Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day 21! I Made It!

Tonight is the last night of my 21 Day Challenge to do something every day for my blog and hoped for new photo stationary business. Some days I did more than others, but each day I did something toward my challenge- and I learned a lot- about myself, my software, my goals, and my at home working habits.

I have now cleaned up my office after getting my first stationary order in the mail and have spent time making notes about what I learned during my challenge. There is still a little more to process so I'll share my notes soon. One thing I can tell you is I need to continue to set a schedule of work and to honor it.

 Although some days I probably could have done a little more for my challenge, I am very happy with the progress I have made and my challenge met it's goal of developing a working habit at home. Next, is to fine tune that habit to better fit with the rest of my life.

Over the next five days I will be taking a break from blogging while I spend time with family. I am on vacation from both the 9-5 and from blog and business. So until then, ...stay tuned.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day 17 & 18

My time on Day 17 was spent taking a few photos for marketing and trying to figure out what to charge for the stationary I just finished. There is SO much involved with trying to account for supplies, timing, equipment, etc.  AND, we have the flu in our house so the mom in me was doing mom things. So much for Day 17.

Day 18:  I just got back from shipping out my very first stationary order! YEA! 
The rest of today will be spent cleaning up the house from the fall out of me being absorbed with getting the order done.  AND  of course, with doing something each day for my 21 Day Challenge.  I sort of plan to take a computer break for the next day or two though, so if my check-ins are short, or absent, I am here to tell you that I am working on my challenge. I need to read, write down some post-order notes, and generally regroup.

I feel really good about this challenge right now.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 16- is over...finally.

Does anybody else have a love/hate relationship
with technology? 

Tonight has been one of those nights. I thought I was going to be done with my stationary order on time last night. That didn't happen....and I don't even remember why.

And tonight all I had to do was one set of 20 notecards; 5 each of 4 photo designs. But nooooooooooooooo,
my computer graphics program had to disappear. Yes, that's right, GONE!

It took a lot of searching around through computer files, a couple visits to Serif.com for a patch and a few times of restarting my computer and TWO HOURS later, I was back in business again.  UGH!

I love what computers can do, when they work. I hate the time they eat up and the frustration when they don't work. I must say, I was afraid I was going to have to take it in for repairs or that all of my past two weeks work was also lost. So overall, I am pleased it is all back safe and sound. And I am really pleased that I figured it out myself!  :0)               I'd say that is progress.

And yes, I am now officially finished with my order! YEA! The only thing left to do is take a few photos for my files and marketing, tie it up in pretty bows and box it up for shipping to be taken on Saturday morning. 

Now, to put a different focus on
days 17-21 of my challenge.

I hope you enjoyed the colorful post tonight. I had to do something to get out of this computer techno "why does it have to happen now" funk.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 14 & 15

Phew! Last night I was crusing along making notecards and didn't post.  I really had fun with the artistic editing of the photos I was working with.  I am very pleased with how things turned out and once I "regroup" I will post a few photos of the completed sets.

And although the artistic creating took a little longer than the simple touches I was making on the notepads, the whole process was much easier! Well, once I got the layout and print figured out correctly.  There is a lot less cutting with the notecards than notepads. 

I am happy, very happy, to say that I will complete my order on schedule by the end of this evening. I have 1 1/2 sets of notecards to finish up-and then....Done!  The only thing that will be left is a few finishing touches of few ribbons to tie the sets together and get them in the mail.  YEA!

This has been an awesome learning experience in time management, efficient work flow, and use of my software and I hope to take a little time tomorrow night and recap those lessons a litte for myself. When I have given that a proper thought, I'll share what I learned.  Then, it's back to focusing on blogs and other things for the final days of my challenge.  Although, I have been looking into different website design things....it hasn't been all stationary making over the last couple weeks.

For now, it's off to the 9-5.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 13

There are stacks of stationery piling up in my office. Someone might think I am in business. This is also my first ever mobile post. I turned off my laptop before I posted. I might even try to download my calender. Oops. There is no picture icon, oh well.
Major success as i finally figured out note cards on this software. Well, long day today and this post is less than creative....I'm off to sleep! (posting by testing is awkward!)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day 12

It seems sort of silly to write that I am not going to write tonight.  This is just a check in post for my 21 Day Challenge to do something everyday for blog and hoped for new business. 
I have spent a lot of time focusing on getting a stationary order ready.  Tonight is no different.  There is also some reading in Problogger in my future tonight.
Then, to be honest- it is time for a little popcorn, something refreshing to go with it, and a little TV.
Back to the 9-5 tomorrow and
tonight I get a little time off.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day 11

No calendar, no post.  Busy, busy, busy. And yes, it's all challenge related, well mostly.

You just gotta love livin'
a full, happy life.
I have to wonder though,
what do you do when you have
36 hours worth of things to do
in a 24 hour day?!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Day 10

Here I am at the half way point. There are still so many things I hope to accomplish with the blogging aspect of this.

The next 21 Day Challenge is already identifying itself and will hopefully begin after the new year. It has definitely helped to have this public accountability to do something every day.

Tonight marks the anniversary of the first date with the man who was to become my husband. This past year was our 25th wedding anniversary. We enjoyed dinner out tonight and now he is out raking snow off the roof and I am here, blogging, but not for long. It was nice to have a break, no matter how brief.

I have already done some general printer and cutter maintenance and some notepad cutting.  I have worked my promised hour and I am keeping it at that tonight. 

I am really enjoying the fish, too.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Just For Fun!

Click on the fish bowl to feed the fish!
They will follow your curser.

Day 9

No calendar tonight, just a quick check in. I made good progress on stationary order last night and should finish up the notepads tonight, at least designs and printing.  I still have to cut everything.

Although I am considering checking in with my friendly local print shop to see what they would charge for cutting. Although,....if I am to truly call these handmade stationary, can I take them into a print shop to be cut? There is one shop that might have cutters available for public use.  It might be a huge time saver in the long run. Oh, there is also a scrap booking place that has a public workshop space. I can call them, too. 

My next step for the notepads is getting binder glue on them. Then I am on to the note cards.  I already have some ideas for these.This has been a long but fun process. And really, it was only long because I spent a lot of time "playing" with designs. Lesson learned here is I need to get to know my software possibilities inside and out. Maybe if I keep saying it enough, it will sink in.  :0)

I'm off to my printer and rotary cutter station!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Day 8

Here I am again, getting a late start. After work I had some shopping to do and then dinner to make, plus making a dish to pass for a holiday party at work tomorrow. Oh, and then all the dishes from dinner and holiday party food prep.

That's ok. This will help me limit my time to one hour. I am having a hard time with that and going over my time. Then I feel like "work" is all I do. Oh, I know....boo hoo!

I am writing tonight before I actually work, well it is also part of this challenge.  As soon as I am finished here I will finalize a couple more notepad designs for my order and get them printed out.  Last night was very productive, even though I was watching TV while I played with my software.

I am learning all the time. I opened one photo file and tried just about every filter on it that my Serif software offers. There are some pretty awesome effects that are possible and I am sure I haven't found all the creative combinations yet. When I am done with this order, I will do the same thing with one picture. I think I will set the page up to do six pictures/page and then apply a different type filter/effect to each of the six and print it all out to have a visual comparison on file.

I am anxious to move this process along and get some things printed tonight. Progress feels good.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 7

The computer is better today. I have been able to download some new photos for my order and do some other work, too. I am not sure if this counts, but I do the simple downloading while watching some tv. I am having a hard time coming from work and going to work when I get home. So watching a little tv while doing the downloading seems to be a little more relaxing.  Truthfully, I am watching as I type this post, too.

Today I have been trying to decide what information I should track for my orders and in what level of detail.  Sooner or later I would like to set up an access and/or excel file.  But for now paper files will work. Any suggestion or ideas would be appreciated.

My priority right now is to make the 21 Day Challenge a success and to complete the order I have with good quality and in good time. There is the basic success of actually doing something each day and ultimately the success will be when I continue to do something each day, even after the challenge is completed.

I had planned to get something into Zazzle and/or Cafepress sometime during this challenge. I will still try as long as I get the order done. 

I sure hope one day I look back on all these posts and laugh at how much time I spent planning what to do instead of just doing it. But this is my way. Life is a process, so is learning a new business.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day 6

Aaaaahhhhhh!!!  My computer is failing me tonight. Can't open my software, having troubles online....just checking in quickly to say Day 6 is causing me frustration, but I'm still working on keepin' on.

I have been trying to download my software and explore some of its possibilities and my computer keeps freezing. I am getting off the computer before it fails for good.  Time to read a little, I guess.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day 5

Yes! Not only am I developing some sort of working pattern and rhythm with my photo stationary, I am learning more about my Serif Plus X4program.

Learning my Software
For instance, I used to set up my 3x3 notepads like I did on Publisher, using the layout to set up multiple squares on one page...being careful that each square was exactly the same size......

Now, with Serif I set the custom size to 3x3, create my first pad page, then if I want to have mulitple page designs per pad, I just keep adding pages and design each pad page independent of the others. When I want to print a test page, I can tell my printer to print one page, and it will print one 8.5x11" piece of paper with up to six different 3x3 pad pages on it.

If I like the way things turned out, I can continue printing them out that way, or if I want, I can tell it to print out...say, page four (or whatever) and it will print out an 8.5x11" piece of paper with six 3x3 images of page four.

This might not be news for some people who have used more than Publisher for desktop publishing, but I have not and it is wonderful news for me. And I love it!

I am also learning that while I love my rotary cutter, sooner or later I will need to get a bigger, better one. For small tasks, what I have is fine. For larger orders, well, it takes a bit of time.

The Business of Business
The other thing that seems to be working itself out is how to record each part of the order I am working on. There are benefits to tracking the details of each notepad, etc.  In addtion to tracking my output in terms of money and time which I will need to know when I set up an e-store; tracking the settings of each notepad is helping me in two other ways. One, it will be easier to recreate a design. Two, it is helping me learn the differences between settings and how things look. I have set up a file with one copy of each thing I have created along with the notes about each design and order.

So, to recap Day 5,  I had a good day today.  I followed my discovery from Day 4 and set a priority, and stuck to it. I did not allow myself to get distracted and I was not overwhelmed by trying to do too much at once. 

Tomorrow I begin holiday shopping. Between that and my regular 9-5, I may only get one hour a night for my challenge. However, I believe that if I make that hour count and stick to my plan, it can be a productive hour.

So until tomorrow, good night for now.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Day 4

 Oh, it is becoming rapidly clear that there are a few reasons I keep losing my focus and my momentum.

1. I stop doing things. I had been on a roll with my photo stationary back in August and September. Then I took time off in October when my dad passed. It was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Then I went on a 10 day excursion for a conference, including a couple days off for vacation. Also reasonable things to do.  The problem is, now I am trying to get back to where I was and I can't just pick up where I left off. My office was a mess, and without going into detail, there have been other issues, too. I never have this type of problem at my 9-5. But then again, I am at my 9-5 almost everyday and using my tools of the trade almost every day for that 9-5.  If I am ever to get where I am going, I need to do the same here.  Commitment! Just do it. Even when there is not an order to process, use the tools! Practice, craft, create.

2.  Once I get rolling again, I get inspired. Then I get excited and thoughts start coming in from every angle. My mind won't shut off and I begin to feel consumed. I want to try every new idea at once and I begin to feel derailed. Focus! Usually problems come because I don't want to forget something. I think I will use 3 x 5 cards to write down key ideas I want to try, later, and put them in an idea box. 

3. Doing too much is a problem, too. As much as I need to "just do it," I don't/shouldn't do everything all the time. I have said I would give this one to two hours a day for now, and I am spending considerably more than that. It is important to look at other blogs, read about blogging, do my class (I am really bad at doing this), write in my blog, work on my stationary, ...., YET the time spent on these things needs to be divided up better. I need to schedule my time and stick to it. I do it at work, I should be able to do it here. I have two hours a day at the most. Prioritize!  Decide each day what will get me where I need to be and stick to it.

Well, there you have if for today. Three things that will hopefully help me with the rest of my 21 Day Challenge, and with my future business.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Day 3

Just a short check in tonight to say I'm workin' on it.

Busy with shopping and stationary design tonight.  Lots of photos to download and gifts to make.

Busy, busy, busy!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Whooohoooo- Day 2

A Challenge Can Be Reassuring
Well, here I am again. There is something reassuring about knowing that I have set this time aside each day. It takes away some of the wonder about what I should do when I get home after work. Should I clean, should I watch tv, should I stop at the store on the way home? 
NO! I am going home to take care of the dogs, have a small, but healthy dinner and I am going to allow myself the pleasure of focusing on learning how to do "blog" things and to enjoy the creativity of working with my photography and publishing software.  And writing, I really do love writing. Then somewhere during the evening I will spend time with my husband and daughter.
Now, sooner or later, I will have to do some cleaning, laundry, holiday shopping, and all the other things that make my house a home. And I am ok with that. For now, I am grateful that somehow my evening is less chaotic with this blog and business time specfically set aside to focus on the 21 Day Challenge.

Less Reassuring
Earlier tonight I spent time on the online blog class. I confess I am still overwhelmed with the notion of setting up a self-hosted blog. I am not quite there, yet. I have to wonder if a hands on class is what I need. I have no real technical background to glean from.  Perserverence will have to be the word for this part of blogging.

Other Progress Today
I figured I would be working on my photography and stationary more over the next 21 days and now there is no doubt. A dear friend has just put in an order for some holiday gifts. I am so excited! I am thrilled to be able to create something for a friend and I am thankful that now I can't put it aside, which I might be inclined to do if there was no one waiting for it.

I spent time during the day looking at other blogs again. There are so many wonderfully creative people out there. I feel slightly intimidated and also hopeful. I know that I cannot be them, nor should I be. I see that there are so many different styles and I will find my own. (especially if I can figure out how to self-host and design blogs or at least find someone who can see my vision).

And Tomorrow
Tomorrow I begin to work on designing my friend's gifts, continue reading and/or class, and remain open to my next step.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

...Go! Day 1

Today is Day 1 of my
21 Day Challenge to do something every day for blog and business. It is also my husband's birthday. So my word and focus for today is committment, with a little bit of "presence" thrown in.

"Committment" because I choose to honor my committment to my challenge AND also to spend time with my husband to celebrate his birthday.
"Presence" because I am trying to "be present" and give my full attention to whatever I am doing. That is not always an easy thing to do when I have put so much on my agenda.

So a full day of work at my 9-5, an evening of pizza and birthday cookies with husband, daughter, and granddaughter, and now... my challenge.

My goal tonight is not to write an amazing post, although I wish I could. My goal is simply to be here and to write as a first step toward creating a habit of daily activity. And, I will read Chapter Four, Blog Writing, from Problogger before I go to bed.

I have an idea hatching about tomorrow night's post, but it is a little too philosophical for me tonight and I need to think it out. My plan for Day 2 is to make a blog post and to begin working on some photo stationary designs for a friend who is giving them as holiday gifts.

Stay tuned!