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Sustainable Studio - Part 3

Sustainable Work Flow

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Along with creating sustainable products, and an eco-friendly brand, something that has come up for me a lot over the last year is creating a sustainable work flow.
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What I mean by this is a style or pattern of working that puts your well-being needs at the top, and slotting your workload around them. 
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If we aren't sustaining ourselves within our work, then how can we expect to work efficiently for the majority of our lives, and not end up burning ourselves out?
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For me, this means creating a routine that allows for flexibility but still keeps some kind of regular structure. By observing my natural ebbs and flows throughout the day/week/month, I have learnt that I can use this information to create a sustainable schedule. For example, I know that I am most productive in the mornings, and that by mid afternoon I am often flagging a little, so I will always start my day with whichever task requires the most brain power, and end the day with something that can be done with a cuppa on the sofa.
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The ways in which I plan out my work are often changing, as I love playing around with different routines to see what works best for me, but there are definitely some things that have stuck, and that is what I'm going to share with you today...
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Slow Mondays
I actually started doing this kind of by accident. When I first started making jewellery, I was still working for somebody else full time, with Mondays and Tuesdays being my days off. I loved having a Monday off, and relished in the fact that I was having a lie in, and a slow coffee in bed, while the rest of the world made their way in to the hustle and bustle of the week ahead.
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Back then, I wouldn't usually have very many orders to fulfil, so I could take Monday mornings as slow as I liked (I mean, it was technically my weekend!), and would usually just spend a lot of time thinking and planning for the coming week.
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 Mondays are now all about packing up your weekend orders, but by not planning in anything else for this day, it means I can take it at my own pace, start a little later than normal, and ease in to the week. 
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Putting Myself First
When I say putting myself first, I mean it quite literally. I know that by the time the work day ends, I will be consumed by thinking about what to have for dinner, doing any bits around the house, and catching up with my partner over our days work.
So, if I want to make time for me, it needs to happen first, before I start work.
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During the lighter months I find this much easier, as I naturally wake up earlier and have a lot more energy.
I love starting the day outside with a walk or short run, and making time for a slow coffee and breakfast, or a relaxing morning bath.
What I do each day varies, but I know it's really important for me to use this time to do something just for me, to recharge for the day ahead.
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I do find this a lot harder during the Winter months though, as getting out of bed just isn't as inviting! Recently I have been trying out starting and finishing work an hour earlier, so that I can go for a walk after work before the evening sets in.
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Easy Could Do's
So I don't know about you, but I often have times in the week, particularly during the Winter, where I'm not really feeling it and all I can think about is cosying up on the sofa with a hot chocolate. Just me? No, I didn't think so..
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One of the perks of being self-employed is that I could totally do that, and there would be no-one to tell me off, and hey, sometimes it is needed! But I unfortunately suffer from big nasty thing called guilt if I think I'm being lazy!
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So, to combat this I have come up with my 'Easy Could Do's' list. This is a list of things that will overall help and progress my business, but importantly they are not time sensitive, and they do not require a huge amount of brain power.
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Essentially they are things that I can do from the sofa with a hot chocolate, that don't require my full concentration so that I can sneakily have a film on in the background!
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My current 'Easy Could Do's' list looks like this:
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- Find and order a vegetable ink pad for stamping my logo on to boxes
- Redesign market stall layout
- Design how I'd like my earring hooks to be
- Research where I can get Ecosilver chains
- Work out mileage for all shipped orders during Nov/Dec
- Research seed paper business cards
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Obviously I can't be doing this all of the time, but I find it really helpful for those days where I'm feeling a bit tired, or overwhelmed by what's going on in the outside world!
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Plan Free Thursdays
As I start this paragraph, about not scheduling anything in for a Thursday, I am realising that it sounds like I spend very little time actually working! But bear with me on this one, they don't stay empty!
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I started keeping Thursdays free about a year ago now as I found I was always over ambitious with how much I could actually get done in a week. By keeping one day clear, it means that when Thursday comes around I have a whole day to finish all of the things I thought I could get done earlier in the week, meaning that Friday isn't filled with stress while I run around trying to complete my to do list! This is an absolute winner for me, and makes me feel like I've gained a day every week!
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Friday Afternoons
If all has gone to plan, then by Friday afternoon, I should have got all of the important bits of work done, and can begin my ease out from the week.
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For me, I know that I'm never going to be very productive post lunch on a Friday, so it is the perfect time for me to restock my packaging. 
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This includes folding flat pack postal boxes, folding tissue paper to fit the boxes, stamping jewellery boxes, and having a general tidy up of the packing area ready for the next week. 
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It's a job that's a bit monotonous, but needs to be done on a weekly basis so that I'm not having to do these things individually for each order as it comes in. And it's a job that can of course be paired with a movie, or a bit of bopping around to music to get in the mood for the weekend!
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A sustainable work flow has become increasingly important to me, particularly over the last year, to avoid burning out or becoming overwhelmed.
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I would love to hear below of any practices you have in place to help keep you balanced in your work life, especially over the last year when our work and home lives have all been a bit merged!
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Thanks for reading!

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