NOLE GAREY // OH SO BEAUTIFUL PAPER
What does a typical day look like for you?
Each day varies. I’m usually up no later than 8 a.m., which is when my husband and daughter leave the house for work and daycare. We’re a single car family, so some days I drive them in and do errands after dropping them off and other days he drives so I can have the whole day to myself. I start my work day by responding to emails and checking Instagram (my favorite!), then I turn my attention to my daily to-do list. I’m expecting our second baby at the end of September, so my weeks are filled with midwife appointments and other prenatal appointments like acupuncture and a chiropractor – which these days means I have to squeeze work in around appointments or where I can. My husband and daughter are usually home by 5:30p.m., then it’s dinner, bath, and bedtime for my toddler. Once she’s in bed I’ll schedule blog posts for the following day and respond to a few more emails before calling it a night.
What parts of your work do you love?
I love being part of a creative community! Sharing beautiful images and seeing the enthusiastic response from my readers is the best part of my day. I’m in constant awe of the amazing creativity and talent from the stationery community, and there’s nothing better than seeing an amazing submission pop into my inbox. I’ve also really enjoyed producing more original content over the last couple of years: it’s so fun to see an idea go from figment of your imagination to reality in just a few short weeks!
What parts of your work/business do you dislike?
I’m definitely more of a big picture kind of person – I love dreaming up new ideas — so the minutiae of running a business can be a bit of a drag: filing, organizing, and the ever-dreaded quarterly taxes. I’ve learned that hiring some of these things out, even on a seasonal basis, means that they get done way faster and can make a huge difference.
What things do you have to do that you didn’t realize going into Oh So Beautiful Paper?
Oh So Beautiful Paper began as a hobby and creative outlet while I was working as a diplomat at the U.S. Department of State and slowly grew into a business. By the time I made the jump to full time self employment I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting myself into. Running your own business can be much, much harder than working in an office or for someone else. You have to be prepared to put in way more hours than you ever thought you would and to really hustle for every opportunity. Opportunities don’t usually just fall into your lap! And with all of those long hours and the endless hustle, it can be hard to set work aside and just focus on yourself or your family.
What are some interesting things people probably don’t know behind the scenes of Oh So Beautiful Paper?
I don’t know that this counts as interesting (seriously, my business is actually really boring most days), but I think my biggest challenge these days is managing external expectations and setting healthy work boundaries. Even though I have an amazing team of contributing editors, I’m still just a one-woman business – with a family and another baby on the way. Some people assume that I have a staff or maybe they just expect that I’ll automatically respond to something in a specific timeframe and they get frustrated with me when I don’t meet those expectations. I often have to gently remind people that I’m just one person and try to manage everything in a way that mirrors my own business goals and priorities.
What type of calendar do you keep?
I would be lost without my Google calendar! I use it to schedule the recurring columns on Oh So Beautiful Paper, including the columns written by my team of contributing editors, map out project deadlines, plan holiday coverage, and keep track of major trade shows.
How do you organize and tackle your to-do list?
I’m a tried and true fan of paper to-do lists. There’s something so satisfying about physically crossing something off my list once it’s done! I keep a stack of notepads around my house and write out my to-do list (usually) on a weekly basis, then carry that list with me throughout the week. Most of the items fall into similar general categories – errands, emails that need follow up, or posts/projects to produce for the blog. I try to place items in priority order, and I’ll plan my week around tackling items on the list in specific groups.
How do you attack your never-ending email? Do you have a certain strategy you use?
Ah, email… I use Gmail for my email and I have three separate email inboxes for my business, including direct emails, submissions, and advertising inquiries. This might seem counter productive, but I find that it really helps me move through everything faster.
For direct emails, I just try to respond to everything as quickly as possible (within reason) so that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle, but I schedule specific blocks of time during the week to respond to submissions and advertising inquiries. I use Gmail canned responses for the types of emails that I send most frequently – the less time I have to spend thinking about what to say the faster I can send the response – and as a visual person I’m a big fan of color coded labels in all three of my inboxes.
How do you GSD at home?
There are a bunch of home-related tasks that I work into my day, but I usually dedicate at least one afternoon each week to just getting things done at home – especially since my toddler is out of the house and it’s easier to do certain things when she’s not under foot. I’ve learned that I’m very much affected by the environment around me, and since I work from home I try not to let things get too chaotic or I’ll start to feel overwhelmed. Everything goes into my weekly to do list and I just try to get as much done as I can with the time that I have.
Weekends are entirely for my husband and daughter. My husband and I don’t get too many date nights (babysitters in DC are expensive!) but we try to do fun things as a family on the weekend, like trips to local parks or museums, and spend quality time together after our daughter is asleep at night. I never check or respond to work emails on the weekend, and I really love having that time just for us as a family.
Nuggets of advice you’ve been given that have stuck?
I don’t know that anyone actually gave me this advice, but the two biggest lessons that I’ve learned over the years are that dreams require hustle and there’s never a “right time” to do something. If you really want to make something happen you have to be the one to make it happen – which can mean everything from sending a bazillion emails and doing a ton of research to making a big scary jump to pursue your dreams. Also, you have to be your own biggest and best advocate. No one else cares about your future as much as you do.
PROGRAMS & TECH
iPhone / Macbook Air laptop / Mac desktop / Canon EOS 5D Mark II Camera + 35 mm lens
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 #GSD and @megbiram.