Back to Business! On Managing Distractions

I’m a horrible distraction to myself.  It’s true.

You’re probably wondering how can a person be their own distraction? Well, you’re reading her blog. As a matter of fact, THIS blog is a tool of distraction.

I love blogging. I’ve always loved blogging. I’ve been a blogger since early 2004, I believe and I was addicted. The idea that I could entertain my friends with my stories was just magic in my eyes and to my fingers. And so here we are, seven years later. I’ve had three blogs, this being the third and the most important as it pertains to my business, and still as distracted as ever.

The past 23 weeks have been a whirlwind. They’ve had me train (poorly) for a marathon, give way more of my time than I probably should have, work selling my products and that of others at Celebrate Brooklyn, take a road trip with my little brother, and dealing with orders.  The entire time, my brain has just been reminding me to look forward to November 6th- the day of the NYC Marathon. After that day, things would calm down a bit.

On November 6th, I was anxious for a very obvious reason-the marathon, but I was also anxious for other reasons-what would I do once I calmed down? Once I had more free time?

Well, it’s been a week since things have “calmed down” and aside from resting up, or trying to rest up, I’ve hit the ground running. Last week, I was out of town for a work conference and even though it was just an hour north of NYC, I got home Friday feeling like I had gone on a trip to a foreign land. Saturday resulted in me feeling really tired and aside from running to Brooklyn to visit a paper store and going to Whole Foods, I was in bed early and spent most of the day running. Sunday, however, I woke up revved to go. It’s incredible how that happens!

I woke up Sunday at 7, did laundry, cleaned the bathroom, pulled out my business items, including receipts to enter in my expenses log, materials to wrap up an order, cooked carrot soup, responded to emails, visited with a friend in my favorite Brooklyn Coffee Shop, photographed some new projects, and then learned of my epic stationery failure. I’m not going to lie, it was a setback. I sat at the table, baffled that I had not only cut the cards to the wrong dimensions, but that was not it. I also somehow managed to print the wrong dimensions on the actual card. I can’t explain it, I just know that I looked at these cards over and over and over and cursed at my ridiculousness sometimes. Of course, there are explanations and it could also very well be a result of my own carelessness. I mean after all, I can’t blame anyone else for the mistake.  I realized that when I’m not paying attention things slip and unfortunately what slipped in this case was my work, the work I pride myself on. This is something that can not happen again. I can’t afford for it to happen again!

The paper that I ended up using and ruining will not go to waste. That goes against my business after all. I will instead use those cards for my own Christmas cards this year, but well, I will have to remake them with a lot of effort. I’m actually looking forward to this opportunity. It means that I will be sending my own product to friends and family, could there be any better advertising? NO! But in my frustration, I just kept thinking how being so busy and overwhelmed can result to silly and careless mistakes. And so I began to think about all that I need to think about all that I need to do in the next month and a half before the end of the year.

It’s a long list and it is no where near completion.  Which makes it a bit daunting, too, but yesterday as I started piecing things together, I felt like I could tackle anything I wanted to with a goal of December 30th. I feel ready to accomplish my goals. Which is why this morning I had to get three items on Etsy. It’s been a while and I really needed to amp up my commitment to my business.

In all of my distractions, I’ve never forgotten the business. I’ve actually felt guilty that I haven’t been able to dedicate more time to my business and it has stressed me out.

Even though I have been working on projects here and there, I have ultimately given into distractions (you should see how many times I’ve even avoided putting this blog together in the last hour!). Last night, as I sat at the table again assembling cards for a donation, I started watching “Ratatouille” and made corn bread. Yes, things that I wanted to do, but I did have something all together more important to finish. I’ve been trying to get these cards done for weeks now! In the end, I had to put the cards to the side, mostly because I was testing out new glue and I wanted to make sure that the cards and the glue would work together well. But still, I allowed myself to be distracted.

And so now that November 6th has passed and I’ve completed my obligations, I’m getting ready to say no. No to distractions. No to stressful and needless work. No to dinners and hang outs with friends. Don’t worry, I won’t be alienating anyone, I just need to adjust my priorities, here. I will also say no to commitments that aren’t going to help me expand S2 Stationery and Design.

I know you’re probably thinking, “She’s said this before, what makes this time any different?”  

Let’s be honest, I don’t always care about what people think, but see here is why I care about what YOU think. I care because I figured out that that I only have 231 days. 231 days until the real magic happens.

No, that doesn’t mean that real magic won’t happen between now and day 231, but it means that I have to make every one of those days and moments count both professionally and personally because once day 217 comes it’s BIG. 

Tonight, I already told a friend no so that I could instead go home and make dinner and finish my donation. I also need to work on some holiday cards that I’m making for a friend.  I also am giving myself a deadline of Friday to finish a baby blanket I’ve been working on for a friend whose baby was born last week. I have another knitting project that I need to get done by Tuesday night, so I’m on a deadline. But that is the ticket. I need deadlines. Solid deadlines for myself. Deadlines have always worked with larger orders, but when it comes to me and my personal projects and developments for my business, I take my time.

The first step in any self-help situation is to admit you’ve got a problem. Well, readers, I’m admitting today and right now that I’ve got a problem. One that requires me to say no. And that is why I’m so proud of being able to say NO to my friend tonight. Yes, I want to see my friend and I will see her on Wednesday when I attend her comedy show down the block from my apartment, but well, being no is my way of telling myself that I’m taking my need for deadlines and Sara time seriously. It is also my way of creating a habit.

And so here goes. In mid-December, I’m going to sit down and create my calendar. I’m also going to dissect what worked and didn’t work in 2011. I’m going to make big plans and small plans and more importantly, I’m finally going to start thinking about how 2012 is going to work.  More importantly, I’m going to share this analysis with you. I know that I can’t control the outcome, but I do know that I’m making some big decisions and the first step involves planning for what potential outcomes may result.

Here’s to avoiding distractions, or something like that. If you’re a friend of mine and I say no, or I stop emailing, just know it is because like a mad scientist I’m in the lab working on something BIG and GREAT and just need time to make, make, make! If you’re a fellow small business owner/entrepreneur and you have tips to share about how you avoid distractions or have great discipline, please share them below.  If you’re simply struggling with bringing things together after being so busy, well, welcome to the club. Hopefully as I tackle this in November/December, you’ll be inspired and will do the same. 



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S2 Stationery & Design

A rule-breaking designer, artist & entrepreneur who's passionate about paper and handcrafting stationery. I also write, travel, and focus on eco + social good.

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