Monday, July 26, 2010

You Can Have It All...But Rarely At The Same Time

I have been receiving quite a few emails and comments asking how I fit everything into a day, and sometimes I get the sense that a reader may be discouraged rather than inspired after reading a post on one of my projects. Oh no! I certainly don't want this to happen as the best part of writing this blog is hearing how it has affected someone in a positive way!

As a result, I thought I'd write this post in which I'll talk about the work I am currently doing, what a day is like and how I have learned to say no, a lot...

(A Remote Design Job)

1) Goodbye to remote design work

When readers began finding this blog the requests for remote design help started coming in. I took on quite a bit of remote work, adding to the list which already included local design work as well as the projects done in my own home, work that provides the bulk of the content for this blog. Then of course I am a mother and a wife, and live in a wonderfully social neighborhood. So yes, things were getting busy...too busy.

As a result I looked at everything putting requirements on my time and chose what to take off my plate. The first item cut was remote design work. This wasn't easy as I thoroughly enjoyed working with many wonderful people, and it meant walking away from projects I had discussed working on in the future with these clients. People were very disappointed and I felt bad. (You know who you are, thanks for still being my friends!!) It is still hard to say no to inquires, but it gets easier when I remind myself that if I accept this work I won't have time to go swimming with the kids or go out to dinner with my husband.

(Master Bedroom Retreat~A Full Service Design Project)

2) Goodbye to "partial" design work

I have also begun to have the opportunity to write for venues beyond this blog. This has been work that I have completely enjoyed, but as a result there has had to be more use of the word no. I again looked at how time was being spent and decided to no longer take on some types of local design work. Often I have accepted jobs which address only some of the issues in a space, such a paint, lighting, furniture layout, etc., but not the whole design of the space. I fully understand most people have a budget and would rather not pay me to oversee a project from start to finish. But I have finally concluded that when a client hires me to work on parts of a room, without the opportunity to address the entire space, the end result can be disappointing. When I am not involved throughout the entire process I can't ensure the final result. I now take on only full service design projects...which means I have a lot fewer clients these days. Which leads me to:

3) You can have it all, but not all at the same time

I know these decisions will have an affect on my career (and the bottom line), but Isabella and Max will not be young children for much longer, and there will soon be time for taking on more design work if that is what I decide to do. I truly believe in life you can have all you hope for with hard work and perseverance...but rarely all at the same time.


4) Coffee & Early Mornings (Print by MadeByGirl)

So, how do I fit the rest of it into a day? The key is the hour I wake up. It's hard but simple. I awake to brewing coffee at 5 o'clock. Yes, in the morning. Ugly, I know, but it works for me. These quiet early hours are the time I get nearly all my writing done.

5) Summer vs. Winter Schedules

My work life is clearly divided between summer and winter months. With school aged children I can get a lot of work done during the hours the kids are at school. In the summer months it is more challenging and I do scale back on work to make more time during the week to just hang out with them. Our summers find Isabella and Max up much later into the night, but then they sleep much later into the morning. As a result, waking up at five typically gives me three hours of uninterrupted work before the kids wake up and the chaos begins! It is amazing how much can get done in these hours. Winter is different, waking at five gives me about an hour to write and read blogs before they wake up. Then the "breakfast, dressing, lunch box, do you have your homework" routine begins to get them out the door to the bus stop on time. But afterwards I have over seven hours before picking them up, and that is a huge block of time to get a lot of work done!

6) Working From Home & Multi-Tasking

The beauty of working from home is that I lose no time commuting to and from work and I can easily throw in a load of laundry as I walk out to the garage to get a can of paint. Multi-tasking is my best friend. Multi-tasking is also my savior in the summer, as is organization. With a little planning, it takes nearly no time out of my day with the kids to stop by the paint store after picking up books at the library across the street. Home Depot sits on the way to grandma and grandpa's and again, it doesn't take a lot of time to stop in and pick up all the supplies needed for any projects that week. Same goes for all the other local resources used, I just plan a stop along the way to other activities.

And as for time to work on projects, in the summer it is definitely challenging! I take advantage of any time the kids are at camps, playing at friend's homes, at the grandparents or time when my husband has father/kid time!

7) Family

And of course, nothing would really get done if I didn't have the support and encouragement of my family and particularly my husband. He is my biggest fan and supporter, and truly does value that I have the opportunity to do work that I absolutely love. In fact, look at what he surprised me with yesterday morning as my blog approached having 1000 followers...thanks!



I hope this has answered many of your questions! And if any of the work I do tempts you to be intimidated or discouraged, please remember I was probably working on it at five in the morning...

60 comments :

  1. Thank you for sharing! I too wondered how you managed to all that you do.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for sharing! And what a sweet husband you have.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post!!! I love hearing about other people's lives, especially someone as successful as you! = )

    My husband gets up at 5 AM every morning, and it's the only way we get all of our work done too! I, on the other hand, can't make it out of bed before 7:30, but I'm off of caffeine (as much as I LOVE my blogs & coffee! hahah) so any early just isn't going to happen. Haha!

    Have a great Monday!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. It is nice to catch a glimpse of your schedule and to see how you balance it all. Isn't it amazing how much can get done between 5 and 8 am?

    -Rene

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ha, I'd like to be off the coffee, maybe when the kids go to college! Janell

    ReplyDelete
  6. Such a great post! I feel the same as a work-at-home, trying to spread myself thin between so many exciting things. What a beautiful gift from your husband, very touching.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It was nice to hear how you get things done - It seems like some days I have trouble getting anything accomplished! Also, the gift from your husband is beautiful and thoughtful! What a lovely gift!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great post! It is nice to hear how you do it all...as a mother, wife, and designer I love hearing tips on how others keep the sanity in their crazy lives and how to juggle everything at once. I never get discouraged hearing all the things you have going on...it's inspiring to me to see that it can all be done, but maybe not all at the same time ;)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great post. I knew you must be an early mornin' riser. You are inspiring, but I can see how people (including myself) get a bit discouraged and think...dang, I am wimpy! Keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Good for you! I'm a fairly new follower, but I do find you completely inspiring. I'm also a big believer that organization in a busy life is the key to sanity!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wonderful post! I love that your family is first, it's the most important thing in life. It doesn't last forever, before you know it our kids will be off to school and we will be missing these times!
    It's amazing when I wake up at 5, the things that get done. Good for you :)
    Take care
    Kristin

    ReplyDelete
  12. So, if I show up at your door in my "jammies" with a cup of Jo and a folder of ideas for my remote Bali vacation home, you'd have time for me, right?
    Ha ha, thanks, I could just copy this post cause I am living the same virtual life, juggling parenting, working, blogging and smiling. I get up early - I love the morning, to hear myself think.
    Have you read "crush it?" I think you would love it.
    pve

    ReplyDelete
  13. That engraved Tiffany heart is the sweetest gesture!

    It's always interesting to hear how people manage and balance their lives. I find it inspiring that you're able to focus on the things that are important to you, and have success at all of them.

    Kelly

    ReplyDelete
  14. I truly admire your decision to put family first. As the mother of an almost 20 year old and a 15 year old, I know what you mean about the children only being young a short time. I treasure the years that I spent at home with my children and never regret the decision to put career on hold while they were small.

    It's wonderful that you are able to work from home and still enjoy the kids. That's the perfect balance.

    ReplyDelete
  15. So sweet of your husband to do that for you! I enjoyed reading your post, I like to hear how other people manage their time. My day goes so fast especially with a 4 year old that wants me to be her playmate all day.
    Londen

    ReplyDelete
  16. What a great post! My kids are a little older now but I that doesn't mean I want to spend any less time with them. I am doing my best to be mom, wife and getting a design business off the ground. I need to try that 5a.m. thing but I'm not a morning person - that will be a tough one!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Janell, thanks for sharing. It's so nice to hear how people juggle it all. It sounds like you're doing an amazing job! I really agree on the waking up early thing...it's so nice to have a bit of catch up/quiet time when nobody else is awake yet. I stopped doing that and find there's not as much time in my day anymore.

    And, your blog is always inspiring!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Janell,
    Thanks for sharing how you get it all done. But I think it it would really help if I could see you in action -- any reality TV in your future? Just kidding! To be honest, I am one of those who find not just yours, but most blogs and bloggers awesome and discouraging at the same time. Though you do seem to be the most together woman I (don't) know. :) So many times I think the only way I'm going to make anything happen is if I wake early, but I can't seem to do it. Then again, I don't drink coffee. Maybe that's the key. Anyway, sorry for the long post, but one last thing. I have been watching with happy anticipation for some time to see when you would go over the 1,000 mark. I'm so happy for you! And what a sweet gesture by your hubby. Bless you all!
    Love,
    Michiganhome

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great post. I am a late riser (well, as late as I can manage with two toddlers in the house) so I had to come to accept the limitations that brings. You are a rock star, rising at 5am! My husband gets up at 5am - he, too, cherishes that quiet early morning time. I cherish sleep. :D

    Enjoying your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  20. wow. just wow. thanks you for this post. i have been struggling with this "balance" thing as well. i don't have it worked out as well as you do yet. i was actually reading an interview with emma thompson yesterday in good housekeeping, and she said the same thing...you CAN have it all, just not at the SAME time. it really hit me. i love that you have learned to say NO to some things, which allows you to say YES to your kiddos. once again, you are a shining inspiration!
    have a fabulous day swimming, biking, going to the library and hanging out with those cuties.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you for sharing this post. I love to hear how someone I admire can get so much done. I'm struggling with the decision of leaving my job and staying at home. We currently hae a 18yr old and a 14 months old and plans for more kiddos in the future. I know how fast the time can go and I dont want to miss it.
    Loving the necklace, what a sweet husband!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Sounds like you have your priorities all straight. That's all that matters. I admire an organized and happy person. So just keep doing what you're doing as long as you're happy and enjoy it all. The necklace is a fabulous gift and so thoughtful. Hugs, Marty

    ReplyDelete
  23. I just noticed, before reading this post, that you were at 1004 followers. What a sweet hubby to notice! I have about 10 times FEWER followers. hehe ; )

    Any chance you might show us how you keep organized in your home?

    ReplyDelete
  24. very sweet husband!

    I teach a sewing class in Boston and I have been pointing everyone to your blog for curtain sewing instructions:)

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thanks for sharing this! I am always amazed at working moms who manage to "do it all" in their own way. I'm very inspired by your balance and love reading about your designs!
    Congrats on 1,000 followers!
    -Aja

    ReplyDelete
  26. Love this!! Thank you for sharing! You definitely inspire, not discourage, me!

    ReplyDelete
  27. thanks for sharing... i have noted the 5:00am post times... thinking 'oh my'. congratulations on reaching 1000!! and please keep up the inspiring posts!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thanks for sharing, Janell. Thank you for sharing so much with us! Your husband is a gem! Congrats on 1000!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thanks so much for sharing. It's always good to hear how others get it done .
    Your husband is so supportive, that necklace brought a tear to my eye. You're a lucky lady!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Great posting, always great to hear how other people do it! I think the biggest lesson I've learned, and I'm sure its come with age is the word "no".

    ReplyDelete
  31. I definitely have felt a little down-on-myself reading some of the amazing diy blogs out there (yours included) so thanks for helping us see just how you do juggle it all! I don't have kids yet so I always feel like I'm really slacking but I do work a regular old cubicle job and commute. Regardless, your designs and home are an inspiration! Thanks for sharing that it's all because of the choices you've made :)

    ReplyDelete
  32. First things first, I just realized I wasn't a follower of your blog! What?! I guess I just read it everyday and had never noticed. So sad I wasn't #1000 since I waited this long :)

    Second, thank you so much for this post. It's so refreshing to hear somebody say that you just can't do it all no matter how badly you want to. I'm even a bigger fan now knowing that you have made those decisions to put your family first.

    ReplyDelete
  33. This is a great post! When I get stressed out about work piling up I try to remind myself why I left a career I loved to make a shift and stay at home with my daughter. And, while I do have a very part-time nanny I am there for music classes, art and swimming classes, etc. She's 26 months....so no school just yet...soon! Your comment about your followers was funny....my husband stopped home today for something on the way to a client. I'd been out all morning and arrived home when he did...and he went on my computer to print something. He walked into the kitchen and said "Wow, your entire outlook screen is full of Maddie G Designs" emails.....I think he was a bit surprised that my "hobby" has really become so much more. Thanks for keeping it real!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Well said super Mom/designer. You're so right, you can have it all, just not at the same time, unless you have a nanny and personal assistant, and then you really don't have it all because you've outsourced some of those precious hours with your kids. Thanks for pointing this out this morning, SAHMs like me need to hear this.
    :)
    Kate

    ReplyDelete
  35. Nicely said, Janell! I think that sometimes projects come across as having been completed in no time at all. I sometimes have to realize when I'm reading someone's blog about a project they've completed that it very well did not happen overnight and probably took a few days, if not weeks. It just seems to have happened so quickly when it is shown all at once in one blog post.


    Definitely, spend as much time with your kids as possible. I can tell you for fact that it does go fast and there is no rewind! I was blessed to be able to be a SAHM for 14 years and it still went fast!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thanks for this post. As I've often said, I am amazed by all that you do. Not being a morning person, I admire your 5:00 wake up time!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Your husband is so thoughtful! What a sweet reminder of all of your hard work... congrats on 1000 followers!

    Morgan @ PDB

    ReplyDelete
  38. You're at 1009! Congratulations!
    Thanks, also, for the honesty in this post. Saying 'No' to work is hopefully a nice kind of problem to have.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I'll see if we have any more "congrats" cards left in the drawer -- 1000++. Tremendous! We must all remember that times & schedules do change. At Nome for quite a stretch I worked out from 8a to 10p six days a week, sometimes at 35 below, but we finished on time!!, barely. Now I aim to be up by 9a but may not get to bed until 1,2,3,6a. Life has its seasons, enjoy them.

    ReplyDelete
  40. And hey, to those moms who leave the home to work, by choice or for financial reasons, good for you, and if you are a SAHM with help...great! I think mothers have a tough time these days deciding what is the best choice for themselves and their families and I am often surprised at how strongly divided women can be on this issue, when what we all need is just support and understanding from each other. But perhaps that is a whole other post for a different blog! Thanks for all your feedback and comments! Janell

    ReplyDelete
  41. Oh my gosh, the necklace is too cute! What a sweet hubby you have :)

    ReplyDelete
  42. P.S. I feel that so many women are afraid to say the word "no" when it comes to helping others. It's good that you realize that sometimes, saying "no" is truly best!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Thanks for sharing - I too am an early riser - 5am everyday (except Sunday) it is the only way I can fit everything in, full time job, two wonderful children, time with my darling husband, housework and occassionally a little time for me. So glad to hear that you too are brave enough to say no! Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share and inspire each day on this blog!
    Cheers
    Nic

    ReplyDelete
  44. What a great post! As a mom to three, I suspected that tweaking my wake up time would make a difference in my time management..and you just confirmed it, now the trick is to see if I can actually DO it! (and how cute is your husband with that amazing necklace...LOVE that!)

    ReplyDelete
  45. I just thought you were Superwoman, Janell!! Thanks for sharing this. 5am is rough, that takes commitment, good for you!!! Its great that you can have such an amazing career and still spend so much time at home and with your family. Congrats!

    ReplyDelete
  46. Love the necklace! That is awesome your family is so supportive!

    ReplyDelete
  47. I still have to ask how you fit it all into one day? Just kidding, girl! Great post. I find that, although blogland is a wonderful and inspiring place, it can get us down if we don't realize that most all of us just post the best parts. It's easy to look like super women when we don't post about the messes, temper tantrums etc.

    But regardless, you are an inspiration and I love visiting your blog daily!!

    ReplyDelete
  48. It took me all day to comment because I really didn't know what to say. But, now I do....Thank You, Janell!

    Thank you for taking the time to show us what a day is like in your shoes. I am always amazed at how much you get done DAILY. People really need to hear this. It's easy to forget that there are real people behind these computer screens and there are a lot of sacrafices that are made. I really respect what you do and I admire you so much! This will certainly be a page that I will refer to often like the first email you sent me. You have encouraged me again to be the best that I can be in whatever I decide to do career wise, and family wise.

    You are a great woman and I'm just glad that I've had the pleasure of knowing you!

    Love ya girl!

    And your husband is the sweetest guy! Tony probably don't know what a follower is;-)

    Have a great night!

    ReplyDelete
  49. wonderful post and as always I appreciate your thoughtfulness and responsibilty to your readers in being transparent. you are a first class act.

    p.s.could you have your husband call mine?

    ReplyDelete
  50. Hi Janell,

    I really enjoyed reading this post. You did a great job with writing it. I wholeheartedly agree with you, we can have it all but not all at once. My interior dreams are being put on hold as I feel it's not the right time for me yet with the kids and yes, they are growing up so quickly. It also gives me plenty of time to plan how I'll do things. Before I go, I didn't realise that you could be called in to do partial design work...I think I'd always assumed that it was done from start to finish. Love your blog. Thanks as always for sharing.
    Take care
    Janine
    XXOO
    Tasmania, Australia

    ReplyDelete
  51. Erika,
    I'll have my husband call yours!

    and Janine,
    Yes..."partial" design work, kind of made up that word for this post...learn from me and avoid taking on this type of work from the start, when you get going!! I did because it was the work that started coming my way when I began working in interiors and I figured I would get experience from taking it on. But ultimately, I don't think the designer feels much satisfaction from the work and clients are probably left wondering why their spaces don't look as good as they hoped!

    Thanks everyone for your comments! Janell

    ReplyDelete
  52. I love your perspective on working from home. Rarely do I get the opportunity in my corporate job to do this, but when I do....I get so much more done. I am a better person, and a better wife when I am not running out the door to deal w/ the commute. I also love your perspective on being w/ your children. Agree, work will always be there, but they will not be little forever. I really respect that view point!!!

    ReplyDelete
  53. Loved this very honest post, Janell. You're so right that you do have to prioritize and you can have it all (just not at the same time). I've found myself getting steadily busier the past few months and have had to make choices about how I spend my time as well -- and it's hard, but at the end of the day, my hard "no blogging on weekends" rule (for example) means that I have time for a social life, some R&R, and some time to get some real stuff done around the house.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Loved this very honest post, Janell. You're so right that you do have to prioritize and you can have it all (just not at the same time). I've found myself getting steadily busier the past few months and have had to make choices about how I spend my time as well -- and it's hard, but at the end of the day, my hard "no blogging on weekends" rule (for example) means that I have time for a social life, some R&R, and some time to get some real stuff done around the house.

    ReplyDelete
  55. This was a very informative post. As a new SAHM, I'm still figuring out how to arrange my day to get things done and also to be present with my son. Many projects and blog reading wait till the weekend, late night or naptime! Thanks for sharing your perspective. It's hard to say no, but you are right that you only get one opportunity with your family and as long as you do what is right for you, that's all that matters. Good friends understand.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Also love that you are willing to wait until your children have grown to further your career. Admirable!

    ReplyDelete
  57. What a wonderful and thoughtful hubby! You deserve it girl!

    ReplyDelete
  58. Lately I've been waking up at 4-4:30am which is very wierd for me because I'm a night owl. I have been writing and doing quiet chores in the other side of the house. Then I take a nap in the late morning/afternoon before my daughter gets home from school.

    I also do errands when I'm out. I always plan on going to at least 2 places. The other day I took my daughter to school then went to "window shop" at Home Depot. Then I went to Burlington Coat Factory and bought a table cloth. By the time I was done I couldn't even see clearly so I knew I had to force myself to go home. lol

    If I didn't have the fibro I could shop for hours and hours, but I still tryto get more than one thing done at a time.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Based on the content that it has I was so impress with it I really love it .It has a very valuable details and also very informative.
    Upholstery

    ReplyDelete

Now I Would Love To Hear What You Think!