What does a typical day look like for you?
I usually get up somewhere between 6:15 and 7:15 AM, depending on whether I can drag myself out of bed. Since I’m on the West Coast and deal with Europe, sometimes I have to get up at 5 AM for phone calls. If I’m up early enough, I’ll spend about an hour or two checking email and getting started on my to-do list for the day. Around 7:15 AM, I get my daughter, Amelia, out of bed and ready for the day. Around 8 AM she’s off to daycare with Jordan and I have the house to myself.
I work from home in our 3rd bedroom. I work best when I’m in my office otherwise, I get too distracted—I need to be intensely focused. This summer has been especially warm, so I try to take advantage of the marine layer haze in the morning and go for a quick run. Around 10 AM I am back at my desk and usually don’t move until about Noon when it’s time for lunch. I’ll walk Lulu, our American Bulldog around this time, too. Then it’s back to work until about 2 or 3 PM, when I start to need another break. I’ll usually grab a cup of coffee or a snack around this time and do some drawing or painting.
Around 4 PM, I run a few errands and pick up my daughter from daycare. Between 5 PM and 7:30 PM is family time, so we try to stay off our computers and phones and get outside…we’ll eat dinner and then take a walk or go to the pool. Amelia usually goes to bed around 7:30 PM and then Jordan and I sit down to relax, finding time to catch up with each other, check emails again, and watch Breaking Bad or some unmentionable reality shows… I always draw or sketch while we watch TV. Sometimes there’s ice cream.
My office is usually a mess because I have a lot of stuff going on. I think the mindset that we’re living in a temporary space makes me feel like it’s OK to leave wires exposed and not care about straightening up. Usually I can’t work when things are messy, but I’ve been too busy lately to pay too much attention. This is a photo of my office as I am answering these questions. And this is the “clean” half of it! So be it; this is my real life… See? Design bloggers are not always a beacon of perfection. You’re welcome.
What parts of your work do you love?
I love just about everything I do, but my favorite part about it is the variety. Every single day is so different and challenging. I love meeting new people and making new connections through the posts we do on Design Milk. It’s rewarding to hear what happens after we post about something on our site; the stories from designers and the “thank yous” we get are what keep us going.
What parts of your work do you dislike?
Accounting! Hate it. While I love spreadsheets, the monthly invoicing and following up is such a PITA. Sometimes I get frustrated because I feel like I can never escape because the internet is always on. It never stops.
What things do you have to do that you didn’t realize going into starting your blog?
Accounting! Haha. Advertising. Managing other people. Public speaking (yuck).
What are some interesting things people probably don’t know behind the scenes of blogging?
Let’s be honest here — I wear PJs most days. It rocks. Despite having a lot of followers, I’m still a human being with feelings sitting behind a computer. We’re not a content farm or robots over here. It’s just me and Caroline for the most part working on Design Milk. Two chicks on a mission.
What type of calendar do you keep? How do you plan out your calendar?
I left my Stendig calendar in New Jersey when we moved to CA, but I ordered a new one for 2014. It’s my go-to when I need to figure out important dates. I also use iCal like a boss. I have scheduled recurring meetings and make sure that we’re all synced up as a team when we’re on business trips. Each calendar has a color assigned to it, too so I know right away if something is a Design Milk conference call, or a personal doctor’s appointment or an event. It’s kind of nerdy, but it’s the only way I can get things done. There are times when our calendar is so crazy and it’s the only thing keeping us going as you can see from the screenshot of our calendar during NY Design Week.
Sometimes I even schedule my workouts to give them equal weight. I feel like scheduling mundane things sometimes motivate me a little better. For example, there are people who forget to eat lunch. I encourage them to schedule it on their calendar as a recurring event with a reminder. It helps!
How do you organize and tackle your to-do list?
I use Teuxdeux, designed by my talented friend Tina/Swissmiss. I love that it has recurring to-dos, too, so they pop up there every day. For example, I’m doing this art project called A Shape A Day and I have a recurring to-do every day for my drawing. I also love that you can make custom lists at the bottom… I think this will come in very handy when planning my daughter’s upcoming 2nd birthday party.
How do you attack your never-ending email? Do you have a certain strategy you use?
We use mostly gmail and Google Apps for Business and I organize them all through Mac Mail. I hate unopened email. I read them all almost immediately and then use the color-coded flags to determine which are most important. Deleting email is very important. Delete!
What is your process and/or work strategy? Anything that you have found that works for you?
I was a project manager for 10 years before running my blog full-time so organization is key to me. However, there are some things you just can’t organize or anticipate and you have to be ready for them. I’m very Type A, and that works well for running a tight ship but not so great when it comes time to relax. Moving to California, running, and re-discovering art are ways that I’ve been trying to incorporate some relaxation into my life. Even having a daughter has been part of that—it’s not relaxing having a toddler, but it sure beats sitting at my desk for another few hours every day. She forces me to get out, to act silly, and to be less serious about things.
Ultimately, it’s about having a good balance between serious and silly, work and life. I worked my ass off for the first few years of running this blog. There were many weekend and nights after work dedicated to it, many tears and even some relationship bumps. People sometimes ask me how I do it all. I’m actually not sure, but I think it’s because I am on the road to an early heart attack. I’m not quite at the point where I’m perfectly balanced. I still sneak a peek at my phone and check emails while she’s at the playground. It’s a slow road going from being an utter slave to your work to letting go a bit. Every day I have to work at not working.
How do you GSD at home?
Teamwork. Jordan and I are a solid team. He changes stinky diapers, he’ll fold laundry, do dishes, cook—he helps out to the point where we’re both equal in responsibility in running the household. We communicate. THIS IS SO BIG. It’s the only relationship advice I’ll give. If you don’t say what you’re thinking and what’s on your mind, it festers and grows and becomes something disgusting. We talk all the time about how we feel.
As far as decorating is concerned, I’m a terrible decorator and probably just as bad at interior design. I can tell or show you what looks good but I don’t have what it takes to put it together. We’re in a temporary apartment right now, having just moved back to San Diego, so there’s not a whole lot of decorating to be done… so I guess that’s a good thing!
Nuggets of advice you’ve been given that have stuck?
Learn how to say no.
Ask for what you want.
Always ask for more money than you think it’s worth.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Learn how to compare you to yourself.
Respect the ideas, opinions and personal choices of others.
Don’t be a dick.
Sit up straight. Try to get up and move around throughout the day.
Don’t look back.
Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Teuxdeux (The best to-do list maker ever)
- Hootsuite (Twitter, G+ and LinkedIn)
- Google Drive (for editorial calendars and spreadsheets)
- Skype (I talk to someone in the UK or Europe at least once a week and this is priceless)
- Google Chrome (hands down the best browser ever) and the iPhone app is awesome, too.
- Dropbox and Westransfer.com (we use this to get photos from designers and also to share video and photos with each other)
- MailChimp (this is our newsletter management company and we love them!)
- Skitch (I use this every day for taking screenshots)
- Facebook (ugh.)
- iCal (sync up your calendar with co-travelers)
- Google Maps (better than any other map app)
- Uber (LOVE calling uber when I can’t get a cab)
- Photoshop is my jam
- Etsy app
- Paypal Here (for sales on the go)
- Blick cotton canvases
- Copic markers
- Moleskine sketchbooks
- Facebook camera (I use this to upload pics of my daughter to her Facebook page)
- PicFrame (a fun app that makes photo montages and the desktop version is great, too)
- InstaFit (makes photos square for Instagram and adds a background color)
- Yahoo! weather (it’s so pretty)
- ArtStudio Lite (for quick sketches and doodles)
- 7 Minutes (a killer workout in 7 minutes)
- Garmin Forerunner watch for tracking my runs
- iPhone Notes app – I LOVE THIS. I use it all the time to make lists and remember stuff. I email them to myself.
- I use the iPhone voice-to-text functionality ALL THE TIME and people think I’m crazy but it makes my life so much easier. You can also use it on your computer and it’s saved me so much time typing. I love dictation!
- I’m obsessed with StatCounter.com
- Totokaelo (I’m obsessed)
- We spend most of our days on our own websites drafting content.
PROGRAMS / TECHNOLOGY / GADGETS / TECH
- I have an iMac and a Macbook Pro as well as an external monitor with wireless magic mouse. I also have an iPhone 4S and an iPad 2. I use an Epson R2000 printer for my art prints and a plain old HP laser printer for my everyday printing needs. I sit on a Herman Miller Aeron chair most of the day and alternate with an ergoErgo stool. I highly recommend getting one of these!
- I am a slave to Microsoft Office and always have Word and Excel open. I mostly use these programs for loathsome tasks like invoicing and budgeting.
- I use CS5 for photo manipulation, artwork, and other tasks like creating and reading PDFs.
- I also love my Canon EOS 60D for professional shots.
GSD (get shit done): A weekly column featuring busy business owners, entrepreneurs, bloggers, and CEOs and how they get shit done. Meg also writes articles with helpful ways to get shit done. Tell us how you GSD on twitter by tagging #GSD and @megbiram.