GSD // ERIN HIEMSTRA OF APARTMENT 34

Apt 34 Office - GSD Interview

 

ERIN HIEMSTRA // APARTMENT 34

What does a typical day look like for you?

My days are a combination of a sprint and a marathon. Be it brainstorming new projects, styling looks for an upcoming shoot or looking for our next post’s story angle, I’m jumping from one thing to the next all day long. And then there’s email — always email. You’d think we all our advanced technologies we would have invented something better by now!

What parts of your work do you love?

It’s funny, with all the various creative things the world of blogging allows you to do, what I still really love is spending quiet time reading other blogs, sourcing images, pinning or putting together a collage. It’s part inspiration, part labor. After all this time, I still love getting lost in the blogland rabbit hole and discovering something new or totally unexpected.

What parts of your work/business do you dislike?

I’m definitely not one for the administrative side of business. Record keeping, accounting, filing the right paperwork at the right time. Those types of chores are seemingly endless, but also very necessary. Maybe I should reward myself with 15 minutes of uninterrupted blog surfing for every administrative task I complete!

Apt 34 Office - GSD Interview

What things do you have to do that you didn’t realize going into Apartment34?

Turning a blog into a business was no easy feat. The thing that finally allowed me to move things forward was so simple, but also so hard to do. I had to ask for help. I realized I couldn’t do everything on my own. I needed to leverage skills and talents that I don’t have. I needed to take on tasks that I don’t always love. And I needed to get myself in a collaborative environment where I was bouncing ideas off others — once I finally made that investment, I was able to grow Apartment 34 into the site I always wanted it to be.

What are some interesting things people probably don’t know behind the scenes of Apartment34?

I think the misperception about blogging is that it’s glamorous work. Sure, on occasion you feel like the luckiest person in the world (like when our Editorial Director recently attended a food festival in Hawaii!). But most of the time, creating something from scratch everyday takes very unglamorous effort. While we wish we were working from perfectly styled, peony covered desks all the time that just isn’t reality. When you’re trying to build a business you’re cramming whatever you can into all hours of the day!

What type of calendar do you keep, how do you use it, and how do you organize and tackle your to-do list?

I now live and die by calendaring. Google Apps have become my BFF. We create our editorial calendars in sharable Google calendars. We create shareable docs in Google docs. And then it all syncs to my iPhone. These days, if it’s not on my phone, it’s not happening! And I have to have those 15 minute reminder alarms or I totally miss my next call. My one exception is my daily to-do list. I still get great satisfaction out of writing down the three most important things I must accomplish each day on good ole fashioned paper.

Apt 34 Office - GSD Interview

How do you attack your never-ending email?

If you can’t already tell, I’m not a big fan of email anymore. I’ve rediscovered the phone! Calling someone and having a direct conversation is so much more efficient! But email isn’t going anywhere, so you’ve got to do something. I start by not looking at my email first thing. It makes your whole day about reacting to what other people want from you. Instead, I look at email after an hour or 90 minutes of working on something I want to get done. Then I open replies to every email I have to answer that day. I might not write all of them at one time but the drafts are open and the day isn’t over until those must-answer emails have been sent! I also have an auto-responder message to buy myself a little more time!

What is your process and/or work strategy?

As my days are so different, it’s tough to have a strategy but I would say one consistent thing I do to keep on track is to stay off social media. Yes it’s very hard to resist and I may even miss out on a valuable interaction now and then, but the feeds are addicting. Before you know it you’ve been on Instagram for 30 minutes. So during the day, I stay away.

Do you have any rituals or routines you do?

I’ve really tried to be more mindful with my days. No more 6-hour marathon sessions at the desk. I try to break things up regularly, be it getting a snack, taking a quick walk outside, or having a conversation with someone else! And Pilates — my sanity and health are saved by nightly Pilates classes!

Apt 34 Office - GSD Interview

How do you GSD at home?

This is always a work in progress! Taking time to unplug is usually the key to rejuvenating life outside of work — be it a new home project, reconnecting with my husband, or just setting aside time to pick up a book (not just a magazine, but an actual book!). I regularly recommit myself to digital sun-downs at 9pm. I regularly fail, but at least I’m trying!

Nuggets of advice you’ve been given that have stuck?

Let your work speak louder than your words and ultimately it’s relationships that truly matter most!

APPS / GADGETS / TECH

My top apps include Google Drive, mobile everything (from banking to Bloglovin), Notes, Trello for project management, the Kindle App for books, the NextIssue app for magazines, Dropbox for images, the Up band app for fitness, VSCO and SquareReady for Instagrams.

iEverything — love my iPhone6, iPad mini, MacBook Pro and desktop. Can’t live with a mophie phone charge and wacom tablet. Mice and keyboards should all be wireless. Program wise, I’m pretty much in WordPress, Photoshop and email all day long!

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Photos by Aubrie Pick Photography

GSD (get shit done): A weekly column featuring busy business owners, entrepreneurs, bloggers, and CEOs and how they get shit done. Meg also writes articles with helpful ways to get shit done. Tell us how you GSD on twitter by tagging #GSDgetshitdone and @megbiram.