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Day in the Life of a Working New Mom

I love reading a good “Day in the Life” story. I’ve always found it interesting to see how people spend their time, and especially now with the pandemic changing our lives so much. So, I decided to write one of my own to illustrate how going back to work in the midst of a pandemic has fit into my life as a business person, an artist, and a new mother of a three-month-old baby girl.

Monday

7:20am – wake up before the baby to get ready for her first feeding, make coffee, get a glass of water, kiss husband good morning and goodbye as he leaves for work.

7:30am – wake up baby Mila. Sometimes she’s all smiles and sometimes she wakes up on the wrong side of the bed just like everyone else. This morning, I get a great big smile to brighten my morning.

7:30-8am – feed Mila and check my email on my phone for just a few minutes. The rest of the time I devote my attention to the baby. She’s at an age now where she can tell if I’m paying attention!

8-8:30am – Change diaper and put her down for tummy time while I drink some coffee, get dressed for the day. Intermittently, I have to get down on the floor with her to cheer her up and even pick her up – she hates tummy time.

8:30-9am – Play with Mila, get her ready for her morning nap. Today I don’t have anyone coming to help with the baby while I work, so I have to squeeze in time during naps.

9-10:15am – Work on my computer while Mila sleeps. During this time I check my email and get my list ready for the day. The list helps me to optimize my time. Today, I also prepare a statement of work for a potential infographic design client and collect samples of our work to share with the prospect. I spray finish a piece of art and let dry so I can stain the edges later.

10:15am-11am – Mila wakes up a little earlier than usual and needs attention. I feed her, change her and play with her some more.

11:35am – set Mila down in her play gym for some independent time – we all need some “me-time” right? Back to the computer to sneak in a few minutes

11:45am – she doesn’t last long with her “me-time” at this stage. She hasn’t learned to appreciate it the way I do just yet.

11:45am-12:30pm – play with Mila and then wear her while I make myself a sandwich. Read a book to her before nap time.

12:30 – put Mila down for second nap

12:30-2pm – eat my sandwich and work on computer some more. Mila takes a decently long nap, and I expect that so I’m able to do some of my more thoughtful work like write, edit video, and review website changes. I start editing an interview video for one of our financial services clients.

2pm – Mila is awake! Get the happy baby from her bed, change, feed, play.

2:45pm – Time for more “me-time” for Mila. I try to do this a couple times a day to foster some independence and she is actually much more creative at this time too, since she doesn’t have us dancing around trying to entertain her.

3-3:15pm – Mila is over “me-time” so I pick her up, strap her on, and bring her over to my desk. She likes to watch as I edit video or do things where the screen is moving. Today I finish editing the financial services interview video and while it’s rendering I start writing a blog for our website. I turn the brightness on my screen down and try to keep this time to a minimum as I’m sure it’s not great for her baby eyes.

3:15-3:30pm – Mila is starting to show signs of sleepiness so I take her into the dim bedroom and read some books to her. I put her in bed, singing to her as she gives me the evil eye. She does not like being put to sleep!

3:30-4:15pm – Mila takes short afternoon naps, so during this time I check emails and schedule clients calls for the days when I have someone here to be with the baby while I am on a call. Today, I schedule calls with one of our technology clients, one of our education clients, and one of our financial services clients. Each project I’m working on today is different, varying from website design to video editing. Lots of calls coming up later this week! Good thing I have someone coming to help out.

4:15pm – Get Mila out of bed, feed, change, play. Take something out for dinner and prep as much as possible while still entertaining my munchkin. I usually wear her while I’m doing this so it helps if I put on Otis Redding radio or 80’s dance music and dance around the kitchen. This is fun for both of us!

5:15pm – Daddy gets home so I hand Mila over to him, get myself a glass of wine and work on my art a bit. I have a piece that is almost finished so I want to get that one done before his mom comes to stay with us to help with the baby this week. That way I can put this piece in storage to get it out of the way. House gets cramped with 4 people in it!

5:30pm – Mila needs to squeeze in one last catnap before bedtime, so we put her down for this nap now and continue making dinner, I respond to some emails to confirm my upcoming calls and meetings later this week, and we hang out and listen to music while we cook.

6pm – wake up baby Mila – she resists, but it’s time for our nighttime routine.

6-6:45pm – feed and change diaper, sit down at the table as a family for dinner time. Mila is a handful so we put her in her swing next to us for as long as she’ll tolerate it, but eventually we have to get her out and take turns holding her. She loves to be held and watch us eat, particularly daddy. One arm around the baby, one arm to eat with. It works! The dinner table routine is new for us. We wanted to lay a good foundation of dinner time and the celebration of food for Mila and thought it’s never too early to start. Gone are the days of eating on the couch in front of the television. Turns out, we love this so much more anyway!!

6:45pm – clean up dinner stuff and get ready for our evening walk.

7-7:15pm – walk around the neighborhood, chatting about life, our day, the future, weekend plans, how crazy this pandemic is, whatever comes to mind.

7:15-8:15pm – bath time, pajamas, last feeding and story-time for Mila. Our intention is to get her in bed by 8pm, so we’re a little late tonight, but we’ll just have to try again tomorrow.

8:15-9:30pm – mommy and daddy time! We hang out, watch some tv (usually Big Bang Theory or Ridiculousness), and get sleepy quick. Both of our days are hectic, so we get tired so early these days!

9:30pm – bedtime. We are spent. Mila wakes up once or twice in the night, but she goes back to sleep. No more night feedings, thankfully, although a big part of me misses those quiet moments feeding her in the dark late at night.

This is a pretty hectic day because I am alone with the baby all day, but I try to stay organized to make it work. On days when I have someone to care for Mila, I get so much more work done. The days with a caregiver are almost like regular work days, although having a 3 month old baby in the house can be a little distracting at times, even when someone else is watching her. We make it work. My best windows for productivity are in the morning. I’m fresh, rested, and have a cup of coffee in hand.

We’d love to hear from you – what is your day working at home like? What is your most productive time of day?

Try This Quick Time Saving Tip for Busy Professionals

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Usually, around six o’clock, I am amazed at how fast the day went by. And it always seems like I’m rushing to get out of the office for a meeting or dinner with my family.

But, did you know that if we took 15 minutes at the end of our day, we can be more prepared for tomorrow? Recently, I started to take just 15 minutes at the end of my day to get organized and it works. Here’s how.

 

Prioritize Those 15 Minutes

What better time to review your day than at the end? It allows you to do three very important things:

  • Review
  • Reflect
  • Prepare

You can briefly review what happened throughout your day by jotting a few notes, which will strengthen your  memory and recall. It’s also a good time to check off the items on your agenda and make sure that you’ve logged your time correctly. Research has shown that taking account of completed tasks lowers your anxiety and stress levels.

Simply taking a minute or two to review your day will also help you organize your evening. Figure out dinner or check in with loved ones. Are you picking something up? Need gas for the car? These things often get forgotten and make tomorrow a little more hectic. Plus, it gives you time to organize the work you are taking home with you.

 

To-Do List or Not To-Do List?

Reflecting upon your day will help you restructure your to-do lists. Priorities are always shifting. Some tasks gain a higher level of urgency.

As for to-do lists, I have seen a lot of opinions on them. Lots of consultants don’t like them and one in particular simply believes that to-do lists don’t work. However, research, lots of research, says otherwise. I’m a proponent of them, but with this caveat—I don’t put everything on it.

One major complaint of the to-do list is that it causes more anxiety, usually because there’s a list a mile long with things on there that should have been done weeks or months ago. Too many trivial things on it will cause anxiety.

One novel idea is to move the important things off your to-do list and placing them on your calendar. This raises their priority, while reduces the clutter of your list. Here are some other ways you can create a more effective to-do list:

  • Shorten the list to three things,
  • Use small Post-It Notes or index cards,
  • Organize your list into smaller lists (calls to make, things to delegate, to purchase, etc.)
  • Prioritize tasks in order of importance,
  • View one task at a time.

You need to be faithful to the idea of ending your day thinking about tomorrow. This lets you get organized before you even step foot in the office, tomorrow.

 

Better Planning of Your Time

Time is the most important asset we have, yet we don’t value it enough. Meetings and late lunches can get in the way. There’s also the occasional drive-by meeting—”impromptu” for the visitor—but an inconvenience for you.

Taking a few minutes to prepare for your day, tomorrow,  may get you out of a meeting or conference call that really isn’t important. With these final moments at work, you can also follow up with your employees regarding important projects. Even better, you can delegate tasks from your list to them.

 

Better Organization = Less Stress

Let’s face it, you’re only given so much time in a day. Organization doesn’t give you more time, but it does allow you to spend more time on the things that are truly important. Typically, these are the things that affect the bottom line.

You won’t regret using this time-saving tip. It will help you be more productive and less stressed about work and home. Give it a try for a month. If it works, pass it on to a friend or coworker of yours that could use it.

Preparing for Vacation: A Checklist for When You’re Away

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This is our favorite time of year. You can feel it in the air every morning when you walk outside. Pretty soon, school bus traffic will slow to a trickle after the kids are let out for summer vacation. Summertime is upon us. It’s time for a much needed vacation. Maybe a trip to the mountains this year or a cruise. You’re ready for one.

Planning for Your Absence

It’s been months since an official day off and nearly half a year since the holidays. You’ve made your reservations, coordinated pet care, shopped for the essentials. Now, it’s time to plan for your absence at work.

One of the best ways to have a great vacation is to feel reassured that everything back at the office has been taken care of, because you don’t want to be thinking about work while on vacation. You need some well-deserved rest and relaxation. That’s why we have compiled a checklist for you to follow, just to help you stay organized and ready for adventure.

Vacation Checklist

☐ Prioritize your workload. This may seem like a no brainer, but low priority projects have a way of creeping in and taking too much of your time. Plus, make sure to write it all down.

☐ Take a look ahead. Planning your return is as important as stepping away. Adjust your calendar and be strategic with your scheduling.

☐ Schedule a buffer. Try to leave a couple hours open before you leave and keep a couple open when you return.

☐ Let your colleagues know. If you give everyone notice far enough in advance, then they can adjust their calendar, too. This is even more helpful when working on teams or in committees.

☐ Contact high-priority clients a week before you leave. Reach out and let them know where you’ll be and who they can get in touch with if they need anything.

☐ Prepare a return agenda. Your head will be fuzzy, but in a good way. You’ll have vacation on your brain. We’ve all been there. Plan ahead and be ready or else you’ll get overwhelmed.

☐ Let everyone know your availability. Work continues even while you’re on vacation. Taking a work-related call can be a necessary, minor disruption. Make sure your colleagues have a number to reach you and let them know days and times when you’ll be available. Also, let them know when you’ll be disconnected.

☐ Set up your Backup. Who’s covering for you while you’re gone? Make sure they are aware of your projects, how to handle emergencies, and when they should contact you.

☐ A list of tips. Providing your backup with a list of tips can save them time and reduce frustration.

☐ Put in a little extra time. Adding an hour or two a day can tie up loose ends and save you a lot of headaches after your return.

☐ Clean up. A cluttered desk will make it harder for your backup to help you. Organize your files and tidy up around your office. Don’t forget to water the plants.

☐ Archive and back up files. Make sure all of your files and emails are backed up and available.

☐ Out of office. Set up your out of office messages. Customize your auto-reply and voicemail to reflect the dates you’ll be away and your backup’s name and contact information.

☐ Brain dump. You may want to quickly type out a list of notes before you leave. This will help you get back into the swing of things when you return.

☐ Say good-bye to everyone!

Planning to Have Fun

It’s always important to work with your colleagues prior to leaving the office. You may need to delegate tasks while you’re away. Also, having an emergency plan in place is needed most when you’re out of the country, sippin’ cocktails on that cruise of a lifetime, where there’s no internet or phone service. We hope you have a great vacation!

Pinstripe Book Shelf: Self-Made by Nely Galan

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Don’t Buy Shoes, Buy Buildings: Lessons from Self-Made by Nely Galan.  Back in October of 2017, the Pinstripe team attended the Women’s Conference of Florida (read the recap here.) One of the most memorable presentations of the conference was the very first one – Nely Galan. This vibrant, exciting woman gave us energy, confidence, and drive. We walked out of that room feeling empowered! She’s one of those people with an infectious energy – she makes you want to take your day by storm. Her parting gift to the entire audience – a copy of her book, “Self-Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, and Rich in Every Way.” Needless to say, after that presentation, we couldn’t wait to read it.

Self-Made – The Woman

Nely Galan, daughter of hard-working immigrant parents, built her career on engendered hard work, positivity, and by learning from her mistakes every step of the way. She gave herself solid role models and was goal-oriented; she was constantly setting her goals and asking herself the question, “will this get me closer to my goal?” about every move she made. Sometimes she took a step forward through her decisions, and sometimes a step backward, but she always kept her eye on the target. She also continued to update her goals to keep up with her own growth – here is one important lesson from Nely: check in with your goals often – you may find that they change over time and as you grow.

Self-Made – The Book

Her book is essentially an expanded version of her presentation – each chapter contains a lesson or a self-realization goal and a series of stories from her own life explaining how she achieved or learned the lesson. Many of the chapters also feature stories about other women succeeding using similar techniques or approaches. Overall, the book is just like Nely, energetic and full of positivity.

A few lessons:

  • Channel a role model (even if you’ve never met them) – in tough situations, ask yourself, “what would Michelle Obama do?”
  • Buy buildings, not shoes – Nely is all about being smart with your money, in particular investing in real estate
  • Failures are lessons – don’t be afraid to fail
  • No matter where you come from or what your background, you can become a powerful, self-made woman
  • Revisit your goals often
  • Don’t rely on a hero or Prince Charming to save you or support you – be self-made!
  • Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it can offer freedom

One problem with a book being like a person is that Nely has a certain presence that is charismatic, her voice is uplifting, and her energy is palpable and contagious. The book alone would not have had the same impact if we had not seen her in action. I am not usually a self-help book reader, but Galan’s presentation compelled me, irresistibly, to read this book. So powerful were her words and spirit that even a skeptic was led to spend precious reading time on a genre outside of my preference. I was not disappointed, but not astounded either.

To sum up this review – if you like self-help books and need a boost of positivity and energy, I recommend reading this book. If you can see Nely Galan presenting in person to supplement the book, even better. There are no Earth-shattering secrets, no profound lessons in this book. It is refreshing and fun to read, but it can get repetitive and reinforces many things we likely already apply to our daily lives – work hard, work smart, have confidence in yourself, and spend/invest wisely.

Some Tips to Get Organized during the Busy Holiday Season

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‘Tis the season to be busy—really busy! How can you make sure nothing gets forgotten or lost in the shuffle?
The amount of time it takes to do our job never seems to be enough. Then, the holidays hit. With everything going on, it’s amazing how we can ever keep up.

With all of the interruptions, we quickly lose track of time. You wake up and think your day is organized, then it quickly evaporates the minute you sit down to look at your email. Scheduled meetings get rescheduled, and rescheduled, again. Then, there are the emergencies, things we kind of plan for but never really can, because they are usually something that shouldn’t be happening. No matter how hard we try, there never seems to be enough time in the day.

The To-Do List

If you have one already, great! If not, then you need it. Why? Because years of research say it can improve your day.

No one wants every minute of their day to be dictated by a schedule. That feels too mechanical and boring. We aren’t machines. But, if you take the time to jot down the most important things for your day, it will eliminate any added stress and anxiety caused by the holidays.

A good To-Do List has to have realistic objectives, yet remain flexible. You will sabotage your list with unrealistic expectations. Remember, this isn’t the time of year to clean behind your refrigerator. Leave that for the spring. It also acts as a visual reminder of what you accomplished during the day or the week.

Use an App

Here is PC Mags top ten list of To-Do List apps. Some of these apps will synch with your computer or tablet. You can also share it with your coworkers or family. Best of all, they keep a record of your activities, so you can look back to see what you accomplished.

Order of Importance

Organize your objectives into order of importance. Then, check them off one-at-a-time. Having a deadline for each task can focus your efforts to get it done. Tasks without deadlines are put off to the next day. No deadline—no sense of urgency. You’ll feel more accomplished at the end of the day with a list that’s crossed off.

First Things, First

Do the things you don’t like to do, first. Highly successful people are successful for many reasons. One of them is that they do the things they don’t like doing. Why do they bother? Because, they know it’s necessary to be successful.

We avoid doing the things we don’t like to do. At the end of the day, you still need to do the thing you didn’t want to do. See how this adds to your stress?

Bring on the Holiday Cheer

Getting organized is how you can gain a few minutes during your day to enjoy the season. No matter how you keep your To-Do List, you’ll be able to do those extra things that make the holidays so special. What techniques do you use to keep holiday stress to a minimum?