GSD // Kathleen of Braid Creative & Consulting

KATHLEEN SHANNON

Braid Creative & Consulting // Jeremy & Kathleen

What does a typical day look like for you?

My husband and I wake up between 6:30 and 7:00AM. He gets the coffee going while I work on breakfast (typically sweet potato hash browns and eggs). I spend about an hour going through my RSS feed on my iPad while I eat breakfast. Around 8AM my husband and I go for a 2-3 mile walk around our historical neighborhood. I return to my home around 9AM just in time to meet my business partner (and sister) and employee for the beginning of our work day. We review our to do list and begin tackling our work. For me this means writing a couple of blog posts, answering emails and writing ECourses or our exclusive creative entrepreneur letters. Sometimes I’ll be working on a logo design or helping direct my designer with one of her projects. At lunch time I like to take a break to go do some yoga. I’ll come back and heat up a quick lunch or make a smoothie. My sister and I typically have at least one client meeting a day — either via Skype or in person — and this usually happens in the afternoon. We finish our work day at 5PM in which I head out for another yoga session or go to the rock climbing gym. After that I’ll make dinner and settle in to one of our favorite TV shows on the couch with my man.

What parts of your job do you love?

I love that I get to work with my sister and that we constantly get to choose to work only with our dream clients. My sister’s role is copy writer & creative director – while my background is more in art direction & graphic design. However, since working with creative entrepreneurs on their branding we’ve realized that we’re not only helping these artistpreneurs with their identity and voice but we’re actually helping them define what their actual business is and where they want it to go. We both have a background in advertising so it’s a nice change of pace to be working one-on-one with creatives and actually making a difference in their lives.

What parts of your job do you dislike?

The fear and uncertainty that comes with being a creative entrepreneur can get a little heavy and feel isolating.

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

I had no idea I would be growing my business beyond just myself and my sister. So when we started hiring full time employees I didn’t realize I would have to learn how to be a boss and learn how to manage and direct someone other than myself.

What type of calendar do you keep?

We use Google Calendar.

How do you plan out your calendar?

I keep everything from social engagements and workouts to business meetings and editorial calendars on our calendar. Lately I’ve learned to schedule less than I think I can tackle to avoid spreading myself thin and try to block off at least one or two days a week for just “doing” and no meetings.

How do you organize your to-do list?

Because I have a business partner and now two employees we have to really synch up our to-do lists. We have quarterly projects and goals written on our chalkboard. Then we have a master weekly to-do list Google Document broken down by the day with a list for each person on our team. That way everyone can see what everyone else is responsible for. We typically have no more than 8 items to do per day — otherwise you’ll just become overwhelmed. We will usually highlight our number one priority but we’ll also include smaller stuff like “Email this client about setting up a meeting” on our lists as well.

How do tackle your to-do list?

I start with the project I want to do. Whether that’s a client’s logo or a blog post – I do what I have the most energy around first. Then I tackle a line item that will make me money (for example, “if I can just package and deliver these files I can then invoice this client and get paid”). Then I’ll tackle a to-do that is nagging at me — a to-do that I know will make me feel better if I just stop putting it off.

How do you attack your never-ending email? Do you have a certain strategy you use?

If I can respond immediately, I do. If I can’t take immediate action then I’ll be sure to mark the email as “unread” and tackle it later. I’m also constantly unsubscribing from email newsletters that no longer meet my needs.

How do you plan out your projects for Braid Creative and Jeremy & Kathleen?

Jeremy & Kathleen used to be where my business lived when I was just freelancing and working for myself. Now that I’ve partnered up with my sister and hired employees my business lives at Braid Creative. So at J&K I’m sharing my life and adventures – while over at Braid Creative I’m sharing my expertise and branding knowledge for creative entrepreneurs. I suppose J&K is where I form genuine friendships and connections with my readers – in order to keep that authentic I write about what’s going on in my life. Because it’s a personal blog I approach it more as a creative outlet – so I don’t force it with a strict editorial calendar. But I do always consider what I want to capture, shape and share with my audience – even when the content is more personal. So planning out projects for J&K means that I’m taking time to live my life – I’m traveling, eating well and taking care of myself.

Over at Braid we divide our projects about 50/50 by the stuff we’re doing for ourselves and the stuff we’re doing for our clients. The work we do for ourselves helps position us as experts – stuff like blog posts, newsletters, ECourses, EBooks, Workshops and Speaking Gigs. The stuff we do for our clients is business visioning, writing positioning statements and authentic brand stories to actually developing a brand identity like a logo and website.

How do you get your blog posts organized and published?

Over at Jeremy & Kathleen I post about things like travel, adventure, eating clean, and work – the more personal side of owning my own business. Usually, I wake up inspired and write a story in my head as I’m on my morning walk — I come home and immediately get my thoughts down and hit publish. It’s that easy.

But Braid Creative has much more of an editorial calendar – lately with the launch of our ECourses we want to make sure our content (blog posts, advice and creative entrepreneur features) line up appropriately with our ECourse offering. We write our posts in Google Drive and then have our designer actually post them to the site.

What is your process and/or work strategy? Anything that you have found that works for you?

My sister and I are very methodical in how we work. We take our clients through a step-by-step process called The Braid Method. It’s how we collaboratively collect the information we need to be sure our client is getting an authentic brand deliverable. And because we use the same method every time we never get that “Oh shit. How will I ever be creative ever again?” because we trust our process. We trust that it will always give us the information we need to get our work enthusiastically approved.

Also, by being able to show our clients that we have a creative method it reassures them that what we were able to do for our past clients we’ll be able to do for them too.

When you are stuck on a project, how do you get out of the rut?

I’m lucky to have a team of people to fall back on. When I get stuck I talk it through with my coworkers. Or I’ll step away – I’ll go read a book (this ALWAYS helps with writing ruts) or I’ll go workout.

How do you GSD at home?

My husband, who works full time as an electrical engineer, is amazing at GSD at home. He makes the bed, pays the bills, does the laundry and cleans the dishes. One week when he was out on a business trip I realized how much cleaning up after me he does – so I immediately hired a house cleaner to come in every other week to help out.

Lately, I’ve been completely consumed by my work so I find my workouts (which I schedule in as my most important meeting of the day) and cooking dinner to be creative outlets that help me separate working from home and just being home.

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

“Just lace up your shoes and get out the door.” — Leo Babauta, Zen Habits

Leo Babauta is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to creating habits to GSD. He said this quote above in reference to developing a running habit but I apply it to everything. When I want to see Mt. Everest I start with just buying a plane ticket to Kathmandu. When I need to design a logo or write a post I open up a blank document. That first step is all it takes to get started – and if you can start there you won’t get so overwhelmed by everything else.

Any other information about how you GSD, please share?

I surround myself with a team, friends, community and family who are constantly uplifting and inspiring me to GSD.

APPS

It’s important that the apps I use are on a cloud so my husband, business partner and employees can access them as well.

DropBox // It’s so wonderful to have all of our work backed up on DropBox and to be able to access it from any computer / mobile device at any time

Google Mail // I set my “unread” emails to show first to help me keep a “zero” inbox

Google Calendar // I’m synched up with my business partner and husband. We always know where the other person is.

Google Docs (now Google Drive) // We do all of our writing in here — it’s great to see revision history and to work through a project at the same time

Google Reader // For reading through my favorite blogs quickly

Flipboard // For browsing through my RSS feed more magazine style

Freshbooks // We use this for our accounting — it’s perfect online software for service providers

Spotify // So the soundtrack of my life is always on.

Skype // For client meetings

Maps // So I always know how to get from Point A to Point B

P Tracker // So I always know when I’m about to start my period

WEBSITES

Google, of course

Wikipedia

PROGRAMS

Adobe Creative Suite (currently on CS6)

GADGETS & TECH

iPhone5

27″ iMac

15″ MacBook Pro

iPad (the older version)

Canon T3i

 

Photos 1, 3, and 4 by Greer Inez, others by Braid Creative

GSD (Get Shit Done) is a weekly column where Meg interviews busy business owners, bloggers, students, moms, etc., about how they get shit done. Tweet Meg @megbiram with the hashtag #GSD on twitter or show her on Instagram (megbiram) — how you get shit done. To recommend someone to be interviewed for the GSD column, just email Meg here.