Ever since I shared more about my story and how I got here a few months ago, I have gotten a TON of emails asking me for a follow up post on where I’m at now. I have to say, I am so honored and grateful you guys enjoy these “real” posts. You know, the ones that don’t just talk about a new recipe or something food-related. I love connecting with each of you on a different level and sharing as much as I can about my life with you through my blog and Instagram. It just mind boggles me that you actually crave this type of info!
2016 was a huge learning experience for me. I learned what works for my brand and what doesn’t. I learned how to even build a brand of my own, and I learned a crap-load about myself and what sets my soul on fire (as Jordan Younger would say). I learned how to work for myself and not go completely insane. I learned to not give an F what other people have to say and to stay in my own lane. And I learned that this industry can be rough, and you can be taken advantage of very easily (by brands, bloggers, people who knew years ago, you name it).
Going into 2017 I didn’t really set goals for myself. I don’t mean that a lazy way. I just mean I don’t set specific expectations and things I want to accomplish for the year. I have found that when I set goals or too high of expectations, I just get disappointed when they don’t come to fruition or when things don’t work out exactly how I wanted them to. I have learned that for me personally setting many goals for my brand just isn’t “on brand” for me. And frankly, it gets in the way of my creativity and trying to tackle what comes at me every day.
Monetarily speaking, I would be lying to you if I said I don’t set a goal for the year. I have an idea or range of income I hope to bring in, but it’s not really like the stock exchange over here with me watching its every penny. It is more so I can financially plan for my future with J (#nerdalert).
So let’s chat about last year a bit more. I now know more about working with brands, what you guys like to see from me and what you apparently like to eat (cough, banana bread, cough) and most importantly I experienced what it is liked to work for myself with very little man power. AKA it is just J and I over here and he still has his own full time job. You know, in corporate America.. not in our kitchen.
When we started to do my taxes for 2016, I realized how many brands I worked with last year. Let’s just say it was enough to make my head spin and me question how I had time to sleep. I worked until after 10pm almost every night. Didn’t go to as many social events because of work and took no days off. I also felt a sense of defeat from how I was treated by some brands in the space (I am not going to go into detail not that here but a self worth piece will be on it’s way to the blog).
This year I can confidently say that I have improved a bit on the balancing act and really learned how I am going to stay sane while working for myself AND from working out of our apartment. Two things that to be honest, not many can do. And I don’t mean that in a conceited way. Most people always joke to me they would lay in bed watching Netflix in pajamas all day if they did what I did, and I really believe that. It takes A LOT of self motivation and drive to keep yourself motivated each and everyday. And to stay on top of everything, continue to innovate and create and hopefully inspire you. But I have found that the more I let myself “live” the more productive I end up being in the end.
For those of you out there working for yourself alone in your apartment or are having trouble staying balanced or afloat in someways..Here are somethings I have been trying to incorporate into life as much as I can to keep me sane and balanced. Granted some days I fail epically and don’t follow this, but let’s push each other to keep at it, k?
- Deleting email off my phone at night and on weekends AND no checking it on laptop. This is SO KEY I can’t even stress it enough. When I tried to take 5 days off in December, I put an auto-reply on for OOO. My first time ever. Safe to say it lasted 1 day because some brands didn’t get that I needed time to myself to enjoy the holidays and were DM-ing me asking me to check my email. I of course did like a weakling but now, no more. After 7pm I delete email from my phone. When J comes in, I am done with emails. Granted there are some days I have been busy all day and need to catch up, but I am really trying to keep this rule in tack as much as I can. And same on weekends. Sometimes on a Sunday night I will check and follow up on invoices, etc. but not from my phone. Turn mail off and enjoy your time and just live. Especially when you are visiting family or friends or going to get a manicure. Emails can be DRAINING!
- Work out 4x a week doing something you enjoy. Since I am surrounded by food all day and am testing new recipes, trying new granolas and more, I have to work out. I’m not a cardio-whore or weight lifting kind of person. I enjoy taking barre, pilates or power walking. I make sure I work out 4x a week and listen to my body when I do. I make sure the workout works for me and is going to make me feel GOOD after. I don’t feel obligated to do a workout that doesn’t feel good for me and my body. It is important not to do what others are doing, do what you should be doing for your body. It is also an amazing way to connect with others if you work from home. I have formed communities at my favorite studios and get to meet friends for classes, walks, etc. It is a part of my social interaction as well.
- Incorporate different forms of self-care throughout the week. Since last year, self-care has been huge for me. It may sound selfish but you need to worry about YOU. What makes you happy? What helps you to disconnect and relax? For me personally I take a bubble/salt bath about 5x a week, get my nails done, walk outside listening to podcasts, get a dessert from somewhere yummy, etc. Now I want to start doing massages, acupuncture and infrared saunas as other forms of self-care. I love trying new things that just give you an hour or so of YOU time! Find what works for you and makes you feel blissed out.
- Get out of your apartment for at least an hour everyday. I work from our 600 square foot studio apartment here in NYC. And let me tell ya, it gets real tight real quick. In order to keep my sanity, I get out of my apartment everyday. I leave after I eat breakfast and run errands or work out or something. I make sure that I take an hour or so to live outside the apartment for the day. We need fresh air and human interaction, if it is just walking by people on the street or in the grocery store – you will feel better.
- Don’t over commit yourself, just say NO. As J would say, I am the queen of not committing to things. I have no shame in saying no when I don’t want to do something or attend something. If I know I’m not going to get much out of an event or I know that day I have a lot going on, I don’t commit. I do not enjoy being busy from 8am-10pm. I like have time in the day to catch up on life and just breath and stay afloat on work. Same goes for working with brands. Last year I would try and make something work with every single brand who contacted me. This year, I am really trying to stick to my gut when it comes to this. I cannot work with every brand that emails me or receive free product from every single company. I need to commit to brands that see the value in working together and understand me as a brand as well. You should too! Don’t commit to every birthday party or work happy hour. Do what you want and invest time in those who value your time
- Eat 3 meals a day and only snack when hungry. Sounds easy enough right? Well working from home (and being a food blogger) means you are surrounded by your pantry and you are close proximity to your kitchen all day. It is way too easy to graze over and open a bag of tortilla chips or have a bite of chocolate (yeah, it’s never just one bite..). I am 100% guilty of snacking all day and thinking it makes a nutritious meal if you add it all up, but that just caused me more stress and I wasn’t satisfied. When I started eating 3 balanced meals a day (see an RD or Nutritionist if you aren’t sure), I didn’t feel the need to snack mindlessly and graze all day because my body was filled and I just didn’t care. I personally find that when I have breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, dessert, it works for me. I do not believe people who say they eat all day like it’s cool. If we sat there and eat every minute of the day, we would be extremely overweight. I am also learning that everyday is different so if on some days I am hungrier, I eat more. Or if its a day I recipe test, I know I will eat more than usual but that is OK. Not being stressed out about it and just eating 3 solid meals, makes the extra food around me less appealing (seriously it works). Plus there is always tomorrow to try that new nut butter you found at Whole Foods. I am going to do a post entirely dedicated to food and balance soon too so stay tuned.
- Schedule time with your friends, husband, boyfriend,family, etc. It can be really easy to isolate yourself in your apartment when you work from home all day. I have cancelled plans many of times because I didn’t feel like going out or it was too cold (but seriously too cold lolz). Schedule dates, have a reoccurring manicure date with your bff, do SOMETHING to make sure you are staying in touch with the real world.
- Airplane mode when you need to be in the moment. I make Jord a priority to me each and everyday. He is my best friend and my rock. I can’t sit there on my phone and expect our relationship is going to be amazing. When we eat dinner together, I take both our phones and put them away. He is guilty of this too and still gets annoyed when I take our phones, but I have no shame. We need to stay connected by physically being present together. I also LOVE putting my phone on airplane mode with no wifi when I want to connect and be in the moment. We did this when watching a new move recently and honestly, it was the first movie I watched and actually know what the beep was going on in way too long.
- Stay positive, confident and calm. Sounds pretty generic and blah, I know. But over the past few days, any time I have been feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, I remind myself how grateful I am to be where I am today and this is the best kind of stress there is. I have so much to be thankful for and so do YOU! Not everything is perfect and that is okay but things DO work out in the end if you believe in yourself… because it has to. Our self esteem is EVERYTHING. When you’re confident in yourself, you’ll radiate more positive energy and attract more people. And life is way too short not to be happy, grateful and just BE.
You may notice I don’t say to give yourself 9 to 5 hours as one of my tips. That’s because to be honest, working 9 to 5 or setting strict hours, doesn’t work for me. There are nights I actually do my best writing at 10pm on the couch. There are mornings I need to sleep in or get to a workout before I start working on things. If you work from home or for yourself, don’t feel obligated to work those hours (unless it works for you!).
I will continue to update this as I learn more tips and tricks that have helped me to stay balanced and not turn into a LOONEY working solo.