Tuesday, June 30, 2009

2 New Listings!

Remember those pens I talked about last week? Well I finally got two of them listed in my shop this morning. I took pictures of the other ones, and I will probably list them tomorrow after I think of some good titles.

Aqua Swirl Pen
This festive pen features generous swirls of blue, gold, sea foam, and magenta all an an aqua background. Pen writes in blue.

Forest Jagged Motion Pen
This pen features a wild and earthy fusion of color on a forest green background. The whirled color palette includes: light blue, cream, forest green, royal purple, and magenta. Pen writes in forest green.

Do you prefer the classic simplicity of the swirl design, or the wildness of the jagged motion design? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Time Track Thursday Quick Tip

Today's Quick Tip: Use A Timer

I have a $5 kitchen timer that has proved itself to be more useful in my studio than the kitchen. Here are two examples:
  1. When I have 30 minutes budgeted for Twitter, I set the timer and read and reply to tweets for only 30 minutes. It helps me avoid getting sucked into the black hole that leads to time wasting, and I can snap back to my agenda when the timer goes off.
  2. I hate cleaning my studio! But I am much more productive when I can find all the things I need easily, and I don't have to worry about my dog ruining projects that have a temporary home on the floor. I set the timer for 1 hour, clean like crazy, then stop. I do this maybe 2 times/week and that's all it takes! I have successfully avoided the monthly meltdown and all day cleaning sessions.
I hope this is a useful quick tip. Please leave a comment if you plan on trying this, and/or if it works for you. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Survey for Beaders

My computer is on my "worktable" for this Wednesday. I am planning a redesign of my beading forum, Bead Circle. I have some exciting ideas, but I wanted to ask the opinion of beaders before I dive in. The survey is 10 questions long, mostly multiple choice, the last one asks you to describe what the perfect beading website be like. What features would it have? I'm very excited about this project, and I can't wait to receive your feedback! Thanks!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Reading List for Success

As I mentioned yesterday, I am an avid reader and have a natural tendency toward life-long learning. These are 5 books on my reading list that will follow the 2 I am currently reading. I wanted to share them with a note about why I chose them. They are in no particular order, as it will be hard to decide which one to pick up next!

  • No B.S. Wealth Attraction for Entrepreneurs by Dan Kennedy In the internet business and marketing course I'm taking, at the end of the first lesson, it said "buy this book right now and read it when you find time." So I did, and I will.
  • The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley I was told this was a classic, and it would open my eyes in unexpected ways.
  • The Six Pillars of Self- Esteem by Nathaniel Branden I read a tweet from @jeremyfrandsen would just finished this book. I could stand to flex my muscles in this area when it comes to my work. When someone winces at the price tag of my items at craft shows, I want it to have no effect on me.
  • The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber Tagline: Why most small businesses don't work and what to do about it. Another classic business book that has been recommended to me so many times I had to buy it.
  • I'd Rather Be in the Studio by Alyson B. Stanfield I was browsing my usual art & craft blogs, when one link lead to another, and I came across this book. The title spoke to me, because I think a lot of us in crafty business feel this way. I will definitely write a review on this one.
If there is a book you love that has motivated or inspired you, or changed your life in some way, please leave a comment about it! It will take me maybe 2 months to blaze through all of these books, and I will need more for my list. Thanks!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Recommended Reading for Success

I am an avid reader and have a natural tendency toward life-long learning. As I'm struggling to give my business some traction, I have the privilege of having some very successful business people in my life. They provide the encouragement and motivation I was hoping to get from my family, and they also share their experience and knowledge. Many books have been recommended to me with the expectation that I actually apply the knowledge I gain from reading them. My self-study began with the 4 Hour Work-week by Timothy Ferriss, which has totally changed the way I think about things, and I can't wait to learn more!

Currently Reading:

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill- Highly recommended, and not what I expected. When I read the story about the "colored child," I searched online to see when it was written. Ah, 1937, which also explains the lack of businesswomen as well, which is just a reflection of the culture at the time. This extremely motivational book is not one to be blazed through. It's more like a textbook to be studied, written in, so the reader can slowly harness the virtues it describes.

Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins- This author was highly recommended to me, and I found this title at Half Price Books yesterday for $8. It was published in 1992, and with a million copies sold, you can pick it up on Amazon for 75 cents! The first chapter opened with "Where were you in 1980?" Well, I wasn't born yet, but the point was to ask yourself how you feel about the 10 years of your life that just passed. At 26, I just finished a year with some regrets of things I didn't do, I don't even want to think about 10 years! So I'm going to read this book, apply the knowledge, and get a head start on awakening my inner giant.

I placed an order to Amazon for like 10 other books which I will share in a reading list tomorrow. Please share in the comments any books that have inspired you or changed your life in some way. I might add them to my future reading list! For now I will leave you with a quote that has been on my dry erase board for awhile now:

"Success is the consequence of personal effort. You have to participate relentlessly in the mainfestations of your own blessings."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Time Track Thursday #5

Today's topic is finding a personal planning system that works for you.

Planners are important because it is your main productivity tool. What type of planning system you use depends entirely upon your personality. I like to write things down on a paper planner, my tech savvy friend prefers her iphone calendar, and Lenny in the movie Momento uses photographs and tattoos. Use whatever you want, as long as your system works for you.

Paper Planners
  • 1-2 pages for 1 day work well if you have many appointments that fill your schedule
  • 2 pages showing a full week is highly recommended so you can better see how you are using your time
  • size matters- small planners are more portable, but you have less room to write out lists
  • a planner is an investment, but inexpensive ones work just as well. you can always upgrade when you are sure the system works for you
  • List of popular planner lines, many of which are sold at your local office supply store: At-a-Glance, Day Runner, Day Timer, Filofax, Franklin Covey, Planner Pad
Electronic Planners
  • many cell phones have calenders so you will only have to carry one device
  • some models can store a lot of data
  • if many of your activities are online, its easy to coordinate with them electronically
  • alarms can remind you of important activities
  • make sure you keep it charged, and be careful if you sync with your computer so you don't lose anything
  • one disadvantage is that you can not view a whole week calender on the screen
I use a paper planner and Google Calendar together for my system. Google Calendar is great for artists and crafters because its easy to adjust and rearrange the blocks of time you have scheduled. This is important because you never know when your "genius" will visit you, and 3 hours could go by while you're painting, sewing, or beading etc. If you were "supposed" to be working on traffic generation to your site while on your creative tangent, you can just swap out the time blocks at another point in the week with the click of a mouse. I also keep my values, DMP, and goals in my paper planner for motivation.

Once you pick a method, use it consistently and avoid writing on scraps of paper that you can lose. Check you planner daily to make sure you are getting everything done. Gather everything you need the night before so its organized and ready for you to start your day!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Worktable Wednesday: Letter to the Clutter Fairy

Dear Clutter Fairy,
I want to thanks you for visiting the Dallas Bead Society this past February. We appreciate all tips you gave us on how to organize our bead spaces on a more creative level. Artists and crafters are obviously visual people, but it was a new concept for me that our supplies are so inspirational/motivational, they should be out and seen at all times. After organizing my studio and implementing all the tips I learned, I somehow managed to lose the beads I was using for my Dragon Tears Lariat (pictured above, half finished), a class I took from Melanie Doerman. It just seemed so ironic. After I finished my Stars in Her Eyes Lariat, I decided to finally clean off my desk, and found my beads! So, I promise to use my organization system and my project cases more effectively from now on.
Peace and Love,

Monday, June 15, 2009

Playing with Color + Giveaway

I had so much fun making these new pens! I love playing with color and adding and subtracting different colors of beads from my palette to get just the right combination. My abstract "Jagged Motion" design is perfect for color experimentation. I hope to get these listed in my etsy shop this week.

Fellow Dallas Etsians Megan of Harrilu and Ashley of Ashley Akers Jewelry are running cross promotion giveaways! Click here to enter to win a Teal and White Peonies Tunic, and click here to enter to win a red plexiglass Coral Branch Pendant.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Stars in Her Eyes Lariat

It is finished! I've mentioned this lariat in my Worktable Wednesday posts, and blogging about it was enough motivation to get it done. It was designed by Marilou Porth who teaches at Artful Bead, and is a member of the Dallas Bead Society. I finished it while listening to some audio that is part of a business and marketing course I am taking online. Adding the stars was definitely my favorite part, and it turned out so beautiful!

I've been mentioned on 2 other blogs recently! First, I was a featured designer on A Bead A Day. Second, my Peace Sign Mini Pen is a hot pick on the Jesse Jane's blog. Thanks for featuring me, I'm honored!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Time Track Thursday #4

Today is about creating a vision or definite major purpose (DMP). There's no point in effectively managing your time if you have no vision or purpose. It would be like using a road map with no destination in mind.

I created my DMP several months ago after listening to several episodes of the Internet Business Mastery Podcast. Sterling and Jay have posted a free Audio eBook that explains what DMP is and they give examples from their own lives. There is also a worksheet you can print out and it guides you through answering these questions:
  • Why am I here?
  • What is the top purpose for my life?
  • What fulfills me above all other things?
Thinking through these things and several other questions really helped me figure out what I need to be doing on a day to day basis. I even made a collage to hang on the wall of my studio for inspiration and motivation. I have a lot of pictures of places I would like to travel, a picture of the custom mini cooper that I've been wanting, even an Aggie football helmet because I would love to have season tickets. I'm also a scrapbooker and had fun with my stickers, though the suitcase sticker (bottom left) was purchased specifically for this project.

Click here and enter your email in the big box to the right to start working on your vision. In the interest of full-disclosure, I am now a member of the Internet Business Mastery Academy, but all the materials I've talked about are free and you can unsubscribe from their newsletter at any time. It is just the best tool I've come across for creating your vision. Please leave comments!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Worktable Wednesday

Last week I mentioned those beaded purple and gold stars in the top left container. Well, blogging about them was enough motivation to work on it more. I tripled the length of the herringbone lariat rope! I worked on it at the Dallas Bead Society meeting on Saturday. I can't wait to add all the little stars to the ends. It's like the reward for working on such a long rope!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Review: The 4-Hour Workweek

I am a voracious reader. It took me a week to burn through The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss, and before that just 24 hours for The Color Purple by Alice Walker. While writing this post, I realize they both have an important common theme: to be happy, find excitement, and live your life on your own terms.

I love The 4-Hour Workweek, but this book isn't for everyone. It requires a paradigm shift to accept mini-retirements and vacations and reject the "deferred-life plan" (i.e. work 9-5 or longer hours in the corporate world, save, wait, and then retire later in life when you are too old to really enjoy it). If you read my last Time Track post, you know I was more than willing to accept this.

Things I've applied so far:
  • I've defined my fears and outlined everything that would happen if I were to completely fail in my business. It's really not as scary as I thought.
  • I've applied the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 principle to my marketing strategy. (80% of the results come from 20% of the effort and time.)
  • I check my email twice a day, and only after I've done the top 1 or 2 most important things to be accomplished that day.
Business planning- Ferriss goes over how to start, automate, and outsource your business. He provides some great tips, but critics have said he makes it sound too easy. It's true your business could fail, but that is not the focus of the book. He makes you admit that at the beginning, then answers the question, "What if it doesn't fail?" It's better to run your business than have it run you.

Life planning- The section on "mini-retirements" was interesting and eye-opening. I had no idea it was so cheap to live abroad in comparison to the United States. The section on "filling the void doesn't apply to me. I know exactly how I will spend my free-time once I have it! It's true that some people won't know what to do with themselves without work. I have a retired friend considering a part-time job! At least its at a bead store :)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Time Track Thursday #3

Today is about values. It's important to identify your values because you can "pull" yourself towards what makes you happy and satisfied instead of "pushed" toward what others think is important. When you recognize and understand your values, you will naturally use your time on what you value most.

Many of the time management books I've been going through have some sort of chapter about values. Steve Pavlina has a great list of values on his site. (I chose Steve's list because he included "craftiness" and "creativity", so he must be on the right track.) I would encourage you to read through his list and write down the values that immediately resonate with you. Then place stars next to the top 5 or 10. Which value seems to connect many of the others?

Freedom is my most important value. It is much harder to follow my other values of happiness and love without it. When I graduated from college, those close to me expected me to do what they did. Get a job they didn't really like, work like a slave for 40 years, save up a whole bunch of money, and hopefully retire one day to a lower middle class lifestyle. I was totally disillusioned and unhappy about this, tried it anyways, and failed miserably. I made it exactly a year before quitting my job, and then started working part time at a coffee shop to pay the bills. I make a quarter of what I did before, but I have the thing I value most: Freedom. I can arrange my schedule however I want, and spend the rest of my time doing what I want, like writing this blog post. It's harder and I've had to give up some things, but I'm also exponentially happier. This is also my stepping stone to gaining more freedom.

I'm not saying everyone reading this post should quit their jobs and work at a coffee shop. I am saying it's important to identify your own values; who you really are. What you value most has a prominent place is your time management system. Please leave a comment if you've found this series helpful, and/or if you've identified your values. I love comments and always respond to them!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Worktable Wednesday

Besides lots of photography and listing, here is what I have been working on this week. Crab pens! If you look closely at the top left, you will see 2 sections filled with purple and gold beaded stars. Those are for my "Stars in Her Eyes Lariat." It's taking me a looong time to finish the spiral herringbone strap, but I hope to finish it and reveal it soon!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Grand Opening Week!

Yesterday was the official grand opening of my new shop mandibeads.etsy.com! I've been photographing and listing new items constantly, though I will have to take a break this morning to finish some custom orders. My journals are too big for the light box I use for my pens, so I sent DH to the store for lights and poster board. I'm glad he's on vacation this week. I also attended an email marketing course yesterday, and I will be writing a post about what I've learned sometime this week.

Through Saturday there will be free shipping to anywhere to celebrate my grand opening!