(This post contains affiliate links and other links. I sometimes do that.)
So many people have asked me, "How do you do it, Amy? There is no way I could do what you do! It's too much!" that I have decided to let you in on my secrets. The biggest secret of all is:
I don't do it all.
Who possibly could? It's madness to work full time and have a full time business, too. Hiring my husband several years ago helped out tremendously. So that's the big thing--I don't do everything myself, there are two of us. I still have a ridiculous amount of things to do, however. How do I manage everything?
I use technology. Here are the 3 tools I use to run my business life:
1. My iPhone. I use this thing for my entire life. Most of the time I use the Siri feature to set reminders for myself. A least once per day, and up to 5 times per day, I tell Siri to remind me to: pack the soap orders when I get home; respond to that email about a thing; pick up groceries after work; mail the soap orders on the way home. I dictate text messages into it. It goes on and on. I remind myself to eat lunch, sometimes. When vending, I use it to take photos for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter promotions, as well as for blog posts. I also use it to take credit card payments when vending. If you don't have a smartphone of some sort, you should click here to get one yesterday. I have no idea how people live without them.
2. MadMimi. I love this newsletter interface! They make it super easy to compose newsletters that look professional and put-together. They will even design a newsletter template for you, as part of their service, which is based on your website colors and branding! You can add logos, do drip campaigns, collect email addresses--all of this is intuitive and seamless. I use this to save time by cloning last week's newsletter, changing the photo, updating the text, and that's it. Off it goes. Or, I can pre-write them and schedule them to be sent at a later date. Easy! You can click here to sign up with MadMimi.
3. iPage. iPage really does make having a website easy, and I speak from experience. I had my soap website, soapcrone.com, built from scratch in the beginning. My friend who did it listened to me when I said I wanted to be able to update the site myself, as that is imperative for anyone who have inventory that might sell out. He built it for me, but it was never very easy or intuitive. I learned how to use it quickly, of course, but it was kind of bulky. And after a while, the design of it looked outdated. The apps within iPage, which are drag-and-drop, make building a website an absolute breeze. So much has changed since that first website back in 2004! I can do everything I used to do, and much, much more. It's still important to me that I can update my website anytime--and I use this tool daily. Click here to get your own iPage account for your website.
Making sure things are happening fast and efficiently is very, very important. What are your favorite tools to increase your speed and productivity?
Week of 3/20 - 3/26/2016
Sunday: Get up, go to the gym, get talked into doing the CrossFit Open 16.4 instead of the HIIT it. Treat the workout like the HIIT it, because soreness from yesterday's bout. Oof. Come home, make pancakes for breakfast, enjoy. Start getting ready for my flight this afternoon. Throw in the laundry, start the soap newsletter for the week. Find a backpack and my carry-on luggage, start packing makeups, etc. in bags. Realize that the new printer needs to be installed. Install new printer, cross fingers. Yes! It works. Get clean laundry, start packing it up. Get it all together, and get out of the house. Off to the airport, good-bye, be good, see you in a week. Security line looks long. Crap. Get in line, it keeps moving, very fast. Through security, and off to the gate! Take the train to the concourse, then walk FOREVER to the gate, which is literally the very last one on the edge of the airport. Finally. Sit and wait for only about 20 minutes and onto the plane we go.
Flight is uneventful except for one woman, behind me and to the left, clear across the plane, who was talking to her Japanese seat mate who didn't speak English very well. She DID NOT STOP TALKING for the entire 2 hour flight. Also, she kept making sweeping generalizations about Iowans. Did you know that all Iowans learn to drive on tractors? At the age of 6? I was shocked to learn that I am such an anomaly.
Touch down, get out, brother is there to pick me up, with his fiancé, hooray. They drive me to my parents' house, hello, yes, I'm here, no my flight was fine except for a crazy woman who thinks that people who don't speak English all of a sudden go deaf so she talked very loudly the entire time about Iowans. Eat a ham sandwich, watch some March Madness basketball, and then to bed. Collapse!
Monday: Up at 6:45am, which is 5:45am my body's time, oh, well. Have some breakfast, check the email. I finish writing the soap newsletter for the week and send it. We are all finally up and ready--head to Costco! Then to Faraway! Then to a roadside farm for eggs, because I am spoiled. Then back home. Mom takes a nap, I hang out on the internet, finish my blog post, write the newsletter and send it. Do a small amount of social media marketing, give up, make dinner for myself and my parents. Talk to my husband, he took the dog in to the vet and they discovered cancer, and we have to make a decision. He decides to see if the steroid treatment will work, to give her more time and relieve pain. We will wait and see.
Tuesday: Get up, go to gym with my dad. I have to figure out my own workout, I'm so far away, will I be able to do it? Create my own HIIT workout, do it, feel good about it. Running at an elevation of 780 feet is WAY EASIER than running at 5,280 feet, let me tell you. Go home, Dad gets ready to go golfing because the weather is so nice. I stay home with Mom all day and help her take down her Christmas stuff. This is why I'm here. It's the week before Easter. Christmas gets put away, and during that time, we discover the Easter decor so out that comes. Mom and I set up one small Easter display because that's what was reasonable.While setting this up, she shows me this "chicken" made out of a plastic egg and other weirdness, who has lost her beak (see photo above). Mom says to me, "Do you think you could make a beak?"
I replied, "Do you have scissors, construction paper, and glue?" Miraculously, she did! So, I made that beak out of a small tube of orange construction paper and glued it on with Tacky Glue. My mother was THRILLED with the result. I told her that the thing was ugly to begin with, but she insists that it's cute. Whatever, mom. If it makes you happy!
After that, I start making banana bread because that's what Mom said she wanted for dessert tonight--it's her birthday! We bake the banana bread and I also marinate the roast for this evening's dinner. Three flower deliveries today. The Internet went down this morning so Dad called them out before he went for golf, so I managed that when the dude showed up to fix it. I felt very naked and useless while the Internet was down--no laptop. The Internet is finally up! Got an email from a website, requesting to carry my skin care line! WHAT? Wheeee!!! Alternately, I got an email from a customer, saying that she tracked her soap order and the USPS says they delivered it, but it wasn't delivered. I contact my husband to pack that order again and hand-deliver it, to ensure she gets it this time. Luckily, it's a local order. Time for Mom's birthday dinner: roast and potatoes and carrots. Dinner. Dessert. Lovely! My sister and her 5 youngest children come over after dinner to visit with Grandma for her birthday, bringing even more flowers. The entire dining room table is covered. After they leave--bedtime.
Wednesday: Up early, time for the gym. Decide to change things, as I am used to that at my gym in Denver--it's never the same. Choose interval running. Do this workout, and regret it far less than I thought I would. My lung capacity is amazing, apparently. (Ha.) Come back to the house, eat breakfast, lounge around on the Internet. Check emails, no response from Website Lady. Make Mom her breakfast when she gets up, chat with her, she decides to take a nap. I lounge on the couch, doing absolutely nothing of substance for most of the day. In the evening, I head out to the pub quiz with my brother and his fiancé. We win! Super fun.
Thursday: No gym today, as we are up early to get Mom ready and take her to her chemo appointment. During her treatment, Dad and I run errands. There is a Starbucks at the SuperTarget. MY LIFE IS SAVED, OMG! My parents do not drink coffee, and I have not yet found a good coffeeshop in their town. Apparently there is one, but I haven't been there yet, and have been surviving on green tea and Zipfizz. So we run the errands and time it perfectly--she is finished right when we return. We take Mom home and she goes right to bed for her nap. I field emails and note that we have only had 1 soap order this week, which is just as well, because our dog is not improving very much at all, and the vet said if she didn't improve within 24-48 hours from the steroid shot and anti-nausea she gave the dog, then we would have to make a decision. We can't afford chemotherapy for a dog, but my husband and daughter are joining me next week, and the dog would have to stay with friends as pre-arranged before we learned all this.
This is a difficult trip.
Friday: Up and at them at the gym. HIIT workout this morning, feels great. Text from my husband: he is taking the dog in to be euthanized today. Her situation has not improved enough for us to leave her with strangers (to her) to possibly die while we are gone. It's just not right. So he decides that today is the day, and is making her morning as fun and pleasant as possible. I am despondent--I am not there with our good friend, who has only spent two years with us. She had tumors when we got her, and we had them removed. One of them was skin cancer, and the vet said that Boxers tend to get tumors and sometimes cancer. But for two years she has been the sweetest, most loyal companion a family could have desired. When we got her, the vet said that she had given birth at least twice, and since she is a purebred Boxer, we presumed she came from a puppy mill. Her teeth were filed down, as well, also indicating that. So we hoped that life with us would be much more leisurely than what she had previously experienced. She slept with my daughter, on purpose, to ease my daughter's difficulty with falling asleep. She loved to run at the dog park--run and romp and be silly. She never chewed clothes or furniture or anything, and always asked to go outside--she never peed in the house. She would lunge at the chickens to make them scatter, but that was all--she never chased them or took much other interest in them. She was delighted when my husband's band mates came over for practice; they doted on her. The only time she would bark is when she was at the back door, ready to come back inside. She was the easiest, best, happiest dog. I love her so much, and today is her last day, and I feel so impotent to do anything, because I literally can't because I'm not there. She was a true friend.
Saturday: Get up, no gym today because breaks are a thing. My husband and daughter are driving out to join me for the next week, so today will be spent anticipating their arrival and making sure we have dinner ready when they arrive.We wisely decide on frozen lasagna from Costco, small salads with what he have, and some toast made from some homemade bread Dad found in the freezer. While hanging out with Mom, she mentions that her hair is falling out all over from the chemo, and would I shave her head for her? Sure, Mom, whatever you like. So we give her a #2 buzz cut and she was happy with that. Maybe it will cut down on the shedding, she said. My husband and daughter arrive in record time, we have dinner ready for them, and finally we are all together, and I feel much more whole.
Week of 3/13 - 3/19/2016
Sunday: Get up, go to gym, even though I lifted all the heavy things yesterday. Arrive at gym, realize I am there for the HIIT IT class and not heavy lifting, and rejoice. Silently. It's early and the clocks changed. I'm the only one who arrived to class at 8am on the Sunday that the clocks changed, go figure. Work it out, omg, my legs and butt feel like they are going to explode, keep moving through it anyway. Finish, feel amazing. After a few minutes. The amazing is not immediate.
Come home, make coffee. Update blog, take photo for blog, update blog more. Publish post, write newsletter and send.
Wonder what to do with myself because I ACTUALLY finished my Sunday work before noon.
Eat, rest, crochet a bit, do all the laundry.
Monday: Two soap orders, overnight! Yipee! Someone changed the clocks. SOMEONE CHANGED THE CLOCKS WHAT IS THIS MADNESS
Seriously, we need to abolish Daylight Saving Time. It serves no purpose. NONE! Go to work anyway, note that period 1 is, on our body's time, at 6:30am now, shake head in incredulity, carry on. Somehow make it through the day, go home immediately, and take a nap, because I am NOT going to get on skates exhausted. Nap for once in my life, have some dinner, get dressed, go to roller derby practice. Hit 'em all, skate hard, feel okay. Come home, shower, sleep, finally.
Tuesday: Three more soap orders, YAAAAAS! Print them out, be grateful. Note to self that these need to be packed and shipped by Thursday. Keep working, plan on staying late to help child with YET ANOTHER science project, realize she has her after-school running club, discard that idea. Do extra work for school because I'm traveling to see my mother next week and need to have everything in order.
Wednesday: Wake up, check email. TWO MORE soap orders! WOO HOO. That's a total of 7 for the week! Sweet! Go to work, stay after and help my child with her science project display, while simultaneously watching my table in the hall at school because IT'S PARENT CONFERENCE NIGHT AND I FORGOT OMG. No worries, I'm staying late for this project anyway, and "staying late" seems to be my life right now, whatever. Get science project done, husband picks up child, finish conferences. Go home, collapse as usual.
Thursday: It's standardized testing day. Hooray! She said, sarcastically, because pro tip, it's such bullshit. Really, I could go on and on, but I won't. Teach, test, work all day, get sub plans finished for next week. Woo hoo! Go home, can't work, too tired, husband will pack the orders.
Friday: Last day of work before I'm on vacaaaatiooooon! Same as yesterday, we head home right after work, and husband has NOT packed the soap orders. DUDE! So I pack them up, then run errands: mail soap orders, go to Costco to return our stinking printer and a bottle of cleaner that was defective, purchase new printer, come home. Too exhausted to set up printer. Get my mind ready for tomorrow, go to bed.
Saturday: Up and at them because it's bout day, and we are skating in the morning! What?? Usually roller derby is an evening activity, but everybody in the Denver area scheduled their games for Saturday, so the refs could only show up on Saturday morning. Okay, then! Eat breakfast, have coffee, get dressed, drive to Greeley for roller derby! What an intense bout! I ended up with a jammed finger, a skinned knee, 1 penalty, and I scored about 15 points. (See photos for bruise evidence.) We all had a blast! Came home, too exhausted to do anything, but my husband needs my help to change the locks, because he got this idea that it needed to be done. Okay! Change the locks, then take a bath, then rest, then eat, then rest and sleep. Soooooooooo tired. A great way to start my vacation, though.
Week of 3/6 - 3/12/2016
Sunday: Get up, go to gym, feel great. Eat, update blog, publish, send newsletter. Update soap sale, write soap newsletter, send soap newsletter. Pat self on back, take dog to park to meet with friends, as the weather is unseasonably warm. Hang out for a while, come home, intend to put away clean laundry, fail. Make one lunch, relax some, relax some more, go to bed.
Monday: Get up, go to work, make sub plans for tomorrow. Home in time for some dinner, then get dressed, then roller derby practice. Note to husband that we received two soap orders today. Excellent. Go to practice, hit some people, feel great. Come home, fall asleep reminding myself that I don't have to get ready for school tomorrow, just get the kid there.
Tuesday: Up and at them, get the kid ready, take her to school, drive home in stupid-ass traffic. The ONE benefit of having a 7am report time is not having to drive in stupid traffic. Get home, have coffee, have breakfast, get husband up and ready, and drive him to the hospital for his outpatient procedure. Sit with him while prep is happening, he's in, and I'm out. Have a bite of lunch, then back to the waiting room to create a video for the Lipstick Challenge I did with a friend (stay tuned!). Work on the video, he's out of surgery, go back to see him. He won't be out for a while, I have to pick up the kid. Go pick up the kid during rush hour (this is rush hour driving #2 of the day), bring her back to the hospital, go pick up husband, drive grandma home (she was there at the hospital, waiting when we got there at noon), drive for Chinese food, drive home. Shower, collapse in bed.
Wednesday: Remind myself to take TWO days off the next time my husband needs this outpatient procedure. Ugh. Work all day, come home, eat, get child ready, go BACK to school for her choir concert. Singing, singing, and stop at the post office on the way home to drop off one soap order, then home again, collapse in bed. Realize that my systems are NOT working with regard to laundry and lunches. Promise myself I'll deal with it tomorrow, fall asleep.
Thursday: Up, work. During lunch, husband informs me that we have a new private label soap order for a current client. Update Google spreadsheet for private label, indicating the order, the date it was placed, the deadline. Feel grateful for private label orders.
Friday: Wake up before my alarm from the worst nightmare of my life. In it, I was living through/dealing with my daughter's funeral. We put money in her casket, and as I was doing it, I remember thinking, "This is not logical, this is a waste, why are we doing this?" Everything in the dream was in stark whites, shadow grey, and black. Toward the end of it, my daughter was no longer in a casket, but in a 5-gallon bucket, because that's all we could afford? There was more--it went on and on. It was very graphic and very real. I woke up, and burst into tears from it--it was emotionally wrenching, never ending, and so very draining, and I ran to my daughter's room to ensure that she was, indeed, still alive, which she was, of course, and was not happy that her crazy mother was hugging her and crying tears into her ear. Woke husband up, too, which I'm sure he didn't appreciate, but he was supportive of my episode, as he is familiar with nightmares.
I am not. I usually don't remember my dreams at all, because I'm so exhausted. I am ill-equipped to deal with horrifying dreams like this.
Plagued with images from this dream all day. Work hard all morning, as I have back to back classes and then a meeting that went until lunchtime. Take a break during lunchtime, check Pinterest statistics. Gotta figure something out to increase Pinterest following. Note to self.
After work, decide to go home instead of to the gym, even though my last workout was Monday night, because I'm emotionally and physically exhausted. Daughter reached 107% of her reading goal for the quarter, as reported by her teacher, so we decide to let her choose where we eat. She chooses 5 Guys, so we drop off the remaining soap order at the post office, then have delicious burgers and fries for dinner, instead of cooking, which is a big, big win. Go home, watch Wheel of Fortune with my husband and daughter (daughter has recently discovered the show and thinks its awesome), start on baby blanket for a friend (pictured above). Think about hosting weekly (hahahahah!) Periscopes to teach little things like easy crochet or business tips or something. Go to bed early. Good choice.
Saturday: Up and at 'em after a good night of sleep. Everything seems more manageable after a good night of sleep. Go to the gym, lift all the heavy things (omg), come home, eat breakfast, get up, realize that sitting down was NOT the best idea, take a hot, hot bath to soak my back and legs. Decide today will be my day off for the week. Shower off, lie down for a nap. Get caught in Internet ADHD hole (Facebook, Pinterest), daughter is asking for food. Get up (OMG MY LEGS), make child some food, do dishes, clean kitchen counters. Actually feel like I'm using HOUSEWORK (something that needs to be done!) as a procrastination tool with regard to business work! RIDICULOUS OMG. Go to Costco for weekly grocery shopping, take my time, come home. Forgot the wine. Damn it. Husband is out, text him, he brings home the wine, HOORAY! No naps today, but that's okay. Eat some dinner, have some wine. All is well for another week.
Things To Remember from this week:
OKAY, I'LL ASK: What do you think my dream means? I had a friend at work tell me what she thought. What do you think it's about? Let me know in the comments.
Week of February 28 - March 5, 2016
Sunday: Resolve to have a good, productive day. Get it started with cruising Pinterest for way longer than necessary. Finish writing blog post, publish. Write newsletter for blog, publish that. Create new soap sale on website, write soap newsletter, schedule that. Check email later in this lazy day and realize I got a soap order before new sale went out. Excellent. Plan on doing all the laundry and prepping all the lunches. Fail at this.
Monday: Note that the weekly newsletter went out as scheduled, when I check me email at lunch. Think about how grateful I am to have a super-easy email newsletter service that sends out scheduled emails--so I can write them beforehand, as I think about it and have time to do so, and then know that they are being sent exactly when I want.
Tuesday: Freak out because I was up all last night with my husband who was vomiting. We don't know if he has an infection from his surgery two weeks ago, or not. Go to work, come back during the day to pick him up, take him to his doctor's appointment which was already scheduled for a different reason (how convenient), return to work because they said they would give him IV fluids for several hours. Leave work with child, pick him up, take everyone home, grab a literal bite to eat, and head to the caucus. Caulk away, go home, collapse.
Wednesday: 4 hours of sleep is better than the night before and better than nothing. Can't mail the soap orders because I can't find the mailers that I KNOW are in the house somewhere. Systems needed! Receive a text from husband, saying "We need a system, I can't find the mailers." Things feel like they are falling apart.
Thursday: Finally get around to recording February statistics about blog and website and business. Income for February was up from January, due to the payment from the private label sales. Note to myself that increasing private label sales and wholesale for Straight Up Skin Care is going to be imperative for business growth this year. Remind myself about the sample drop I need to do. Remind myself that I am going to visit my mother for two weeks, and maybe after that I can do the sample drop? Remind myself that I was going to write and teach a workshop in April. Sigh heavily. After school, become glaringly aware that my daughter needs an organization system, when I am informed that she has BLOWN OFF a six-week science project (it was assigned 6 weeks ago, not something that would even remotely take that long) that was due today and is now overdue and she says, "I forgot." What is she, a 7th grader? (Hint: she is.) Immediately ground her from all electronics, take her to the teacher to get perfect and complete clarification on this thing, and send her home with her dad so I can go to the gym and clear my head.
Friday: To work, with a Starbucks coffee this time. Get all the things done, take daughter home, tell her to gather things together to make her project, while I go to the gym to help them score the CrossFit open, workout 16.2. Come home, make some dinner, check on husband who is still not feeling well and is sleeping, collapse.
Saturday: Plan was to go to the gym at 8am, but that doesn't happen when you wake up at 7:45am. Whoops. Also, OMG GREAT SLEEP. Have a protein shake, check email, make breakfast for daughter who is up at this ridiculous hour (she prefers to be both nocturnal and diurnal on weekends, so this is odd). Husband is up, too, because he woke up at 11pm, when I went to bed, after he having gone to bed at 3pm. Sigh. Get clothes on, go to gym, work it out, feel much, much better, then dash immediately to my waxing appointment, and apologize profusely for the stench. She laughs and says that I do not have a stench, and I lie down on her bed-thing, and it is covered with a fuzzy blanket and IT IS HEATED OMG! My muscles thank me, and we chat while she waxes my face off. Grab a coffee that is conveniently next door to the spa, then drive home. Take my time to eat, as I am not grounded until the project is done, my daughter is, and I deserve to take my time. Finally we get to work on the project, and that child has no idea how lucky she is to have a crafty mom, can I just say that? Send her downstairs for Mod Podge and a brush from my craft room. Adhere actual dirt from the garden (which I made her shovel) to the bottom of the box with Mod Podge. Create lumpy elements with large glops of Mod Podge. Find plant matter to shove into our elements to make them look like trees. She decides to color the water part with blue--fine. We spend much of the day waiting for all of it to try while she hunts down small items to use for a shelter and a food station for this animal habitat we are creating. Finally she uses Mod Podge to glue her labels on, we tape the "ropes" on, and call it done. She pronounces, "I'm ungrounded! It's finished." I uphold my end of the bargain. Also, she must now have homework for every core class written in her planner, every day, with a teacher signature that SHE asks for at an appropriate time, to ensure accuracy. Every. Day. I AM NOT DOING THIS ANYMORE I HAVE WORK TO DO ON THE WEEKENDS NOT SCIENCE DIORAMAS.
Also, please note the diorama habitat in the photo, and then also please note that I was a true facilitator, and did not do it for her! If we had had 6 weeks? Are you kidding me? That thing would have won awards...
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Who writes this?
Hi, I'm Amy Kalinchuk. I am an author, publisher, crafter, entrepreneur, roller derby skater, wife, mom, and friend. I try to be organized and maintain an air of enviable breezy elegance. I do not always succeed. But crafting? I can do that. And small business. I can do that, too. So can you! No, seriously, you can do this! I'll show you.