Saturday, 8 August 2015

Finally getting organised….. Working for yourself, at home must be so easy, so everyone says.

It’s August, almost half way through the long summer holidays, if you have kids. How are you doing? Are you surviving with a smile on your face, or like me, getting more and more stressed as each hour ticks by? I’ll let you into a secret. One day last week, I actually locked myself in the loo, just so I could answer some emails in peace! Yep, I'm that kind of mum.
I'm normally pretty organised, but the last week everything went to pot. I have over the years, learnt to just roll with it, but when work calls, you stick to the floors and you realise that your five year old is living on food from the “goodie cupboard” I had the feeling that I needed to take some kind of control, again.

OK, so it won’t stop me working strange hours over the holidays, but if that means I get to bake cupcakes with the littlest, then that’s fine by me.
My personalised wall planner from Who ate my crayons

It’s time to “Live by the Planner” again, plus it gives me 5 minutes to just sit down and look at the week ahead. I always put in the “Family” stuff first, dentist appointments, play-dates and what-nots, so that even if I don’t know what I'm doing, at least I know what everyone else is doing! Second on the planner is my work schedule, orders that need to be made and admin which needs to be done. Thirdly, I enter a bit of me time…… I find that if I don’t then I start to get frazzled, snappy and just right down horrid! It may be just half hour chill out time or gasp, a whole afternoon!

To-do lists.
I break them down into monthly, weekly and daily. Just remember that not everything needs to be done that minute! I keep mine all together in another pretty notebook, again broken down into “Life” and “Work”. The monthly one has everything on that must be done, I then break it down into weekly amounts and then again daily, that way what’s starts to look like a big, daunting list gets smaller and smaller and much easier to tick off!

This is where my planner, wall chart and note books come in. And if you are a stationary addict like myself this is where its gets exciting! Let’s face it, even if you don’t use any of the lovely stationary, it will look pretty on your desk, kitchen counter or bag!
I've made a list of my favourites below.

Weekly planner from The Green Gables with lots of space for lists and notes.
  • Above my desk, I have a personalised wall chart planner, by the super Who ate my crayons. On here I pop all the important things that I need to see at a glance, such as the all-important hair dresser appointments, holidays and school terms. I always cross reference this with the kitchen calendar downstairs.       
  •  I have another weekly planner by the wonderful Green Gables, I try to fill this in on a Sunday and it’s mainly used for my work stuff. What orders need to be made, what supplies I need to order and any other important information. It sits on my desk and is also a handy mouse mat, if your old school like me. One thing that I have found to be very important to how I work is to try and pencil in some me time, much easier when the kids are at school, much harder when it’s the school holidays.
  •  Small note books are a must for slipping in my bag, to jot down ideas, must do’s and any other “monkey brain” stuff that goes on. Personal favs are my sewing machine print, from Green Gables and my personalised “Awesome plans” by Who ate my crayons.  
  • Hard backed notebooks, now I have quite a selection, in all different sizes. They all have a different role, from sketch book, general note making, and the one that I always keep on the cutting out table for making notes on new products/costings, I love this one from Charlotte Macy and features one of her beautiful printed fabrics. I have another, slightly larger one for blog/photo/product ideas, big enough for me to sketch out ideas and layouts.

  • A selection of note books that I currently use, functional doesn't have to be ugly!
    So there you go, that is how I'm surviving (or not) the summer holidays whilst working from home x

Saturday, 1 March 2014

A little self improvment

Just before the madness of Christmas kicked in last year, I treated myself.

Shock, horror, something for me! not the kids, or hubby or even the house... ME

I booked myself onto Lyndsey James photocraft course. 

Lyndsey, for those who don't know, is an extremely talented photographer who specialises in the creative industries. I stumbled across Lyndsey's work not long after I started Elm Tree Studio, and surfing through facebook land I noticed her work on one of my favorite pages. Realising that my products were never going to sell through my photography skills, I knew that I needed help.

Last year, I went on one of Lyndsey's workshops in order to finally use my late fathers camera, a supa dupa Canon SRL. After just a couple of hours, cocooned in a gorgeous manor house in Ashbourne, Derbyshire I was snapping away, and producing shots that I loved...
I learnt to do foreground blur,background blur, lighting, using a tripod! Really everything that I needed to know for the types of shots I wanted to take for my business. The full course was two days, with the camera skills being on day one and photo styling on the second. Unfortunately, due to childcare, I couldn't do the second day, boohoo
So although my photography skills were and still are improving, I wasn't quite getting the style and feel of my images right. They didn't feel me

Learning to use my camera
Just before Christmas, Lyndsey posted about a new online e-course....
Photo styling, online, learning at my own pace, no childcare to worry about..... I signed up straight away!

Armed with my goody bag, notebook and camera, I spent two weeks gazing at my computer, scribbling notes, printing off lessons, raiding B&Q for wallpaper samples, ordering Annie Sloan paint samples, cutting, sticking, making pinterest boards..... ooh it felt like I was back at college, and I enjoyed every second.

Making a style board 

Painting props
Playing with styling

My essential sewing kit

I still have a way to go, and I'm still working through the lessons, but with each photo I take, my shots are improving, I'm liking the style, they feel me.

A new and improved product photo
So, if you want to learn how to take fabulous photos of your craft sign up now to one of photocraft online or real life workshops, you will have a wonderful time and learn lots of new skills.
To find out more, visit