GSD // Victoria of Vivaleur and vmac+cheese

Victoria McGinley
Founder of creative services company Vivaleur and blogger at vmac+cheese


What does a typical day look like for you?
It’s hard for me to sleep in, which, since I work for myself, is a good thing. I try to be at my desk no later than 7am, though lately, I’ve been starting work around 6am (I’m a morning person!). I work in my home office all day, and try and break for lunch around the normal time (I find that stepping away for a bit and watching something I’ve DVRed while I eat refreshes me and helps me re-energize for the afternoon). Some days though, I’m just so busy or absorbed in a project that I won’t look up until about 3 pm! Two or three days per week, I shut things down around 4:30 and head to my pilates gym, but otherwise, I’ll work until 5:30 or 6. Long days, but I love ’em.

What parts of your job do you love?
I love being my own boss, and truly being able to see and celebrate the results of hard work. I love being creative, working with clients, helping people reach their goals, and yes, if I’m honest, being able to take a day off whenever I want (though that doesn’t really happen that often!).

What parts of your job do you dislike?
I think every freelancer deals with this, but there’s always anxiety about having enough projects and being sure you can make ends meet. It’s not my favorite emotion in the world, but I know it’s just part of the gig. In creative freelancing jobs too, there’s such an impetus to compare yourself to other creatives. It’s easy to second guess yourself, but I try really hard to do what works best for me!

What things do you have to do that you didn’t realize going into your job?
I think I had a pretty clear understanding of all the ins and outs of what this job would require. One thing I probably didn’t anticipate was how indebted I would feel to my clients. Sometimes it’s hard for me to step away from a project (even on weekends), because I feel like I want to offer good service and be responsive and all that. I still have to convince myself that people won’t fire me if I don’t respond on a Saturday night at 11pm!

What type of calendar do you keep?
A crazy one. I used to have everything in Google Calendar, but honestly, it got too crazy and I needed a way to combine task lists with my appointments and meetings, so I went back to using a paper planner. I use the regular one from Paper Source. I write daily to-do lists each day, and keep appointments at the bottom. It works out well!

How do you plan out your calendar?
As soon as I know something is due or is scheduled, I write it in. This goes for everything — dentist appointments, client meetings, dinners with friends, blog post due dates, guest post due dates, etc. Then, based on how busy a day or week looks, I can start scheduling in everything else around the static items. I try to be a stickler for keeping appointments and deadlines, so I’ll only change them if it’s really going to make my life a hundred times easier. The flip side of this is I’m having to learn to say no a lot more often, because there really aren’t enough hours in the day!

How do you organize your to-do list?
I keep my master to-do list on a sheet of paper that gets completely re-written probably once or twice a week. The list is divided up into sections: blog, clients, wedding, personal, with individual action items for these areas of my life underneath. Client projects always come first. Next would be blog related items. I’m honestly still working on finding balance, because there are some things (even related to personal items, like wedding planning) that fall by the wayside because I’m so focused on my businesses! For client to-do lists, I have a very sophisticated system: post-its that I keep tacked up to my monitor. On these, I write down notes about the direction of a project, and make checklists for what needs to be done next. I like that I can look at these post-its at any given time and know what’s up with a particular project, without having to comb through emails.

How do tackle your to-do list?
I try and write out a realistic daily to do list (that takes items from the master one and the client post-its) within my planner, and get shit crossed off. If it doesn’t get crossed off, I move it to the next day. The goal is that by Friday, the list isn’t insanely long — so that keeps me motivated!

When you are stuck on a project, how do you get out of it?
I switch gears and will work on something else. Sometimes, I’ll just stop work completely and go relax my brain with a TV show, or go on a little walk, or run errands. I also find that sometimes, if I clean up my work space and my house, I can think more clearly about what I want to do. Funny how that works! Though, to be honest, on most days my desk looks like a tornado hit it

How do you GSD at home (decorating, kids, cleaning, etc.)?
Same as with work — lists, lists, lists! I also try and delegate what I can to my fiance, and multitask whenever possible.

Any other information about how you GSD, please share!
All the technology in the world won’t help you GSD if you’re not motivated and accountable. Whenever I’m feeling lazy and like I want to ignore everything I need to do, I have a stern lecture with myself. I have people who are depending on me to follow through, and the reality is, my work life now is much more fun and enjoyable than when I worked in a corporate setting! So, I tell myself, go big or go home. No excuses. Shut up and get shit done. Besides, it makes the downtime feel like SUCH a reward for all my hard work!

Apps you use frequently/can’t live without:
1. Pinterest — Who doesn’t love Pinterest? I’m big on using the app when I’m on the bus or running around town and have a few minutes of downtime. Super easy to re-pin things and get inspired!
2. Twitter — For the obvious reasons!
3. Instagram — Making your life look very fun and oh-so glam, on the daily.
4. OpenTable — I love being able to make a dinner reservation on the fly when we’re already out and about. 
5. TripIt — I used to be that crazy person who would travel with 50 printed pages detailing my itinerary, confirmation numbers, phone numbers, and the like. Now, I can be equally as crazy, but just hide it all in my TripIt app. You get a confirmation email from Expedia or a hotel, forward it to your Trip It account, and boom, it’s in your phone.
6. VSCO Cam — It’s like Instagram on steroids. Amazing photo editing options, and pics can be instantly shared to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
7. Pandora — How else am I supposed to burn through all my data each month?
8. NextBus — Available in most major cities, NextBus is a godsend. I never have to stand around and wonder when the next bus will arrive. It’s aptly named.
Websites you constantly use:
1. Gmail — I wonder how anyone can get by without Gmail. Hotmail? Yahoo? Forget it. Gmail lab features are great too!
2. Google Docs — Everything from my business plan, to client forms, to my wedding planning lives in Google Docs. It’s fantastic for projects in which you’re collaborating, since anyone can edit the docs and they update in real time!
3. WordPress.org  — In my humble opinion, simply the best blogging platform out there.
4. RewardStyle and ShopSense — two great affiliate options for bloggers and often a fantastic source of inspiration!
5. Bit.ly — Many people don’t realize you can create a free account with Bit.ly. By doing this, you not only get customized shortened links, you can also track stats on the links you share!
And of course, same as with the apps, Pinterest and Twitter are open in my browser almost all day!

Programs & technology you use:
1. Dropbox  This is a must have if you work across multiple computers. I have DropBox installed on both my desktop and laptop, and it makes editing Word docs and Excel spreadsheets much easier because you don’t have to email yourself versions of your work every time you update them on another computer (of course, Google Docs is another good option if you don’t want to install DropBox!). DropBox is also useful when I’m sharing larger files with clients that can’t attach to emails.
2. Adobe Creative Suite  The gold standard in creative software. There is no substitute. 
3. MS Office Suite  Obvi.
4. Skype  What would I do without Skype? A large part of my business is built on being able to connect with clients, and the fact that I can do this “in person” versus over the phone (and, in the case of tutorial work, share my screen with people so they can take real-time private lessons in Photoshop) it blows my mind. Skype, I bow down to you.
5. Quickbooks  Gotta keep my accounts in order!
6. FaceTime  FaceTime is another great option when Skype or Google Hangouts won’t work. It’s how I connect with family who live across the country!
7. Google+ Hangouts  Hangouts have a feature that Skype and FaceTime can’t yet match — FREE group video calls that can support as many as 10 people. Hangouts also come with a chat and note-taking feature.
Your gadgets/tech items:
1. iPhone
2. iMac
3. MacBook Air
4. Barnes and Noble Nook

Photos by Victoria McGinley

Please share how you GSD in the comments, or on twitter and tag it with #getshitdone (tag me @megbiram if you want, I’d love to see it!)