Its been a while

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I started this blog about a year and a half ago in June 2014 while I was still working remotely for a company in San Francisco. It seemed the work from home life would be perfect for me, I could make my own schedule, work from cute little coffee shops, and learn anything I wanted to in between projects. While all that was true, it got a bit isolating sometimes not having an office to drive to, or teammates to ask a random questions, or anyone to collaborate with. Design started to become a little less fun when I was all by myself. This blog was my way of making design fun again, a way to show what I make in my free time, and a place to share the little things I learn each day in the business of creativity. It went on hold for a little bit when I began looking for a job in an office to stimulate that collaborative itch I was having. Looking for a job is a full time job.

I started my search in August 2014 and stumbled upon a small startup in Venice Beach called Omaze. They raise money for good causes by having fans donate for a chance to win cool experiences with celebrities. The interview process was long and when they finally offered me the job, I started to doubt giving up the work-from-home life. Change is always nerve racking for me and I started rethinking what it would be like to give up all that freedom. I also didn’t want to give up on the possibility that in the future if I wanted to move up to the Bay Area to actually work in the Visual.ly office, I could.  My husband and I planned to have a baby in a year and a half so moving close to my family seemed ideal for when that happened.

After some negotiating and a lot of back and forth in my head, I decided to take the job and see where it might take me. After all, it was the coolest concept for a company I had heard of yet. The same day I accepted the job, I found out I was pregnant. Oh, crap…that was a bit earlier than expected!

Long story short, the last year and a half has been filled a lot of distractions. Trying to impress the new bosses while secretly vomiting in the office bathroom, then waddling around with an extra 40 pounds on my tummy (and ass) trying to find motivation to get my day job done while fearing the inevitable parenthood that lurked before me, and thereafter, navigating the stresses and joys of being a new mom to the cutest little boy I’ve ever laid eyes on. Pregnancy was tough (I was sick for 6 months of it), giving birth was hard, post-partum hormones were excruciating and so was the sleep deprivation. But I can’t even express in words how much its all worth it. I’m more motivated than I’ve ever been to work hard for my passion, to provide for my family, to show my son that he can do anything he wants in the world. The happiness that he ignites in me actually gives me more creative inspiration than ever before.

So as busy as full time working motherhood is, I hope to make design fun again with a few posts here and there to inspire you as well….or at least share a little bit of fun.

Me & The Moon

I love quotes that make my nocturnal nature seem understood. No matter how early I wake up, I still seem to stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning…it’s been my favorite time of day since I can remember. I stumbled upon this pretty little quote and needed to make a print out of it for my office because it just rings so true for me.

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7 Ways to Enjoy Working From Home

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At the 2 month mark of my going remote for Visually in San Francisco, I’ve definitely learned a few things that have made a significant difference for my productivity and my happiness since my first two weeks. It will be interesting to see 6 months from now, or a year, what I can add to this list. I hope to help others navigate their way around the freedom, sporadic isolation, or idle creativity that can come with working from home.

1. Get Ready. Don’t stay in your PJs! Shower, get dressed, make breakfast and coffee. Treat the day like you’re going to the office, because in reality you are! It will really wake you up and get you motivated for the day.

2. Get in “Work-Mode” Right Away. I write down my first 2-3 tasks the night before. This way, I sit down and know exactly what to get started on and get straight into it. I find that scheduling Google Hangout meetings in the morning with my co-workers in San Francisco helps me to get in work-mode early!

3. Schedule Your Day. The fact that we can get up from our desks whenever we want is both a luxury factor and what can really slow us down. I get up to play with my dogs, clean the kitchen, hang up frames on the wall…and so on, because I can. So I’ve started scheduling my hour lunch break and one other 20 minute break to in the later afternoon. Then there’s the other side of the coin, you don’t have a set time to stop working, so you keep going until 10pm.  Set a time to end the work day so you can do everything else important in your life.

4. Get Out of the House. The best part about working remote is the choice I have in working where I want. Only 1-2 days a week I actually stay home and the other days I go to the local coffee shop, or meet up with friends who also work freelance or have work-from-home days. The newest addition to my location list is a nearby co-working space, with like-minded freelancers and other telecommuters to work with side-by-side. I could go on forever about the benefits of co-working spaces, after all its how many great businesses started out including Instagram before they became worth over $1 Billion, but we will save that for another post. Which leads me to my next point…

5. Stay Social as Often as Possible. Without an office or a team to communicate with all day long, working remote can be very isolating. This is the worst part about it. It was an obstacle I had to figure out immediately before I tore my hair out from island fever /slash/ cabin fever…or whatever fever it is when you start talking to yourself. I have lunch with friends on my breaks as often as possible, schedule dinner dates with them after work hours, and make sure to plan fun activities and dates with my husband and friends all weekend. My new work-from-home job has brought me a lot closer to the people I care about.

6. Stay Active and Eat Right. An obvious tip for really anyone, but I’ve realized my eating schedule changed significantly since leaving my office environment. At my last job, I would wake up with just enough time to get ready, walk the dogs and jet out the door …with no time to make breakfast. In the afternoons, I would get so focused on a task that I would skip lunch constantly simply because it would take too long. Now, the fridge is right there when I’m hungry. So I’ve changed my diet significantly with more fruits and veggies, and many more vitamins and I make sure to get off my butt and hit the gym after work. Life changing.

7. Nurture Your Passion. Chances are, if you’re lucky enough to work from home, you’ve been making the right career moves. And, I’m guessing you love what you do. But if you’re an ambitious person, there are always more business ventures you dream about and goals you want to accomplish professionally. Take a lesson from Google’s ol’ 20% time policy and spend that time working on personal projects that you’re passion about. It’s how projects like Gmail and AdSense came about and innovative companies like Apple and LinkedIn followed suit.  Even 1-2 hours a day working on your special interest will increase your happiness and get you excited to start your day.

Top 6 Books for Modern Professionals

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately for a little business venture I have in the works, and have been really lucky to come across a lot of good reads! I’d highly recommend all 6 of these books for men or women in the modern professional world. Whether you have a new business idea up your sleeve or just want to find a little motivation for your everyday work life, pick up one of these and you’ll find yourself inspired.

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1. Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Recommended to me by my Dad, this book encourages you to always remember the reason you are working so hard. The author studied some of the most influential people in the world and found out what they all have in common. Read it and learn the qualities it takes to become innovative, influential and profitable all at once.

2. The 5th Age of Work by Andrew M. Jones

As a remote employee and a freelancer, this book makes perfect sense to me. The 5th Age teaches us how to thrive in the modern professional world, driven by freelancers, remote employees and artisans and urges companies to jumpstart collaboration and work with creative talent. Plus, it totally supports the notion that people should work when they want, where they want.

3. The Design of Business by Roger Martin

Roger Martin urges readers to approach business innovation the way a designer would: brainstorm solutions, rapidly prototype ideas, gather feedback from users, and repeat until ready. He shows us the top companies of the world that produced breakthrough products and services and how they come out on top every time.

4. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Written by the kick-ass COO of Facebook,  this book is extremely motivating! Sandberg urges women to abandon the myth of “having it all”.  She describes specific steps to combine professional achievement with personal fulfillment by seeking challenges, taking risks, and pursuing goals with gusto. Also recommended to me by my Dad, the book is thought provoking for men and women.

5. Remote by Jason Fried & David Hansson

I bought this  before I started working remote and even then I loved it! It teaches us that in todays professional world, we no longer need to be under the same roof to be a successful team. Technology is rapidly creating virtual workspace opportunities, letting us work with creative talent all over the world. And, when you’re allowed the freedom to work where you want, productivity and innovation increases significantly.

6. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

Sophia’s story would be an inspiration to anyone. The Nasty Gal CEO talks about how she went from dumpster diving and petty theft to running a $100 million plus online fashion company, and how success starts by breaking a few rules and following your gut.