Investment Advice

Today I’ve decided to write a post about investing. Now you may be thinking to yourself, Investment advice from Suzanne? That’s crazy talk! Well believe me, I would never dream of giving advice on how to invest your money (although if you have some for me, I’d gladly take it.) No, today I’m going to write about investing in terms of time not money.

First, let’s turn to the dictionary for a definition of “invest.” Check it out:

Dictionary - Invest

Wow! I had no idea that the word ‘invest” had so many meanings! Gotta love the dictionary…

The thing is, or at least it seems to me, that investing your time is a lot like investing your money. The more you invest, the greater your return over time. Of course you must invest wisely! Yes, it will feel risky, especially at the beginning and through the dips, and there will be times when you may want to adjust your investment strategy, but it you are persistent, you will surely earn profitable returns.

Why am I writing about this? Well, because four years ago I changed my investment strategy. Four years ago, almost to the day, I got out of what I believed had become a bad investment. For too long I had been investing my time and energy in something that would probably never pay off. I was working my butt off for people who didn’t appreciate me, and for a company I no longer respected. I was getting a decent paycheck, but I was going nowhere. It was time to pull out.

It was scary, but I decided that I needed to invest in what I believed in, and what would probably give me the best returns: my family and myself. Has it paid off? Definitely. How so? Well, it’s not like I can put a dollar value on it, but I decided to try and chart it out:

Return On Investment Chart

Note: This is not a scientifically accurate chart.

Right now, being self-employed, I am not making as much money as I was back when I had my full-time job. Plus, insurance is complicated and expensive, taxes are also complicated and expensive, and so many things that were taken care of by “The Man” I have to take care of myself – I need to buy my own equipment and software, be my own tech support, do my own accounting, etc. But, knowing how to do these things myself are part of my investment in me! Not only am I increasing my skill set, but I’m understanding the “big picture” in a whole new way.

What’s also exciting (and scary!) is knowing that my success or failure is completely up to me. I’m not waiting for a lucky break or a big promotion or an awesome boss to help me out. Instead I’m trying to make the best choices possible, and become more and more competent at what I do. Over time, as my portfolio of work has grown, so has my skill-set and confidence. Even though I don’t know where the next client will come from, I never have to worry that I might get fired. And, looking back on my web work for the past four years, I’ve gone from having only a few clients and doing work for trade, to juggling three or four jobs at a time. Hooray!

Then there’s my family. I just want to be with them as much as possible. I’m realizing how this time with my kids is flying by, and I don’t want to miss out. Not only do I want to spend time with them, but I want them to eat healthy, get exercise, be creative, try new things, have fun with their friends, play with their puppy, and stay off those darn devices as much as possible. For me, I feel like that is easier when I’m around.

You know what they say: “Time is money,” which I totally agree with in terms of business, but in terms of flexibility, and freedom, and living your life to the fullest, time is a gift that becomes more precious with each passing day, and so I intend to invest my time as wisely as possible. Because this is was matters most:

My family

My Mom

Mom And Maureen And Me

Growing up my mom was, well, my mom. She was the constant in my life; my security. She was in charge. She took care of my sisters and me, dragged us along on her errands and to her tennis games, made us do our chores, took us to the pool, and helped us with our homework. She was what I knew, and I didn’t think anything of it. I assumed she was like everyone else’s moms. Except for the nights when she and my dad went out…

On those nights there’d be a tuna casserole in the oven, hot rollers heating up in the bathroom, and the smell of nail polish in the air. I would hope and pray that Anna Klein would be our babysitter, and not Mrs. Gluckler. Mrs. Gluckler would make us take a bath and scrub us with a washcloth until we were bright pink, then make us go to bed on time. Anna, on the other hand, let us make fudge and stay up late watching Rosemary’s Baby. Anyway, when our babysitter arrived, my mom would appear – all dressed up in the latest 70s fashion, with freshly polished nails, hair curled and sprayed, bright lipstick on. And I’d think to myself, Wow, she is the most beautiful and glamorous woman in the world! Then off they’d go. I wouldn’t see her until the next morning, and I couldn’t imagine what that version of my mom was like.

When I was a teenager, Mom was still Mom, but I acted like I didn’t need one. Like I didn’t need someone to make me wear snow pants instead of jeans when I went skiing, or make sure I was home by eleven o’clock.

Isn’t it funny though, how as time goes on, Mom stops being ‘just mom’, and becomes a real person? Yes she’s still mom, still always there for you, but you slowly realize how much she’s done for you, and how much you love and appreciate her. You realize how lucky you were to have a mom that was always there, who loved you so much, and always wanted the best for you. You realize that there is nothing more comfortable than spending time with your mom. At least that’s how it was for me.

But it wasn’t until I became a mom that I also really understood the kind of mom my mom was. Until I became a mom, I had NO idea how hard being a mom was. How much my kids would try my patience, push my buttons, ask me impossible questions, put me in uncomfortable situations, and force me make some really hard choices.

My mom had three little girls, three teenage girls (YIKES!), and three girls that went away to college and set off on their own. And through it all she remained trusting, kind, patient, wise, confident, and diplomatic. Don’t get me wrong, I was the boundary-pushing middle child that was always getting grounded and caused her plenty of grief, so she had her moments for sure, but through it all, those qualities rarely wavered.

Three girls on a canon with Mom

Now that I’m a mom, I believe that being a good role model is one of the best things you can do for you kids. I really hope that I’m living my life in a way that inspires my kids to pursue a happy life. Not by how I choose to make a living, but by how I approach each day, interact with other people, and how much I love being with my kids. My mom did that for me, and for that I am forever grateful.

Thanks Mom. I love you!  Happy Mother’s Day!!! I sure wish I had a picture of you from the 70s, all dolled up and ready to go out. Thankfully it remains vivid in my mind. xo

Mom and Me at the Beach

Gaining Momentum

Things have been really humming along lately. I have been working on three new websites and started back part-time at Nordstrom.  I ran out of Wizard of Oz pillows, so I spent two full days last week silk screening more. I sold pillows at a “Handmade Sale” on Sunday, and had some new ones in the collection. And I have been diligently working on my business plan and branding for Suzanne Harrison Home.  Whew!

Sounds crazy, but it’s actually perfect. Mostly. I remember back when Todd started his business, how it seemed like he was always either worried about getting enough work, or worried about how he was going to get all of the work done. And he still does sometimes. Maybe that never goes away.

I’m not really stressing about getting my work done, because I am fortunate right now to have clients with very loose deadlines. But I have put personal deadlines in place to help me manage my workload.

What’s happening to me is that I feel like I’m not making time for the other stuff that needs to get done – like working in the yard, getting our summer planned, putting the ski stuff away, and laundry! I love the work I’m doing right now, and there’s plenty of it, but I’m letting it consume all of my time, putting other things off, letting the little things slide, not meeting some of my personal goals and milestones for the year. But…

Who cares? Does it matter that much? It’s hard to say. I always want to do a thousand times more than is actually possible, but I still get a lot done, and I really try to be systematic about my priorities. Will there be more work after I complete these websites? When should I start looking? Should I block off some time to focus more on Suzanne Harrison Home? Plus, summer is right around the corner – what will this be like when the kids are out of school? I have no idea…

I’ve decided not to overthink it, and just keep plugging away at everything. Making sure I have some billable hours in every day. Making sure I do a little bit of pillow work and/or marketing every day. Making sure I spend only a little bit of time texting, emailing, scheduling, etc. Making sure I’m there for my family, and taking care of myself.

This image came through my email the other day from Tai Lopez, and while I wouldn’t exactly call myself an entrepreneur, I think it’s really great:

10 Habits

#8 makes me laugh because I don’t exactly have a team… Or do I? I am always telling my kids “Solve the problem – don’t make it worse!” Hmm…

 #9 sounds like something to strive for because I am constantly shifting gears between my various “business activities” throughout the day.

But… at the end of the day, I am happy, and hopeful that all of this effort will pay off. It may not be paying big right now, but it’s hard to put a dollar value on the freedom and flexibility I have. Plus I am learning so much about SO MUCH! I’m not sure where I’m going to land with all of this, but I’m excited, and feel like I’m headed in the right direction. Hooray!

Love to Eat Them Mousies…

Our new puppy Chester seems to be growing before our very eyes – getting bigger, bolder, more energetic and adventurous every day.  Which means he needs training!  He’s got ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ down pretty well, but we have a long way to go on everything else.

Last night, as I was saying goodnight to Miles, we were talking about how we needed to train Chester, and he asked, “Why don’t we train cats?” I laughed and said, “Because cats are cats! They have free will! They have no masters. They come and go as they please.” Then we started talking about how dogs and cats are so different, but similar in that they live with humans, wondering why those particular animals have become domesticated.

I told Miles that we should try to watch these documentaries that were on PBS a while back about cats and dogs, tracing their history and domestication, explaining how many of their traits aren’t that different from their wild counterparts. Like hunting. Domestic cats are hunters just like lions are. Our cat Oscar is a great hunter. Unfortunately he’s not much of a killer. He takes a catch and release approach, often releasing gross little rodents in our house. Good grief. Anyway…

Then I started reciting: “Love to eat them mousies. Mousies what I love to eat. Bite they little heads off. Nibble on they tiny feet.” He looked at me pretty funny, and then started laughing. Where did that come from?  I then proceeded to tell Miles about a famous cat cartoon from the seventies where the cat sits on a stool with a guitar, singing that.

I hadn’t thought about that cat in a million years. Isn’t it funny how things get triggered some times? But I loved that cat carton. I loved it so much that when I took Graphic Design as an elective in middle school, I chose that cartoon for my silkscreen project. And I silk-screened many many copies of that silly song-singing kitty. Where those are now, I have no idea, but here’s what they looked like:

Remember that cat? I think it’s so great when things you thought were gone from your memory bank get triggered like that.  Not only did I remember how much I loved that darn cat, but I remembered how much I loved to silk-screen it. And now, here I am, full circle, silk-screening images and words onto pillows.

Life is funny.

Holy Crap, We Got a Puppy!

For months, maybe years now, the kids have been begging for a puppy. In fact, the other day they said that if they could have a puppy and a trampoline, they would gladly give up their iPhones permanently. Well, we’re half way there!  Meet Chester:

Chester is part Boxer, part Beagle, part German Shepherd, part ?, pure cuteness. We got him three weekends ago through PetFinder.com and I really didn’t expect it to feel so good to have a dog in the house again. We are all head-over-heals in love with him. Oh doggies, what you do to our hearts…

Our last dog, Sadie, died about four years ago. She was only eleven, but had stomach cancer, wouldn’t eat, and so we had to put her down. It was one of the hardest and saddest things I’ve ever had to do. I remember on her final day, just before Todd and I left for the vet, Todd was in the kitchen trying to get her to eat a piece of chicken. He said, “Sadie, just eat the chicken. If you’d just eat the chicken we wouldn’t have to go!” Our hearts were broken, but she was skin and bones and just couldn’t eat the chicken. Although later, when we walked into the vet’s office, she mustered up enough energy to growl and bark at the other dogs in the waiting room. A last hurrah for our feisty little beast. Then we said goodbye, went home, and the house felt so different.

The kids were six and eight years old back then, and they loved Sadie so much. We all did. Even though she was a handful at times. But after Sadie died, so many things changed. I didn’t have to shout “Keep the door closed!” a million times a day. In fact we could just leave the back door wide open all summer long. I didn’t have to clean up diarrhea every few days. There was no poop to clean up in the back yard, no expensive dog food to buy, no expensive boarding to arrange for vacations, no dog hair to vacuum up. Such freedom!

But I’m a dog person. I can’t resist them and I love having them around. Dogs and humans were just made to go together. So here we go, this is my fifth dog.

My first dog was Lola. Oh boy did I beg my parents for her, and I got her as a surprise for my tenth birthday. We got her from the ‘hippies’ across the street. Lola’s hippie owner was getting married and his fiancé was allergic, so he gave her to us. She was the best. She would follow me half way to school in the morning and then walk herself back home. Ah, the 70s…

Lola

Next came Libby. Again, I begged for a dog and found her listed in the classified ads. My parents agreed we could get a puppy if it was house trained. Libby fit the bill and was a cutie who grew into a very large, very furry, very stubborn dog who had a knack for getting sprayed by skunks.

Libby

Then in college when, for some strange reason, I was able to get myself a credit card, so I went straight to the pet store and bought the puppy in the window. I named her Wookie one night after watching Star Wars. She was also very furry. Then, in another stroke of genius, I decided to breed her and she had 10 puppies. Wookie was an amazing dog that I could take anywhere with me and she didn’t need a leash. Unfortunately I didn’t think I could take her out to Seattle with me, and so my sister and her husband became her new family. I think she traded up.

Wookie and her 10 puppies!

Then came Sadie, after I moved to Seattle, bought a house and got married. Todd never had had a dog, and he didn’t want a dog, and that made me sad. One night I told him that I didn’t think it was fair that just because I was married I couldn’t get a dog, and he said “Fine, we can get a dog.” So the next day I went to the pound and came home with Sadie. Todd was a little freaked out, especially since she was part pit-bull, but in no time he was completely nutty over her, and I often accused him of being a dog hog.

Sadie

And now we have Chester! My first boy dog. He’s 12 weeks old and ridiculously cute. He’s close to being potty trained, follows the kids around everywhere, and is a completely unbiased snuggler. He’s a mutt, so no telling what he’ll grow up to be like, but I’m pretty confident he’s going to be an amazing member of our family. Although I think the cat would disagree.

Have Faith in the Timing of Your Life

Spring is near

Hopeful signs of Spring are popping up everywhere, but the month of March is in full swing and the weather seems to have gone mad. We’re getting a lot of rain, mixed in with a little hail, mixed in with crazy wind, mixed in with some sunny warm days, or a lot of days just seem to have it all. Is it just a coincidence that this crazy weather seems to totally match my frame of mind? I’m not so sure.

Ever since I decided to change my pillow business name to Suzanne Harrison Home I’ve been on a total high. I’ve been working on my branding, my business model, a new website, and new products. I’ve been cutting and sewing while listening to on-line marketing classes. On top of that, I’ve got two freelance web jobs with clients I love, and leads on some possible new clients. And it feels great. Usually.

Sometimes though, I just can’t sleep. I toss and turn and I’m full of self-doubt. I wonder where I might be in my career if I hadn’t quit my corporate job. I obsess about the web jobs I didn’t get. I feel poor. I feel jealous of my friends buying new cars, remodeling their homes, taking amazing vacations. I know it’s irrational, but it creeps in, usually at night, and drives me crazy.

In the morning though, I have a couple of cups of coffee (my ‘happy juice’), get the kids ready to go, then I walk to school with Miles, usually in the rain. Then, I’m back on track, full of confidence and enthusiasm for everything I’m doing. Sometimes I go for a quick run, and that’s when all kinds of ideas come into my brain, that I write down as soon as I get home. Never in my corporate career did I feel this type of excitement for the work I was doing. But I sure did love those steady paychecks, raises, healthcare, and paid vacations.

I don’t know who said it, or where I saw it, but somewhere I saw this quote:

Have faith in the timing of your life.

And it’s become kind of a mantra for me. I repeat it in my head when I’m running, or I say it to myself when I can’t sleep. It’s seems to help push out the jealousy and self-doubt, and bring in my appreciation for all I’ve done, and all I have: amazing kids, a hard-working and loving husband, healthy parents and in-laws, a great house, a beautiful city, fun vacations, etc, etc, blah blah blah. Because I truly believe in this quote I saw somewhere else:

Gratitude makes room for more blessings.

Jumping out of your regular old steady job to start something new is stressful – especially at mid-life, when it seems like everyone around you is reaping the rewards of sticking with their careers. I hate when jealousy and self-doubt creep in. But I’m so very excited about everything I’m working on.

Source: from a page in the Design Within Reach catalog.

Let’s hope that March goes out like a lamb. Because I will be more than ready to welcome the sun and warmth and all that amazing newness that comes with Spring.

I ♥ California

Palm Trees at the Rose Bowl Flea Market

Every year Todd asks me what I want for Christmas, and every year I say “Same thing as last year please!” Because for the past several years Todd has given me a trip to Palm Springs for Christmas. My friend Leslie gets the same great gift from her husband. We got back from this year’s trip just last week, and now I’m writing about it, like I do every year…

Like always, we stayed at the Ace Hotel, which has become a familiar home away from home. But even though it may seem like we take the same vacation every year, every year ends up being very different. Different people join us, and we do different things. This year there were five moms on the trip and we split our time between Palm Springs and Los Angeles – three days in Palm Springs, three days in L.A., six days away from reality, and six days of bliss. 

Every year, however, we do consistently rave about how much we love California.  Going there in February is the perfect contrast to the Seattle winter gloom. California feels so wonderfully warm, dry and brown, with beautiful cacti, succulents, joshua trees, citrus trees, and palm trees.

Palm Springs was the lazy first half of our vacation. Although we did swim, and we did expend plenty of energy talking about all of the silly things our husbands do (and don’t do), followed up with an agreement that we all have pretty amazing husbands, who were, after all, taking care of the kids (and dealing with Valentine cards!) while we were sipping cocktails poolside.

For the second half of the trip however, we put on some miles, walking around different neighborhoods in L.A. in our flip-flops. We got an airbnb house in a great neighborhood called Echo Park, perched on top of a really steep hill, with a great view of the city, and a great spot just down the hill to grab coffee and breakfast.

On Sunday we spent most of the day at the Rose Bowl Flea Market, something I have wanted to do for years, and it lived up to all of my expectations. It’s huge and there is so much great stuff! I felt like I went a little kooky buying so much, but really I got some incredible bargains (really!), and as they only take cash, I could only go as far as my wad of cash would take me. It was so much fun talking to the vendors, bargaining with them, feeling like I was getting such great deals on my new cowboy belt, salad tongs, necklace, linen tea towels, buttons, and treats for the kids. Oh, and we had a celebrity spotting – Emily Henderson of HGTV!

Then for the next two days we cruised around Venice Beach, the Silver Lake neighborhood, Manhattan Beach, and West Hollywood. We ate some amazing food and talked a blue streak about everything. I was incredibly inspired by all of the beautiful boutiques and galleries. Everything was styled and presented so perfectly, and I took tons of pictures of tags, labels, packaging, displays, pillows, linens, and more. I’m really excited to sort through it all and see what inspires me for my own branding, my pillows, and for SuzanneHarrisonHome.com.

I got home around 10pm on Tuesday night, and the kids were waiting up for me. I was so excited to see them, and they jumped into my arms and gave me huge hugs (even though they’re way too big for that!) and it felt great to be home. Walking with Miles to school the next morning, I loved listening to his constant chatter, telling me all about their ski weekend and everything I’d missed. Then I went for a run down to Golden Gardens, so thankful to be back in my wet, green, lush, beautiful home, surrounded by evergreens, fresh air, mountains and water. Ahhhhhh…..

Here are a few photos. Notice the lack of clouds? Incredible.

Swimming Pool at the ACE

The Rose Bowl Flea Market

Bikers with Surfboards in Venice Beach

Venice Beach Shopping AreaAbundance in California
Leather Pillows at Heath Ceramics in LABeautiful Leather Furniture at Heath Ceramics in LAView from the Observatory in LAManhattan Beach from the Pier

A Fresh Start

News definition

I couldn’t decide what to call this post: “A New Beginning” or “A Fresh Start” or “Starting Over”?? All of those phrases sounded so redundant to me. Aren’t all beginnings new? All starts fresh? Well, kind of, I suppose. But what is truly new? Everything stems from something else. Right? Too deep? Why am I even bringing this up?

Because I am embarking on something new, but not totally new. I’m taking everything I’ve done so far, and I’m doing it again, slightly different this time, and hopefully better. I’m making a fresh start! Here’s the backstory…

At the beginning of the year I got a message through Etsy (a ‘convo’ as Etsy calls it) from a woman who said she loved the ‘Words to Live By‘ pillows and was wondering if I’d be interested in selling them on consignment in her store, The Handmade Showroom, at Pacific Place down town. I wrote her back and said ‘Yes!’ and we scheduled a meeting to talk about the details.

At the meeting I showed her the ‘Words’ pillows, as well as the ‘ Wizard of Oz’ pillows, as well as some potholders I’d made, and to my surprise she wanted them all. Her enthusiasm for my work was such an ego boost, but even more, the consulting she gave me was invaluable. We talked about pricing, and craft shows, and wholesale, and labels, and finally she said, “So tell me about the name ‘So Fashion.’”

I explained to her that it was something my son used to say, and that it is a combination of “old fashioned” and “so fashionable” and a play on the idea that everyone has their own way of interpreting things. When I was done she looked a bit concerned and said, “I’m just going to come out and say it…” and I interrupted her and said, “You think it’s weird. It is weird, isn’t it?” And she said something like, “No… I think it’s really important to have a name that you connect with, which obviously you do, but I also think it’s also important to have a name that your customers connect with, and I think they’d have a hard time connecting with that name. It took you a long time to explain it to me and I think it would be better if people could grasp it more quickly. And I have to be honest with you, because there’s a lot of stuff from overseas on Etsy, I thought maybe English wasn’t your first language.”

What a relief! Finally someone said what I really wanted to hear, and confirmed my doubts about the name. So we talked some more and I explained how I had considered using my own name, but nothing sounded right to me, like “Suzanne Harrison Designs” or “Suzanne Harrison Studio” and she said what about “Suzanne Harrison Home?” and I said, “That’s it! I love it!” Why hadn’t I thought of that?

So I went home and bought the domain name SuzanneHarrisonHome.com. Then I made some labels with my new name and the care instructions, and brought them back to the store. Then I built a quick website to support what was on the labels: SuzanneHarrisonHome.com. Then I got out a piece of poster-board paper and started writing ideas and to dos on sticky notes and sticking them on the board.

It might sound a bit impulsive to change my name, just like that, but in the instant she said “Suzanne Harrison Home” it completely resonated with me. It felt right. It felt so much more like me. I love that using my name makes it personal, and that adding ‘home’ includes a word I love, that represents the thing I probably value most in my life.

And it feels like a flood of energy has been released in me. Like this was the trigger I needed to start over, so to speak; to do things again, better, more deliberately, with the knowledge I have from everything I did the first time. I have a ton to do, which feels overwhelming, but exciting at the same time, and I’m not going to rush through it. I’m going to be organized and take it one step at at time. I’m not in a rush. I’m finally going to make a business plan – not a super detailed one, more of a manifesto + high level plan. I want to create some new pillows, but I want to create some other products too, get some professional branding, and the list goes on, and on…

This time of year is always about newness. The year is new, spring is starting to make an appearance, “Out with the old and in with the new” is in the air, it’s a new moon, and the start of the Chinese New Year. This year it’s the year of the fire monkey. I think it’s interesting (and perfect) that all of this is happening right now. And how excellent that this article about the year of the monkey on Refinery29 says:

… the Year of the Fire Monkey is a great year for fresh starts: “If you’ve been on the sidelines, waiting to start a new business or jump into a new hobby or back to school, it’s a very supportive year to do those kinds of things.”

Welcome to the new year — embrace it, and see what new paths it leads you to.

Here’s to fresh starts! Happy new year!!

And check out my pillows at the Handmade Showroom…

Suzanne Harrison Home Words to Live By Pillows at the Handmade Showroom in Seattle

Suzanne Harrison Home Wizdom of Oz Pillows at the Handmade Showroom in Seattle

Ready, Set, Organize!

The other day, as I was cooking dinner and listening to Fresh Air, my ears perked up when I heard the speaker, a linguist named Geoff Nunberg, talk about his pick for the word of 2015. I was expecting it to be a word related to iPhones or technology, and was surprised to hear that the word he had chosen was “gig” which he described as “the name for a new economic order.”

I always thought of the word “gig” in terms of musicians playing a show, but I guess now it’s also used to describe freelancing, and it’s the wave of the future.  Nunberg says:

The lifetime job is history, we’re told, a victim of technology and the logic of the market. Instead, careers will be a patchwork of temporary projects and assignments, with the help of apps and platforms with perky names like FancyHands, Upwork and TaskRabbit.

He also says:

As the head of a freelancers’ organization puts it, we’re no longer just lawyers, or photographers, or writers. Instead, we’re part-time lawyers-cum-amateur photographers who write on the side.

Like me! I’m a part-time web-devloper-cum-pillow-maker who blogs on the side. I had no idea I was part of this “gig economy.” Cool!  I think…

Because while I love my patchwork life, it can be pretty stressful sometimes not to have a steady income with steady benefits, and it’s really hard to keep everything organized. What should I work on today? How do I find time to get my bookkeeping done, my taxes paid, my inventory up-to-date, my kids fed, my house cleaned, my emails answered, my projects done, and find new work and sell pillows and write in my blog?

That is why my word for 2016 is Orgainize! And that is why I’ve spent a lot of January setting the stage to be more organized in 2016.  

What have I done?  So far, just these three things…

Thing 1:  I purged!  

I cleaned out my desk, and my files, and my laundry room, my fabric stash, my closet, and my kitchen. I was fast and I was ruthless and I got rid of so much crap. I had actually been holding onto fabric that I had gotten when I worked at a fabric store way back in the 80s. I had two blenders! I had pay-stubs from the 90s. It took quite a bit of time, and I often wondered if this was the best use of my time, but I was kind of on auto-pilot. And then I was done. Sure, I could have kept going and tackled the living room, the shed, the bookshelves, the freezer, the list goes on, but this felt good. And right. Now I had room to organize.

Thing 2:  I created my 5 x 5 Plan.

What is a 5 x 5 Plan? I didn’t know until a few weeks ago when I came across Natalie MacNeil’s website She Takes on the World, and her post Create Your 5 x 5 Plan for 2016. In it she suggests that you write down five goals to work towards in 2016, and then write down five milestones for accomplishing these goals, giving each a deadline. I loved the idea, and I appreciated her emphasis on being flexible with your plan. That if an opportunity comes your way, it’s okay to replace a goal with something else you really want to pursue, and that “You can complete a goal simply by crossing it off your list.” She also suggests you create a vision board for each goal, which I haven’t done, although the visions are very clear in my head.

Here’s what my 5 x 5 plan looks like for this year:

Suzannes 5x5 Plan

Thing 3:  I created a time management plan for 2016.

For me, I find that I’m best at getting things done when I write them down and then have them visible, like my sticky boards. So I decided to create a loose schedule for the week, and try as best as possible to stick to it. I know things will fluctuate and I’ll need to make some big adjustments for the summer, but I really want to maximize my time by doing laundry only once a week, planning meals and grocery shopping just once a week, and not procrastinating on bookkeeping and other things.  We’ll see how it goes, and again, I’m gong to remain flexible and make adjustments along the way.

Here’s what my time management plan looks like:

Suzannes Time Management Plan 2016

One other little thing I did was set a timer on my phone to go off every weekday at 12:30pm, to remind myself to take a short break. To meditate. To stretch and maybe lift some weights or do some sit ups. I spend way too much time in a chair in front of the computer, and so I need to make sure I get away and move my body and still my mind for a little bit.

My contract job at Nordstrom ended recently and even though I have some freelance jobs going on, I’m feeling a little anxious about the amount of time I’m spending on all of this organizing. My hope is that in the future I will be so organized that I won’t need any significant breaks, and that I’ll have enough “padding” in my bank to feel better about doing the un-billable work that needs to get done in between gigs.

Interested in learning more about the gig economy? This is pretty interesting: Freelancing in America: A National Survey of the New Workforce.