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five tips on finding balance
from kasey @ buttonwood cottage

today i'm excited to have one of my sponsors and tribe buddies here to talk about something that, in my opinion, many struggle with when juggling the life of a handmade business owner - balance. i know that i personally have trouble deciding on what is important and getting my priorities straight concerning what is best for me, my family and my business!

so, when kasey shared this list of awesome tips with me i couldn't wait to share them with you. we'd love for you to weigh in in the comments with ways that you find balance and prioritize your time!

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Hi Everyone! If we haven’t met yet my name is Kasey. I run a handmade business and blog over at Buttonwood Cottage. Skye’s one of my tribe and was nice enough to give me the floor today – she’s cool like that. I’m going to use the time to talk a little bit about how I manage when life gets unmanageable because happiness + handmade are the cream in my coffee so I like to share what works for me and learn what works for you. Please feel free to ask questions and leave suggestions in the comments so we can really get this conversation going!

When life gets really crazy (which is often) and there are more things on my to do list then there are hours in the day (again often) I sometimes want to throw my hands in the air and shout, “Uncle!”

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Drawing by Florent Eymery

It takes a lot of mental energy to run a handmade business, to choose happiness, and to be present in your everyday life. Folks trying to do all three at once drives me batty sometimes, mostly because life is a balancing act. When life gets a little crazy I think I start reacting to what’s going on around me instead of putting my values into action. Do you know what I mean?

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Buttonwood Cottage

Here’s an example: My business is about creating hand crocheted accessories for women and [coming soon!] babies. If I wouldn’t buy it I won’t make it, which means I’m normally measuring my ability to create by hand against a machines ability to mass produce. It’s an apples to oranges situation. I value quality, I value function. I value stylish and cute! Basically, I want to make products that people want – so if I wouldn’t buy it from someone else then I won’t make it either. That’s a whole lot of values in there, right?

The values I’ve infused into my business result in a lot of day to day choices that can take some times to wade through. From ethical decisions about pattern usage (you know people are selling things on Etsy using other people’s designs/patterns and NOT asking for permission and crediting the designer!) to financial choices about material ordering.

Let’s just say that things get hectic – because folks that picture I just painted only covered business stuff and you know there’s a lot more to life than your job. Here’s what I do to get through the crazy periods until I feel like the list is a little more manageable and my brain is a little more capable of wading through all choices I’ve got to make.

1. Get down to the basics. The worst thing I can do when I’m stressed is to try to schedule all of my “responsibilities” into a day/week/month. It never works because when I’m not at my best I tend to overscheduled my time and underestimate how many curve balls the universe will throw my way. I end up spending 2 hours elaborately developing an intense hour by hour schedule which I can rarely stick to for more than a day. So instead, I go back to the basics. I take only the tasks that are absolutely on fire (if-I-do-not-get-to-the-bank-by-Thursday-my-mortgage/rent-check-will-bounce kind of on fire) and I give only those items space on my to do list…with Friday deadlines.

2. Just say no. I love to help people, I’ve got a reputation for just that, and I enjoy being a go to person. But when I’m stressed I say “no.” No I can’t proof read that proposal for you. No I can’t go to that yoga class this week. No I can’t put more on my plate right now. It is the hardest thing ever (and ok sometimes I fail) but it is the best way to manage my stress. Over-committing is a great way to disappoint yourself and the people around you.

3. Finish what you start.It can be really easy to start a project, get distracted by another project, and at the end of an hour realize nothing actually got completed. I try to set myself up for success by doing one project through to completion. A big key to finishing a project in one sitting is making sure I have all of the resources I need at my finger tips before starting.

4. Ask for help or -ahem- delegate. If it’s Thursday and my order must go to the post office on Friday I ask my Hunnie Bunnie to take over some of my responsibilities, like making dinner AND doing the dishes. When he’s grading midterms I remember that I was able to ask him for help so I don’t pout about taking out the trash or picking up something from the cleaners. I certainly don’t advocate for keeping score, but trust that the universe will give you the opportunity to help people and ask for help when you need it.

5. Let it go. The world will not end because I did not do the laundry on Wednesday, I canceled my haircut even though it’s 2 months overdue, or because I shipped an item 1 day later than I wanted to – after all I notified the customer and upgraded her shipping for free. You will be so much happier if you let go of things you cannot get to on your to do list. It gives you perspective.

Ok time for sharing – what do you do when things get a little tough? How do you stay sane with a crazy to do list, a teething toddler, and more overtime then you can manage? (Or you know some variation of all that.)

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these tips are fantastic for people, who like me, have a tendency to over-commit and then get burned out super fast. i will definitely be implementing some of these great ideas into my every day schedule.

tell us: how do you find that delicate balance between doing what makes you happy and what makes you crazy?

7 comments:

  1. Thanks so much Kasey for sharing these great tips!! :) I love how you balance it all. I especially like how your hunnie bunnie helps when you need him do. That is always wonderful. Hubby does the same for me and I can't thank him enough for it!

    I wish I had some more tips to contribute to this but the only one I got - the only one I stick by 100% is I take it one thing at a time. If while making one item my mind comes up with another idea, I simply jot it down and get back to what I'm doing - otherwise I become overwhelmed fast . I do this with all areas of my life really. Cleaning, playing with the boys, spending time with hubby. I just focus on what I'm doing and push out the rest {or write it down} otherwise I feel like my attention is not really on whatever I am doing.

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    1. That is an absolutely FANTASTIC tip! I love it - I totally need to keep focused on what I'm doing no matter what awesome idea pops into my head. I've been doing better at it since I got my sweet little inspiration journal but I'm not using it near enough. Thanks for the reminder!! :)

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    2. Love your tip. How do you deal with "the list" you end up with after a full day of jotting stuff down? I sometimes have a page [or more] of crazy scribble notes that I feel like I will NEVER be able to get to!

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  2. 1} the perfect guest post ;)
    2} I think I have sort of fallen in love with Kasey after reading this post. I love that she keeps in mind EVERYONES perspective even though she might not have kiddos yet, she kept us right in there with her thoughts.
    3} these are great tips... When your pants are on fire that needs to get put out first.
    (unless you like that sort of thing)
    my hardest tip for creating balance, or just plain putting everything back in order is to just step away if you can. Take a few days, Get your laundry caught up reorganize your life, dedicate a day to playing at the park so your loved ones know you still love them... and then go back to it. If your life is organized then it is easier to put things back and keep on top of it when you are back to juggling it all. ;)

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    1. 1. seriously! kasey sent me this the day after your guest post post and as i was reading it i kept thinking "YES! this is exactly what Aubrey meant!!" i thought it was perfec too!!

      2. kasey is awesome - i do love her!!

      3. the pants need to be put out first, especially if they are a great pair of jeans!! ;)

      i was just talking with a friend on the subject of really stepping back and taking a break every once in a while or working your schedule to include time for work and time for play. it is sooo important for me to spend time with hubby and i have a hard time changing from work mode to play mode. it is definitely something i'm working on!

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    2. #1 Awww you're really sweet :D
      #2 [Chelsea will like this because she loves my mantras] I tell myself all the time "you can't help everyone if you're falling apart" I started saying it back in high school when I started to realize for the first time that being successful means taking care of yourself so that you can handle challenges - not staying up until 2 am everynight trying to do EVERYTHING

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    3. YES! Another mantra! :) I have printed this post and put it in my inspiration binder. Kasey- thank you for sharing these great tips.

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