Monday, December 21, 2015

7 habits that have made me a {slightly more} effective person

Jacket: Alexander McQueen (similar style here); Dress: French Connection (recently picked up in store, not online, but similar style here); Boots: Celine; Bag: Mansur Gavriel; Sunglasses: Celine

When I was much younger, I had several stints working at my dad's law firm. I would answer phones, file legal documents and well, if we're being super honest, do my homework (but hey, he couldn't really get upset with me for that!). During that time, I recall answering the phones having to say, "Good morning, Bick Law Offices..." and feeling a sense of ownership almost, like it could actually by my law office, too someday.

Much to my dad's chagrin (or perhaps joy?), the law school pipe dream never panned out. But that didn't stop me from cooking up other ways to start my own business, which is where This Time Tomorrow comes in. I remember starting this blog  years ago on a whim, namely because I was bored one afternoon and had The Kinks song "This Time Tomorrow" stuck in my head. But also because I love to write. And take photos. And connect over stories. The sheer fact I can make a small business out of that is incredibly exciting and yet humbling -- it's come with it's own fair share of difficulties, obstacles and challenges.  

It should be noted: I, by no means have it all figured out, especially when it comes to juggling full-time jobs. But, after more than my fair share of trial and error, I've developed a few go-to tricks to manage my time and my business efficiently. Whether you blog as well or are thinking about taking the general leap into entrepreneurship yourself or perhaps you're balancing a full-time job with side passion projects, hopefully there's a little bit of wisdom here in my rambling...

1. Google Docs, baby: I literally live in Google Docs, which I can blame on working at Google for years, but in all honesty, it's kept me sane and organized, so I'm not complaining. The key is figuring out a system that works for you and sticking to it. 

My main Google Doc that I work out of (a meaty little spreadsheet), has multiple tabs in it: one for pending projects, with deadlines, contact emails, status update nodes and SOW PDFs. In another tab, I have my monthly editorial calendar flushed out, with deliverables and published content noted for each day, with shoots that I have set up with Lydia noted, with buffer time noted for her turnaround time. And in another tab, I keep a running list of all story ideas from recent brainstorms, organized by vertical: beauty, travel, style and lifestyle, with shoot locations associated with each. Lastly, the most time-sensitive one, is my invoices tab, with all outgoing pending invoices, the date sent, the noted turnaround time for payment and the date payment is received. 

It all might sound a little OCD, but I do love being able to go back through just one hub to easily find all the project details I need. In short, there's nothing I hate more than having to dig through long, cluttered email threads to find that one #hashtag or deadline.

2. Square Cash: Since we're on the topic of invoices and making that cheddar, let's talk about how to go about getting paid. As someone who's exhausted all mobile payment methods, I've been really pleased with Square Cash namely because it deposits directly to your bank account (without that additional step of transferring money over from your balance yourself). I've been relying pretty heavily on this to pay my photographers directly and have even started invoicing clients/brands this way. Plus, I really appreciate good, intuitive UX design and Square Cash, I think you've nailed it.

3. Podcasts: While I love a good playlist to make me super productive during heads down time at my computer, I'm a junkie for podcasts, especially ones known for their storytelling, which I think is a great writing inspiration source. I find that the blogs I tend to gravitate toward as a reader, I can relate to their writing on a personal level, almost as if I'm sitting there next to them at a cafe, just as a friend would. Podcasts like Serial or The Moth remind me that the key to good storytelling and understanding your audience, isn't necessarily to impress them with how well you can string a sentence together. It's more about finding the humanity in everything and making it real. Making it raw. And making it relevant. Easier said than done, of course, but I find that these podcasts have helped me hone my storytelling abilities over the years.

4. Lists: I love lists. Lists. Lists. Lists. If there's one fool-proof way to get me to remember something, it's to write it down. I picked this up during my time working at several newspapers and magazines a few years ago, where I'd write down quotes or facts about a story I was working on. I was never without a notepad and pen. And not much has changed today. I'll write down excerpts from books that I like, names of songs that I hear when I'm out and about, intersection cross streets for possible shoot locations. You get the picture. 

5. Meeting agendas: This is something Google has taught me -- if you really want to get the most out of everyone involved in a meeting, send out a detailed agenda and ideal takeaways/outcomes at least a full day before hand. That way, you set expectations accordingly, you give everyone a chance to prepare and hit the ground running once you start the meeting and there's a common end goal that everyone can agree on. It may sound like a lot of structure, but I've noticed even sending it out before meetings with some photographers or brands, it's helped keep our 30 minute time slot on task, with solid action items at the end.

6. Quarterly goals: Alas, another trait I've picked up at a large tech company. In short, we all make yearly goals, especially around this time of year with 2016 around the corner. But I love making quarterly goals, which I've done at all my teams at Google. As long as you have a big picture goal, making shorter team, quantifiable targets, you can start etching away and immediately see progress. This can range from the personal (like finally signing up for those piano lessons) to more business driven (like increasing social channel engagement by X%) -- as long as you have specific projects that funnel up to these goals, you have your work cut out for you. Just be realistic with yourself and what you can reasonably take on -- and add a tiny bit on top of that. If it doesn't make you slightly uncomfortably excited, you should set a bigger goal! 

7. Extracurricular reading: I know what you're thinking, how does adding additional reading help give me time back? Personally, I know when I do a little morning and evening reading for just me and no one else, I feel much more balanced and ready to tackle the day. In the morning, around 6am (after a quick glance through email to make sure there are no fires), I'll sit down with coffee and read through the following: top CNN stories, the op-eds in The New York Times and my Skimm newsletter. In the evening, I try to have two books that I'll rotate through at the same time. One for pleasure and one for personal growth/business savvy. Currently on my nightstand, I have Miranda July's The First Bad Man for the former and Phil Barden's Decoded for the latter. 

What are some of your habits that you've found make you more effective? Do share! 

Photos by Lydia Hudgens

This post was in partnership with Square Cash. As always, all opinions and styling are my own. Thank you for supporting all This Time Tomorrow collaborations!


  1. This is great and totally agree on all these points and learn some new things too! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Some great tips! Definitely checking out those podcasts you recommended(:

  3. amazing look!

  4. Amazing post and look. I love to listen to podcasts while I edit my pictures ;)
    xx Fiona

  5. amazing dress, love it!

  6. Awesome! I was listening to Serial for a while too:P

    Shall We Sasa

  7. Love this post! The photos are lovely, and these tips are really helpful! Thanks for sharing!

    Amber | y a c h t s m a a n

  8. Great tips! I didn't know Google Docs could be used for all of that. And nice dress!


  9. yusss! I love everything about this! I'm a BIG list-maker, and super organized agender-er...and have recently been getting into PodCasts! I love being organized and inspired, especially going into the new year.

    XO Sahra
    Que Sera Sahra

  10. I am a lists person, I love them

  11. love your leather jacket with that dress
    Happy Holidays!

  12. Great tips! Love your dress!
    Love from {a lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and food blog}

  13. Wow, this is a great post because you gave actual insightful advice instead of just "Stay Organized!". Definitely going to think of some of these. Adding Dropbox to the mix, Dropbox has saved me soooo many times!


    COFFEESLAG Ditto Review


    Thanks for sharing us such a great post!

  15. Amazing tips. I've started recently to write lists of the things that I want to do or buy or achieve and found out that it really shortage the time spent in doing these things in general so I really love it.

  16. the photo you siting by the window is beautiful, it makes me feel warm and cozy for a cold winter day

    ans thanks for those useful tips <3

  17. Great post! I love reading how successful people organize their lives and businesses. In the past couple of months I've been spending so much more time organizing and planning each week's content -- Evernote and a good old pen and paper have been my go-to's on this front. It's definitely changed how I think about my blog and even gets me *more* excited to work on it each week.

    Oh Wonderful blog


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