Friday, 17 January 2014

You're not H&M.

Being a micropreneur means most of the time that one needs to be a ton of different things all at once. You might be the business owner, but having no-one to work for you means you have to be everything from a shop keeper to a marketing guru, the window cleaner, the customer service department, the web developer, the wholesale person, the blogger, the cook, the designer and the cashier. To name a few.

It can be daunting. It *is* daunting.
Robert Wall at the Untitled Minimalism writes brilliantly of one way too look at this dauntedness in his latest post of The three little pigs of DIY.  Sometimes is pays off and saves time and money, not to mention stress to spend a little on someone who can get the job done better, and with ease.

I'm currently doing Sandra Pawula's course of Living with Ease and a comment in the group this morning made me think about my need to get everything done as best I can (which is not a bad idea at all, if you've only got so many things to do that you're still sane after sorting them all out), get it done myself, and get involved in a million things at once.

We do create our own stresses most of the time. There's obviously stuff that we can't seem to control, like illness or accidents (and even those are debatable), but I believe most of the stress for the average person comes simply from spending the 24 hours that they've been provided with in a day. There's too much on our plates and it's hard to let go of anything. I notice this at the shop all the time. I'm too busy or tired to get everything done that I've thought of doing, and there's more around the corner. So one might be tempted to work harder, be more involved, tire oneself and fall ill eventually.
I didn't want to fall ill. I've seen it happen too many times around me.

Looking back at the year that has just ended I've been able to pinpoint three separate, but connected things that I've learned in the course of the year gone. And I notice, that whenever a stressful day is beginning, I can bring my mind back to those three things, and I remember my place and my worth much better, feel much more at ease.

They are:

1. I am one person.
One person can only do so many things in a given 24 hour period. I am not a 100 000 people corporation with a work force to solve the world hunger. I am one person, with plenty of energy, but one person's energy. The work load I can safely put solely on myself is therefore not a load that a 100 000 people work place can bear.

2. I am me.
I know a good few things and can learn a whole lot more if and when needed. But I cannot be an expert in every thing in the world (and this is where Robert's post comes in handy), and I should never expect that from myself or beat myself over it.

3. I am not H&M.
I run a wee dance wear shop, and often catch myself from wondering how brilliantly and easily things seem to go at the local H&M. I'm not a fan of their fashion and hardly ever shop there, but they are everywhere, so they're easy to spot and follow. Their cashiers have these great machines to work with, they have cleaners at the shop, there's time to fold the clothes back nicely and then five minutes later go and fold them over again. They have great marketing campaigns and some pretty amazingly quickly changing stock. There's sales and the company is booming. And I forget they are a billion dollar corporation with hundreds of thousands of people - professional people - working for them all around the world. And I am *me*, I am *one person*, and my company speaks of my values and it has a size of it's own. Which is never going to be H&M -size. I would never want my shop to turn into a billion dollar corporation. So my glimmering goal should never be to be H&M. Ever.

Knowing those three little facts makes me think of the 24 hours I have in a day again. *I've* set the standard for working at the shop. I come up with everything there is to do. Therefore I should really be the one who has the responsibility to measure the work load I put upon myself and stick to a load that stays on the healthy side. It might mean I never get a beeping machine at the cashier like they have at H&M. And it might mean my advertisements are never the size of a house. It might mean there's not going to be another brand new set of leotards every two weeks, and the shop will probably never be open 24-7. But it doesn't make me eligible for beating myself up, or overworking so I'll fall ill. There's got to be a standard for myself - a work load I can bear.

How will your next 24 hours look like?
Are you struggling with things you know nothing about and don't really want to know anything about? Is there something you can delegate to a professional - or someone you can ask for help? And is there enough space in your next 24 hours for *you*?

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Half-hearted solutions

"I'll just do this for now, and can concentrate on it better another time"

"It'll do"

"It's only temporary anyway"

Do you ever get that? The feeling of not giving something in life your full attention because it just wouldn't fit your life right now, there's so many other things on your plate and it's just not very convenient to be spending time on something as trivial as - whatever it is you're supposed to be doing.

Sometimes it's right, of course, to leave things off your to-do-list and decide not to give them your attention. It's even good to prioritize and purge your to-do-list/home/car/work place to make time for stuff that's really important in your life.

But how about things you bump into time and time again with half-done solutions? How about you having to live with the consequences of half-done, half-hearted, not-really-working solutions because you never gave them your full attention?
They might be everywhere.
*The kitchen counter may be full of glass jars and bottles waiting to be recycled, because it was easier to put them there *for now* than it would have been to find them a good storage space until your next round to the recycling place.
*Your inbox might be filled to the brim with emails that are sort of waiting for your attention but are not the most urgent and needed, so you leave them there *for now* until you can sort something with them at a later date, and so they bug you daily, every time you open up your email.
*Your make-up bag might have a dozen eye shadows or nail polishes, although you know you might need the pinkest one of them maybe once a year at the Christmas do, and nowhere else. But they'll stay there *for now* because who knows if the next door neighbors are having a ball before the eye shadow passes it's sell-by-date and you might just be needing that particular pink.
*You never did the excel-course at school, so you're having to constantly ask for advice from friends and family who know a whole lot more of excel than you do, and you're spending hours at work trying to figure things out for yourself to make a simple spread sheet, because it just is not that important to learn excel (*raises hand* - Guilty!).

In my venture to create calm in life, I found two pieces of cardboard stuck on the side of my work desk at the shop. One of them stated that I need to visit the shop next door (with a mail box right next to it) and I'd be gone for 5 minutes, and the other had the same message but for 15 minutes. I'd written both in a hurry at some point of these 3 years of running the shop. Temporary messages, obviously, and with the best intention of informing the customers that we are indeed open, and that I'd be right back after dropping the mail off to the box next door.

And every time I took one of the notes to be put on the door, I'd get a feeling that this is a temporary arrangement. And every time, the notelets would be a bit more run down and ugly and - temporary, and I'd feel a little guilty about closing the shop because I'm serving some customers who live further away that the one who's coming to the shop while I'm visiting the mail box.
And then I thought again.
Three years of running the shop on my own has proved there is nothing temporary in running to the mail box. It is, and will be, a permanent deed, to be executed about twice a week for as long as I'll be running the shop on my own. It is a part of my way of serving my customers, and there is no need to feel guilty about it, and no need to diminish the action by run down cardboard uglies.

So as a part of my Friday "creating calm" -action last week, I took the run down cards and placed them to forever rest in the paper bin. Here's what I made instead:

From this   -   to this

Three note cards from scrapbooking card stock with properly printed messages - all laminated to stand strong in wind and snow and sun and rain. And I found them a drawer space to live in, other than constantly in sight on the side of my work desk.

It's a small project, and not that special, if you think about it. But it's one less thing in life that's half-done. It took me about half an hour, and now I never (or at least for the next few years) have to think about them again, so they make me extra happy, and bring some extra calm to the shop.

Where are the half-done things in your life that you keep bumping into? Challenge yourself this week, and tackle one half-hearted solution head first. What will yours be? How will it help life?

Sunday, 5 January 2014

C A L M 2014

As it is the beginning of another round around the sun, I thought of spicing this round up with something to concentrate on. It looks like new year's resolutions are completely out and everybody's choosing a word for guiding the year ahead, which I'm only noticing now. I'd chosen my word in early December and heard of nobody else's words, so I had no idea I'm in there with everybody else. But I have a word to guide me too. My word is


with big, spaced out capital letters to let it all sink in, slowly.

And the way it might manifest itself - I thought, might be that instead of me sitting still and doing nada and *being* calm, I might try to actively produce calm, to *create* it. The being calm might just happen miraculously once I've created some space for it to exist.

I'm a master of beginning things, and it's super easy for me to leave everything half done (see my previous post). So there's about a million half-done things laying around in my life, and I tackling those, in a calm manner, one by one, and with concentration and some deeply breaths, is my plan for the beginning of the year. I'm intending to *create* some calm every day, especially at work.

And this is what I've done so far:

1st of January
I was at home, and sewed some half done products for the shop that were laying around the sewing table waiting for "the right moment". It took about an hour, and now they're one step closer to becoming finished, 3/4 finished. 

2nd of January
The first day of work for this year. I decided to begin the calm-creating by tackling three little drawers on my desk at the shop. I decluttered them and left only the direly needed stuff there, so they're easy to find when I need them. I also found there are business cards that are sort of half done (I scrapbook them from card stock and printed recycled paper), and some elastics and satin ribbons for the ballet pointe shoes that need packaging and restocking. I had none left in the shop although I have all the materials for them, so they clearly needed some crafting.
So as well as cleaning the drawers, I finished the elastics, made some 20 packages of them for the shop, and sorted out their pricing and the restocking options from the manufacturer.

3rd of January
The second day at work meant more finishing business. I packaged the pointe shoe satin ribbons, and finished one roll of ribbon completely from the storage shelves, making sure I have a reminder in my calendar to order another roll with the back to school -orders in March. This is how many there are now - they should last us until next autumn. Oh, and the packaging is from an old book that I salvaged from the local University Library. It's an early edition of the three musketeers. SO much fun to read as I chop the pages :)

4th of January
This was the day of packing at the shop (were taking the shop to another town for a day), so I didn't have as much time for the finishing business as I had in the previous days, but I did finish most of the business cards I had half done. Now there's plenty again, and my little watering can looks so cute with the cards in :)

Although there's still a few business cards let to finish next week when I get back to work, the three drawers are looking pretty calm already. This is the bottom one of them:

So the year is off to a good start.

What's your word - and how have you manifested it in the first few days of the year?