, thanks to her background in fashion buying; and Em’s well-honed design skills and artistic flair after graduating from Parsons in 2012 and holding coveted positions at Kate Spade and Marc Jacobs - they joined forces to grow Sweet & Spark into a modern lifestyle brand with a feminine aesthetic.

What I loved learning from Jillian and Em is how they have created a successful partnership - by coming together and each bringing their unique skills and strengths to complement each other and as a result, their business is thriving!

Thank you ladies for being here today!


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Introduce yourself, sharing what you do and what you’re creating in the world.

Jillian & Emilee: Sweet & Spark is a feminine lifestyle brand for today’s modern woman, inspired by the timeless aesthetic and quality of fashion from the past.

With this romantic notion, we curate vintage jewelry, scarves and home décor from antique fairs and estates around the country, styling it with everyday clothing from our favorite contemporary designers like Line & Dot, Sanctuary, Endless Rose and Greylin.

We also recently launched a vintage designer collection with pieces from Chanel, Cartier, YSL and more. Launched in 2012, the brand continues to be the only authentic vintage company around with a feminine lifestyle aesthetic.

Let's put it like this, our dream is to become the Anthropologie for the feminine woman!

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How did Sweet & Spark come about?

Jillian: I originally started Sweet & Spark in 2012 after being burned out by my corporate buying job. I spent the first few years in business traveling around the country with my vintage loving dad learning how to identify and source vintage jewelry.

I always knew there was more in store for S&S but it it wasn't until I came across Emilee's blog and learned that someone out there loved vintage jewelry as much as I do.

That's when things really started falling into place; mutual friends introduced us in 2015 and we became quick internet friends.

By 2016, Emilee had decided to move from New York City to San Francisco. After spending more time together, we decided that it would be so much more rewarding to work on our passions together. Talk about serendipity!

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How are you each involved in the business, using your unique set of skills?

Jillian: For anyone familiar with the fashion industry, we are considered an iconic merchant and designer duo. I went to Syracuse University for Retail Merchandising and then worked as a buyer at Gap Inc. and American Eagle Outfitters.

Emilee went to Parsons School of Design for Fashion Design and then worked as a jewelry designer at Marc Jacobs and Kate Spade. So this means that Emilee manages the creative vision and execution for Sweet & Spark while I manage the business and product strategies.

By bringing our different experiences and strengths to the table we’ve been able to take the brand to the next level by solidifying our feminine aesthetic and venturing into new product categories like clothing, vintage scarves and home décor.

Both coming from corporate backgrounds, we manage the business very similarly to how a large company would. Emilee kicks off each season with an inspiration board filled with gorgeous imagery and a color palette.

From there we align on what the weekly product stories will be and how everything will tie in together cohesively. That’s when we start buying product, scheduling photoshoots and creating content to tell our weekly stories.

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Em - you went to Parsons School of Design - Did you always know you wanted to be a designer?

Emilee: Short answer, yes! My Grandmother was a seamstress and my Mother was an art director, and saw that I had the same creative gene.

I was always involved in art camps as a little girl, and my focus throughout grade school was art, photography and graphic design. Parsons was an amazing environment where I was able to grow as a fashion designer and create my very own personal aesthetic.

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Take us back to the early days of getting your biz off the ground - was there a tipping point when you knew this was going to be a viable business?

Jillian: Honestly, there isn't one specific thing that's made Sweet & Spark what it is today. It's all of the little things over the past 6 years together that have gotten us to this point!

All the coffee dates, late nights listing products on the website, packing and shipping orders to thousands of people, traveling to antique fairs and building a team have been worth it.

Also, I'm a big believer of always following your intuition- when you know, you just know. Listening to it might ask you to do some hard things but it will never lead you astray!

You both work out of Jillian’s home studio in San Francisco - what does a typical day look like for you?

Emilee: There is no typical day! Even though the two of us manage different parts of the business, there are a lot of tasks that we do together.

Sometimes we’re working on 2-3 different seasons at one time, exactly like a large corporate company would function. That means Jillian is listing new items on our website and managing the marketing side of things, while I’m concepting and photographing seasons to come.

On an average week, we juggle our time between photoshoots, website & social media maintenance, meetings around San Francisco, buying trips, antiquing and shipping orders.

In addition to all that goes into the work week, we can often be found hosting  pop-up events around San Francisco on the weekends.

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What are you favorite tools and apps to stay organized and keep on top of everything?

The tools we use daily are google drive, Trello, Slack, Dropbox and Planoly for laying our our Instagram grid. Other than that, we rely on our internal seasonal calendar to keep us on track with deadlines.

S&S began with antique jewelry pieces and you’ve now expanded into apparel - was this always part of the vision for the brand or did it evolve naturally?

Jillian: I've always known that Sweet & Spark was going to be so much more than vintage jewelry but everything starts somewhere and then evolves naturally from there! We used to get asked all the time where the clothing that was styled with the jewelry in our photographs was from so that sparked the idea to start selling our favorite clothing brands directly.

Not to mention, I'm an ex-buyer by trade so establishing relationships with the brands and managing the buying process wasn't as overwhelming as it could have been.

Being able to style the clothing with the jewelry really helped bring the entire brand to life and offer our customers a completely feminine yet, individualized look.

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How has running your own business challenged or changed you? You share any obstacles you’ve had to overcome in order to build your business into what it looks like today?

Jillian: Fear never goes away. You have to learn how to carry it with you and still have the courage to move forward and learn new things. Also, learning how to let go of expectations has been such a gift and makes this entrepreneurial journey so much more magical!  


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Quick fire: jillian

What’s your dream breakfast and who would it be with?

Coffee with Seth Godin would be a dream!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Defy mediocrity.

What’s the big dream you’re secretly {or not so secretly} most excited about making happen?

We would love to bring Sweet & Spark to life in person someday with a few stores around the country!

Quick fire: Emilee

What’s your dream breakfast and who would it be with?

Pastries with Victoire de Castellane, jewelry designer for Chanel and Dior.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

So you're a good artist, there's a lot of good artists. What you do with it is what matters.

What’s the big dream you’re secretly {or not so secretly} most excited about making happen?

We travel all over the country for our vintage inventory, traveling abroad to buy would be such a treat one day!


Connect with Sweet & Spark:

Behind the Brand :: Becky Hui Chan, Founder of Honey & Bloom

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I used to think being a multi-passionate meant we needed to pick one of our loves and stick to it forever. The very thought of choosing ‘one thing’ is terrifying to me, as being a creative at heart, my true passion lies in birthing ideas and bringing them to life - in whatever form that may be.

Well, my wonderful guest today - Becky Hui Chan, founder of Honey & Bloom, a multi disciplinary design studio; and founder of MIE Jewelry Collection - proves this is not the case at all.

Becky is a kindred spirit and a true creative. When we met over coffee at one of my favorite spots in San Francisco at Le Marais Bakery, I loved learning how she’s intentionally chosen to create her life and work around all of her passions - and that means doing more than one thing! 

I also might add she does all this alongside being a Mama to her two children - um yes, she is an incredible woman!

I’m so excited to introduce you to Becky and for you to learn more about her work and what’s she’s creating in the world…


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Introduce yourself, sharing what you do and what you’re creating in the world?

Hi, I’m Becky (Hui Chan), the Founder and Creative Director of Honey & Bloom, a multidisciplinary design studio based in the heart of San Francisco, California.

My passion for design has helped me span and grow my company beyond a graphic design studio. I make art, design jewelry for the modern woman, and create brand experiences that matter.

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How did you get started on your current path?

Many moons ago, after graduating from my design program, I pursued a path in editorial design, landing me a position at Wired Magazine. I continued to build my career path by taking on experiences at ReadyMade Magazine and then at SYPartners.

Throughout the years, I have met the most amazing people. After the birth of my first born, I wanted to find a balance between doing what I loved most (design, of course) and being there and present for my son. That was the beginning of Honey & Bloom.

I started out by collaborating on projects with companies and people from the network of friends and old colleagues I’ve met throughout the years.

As I ventured into creating my own line of products, I began to meet more designers and makers that were also trying to form their own small businesses.

Building a strong bond with my clients and the group of like-minded designers/makers + shakers has played a key role in the continued growth of my company. 

As I continue to create compelling brand experiences with my clients through my design studio, I am also growing my line of jewelry, MIE. 

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I’ve noticed you’ve transitioned Honey & Bloom into a multi disciplinary design studio - can you share how your business has evolved since you first began? 

My background is in graphic design, but I’ve always dreamed of having my own brand. Honey & Bloom has allowed me to do just that—serving as a studio where I design and produce products as well as consult on branding and design work for clients. 

I’ve always loved bold shapes and forms so I began to translate that vision into creating jewelry.

I’m not a traditional jewelry designer and have learned through classes and from other talented designers, and I continue to learn every day.

I’m very happy to be able to translate my vision through this new medium. I’ve always been drawn to minimal yet bold designs. I love things that have a subtle edge, but make a difference—it’s about making a statement, but not loudly. 

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How did you make the leap into full time entrepreneurship? Was it something you’d always wanted to do or knew you were destined for? 

I’ve always wanted to run my own business. Its the best way for me to be able to do everything that I’m passionate about.

I find that I have many passions and I constantly want to learn and try new things. When I first opened my design shop, I designed prints, posters, totes, and stationery.

Overtime, I found myself wanting to push beyond two dimensional boundaries and explore the world of jewelry making and design.

Currently, I’m working on growing the MIE Collection to include more timeless, everlasting pieces that women will want to wear all day, everyday.

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I’m obsessed with the modern designs of your pieces! Who is the woman you design for?

The woman I design for enjoys what she does, has motivation, and enjoys life—she cares about style and her appearance but doesn’t overdo it. I know so many inspirational women in my life.

Most of these women are friends, family members, women working hard to build their own brands and businesses. I want to make these women feel special in my jewelry by designing small statements in otherwise classic styles—pieces that work for them every day.

A ‘more is more’ approach can sometimes be appealing when designing, but the final product is refined by a process of elimination.

I eliminate the noise and bring out the one thing that will stand out to people. 

The MIE Collection reflects a foundation of simple forms that almost whisper to you, becoming accents you never want to take off. It’s luxury—redefined for the modern woman.

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It seems to be quite natural for creatives to have multiple and varied interests - how do you balance all of the different aspects to your business?

I try to be better at structuring my business, but I’ve found that it works best when I let it grow organically, driven mostly by dialing up and down the different parts of the business based on priority of things.

Time management is very important when you have more than one focus in your business.

Balancing time between my clients and my brand of products can get hard at times, but it all works out in the end.

I carve out time for all the different aspects of my business; it definitely seems like I work all the time, but my brain never stops thinking anyways, so it all falls into place.

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How do you fuel your creative juices - what are your favorite ways to get inspired?

I make things, prototype, sketch, write, look at magazines, take photos, take strolls, jot down all ideas...even crazy ones.

Hands-down the most inspiring thing to do is travel—I always seem to have the best ideas when I’m traveling, near and far.

How do you find living and working in San Francisco given the great history it’s had of supporting artists and now it slowly being taking over by tech? What do you think the future of the city looks like for artists and creatives?

I grew up here and its hard to leave such a beautiful city filled with so much culture and creativity. I think that many artists, creatives, small businesses, and agencies continue to grow even with many tech companies emerging in the city.

I think the future is bright for San Francisco and its artists and creatives. Art never dies, it just gets richer. Design is essential, we cannot be without it.

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What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

Do what you love. Don’t give up.

Which fellow lady boss you most admire / look up to?

Many. Running your own business is hard work. There are many lady bosses I admire, especially the ones that keep pushing and don’t settle; they teach others and open up about their successes and failures.

What’s the big dream you’re secretly {or not so secretly} most excited about making happen?

Building a brand I can grow old with.


Connect with Becky:

Honey & Bloom:

MIE Collection:

Creative Boss Workspace Tour :: Lauren Taylor, Lauren Taylor Creates

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I first discovered Lauren Taylor's work when her stunning illustration of Oprah to celebrate her insanely inspiring Times Up speech at the Golden Globes was doing the rounds on Instagram.

So, of course I had to Insta stalk her to learn more about her work and was blown away by her amazing creations...

Not only does Lauren have her own shop, she also does commissions and has created custom work for some incredible brands including Victoria's Secret and Chattam and Wells.

I could not be more excited to be featuring Lauren and her gorgeous studio tour on the blog today, and hope you are as inspired as I was to learn more about her story; how she built her business; plans her goals; as well as giving us an insight into her creative process.

Thank you so much for being here Lauren!


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Tell us about you; your biz and how you got started.

I grew up in a small town in Northern California. I always loved creating art, ever since I was really young I was drawing and painting.

As I got older, I chose to pursue something a bit more “practical” and got a degree in International Business. I left California and moved to Oahu to study at Hawaii Pacific University.

While in college I still painted and always felt the need to create - it was my outlet. I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain my Junior year and that’s when everything changed for me. Living abroad made me want to explore the world and travel.

When I returned to Hawaii from Spain, I was painting a lot more and wanted to share my work with others. I started my business with a few paintings and an Etsy shop in 2011.

After another two years on Oahu, I was feeling unfulfilled at my full-time job as a news producer, so I decided to move back to California, save money, and travel through South America for a year.

In Hawaii I was already working on Lauren Taylor Creates on the side, and when I moved back to California, I continued to paint while working another job. I moved back in September 2013, and by November I started offering prints from my two most popular paintings.

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That Christmas I sold more prints, custom and original paintings than I had to date. Selling that artwork and working with new clients made me realize if I worked while I traveled I wouldn’t have to stop after a year, I could move around indefinitely.

In 2015 I left for Buenos Aires, Argentina with my clothes in a backpack and my painting supplies in my carry-on. I traveled through South America for 7 months and painted along the way.

While there, I met my now fiancé James who was also traveling, and I’ve now settled with him in Ireland.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Everyday is so different! I try to keep my morning routine and bedtime routines the same everyday to create some structure and set certain days for certain tasks - Mondays are for admin work, Tuesdays are for client projects, etc.

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Do you have a morning routine or any rituals that help set your day up for success?

I do! Each morning after waking up and brushing my teeth, I make my bed and then make hot lemon water with honey.

While it cools down (I hate super hot drinks) I meditate with the Calm app for 10 minutes. I then shower and get ready for the day (even if I’m staying in my studio all day I change into real clothes) and then make breakfast.

Sometimes I go to the gym and then do my morning routine and sometimes when my fiancé is off work we start our day with a walk or hike if it’s nice out.

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How do you plan your goals? Take us through your annual planning process (if you have one) and how this plays out on a monthly, weekly and daily schedule.

In the past I haven’t been great about checking in with my goals throughout the year. I’d make a list of goals in January and then wouldn’t look at them until December, feeling a bit disappointed if I didn’t hit all of them.

This year I’m trying to do things a bit differently. First thing I did was make a list of things that went well last year and my accomplishments (It’s easy to look forward and think about the things you haven’t done, without looking at the amazing things you have!).

I then looked at what I could have done better (I don’t want to repeat mistakes from before).

I then made a big list of absolutely everything I would like to do this year, then narrowed it down to 3 business goals and 3 personal goals.

I have an annual calendar and try to roughly plot out my goals throughout the year and then work backwards on how I can accomplish this goal.

By planning out start dates and deadlines I’m trying to hold myself accountable in accomplishing the things that are most important to me.

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What are your favorite tools and apps for staying organized?

My favorite tool for staying organized with commissioned paintings and projects is Pipedrive. It’s a pipeline management tool that lets you create different stages of a sale.

I have two pipelines, one for client acquisition up until the invoice is sent, and then another one for each stage of the painting. It’s so simple to use and set up and has made a world of difference in keeping track of clients and what stage I’m at for each project.

Another app I just started using is the Moment app. It tracks your phone usage and sends little reminders every 15 minutes you’ve been on your phone.

Since I work for myself, it’s easy to get sucked into the Instagram or Facebook hole and lose half your day to scrolling. Having an app that can hold you accountable helps!

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Do you use a digital or paper diary?

I use a paper diary. I love writing things down and making lists.

How do you organize and tackle your to-do list?

I plan out my week in my planner and then list out each evening what exactly I need to accomplish the next day. I keep it to a maximum of 3 “must do” tasks each day and try to get those started first.

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What are your favorite stores or tips for decorating your workspace?

I tried to think of functionality first. It was really fun looking at Pinterest for inspiration of how I wanted my studio to look and feel, however I needed to create a space that was going to work for me, not just be picture perfect.

For example, I really like to spread out, so having a nice long table was really important for me. I found this two person desk at Ikea that is perfect for that.

To hang my artwork I used blu tack and simple metal clips. This gives me the flexibility to change the artwork based on what I’m working on without marking up my walls.

I also got this chest of drawers at Ikea that is on wheels. Not only is it great for storage, but since it can move around, I’m able to move it by the window when I want to use it for a flatlay backdrop and need a bit of extra light.

Once I got the main furniture in, I had a bit of fun filling my space with things that I love and that inspire me. I definitely recommend Ikea for furniture and small local shops or secondhand stores for accessories.

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Best advice for staying productive and getting sh*t done?

Remove distractions! I am the type of person who will check my phone all day and look at cake and nail videos on Instagram.

I’ve found that if my phone isn’t close by I don’t miss it. I’ve also used website blocking apps to block sites like Netflix and Facebook during working hours.

Favorite way to re-charge your creative-juices?

Getting outside. One of the things I love most about living in Ireland now is the stunning scenery and abundance of things to do outdoors

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Creative Boss Workspace Tour :: Jen Darr of Jen & Jennifer

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I'm super excited to kick off a brand new feature on the blog where I go behind the scenes of some of the supremely talented creatives I'm lucky enough to cross paths with and find out all about how they stay productive, get their goals and make it happen in their business!

On that note, please allow me to introduce you to the wonderful Jen Darr, founder of illustration studio, Jen and Jennifer.

Jen is an Australian artist, currently based in London who at the beginning of 2014, after working in the Australian Fashion industry for 10 years, made the move to London to spend a few years traveling and seeing life from a fresh perspective.

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Jen and Jennifer was born out of reaction to starting over in a new country and a desire to live a fulfilled and creative existence on her own terms. 

The story behind her studio is rather fun - Jen and Jennifer stems from the way she's intentionally infused both sides of her personality: the creative and the serious, the left and the right; the Jen and the Jennifer.

So lovely, right?!

Jen's work is absolutely divine. Her creations are all clearly inspired by the things she loves, and I'm so excited to introduce you to her exquisite creations.

I know you're going to love learning more about Jen's creative journey and seeing her utterly gorgeous space from where all of the magic happens - let's dive in!


Tell us a bit about you; your biz and how you got started.

I was born and raised in Brisbane, Australia where I studied fashion design and graphic design. When my husband and I moved to the UK in 2014 I had been working as a fashion designer and feeling burnt out.

London was a great chance to rethink the direction I was taking and what I really wanted to do.

After I started working for an online boutique doing content creation and illustration, I started getting commission requests from customers and also my newly launched Instagram account.

I went full-time freelance in 2017 after moving to Melbourne, where I also launched my online print store.

Now that I am back in London I hope to relaunch my store and continue working with clients around the world.

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What does a typical day look like for you?

The thing I love most about my job is not having every day look the same. In saying that the vast majority are spent sketching away at my desk!

Since becoming full time freelance I've learnt the best times of day for certain activities; I do my best creative work in the afternoon, so I plan any client meetings or calls for the morning.

This is also when I answer emails and do quotes/concept sketches and any business admin, that way I have a (relatively) uninterrupted block of time to paint afterwards.

Also, because of the short daylight hours in London over Winter, I'll use the morning light take any photos or create content for my social media and then use the evening hours to edit photos or do photoshop work.

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Do you have a morning routine or any rituals that help set your day up for success?

I can't function without breakfast (I'm a serious sufferer of "hangry") so I always start my day with a relaxed breakfast while I get dressed and check emails and social media.

They best way I've found to set myself up for success is to actually plan my to-do list the night before.

That way I know when I wake up what my plan for the day is and I can hit the ground running.  It also helps me switch off at night knowing that I’m organised to start the next day

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How do you plan your goals? Take us through your annual planning process (if you have one) and how this plays out on a monthly, weekly and daily schedule.

I never tend to look more than a couple of months into the future as my business is largely built on client commissions, which are never predictable.

I might have general goals such as the kind of clients I'd like to work with or any print ranges but it works best for me to stay more open to the opportunities which come along.

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What are your favorite tools and apps for staying organized?

I’m really old school in that I prefer to write everything down with pen and paper. I have a weekly to-do list / calendar on my desk and then also a daily to do list which I write out the night before. 

Do you use a digital or paper diary?

I don’t use a diary at all! I designed my own monthly and weekly calendars and these are stuck to wall in my studio. I prefer having it laid out for me to glance at rather than hidden inside a diary.

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How do you organize and tackle your to-do list?

I pick 2 or 3 “must dos” and then put the rest in an “if I can” section so I don’t split my attention too much and end up achieving nothing.

I do find that as I work with client deadlines it makes it easy to prioritize my work load and I just fit my other responsibilities around those set dates

What are your favorite stores or tips for decorating your workspace?

My creativity is very effected by my environment, so I try and make my desk a lovely space where I want to be. It needs to be practical and tidy but also pretty!

I love having a bunch (or 3!) of flowers on my desk, some candles and a moodboard. I also have photos and favorite trinkets.

Moving countries 3 times in as many years has taught me to be quite picky with my homewares and clothes.

My rule is If I wouldn't take it with me if I picked up and moved tomorrow then I shouldn't buy it.

It's also a bit of a reaction to our throw away society that I want to be surround by only things that bring me joy or have real meaning.

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Best advice for staying productive and getting sh*t done?

I've learnt that looking after yourself makes a big difference to how you function so getting a good nights' sleep and giving yourself permission to take breaks is key.

That way you can really focus and be in your work 100% when you need to be. I'm also a huge list maker, seeing my tasks written in black and white stops my brain from going into overdrive thinking I have more to tackle then I do. One step at a time .

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Favorite way to re-charge your creative-juices? 

Talking to friends and family or taking a wander around London does it for me every time! I love being surround by all the history, stunning buildings and the buzz of the city.

I prefer to get away from my screen as much as possible so down-time on the weekends with my husband or traveling to new places also help to keep my creativity flowing.


Connect with Jen: