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Blog — "business"

Cutting Ties With Negativity

Heidi Shenk "business" daily life

A little over a year ago, we returned from our epic adventure in Australia. At that time, I wrote about perspective. Spending three and a half days in the desert surrounded by red rock and enveloped in heat was perhaps an almost spiritual experience as it was juxtaposed with the hustle and bustle of life we had just experienced in Sydney. When we returned, we had been refreshed from our travels and were ready for a new start. I wanted to stay on the positive side of things, as the positivity that we encountered in Australia was almost contagious. And to stay positive, I needed to cut out the negative aspects that were infiltrating my life.

Uluru Kata Tjuta

1 // I thought about the people that brought negativity to my life, and if they weren't positive influences in my daily life, I cut the ties without looking back. I evaluated these situations in both my personal and business life. Some of the situations were one-sided relationships, where I contributed too much with little respect back, people that put me down or dismissed the validity of me or my business on a regular basis, friendships that weren't really friendships to begin with, or other people who just generally never had a positive outlook on life. I worried that I would offend people by cutting these ties, but I ultimately decided that keeping my life positive was more important than the possibility of offending people.

2 // I introduced new activities into my daily life that made me feel good about myself. I started exercising more frequently, waking up earlier, spending time for myself, eating lunch outside, partaking in other activities in the evening that didn't involve tv. Changing my daily habits made me feel more positive because I was getting more out of each day.

3 // I pursued product ideas for my business without worrying about whether or not I'd be stepping on others' toes. Over the past few years, I had a lot of ideas stewing around in my brain, but I always worried that people would think that I was copying or piggybacking off of an already used idea even though I had began developing a similar concept months before. In fact, I even had some strange scenarios, where other people in my business network would elude to me doing so in a very passive aggressive way. A lot of times, this caused me to not follow through with an idea that I'd been perfecting in my idea book, for fear that I'd offend someone. As a result, I was feeling creatively stifled and extremely negative about myself. I was allowing others to dictate what I did or did not do with my business, and that wasn't okay.

I realized that I should still be able to follow through with the ideas that I had thought of even if others produced something similar before I had had the chance to make my idea public. Letting others dictate what I was or was not doing with my business was making me feel horrible, so I let go of the fear of being perceived as a bad person and dove head first into some really fantastic projects I'd been brainstorming for months and months. My printed pencils were one of those things, and I'm so glad that I just went for it!

4 // I started being spontaneous. Meet up for drinks on a random Monday night with neighbors? Sure, why not! Take up a last minute offer for complimentary tickets for a dinner cruise? Absolutely! Take Lilah for a walk along the water after dinner, even though she already went on a walk in the park? Most definitely! Decide to try out a new corner bar at 9:00 on a week night? Yup! Decide to share a studio space with a letterpress printer? Heck yes!

Being spontaneous is something that would give me a fit of anxiety previously because I didn't have a plan. While I'm still not entirely over that, I've learned to let go and just do things because I feel like it, not because I need to follow some societal rule that you can't get out of your house on a weeknight. And doing so has made me a much happier and positive person.

While I still have days where I like to wallow a little (but don't we all!), after making these changes in my life, I have spent the last year feeling much more free as an individual. As my favorite set of pencils say, I do what I want!

Have you had to cut ties with negativity in your life? What sorts of things did you do to bring more positivity to your daily life?

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Getting and Staying Organized

Heidi Shenk "business"

When I first started my business, I have to admit I had no idea what I was doing. My idea of being organized was throwing all of my receipts into a drawer. That was all perfectly fine until year two came around and preparing taxes became that much more difficult as I had to sort through said receipt drawer.

Office Organization

1 // Nate Berkus File Folders, 2 // IKEA Letter Tray, 3 // Greenroom Binder, 4 // Sugar Paper Daily Planner, 5 // Striped Expandable File


When I made the transition to running my business full time, I also made the decision to be a lot more organized in those less exciting areas of accounting and record keeping. I now use a combination of standard office items to keep track of receipts, invoices, and Etsy records as well as Outright. Outright has been one of the most useful tools I've used because it automatically enters data from all of my online sales through Etsy, my website, and PayPal. In addition, it helps me calculate quarterly estimated taxes and categorizes all of my expenses. They also have an app I use to keep track of gas mileage as well as snap photos of receipts.

I use all of the items pictured above to stay organized throughout the month with a very simple system. I file papers in the letter tray as I go and use the planner to keep on top of due dates and reminders. At the end of each month, I update anything I need to in Outright, I print any records I need, and quickly file away my receipts and invoices where necessary. While this aspect of my business is the part I dislike the most, getting and staying organized with a very simple system makes the process much less painful than it used to be.

Do you struggle with staying organized in the less creative aspects of your business? What are some of your favorite tools to stay organized?

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5 Strategies for Creating a Work at Home Routine

Heidi Shenk "business"

 photo credit  Death to the Stock Photo

photo credit Death to the Stock Photo

Here I am, a little over a year into this working from home thing, and I finally feel like I have established some routines. Recently, one of my college roommates and I were chatting about working from home. She just transitioned from an office job of seven years to freelancing at home after the birth of her first child. I was suggesting a few things to her that I thought might be useful based on what has worked for me in the past year, and thought some of my suggestions may be relevant for others in the same situation.

1 / Set a schedule the night before. One of the last things I try to do before I go to bed or finish up my work day is to set a schedule for the next day. Scheduled reminders for activities I need to get done help to keep me on track, and not having to plan things out in the morning makes it easier to get started on the day. There are a plethora of ways this can be done, but I simply set schedule alerts in my iPhone calendar app. As a bonus, these sync to my computer and iPad, and I can also sync with Andrew's calendar when need be.

2 / Choose a couple non-negotiables and center your day around them. Non-negotiables are things that have to happen every day. For me, it's getting showered and dressed by 9am at the latest, exercise, fulfilling orders, and eating lunch. Each of these items needs to get done every day, and if I stray from them I notice that I am less productive. My non-negotiables are the constants that I can use to schedule the rest of my day around.

3 / Give yourself breaks or one free day to recharge. I found that while it's much more productive to have a routine, I also have a hard time sticking to the routine if I don't cut myself a little bit of slack. Throughout the day, I give myself a couple short 15 minute breaks to separate activities. Usually it involves an afternoon coffee or snack, some quick reading, or that sort of activity. Additionally, I often leave my Friday afternoons completely open, and I use the time to either recharge or get creative.

4 / Make manageable to do lists. While having a schedule and a to do list helps me keep a routine, I also notice that putting too many things on my plate for the day is bad news. I shut down and become completely unproductive. I try to pick the most pressing task first, and then I add one or two tasks that have been sitting on the back burner.

5 / Schedule bigger tasks for times that are more productive. My routine is set up based on how productive I am during particular times of day. I am not a morning person, so I set more familiar and less intensive tasks for the morning hours. I read blogs, respond to blog comments, fulfill orders, and other such things in the morning while I'm drinking my coffee. I leave my afternoon hours open for larger wholesale orders, custom work, and designing because I know I am much more productive at that time.

Do you work from home? What are some of your best strategies for creating and sticking to a routine? I'd love to hear any other suggestions you may have. While I have found much more balance in my daily schedule, I'm still not perfect!

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It's My Birthday!

Heidi Shenk "business" "shop"

It will be hard to beat last year's birthday. It was my 30th birthday, and I got to celebrate it in Byron Bay, Australia. So many people dread turning 30, but I was glad for it to arrive. 30 didn't disappoint. It was one of the best years I've had so far, and I'm looking forward to yet another fantastic year ahead.

I'd love to celebrate with you, so I'm extending a special offer for you all, while I take the day off to enjoy my birthday. The coupon code BIRTHDAY20 can be used here on my website or in my Etsy shop to receive 20% off any order.

Thanks for being part of one of the many reasons 30 was such a great year! Here's to hoping 31 will be even more amazing! :)

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New Father's Day Cards

Heidi Shenk "business" "cards" "etsy shop"

With Father's Day around the corner on June 15th, I thought I'd share the new

Father's Day cards

that I've added to the shop this year. I feel as though I'm finally happy with the cohesive nature of my shop with the addition of some of my latest work. Again I've opted for bold colors and simple designs that provide something both recognizable and relative for most of us.


While Father's Day tends to be a less card heavy holiday than Mother's Day, I still feel that it's important to recognize the dads in our lives. When I was growing up, my dad was the stay at home parent for quite some time, so I have many fond memories as a child in a different way than many people may have had, and for that I am incredibly thankful. While I didn't crash the family car and I rarely text my dad, one thing that I do enjoy doing with him when I visit home is sitting and chatting over a good cup of coffee at my mom's bakery.

What are your favorite things to do with your dad? Did any of you have a stay at home dad?

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