Motivation Vacation

FailLife has been kicking my butt lately.  I’ve got a lot of things going on (I know, who doesn’t?) and I am not using my time effectively.

I’m not sure when I got lazy, but I just don’t seem to be as productive as I used to be.  10 years ago I got a lot more accomplished in a day than I do now.  I mean, yes, I’m 10 years older (and tireder!) but I still need to get things done.  My motivation has taken a vacation, though.

Another facet of my OCD is that I like routines.  Routines keep me busy and feeling balanced.  So on days that I don’t have a routine, or that I don’t really have to follow one, I find myself doing a lot of nothing.  Which can be nice, but then I’m left feeling guilty because I didn’t get all the things I wanted to done.

Most of the things I want to accomplish are personal goals, so I don’t have someone in my ear or over my shoulder making sure I meet deadlines.  With my willpower heading out for summer vacation early, my guilt is eating at me lately.

So I’m trying something new.  Go me!  I’ve long subscribed to the theory that you can do anything for 15 minutes.  Can’t find the motivation to (insert task here)?  Just do it 15 minutes at a time.  What I usually discover is that my dread of whatever the task is has made it seem overwhelming and hugely time-consuming, when in fact, it probably doesn’t take much more than the 15 minutes I’ve committed.

Like this blog post, for instance.  I wrote several posts and scheduled them ahead of time, so my self-imposed deadlines for writing more came and went without any new posts.  But once I sat down to write, it actually went pretty quickly.

I’m still trying to figure out this whole online business thing (and failing), but life is providing motivation.  Bills don’t pay themselves and money doesn’t grow on trees (more’s the pity), so I’m gonna have to buckle down and get busy.  Let’s hope my willpower returns from vacation soon!

Imposter Syndrome

Image Credit: Pixabay

Last time I was talking about my (lifelong) tendency to procrastinate. I hope I’m doing better (past me is writing this, so I hope future me is doing better). However, I’ve been dealing with a lot of Imposter Syndrome lately.

For those of you unfamiliar with Imposter Syndrome (lucky you!), it is defined as ‘the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.’ (Dictionary.com) Basically, I feel like a fraud and that at any moment, someone will discover that I really have no idea what I’m doing.

It’s the opposite of the Dunning-Kruger effect, which is defined as ‘a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.’ (Wikipedia.com)

I wonder if there’s any way to trick my brain into switching one out for the other?

Every time I sit down to try and work on designs for my (eventual) store, I am beset by doubts. Nothing seems good enough. That little voice in my head starts whispering about how I’m not trained, I’m a hack, an amateur, a fraud. Then the very next day (or sometimes sooner), I am looking at other people’s work and thinking, pfft, I can do that!

The Imposter Syndrome was so bad that my Cameo, after sitting in the box for two weeks, sat for another two weeks in my office before I actually tried using it. And I only did it then because my husband was busy working on some designs of his own and wanted to use the machine to cut them (he was making vinyl decals).

I nixed him getting to use it before I did, so I finally sat down and tried cutting out some sticker files that I had purchased on Etsy. (That is another failure story, so keep an eye out for that one.) So, I have now used the machine and learned a few things, but I am still suffering from both Imposter Syndrome and my usual procrastination.

Meanwhile, my husband is busy creating designs and cutting out decals in his spare time and has decorated several of our vehicles with them. Le sigh.

How do you deal with procrastination and/or Imposter Syndrome?

Procrastinators Unite! Tomorrow

Image Credit: Pixabay

I am a procrastinator. Which is bad for a home business, probably. I work best under pressure (like writing a 5 page college paper the night before it’s due, etc). I think I get overwhelmed by choices, so leaving things until the last minute forces me to make quick choices and I don’t have the time to over think them. (I think there’s a sticker in there somewhere!)

So when I decided to try and start a sticker business, I was making list after list after list. What would I use as a name? Did I need a blog? What equipment and supplies would I need? My husband, on the other hand, was immediately online, researching what the best equipment and supplies would be and encouraging me to order them asap so I could get started.

We ended up purchasing a new printer, since my current printer was about 7 years old. We also bought a Silhouette Cameo 3, which I will be using to cut out the stickers I plan to sell. The printer we bought locally, but both items sat in the box for about two weeks – I needed to rearrange some things in my office to make room for the new machines.

We finally got around to rearranging the office so we could set up the new printer and the Cameo. A few days ago I set up a separate bank account to use for the business and got a PO Box as well. So now I don’t have any more excuses for not getting started.

So, have I? Of course not.

I set a deadline for myself of April 1, which has come and gone. I do have the machines set up and I’ve been working on designs and learning the ins and outs of the Cameo. But it seems that external deadlines are easier for me to worry about than internal ones. So I’m going to try my hardest to meet the next one – by May 1 I want to have at least 10 products ready to launch. Crossing my fingers that I can stick with this one.

How do you keep yourself motivated to meet personal deadlines?

Procreate App for iOS

Find Procreate in the App Store

While I’ve been researching other sticker shops and artists and how they do things, I came across the Procreate app. Several of the YouTubers I follow use the app to design some of their projects.

I have Photoshop, though I am certainly no expert at it. But often, especially when the creative urge strikes, you are not sitting in front of your PC. The Procreate app is sort of a Photoshop-lite and allows you to do many of the things that you can do in Photoshop, but with the added bonus of being able to take it with you on the go.

Most of the artists I watched used Procreate with the iPad Pro (which I don’t own) and the Apple Pencil. I do have an iPad, but not the Pro version. I wasn’t sure if I could use Procreate without purchasing a new iPad (which wasn’t going to happen), so my husband and I did a little research.

Turns out, lucky me, my current iPad would not only be able to handle Procreate, but I could also use the Apple Pencil with it. Now, I didn’t have a pencil, so that was a purchase ($100, so it’s not cheap). And after buying the pencil online, we discovered that there are now two versions of the pencil (both helpfully called Apple Pencil – the only way to tell the difference is that one has a silver metal band on one end). So we crossed our fingers and hoped that the version we purchased would work.

It arrived and, miracle of miracles, it worked! So I was able to get the Procreate app ($9.99 in the App Store) and start playing around.

Procreate lets you draw, sketch, and write with the Pencil, but has lots of Photoshop-like functions, including the use of layers, effects, and filters. I’ve been watching YouTube tutorials and learning all the cool things I can do – like the symmetry tool, which makes drawing certain things a lot easier.

Being able to draw and create on the go has been amazing – you can go to your local cafe and work while having your coffee (or tea, in my case). Procreate lets you export your creations, so after creating something, I can export the file so I can print it and cut it. Hopefully this will increase my productivity.

I’m trying to force myself to use my iPad for more things. For instance, I am writing this blog on my iPad, rather than on my PC. It’s been a bit of a learning curve for me (especially with the new WordPress block editor, which I am struggling to learn). The spring sports season has begun, so I will have lots of time sitting around between track and field events to play around with both Procreate and WordPress on the iPad.

If you use Procreate, what’s your favorite tip?

Finding Images for Posts

Image Credit: Pixabay

I’ve written in multiple blogs in my life, and I’m always on the lookout for great places to find images that I can use without worrying about copyright issues. Pictures and graphics just add that something extra to your posts, but finding them can often be a headache, especially if you don’t want to subscribe to a paid service like Shutterstock or others like it.

And with the passage of Article 13, things may change. I’d like to say that it won’t affect me, since I live in the US, but the internet is worldwide, so it probably will.

Just googling (remember when that wasn’t a word?) ‘public domain images’ will net you some great results. However, I have two sites in particular that I like to use – Pixabay and Unsplash. Both of these sites have public domain images that you can use with or without modification in your posts. There are some exceptions (because of course there are), but it’s easy to find an image that works without having to worry about the copyright/attribution headaches. Or am I the only one who does that?

If you’re looking for a text graphic or a graph, there are sites like Canva and Stencil that let you design your own using their templates. Some have free options, some don’t. Some require you to sign up for an account and some don’t. I used to have an account with Canva, but after a long hiatus from blogging, signing up again and having yet another password to remember wasn’t at all appealing.

I’m sure there are other sites, but those are my two go-to sites when I don’t have images of my own to use.

What are your go-to sites for images or other blogging resources?

You Can’t Know Everything

You can’t know everything – a fact which frustrates me often. Take today, for example. I was doing some research to see what counted as views on my blog. Because WordPress has set up this fantastic Reader which lets me follow and comment on all the millions of blogs out there, so surely using it helps the people I’m following, right? And vice versa?

Turns out, not so much. From what I was able to find, the answer about whether it’s counted as view is – it depends. But essentially, unless I go to the actual URL of a blog/site, it probably isn’t counted as a view. Which I get. But then, why have the Reader? Convenience, sure, but is that enough?

So then I thought – well, what if I use Feedly (that’s still around, right? Or did I just date myself?) or some other RSS aggregator? That would count as view since I have to actually put in the blogs/sites I want to follow, surely.

Nope.

Viewing a site using RSS doesn’t count. I think.

You know, I’m an educated person and, I’d like to think, a fairly quick learner. But I can’t know everything. Dealing with the internet makes me think I have to. It seems like there is never a straight-forward answer, and what answers there are contain a bunch of jargon that I don’t understand.

With all the wonders the internet has provided (including memes and hilarious animal videos), following blogs I like all in one place, while also providing a view to those blogs doesn’t seem like a huge undertaking, does it? I’m not a tech person, so there’s probably nuances to this issue I don’t understand or haven’t thought of.

So, for now, this will have to be one of those topics that doesn’t make sense to me. I could spend more time doing research, but it will probably frustrate me and it’s not a topic I want to spend a lot of time on. I mean, views are nice, but they are not the reason I started this blog. I will use the Reader to follow other blogs that interest me, and I hope others are doing the same. If it doesn’t count as a view on my blog, it’s not the end of the world for me.

Organic growth is what I’m hoping for – that what I put out here has some value to others and that my writing speaks for itself. If it doesn’t, and it fails, then that’s another lesson for me, right?

My First Fail

My OCD need for organization has been the butt of many jokes in my life. My children find it hilarious that I can’t remember what I had for dinner last night, but I can tell you if someone moved my stapler two inches. (Maybe that’s just my OCD and not my need for organization, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

I’ve always been a ‘neatnik,’ as my mother would have said. I like things to have a place and for things to be in that place. There are things I don’t do – like organize my clothes by color or season or things like that (because I don’t have the time, nor do I care, frankly). When it comes to my office and files, however, I want everything neat and tidy.

I started using daily planners in college to help keep track of homework, due dates, etc. I’ve been using them ever since. However, I usually have just purchased a generic daily planner and used those. I like having my month laid out so I can see everything at once. The planner was something I liked and used because I wanted to, but once I had children, it became a necessity.

A few years ago, someone mentioned a bullet journal and I was intrigued. I did some research and decided I would try it.

Huge failure.

My need for perfection ruined my use of the bullet journal. I felt like I had to not only be an expert at using the bullet journal, but also be a fantastic artist and decorate it beautifully as well. Which, of course, didn’t happen, and I got so frustrated I quit using it and went back to my generic planners.

Fast forward to about 6 months ago, and I discovered the planner/sticker community on YouTube and Etsy. I was instantly hooked – a way to stay organized with a planner and make it look cute and fancy, but with stickers! As I dove deeper into the idea, I realized a sticker business was something I was interested in. I could work from home, set my own schedule, have some extra income, and satisfy my own need for creativity and organization.

I don’t know if this business idea will work out, but that’s part of the fun, right? I might succeed, I might fail. Either way, at least I will have tried, which is more than most people can say. I’m still working out the logistics of everything – setting up my Etsy store, making product, learning about incredibly boring things like sales tax and online business, but it’s all slowly coming together.

I’m also a huge procrastinator and I suffer from sometimes debilitating bouts of imposter syndrome, but I am determined to see this through. So follow along and watch me fail and learn.

Tuesday Font Fatigue

Image Credit: CreativeMarket.com

I’ve been a planner and organizer my whole life, but finding this whole planning sticker community has been fascinating. However, something I’ve noticed as I’ve been doing research has brought to light something odd.

I’ve been watching a lot of videos about bullet journals, Happy Planners, and the Erin Condren planners, as well as a ton of YouTube videos about running a sticker store on Etsy.

Do you remember Comic Sans font? The font that was everywhere in the 80s/90s and then suddenly became the red-headed stepchild of fonts (my apologies to any actual red-headed stepchildren, no offense intended). Poor Comic Sans became a font to be avoided at all costs. It has practically disappeared from use, except as a joke font.

But while watching all these videos, I noticed that one font kept appearing – the Tuesday font. (If you like it, you can purchase it from your favorite font site.). It’s everywhere. It seems like every spread I see – whether in a bullet journal, in a planner, etc. – everyone is using it.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I think it’s a pretty font. But I have Tuesday font fatigue. There are a million different fonts in the world – why is everyone in the planner/sticker community (it seems) using this one particular font?

I don’t know, but I do know that I will be finding other fonts to use. Here’s hoping that others will do the same.

I Am Not A Niche

Created with Quozio

I know all the advice out there says you should ‘niche’ your blog. I’m still not sure I understand why. I mean, I get wanting to be seen as an expert in your field. But I am interested in people, not in niches. When I think about it in that light, it makes me wonder about the other advice you always hear on social media – be authentic, be real. But authentic and real people are complex and multi-dimensional, not a single ‘niche’ idea, right?

As an introvert, people usually assume that I hate people. I don’t. I love watching people, observing their behavior, trying to figure out what makes them tick. Interacting with people is a completely different thing, though. Because I’m an introvert, I’m socially awkward. I mean, I can handle being in social situations, but I don’t generally enjoy them. Mostly because I don’t understand them. If you don’t really care how I am, why are you asking? I want to talk about deep and meaningful things, but most social conversation is completely superficial.

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked, sorry. This post is about why this blog likely won’t fit into a neat little niche. The purpose behind it is not to present myself as an expert about anything, but rather to (hopefully) show people that with success comes a lot of failure. I think that people are so afraid these days to fail at anything that they prefer to do nothing. But you don’t learn if you don’t fail. I think that’s a lesson that so many people miss. We’re so focused on success that we forget it is driven by failure.

I decided to start a business, and as is usual with me, I jumped right in with both feet. But after spending a week or so researching and doing some paperwork, that darn imposter syndrome showed its ugly face. Suddenly, the whole prospect seemed incredibly daunting. I have no idea what I’m doing; what was I thinking?

Then I started to really head down the rabbit hole. I don’t even really use social media – I have no ‘following’ to promote this business to, so how in the world am I going to get sales? Then I started researching selling online and all the new tax and privacy laws in the US and elsewhere and it really started to get overwhelming. How am I ever going to make this a success?

Then one day, in the midst of all my angst, I thought, why the hell am I worrying about all this? When I originally decided to start the business, I told myself that I wouldn’t worry about failing. If I did fail, then at least I would have learned something. If I fail, I’ll have lost some money and some time, but at least I will have tried. I’d regret not trying more than I’d regret failing. So, here I am.

If you’re expecting this to be a blog about only things relating to an online business venture, you might be disappointed. I will write about that, but other things interest me, and since this is, after all, my blog, I will probably write about them too.

I’m opening at Etsy shop selling planner stickers and vinyl decals. Topics you may encounter in this blog: starting an online home business, cutting machines (like the Silhouette Cameo), stickers, planners, vinyl, decals, sales tax, using Etsy, etc. I may also write about things like fonts, software, blogging, writing, creating, art, being an introvert (and sometimes a hermit), my tinfoil hat theories (shh, don’t tell anyone about these), and you may encounter my snark/sarcasm.

If any of those don’t strike your fancy, no problem. The internet is a big place, and this is just one tiny corner of it. If you’re interested in watching me fail (or succeed), then slap the follow button and let’s go!