Entries Tagged as 'workspace wednesday'

how i found my new normal with productivity.

Posted on: Friday, July 8, 2016

Change of Workflow | How I've Found My New Normal With Productivity | Ann-Marie Loves

My workflow these days is definitely a departure from what it once was. Before I had Briar (and even right up until she turned one), I was pretty lax about the structure and schedule of the day as a whole. I would work when I had the time or the inspiration, but if there wasn’t a firm deadline looming in my near future, I let the flow of the day dictate the amount of work I churned out. While this sounds great in theory (and for the most part, it worked for my past lifestyle), I always felt a bit all over the place. I’m not a planner by nature and the idea of a rigid schedule usually turns me off, but as I’ve gotten a couple of years of self-employment under my belt, I now understand the value of planning and setting goals.

Nowadays, a few things are different:

  • For one, Briar has become a consistent napper and I can almost always count on her to nap between 1-3 hours in the afternoon. I can’t even tell you how big of a game-changer her daily naps — and the fact that she sleeps through the night! — are! I use her nap time to really buckle down and focus on getting things done, especially tasks that require minimal distractions. I am also very lucky to have my father-in-law watch Briar for a few hours 2-3 days a week, which allows me to either work from home or to work with Amy in her studio. As much as I cherish my time with my baby, there’s nothing quite like time away from her to really make me appreciate just how much I love her and want to be with her.
  • Secondly, I’ve become a devoted planner user. I’ve always loved planners and agenda books (pretty sure they were the highlight of my school experience), but I haven’t been as consistent about using them regularly as I am now. I started last summer with a Ban.do planner (the spiral bound version) and absolutely loved it, but then when I saw that the new Get to Work Book was launching, well…I couldn’t help but finally order one for myself (and I’m so glad I did!). As a designer, I find that using beautifully-designed products enhances my experience, so I am more than happy to open up my GTWB each morning and set goals for myself. Every week, I like to write out all the things I know I have to get done and then fill in more information as it becomes available to me. In the mornings, I’ll make Briar and myself breakfast and while she is entertained for a few minutes, I’ll write out my to-do list for the day in my planner. I absolutely love this ritual and find that it really does help me set the tone for the entire day.
  • Finally, I’ve come to the realization that I can’t be the night owl that I once was. I used to be able to stay up wayyyyy too late and crank out work during those quiet hours, but I just can’t do it anymore. After chasing a toddler around all day (and growing another baby), the last thing I want to do at night is sit down and work. This realization has given me the push I need to get as much work done as I can during the daytime so that my nights can be free for relaxing with my family and getting to bed at a relatively normal hour. I find that I am much more productive when I set those clear boundaries for myself, plus, it plays into my theory that mini goals are really the most effective way for me to get things done!

I realize my life will once again get turned upside down when the new baby arrives this Fall, but this time I feel much more prepared to make adjustments as I go and use the tools I’ve set in place to work to my advantage.

P.S. I wrote an e-course on productivity called Make It Happen!

workspace wednesday | highlighter love.

Posted on: Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Workspace Wednesday | Highlighter Love

Every now and then, I’ll develop a mini obsession with certain office supplies. When I was younger, it was alllll about the Sanrio pencil boxes. Then when I got to junior high, it was alllll about the clear binders that I could decorate with photos + magazine clippings. Then when I got to college, it was alllll about the agenda book (and a stash of spare Scantrons!). Right now, I am alllll about highlighters.

Ever since I saw Elise use highlighters as a way to check off her to-do lists, I have adopted the same method in my own planner (I use the Ban.do Florabunda agenda book). I love how they allow me to see what I’ve accomplished without having to cross out what I wrote underneath. Plus, hello color! I’ve also been using them as a means for reading books (especially this one!). I find that when I can make a physical note of inspiring passages, the message tends to stick with me longer and keeps my attention focused on the book and not on my pinging iPhone. Highlighters are such a cheap investment (I found a ten-pack at Target for three bucks!) and they make me so happy!

What is your office supply obsession?

workspace wednesday | share your voice.

Posted on: Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Share Your Voice | Ann-Marie Loves

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of sharing your voice, even when the market seems like it can’t accommodate one more person. I have fallen into the trap of “there’s no more room for me, so I’ll just sit on the sidelines and watch others shine” way too many times to count. I’ve convinced myself that this world has enough bloggers / photographers / Instagrammers / designers / podcasters already, so why would anyone care about my point of view? When I type it all out like that, it makes me feel sad! I would never ever tell a friend that there’s not enough room for her at the table, so why would I treat myself that way?

But after a recent workout class, I had a radical change in perspective…

Here’s what happened: Zumba is my favorite workout and it has been for a few years now. There are three teachers at my gym who are amazing in their own unique ways, but there’s one in particular who is INCREDIBLE. He’s the type of teacher who fills a class every single time. In fact, I have to get to the gym a half hour before each class just so I can reserve my spot! He’s one of those teachers who makes a challenging workout feel like play…I smile and laugh the whole entire sweaty hour. During his class on Monday, I couldn’t help but think, “I am SO GLAD he is sharing his gift with us!” He could easily dismiss the idea of teaching since there are so many other people out there doing the exact same thing as him. He could talk himself out of getting in front of the class for fear that people may not like his style (and the truth is, some people don’t!). He could come up with a million and one reasons to stay home and avoid the hassle of creating a workout routine, finding the right music to dance to, and then memorizing it all so that others can follow along. But the thing is, he doesn’t. He shows up, day after day, week after week, and brings so much light and joy to his loyal students. His innate knack for motivating others to work hard while having a great time is CONTAGIOUS.

The moral of the story? THERE IS ALWAYS ROOM FOR YOU. Even though your point of view may not align with every single person on the planet (nor should it!), it will absolutely align with some people. So please, share your voice! The world needs to hear from you.

P.S. I just listened to Elise’s latest podcast episode and I loved her guest Caroline Burkle’s quote: “Your strengths can benefit someone else’s strengths.” Perfect.

want what you want.

Posted on: Thursday, July 30, 2015

Want What You Want | Ann-Marie Loves

Yesterday I took myself on a solo date to my favorite coffee shop in my favorite city (I’ll give you one guess where that is!), listened to inspiring podcast episodes (this one, this one, and this one), and really allowed myself to dig deep. In doing so, I came to the startling realization that IT IS OKAY to want what we want. In fact, if we don’t acknowledge our deepest desires, how in the world will they ever come true?! When I think back on my life, there have been a few key moments where I am positive that I manifested my dreams. For example!

– After I graduated college at the onset of the recession (when I couldn’t even get a seasonal part-time job at the mall!), I was hell-bent on working in the scrapbooking industry. I had absolutely no idea how it would happen or what I would even do or how I could possibly find work in a Utah-based industry when I was a California resident. But everyday I would go on walks while listening to The Secret on my iPod (2009, y’all) and imagine being paid to play with paper until I could literally feel it in my bones. Fast forward to July 2010 and I was living in Orem, Utah and working as an in-house scrapbooker / product designer at American Crafts.

– I have always dreamed and journaled and talked about living in two of my favorite cities: San Diego and Pasadena. Both of those dreams have come to fruition.

– And finally, at the beginning of my senior year in high school, I kept a post-it note on my shelf (where I would see it as I put on my makeup everyday) with the Christina Aguilera lyric: “day by day, I’m going to get my way.” Within a matter of weeks, I started dating John (now my husband!) and a few months later, I was accepted into my college of choice.

I know this all sounds hokey and woo-woo and quite possibly, huge coincidences, but I truly believe that our thoughts create our reality. I’ve spent way too many days over the past year caught up in a fog of fearfulness and uncertainty. There have been some particularly dark moments where I could barely get out of bed, I was so terrified of what was around the corner. Having a baby in my life has filled my heart with more joy and pride than I could have ever dreamed (seriously, I could burst at any moment), but it has also brought a lot of my inner demons to the surface. I’ve gotten lost in the mindset of “this is not how it’s supposed to be” or “I should be at x-place by now and I’m only at y-place.” While I still have lots of work to do, my focus is much clearer now. I’m finally allowing myself to want what I want and to be completely at peace with those desires, no matter what others may think of them.


This our life, you guys! We have to open ourselves up to the possibility that AMAZING THINGS WILL HAPPEN if we work hard and trust that the universe has our back.

Have you ever manifested any of your dreams? I’d love to hear about it!

workspace wednesday | work hard, reward hard.

Posted on: Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Workspace Wednesday | Work Hard, Reward Hard | Ann-Marie Loves

Yesterday at the gym, with the song lyric “work hard, play hard” echoing through the speakers, I started to wonder if there is any truth to the concept of work / life balance.  As much as I love to work hard and then crash into bed at night knowing that I gave a project every last bit of my energy, that type of lifestyle is just not realistic for the long haul. Balancing a freelance career while caring for an eleven month old full-time is downright exhausting on every single level: mentally, physically, creatively, and emotionally. (Oh, how I thought it would be easier!). I’ve spent WAY too much time over the past year beating myself up for not being able to give 100% of myself to every facet of my life. So after much soul-searching, I have come to the conclusion that I need to cut myself some slack and build rewards into my day, whether or not I’ve checked every last item off of my to-do list.

Here are a few ways that I build rewards into my day:

– taking a favorite workout class at the gym

– leaving Briar with her amazing grandparents for a few hours

– reconnecting with my husband on a Friday night date

– crawling into bed (relatively) early so I can watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians on my iPad

– taking impromptu field trips (last Thursday, Briar and I went to Santa Barbara for the day with my mom — so fun!)

– going for walks at sunset while listening to a good podcast and pushing Briar in her stroller

– drinking good coffee in the morning

– drinking good red wine at night

– sleeping in on weekends while John gets up early with Briar

If you’ve been beating yourself up for not being more, doing more, or accomplishing more, consider this your permission slip to RELAX. We are all doing our best and we are all doing just fine :)

how i reached inbox zero.

Posted on: Monday, July 6, 2015

Tips for Reaching Inbox Zero | Ann-Marie Loves

I recently heard a quote along the lines of “I cleaned out my closet and now I can switch careers” and it made perfect sense to me. Clutter, whether it’s physical, mental, or digital, is incredibly draining on our energy. So on Saturday, with over 1200+ e-mails in my inbox, I decided to tackle my digital clutter head-on. It took two days of work, but I am proud to say I have finally reached inbox zero!

I’m not exactly sure how my inbox had spiraled out of control, but I think it was a mix of stressful life events (I can’t even tell you how many unread e-mails I had from my wedding planning and maternity leave days…whoops!) and a lack of consistent routine for checking and responding to messages. It’s amazing how something so seemingly innocuous can add up so quickly! While I’m sure most of you are on top of your e-mail game, maybe some of you can relate to my situation. Here are my tips for getting to inbox zero:

Set aside a large block of uninterrupted time. I managed to clear out my inbox in two days because John was home for the holiday weekend and could watch Briar for several hours while I got down to business. I needed those large blocks of uninterrupted time to really focus and stay in the zone, otherwise it never would have gotten done.

Get inspired. When it came to taking back my inbox, there were a few sources I turned to for inspiration: this video on the concept of Inbox Zero; this Elise Gets Crafty episode on getting organized; and personal conversations I have had with Amy and Elise.

When in doubt, archive. There were many e-mails that I didn’t want to delete but I also didn’t want to be in the forefront of my inbox. The answer? Archive them. You can always retrieve specific messages by typing in a few keywords in the search box at the top of the screen.

When in serious doubt, delete. There were a ton of e-mails that I knew I would never respond to or that I would honestly never reference again. In that case, I sent them straight to the trash.

Use keywords to perform mass deletions. When I was rifling through my overstuffed inbox, I would look for patterns to help me clean up faster. For example, when I would spot several unread e-mails from Dropbox, I would type in “Dropbox” in the search query and then all of the e-mails with that word in the title or the body of the message would appear. By doing this, I was able to highlight a ton of e-mails at the same time and then clear them out instantly with the click of the delete button. For some reason, I found this to be an easier organizational method than simply going from page to page and deleting as I saw fit.

Create canned responses. Since I get a lot e-mails on the same topic (i.e. sponsored post pitches), I created a few canned responses that I can quickly pull up, copy / paste into the new e-mail, and be on my merry way. In the past, I would have let those e-mails pile up — even if I was interested in the opportunity! — simply because it required an immediate detailed response from me.

Forgive yourself. This is a big one for me. I spent so much time over the past several months beating myself up over not being more organized and on top of things, but at a certain point, I just had to let go. Sure, I may have missed out on some fun opportunities and I may not have given people what they wanted from me, but I’m starting fresh now. Life goes on.

I feel so much better now and I am vowing to never let myself lose complete control of my inbox again. What are your best tips for managing e-mail?

workspace wednesday | working with amy.

Posted on: Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Workspace Wednesday | Working With Amy Tangerine | Ann-Marie Loves

At least once a week, I drop Briar off with one of her grandparents and jump in the car (by myself! ahhhhh!) to spend the day working with Amy in her studio. As much as I love being able to work from home and stay with Briar, I NEED this day to get out of the house, have inspiring conversations with one of my favorite creative people, and feel like a productive member of society again. I know I’ve said this before, but seriously: I had no idea how hard it would be to balance work and baby. Not only is it tricky in terms of finding the time to get assignments completed while still giving Briar my undivided attention, but it’s incredibly draining on me mentally and emotionally.

However, I’ve discovered that all of these stresses are relieved and put into perspective by doing one simple thing: working outside the house once a week. It really is as easy as that. Also, as if mental health wasn’t incentive enough to brave traffic on the 405, I work with Amy on Thursdays, which means that two of my favorite podcasts (The Lively Show and One Part Podcast) release their latest episode that morning. Thursday are OFFICIALLY my favorite.

workspace wednesday | quick fixes.

Posted on: Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Workspace Wednesday | Quick Fixes | Ann-Marie Loves

Life goes in cycles. For awhile, I am super organized! I am working out everyday! I am on top of my inbox! I am feeling like a well-oiled machine! But inevitably, I began to let clutter accumulate. I choose sleep over morning workouts. I let my emails pile up. I feel, well, less than stellar. But like Elise says, it’s important to respect the ebbs and flows. In the back of my mind, I know I will always get back on track, but sometimes I just need a little boost to get there.

So yesterday, as I was staring down a mile-long to-do list and wanting nothing more than to lose track of time on Instagram, I emptied out my overstuffed backpack and got reorganized. I went through all the junk that had collected over the past few weeks and pared it down to the bare essentials:

For Briar: Sophie the Giraffe, a clean pacifiier, and a pacifier clip.

For personal hygiene: deodorant (I always keep this on me! you never know!), an eyelash curler, my favorite mascaranail polish for last minute touch-ups, lipstick, and a band-aid.

For traveling: sunglasses, headphones, iPhone, keys, and wallet (with all the dollar bills neatly stacked and facing the same direction…a little trick I learned from one of my favorite books, Money, A Love Story!)

For sustenance: an apple and gum.

For no real reason: washi tape!

The simple act of cleaning out my bag and knowing I have everything I need in it’s proper place made a huge shift in my energy. Suddenly, my to-do list didn’t seem so daunting anymore!

Other quick fixes:

Paint my nails. This often means touching up old paint jobs that I have neglected. It takes maybe two minutes (plus drying time) but it makes me feel a million times better.

Make the bed, do the dishes, clean off my nightstand. Small household chores that often get relegated to the backburner make a BIG difference when they’re tackled immediately.

Clean out the car. I have a tendency to let water bottles roll around the floor, receipts pile up in the cup holder, and sweaters accumulate in the backseat. Taking ten minutes to empty my car and start fresh is almost as nice as realizing I have a full tank of gas (isn’t that the BEST feeling?).

P.S. I share many more productivity tips in my e-course, Make It Happen!

workspace wednesday | unstuck app

Posted on: Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Workspace Wednesday | Unstuck App | Ann-Marie Loves

Two things:

1. I just rediscovered my iPad after letting the battery be dead for several months. Why? Because my post-baby brain is mush.


So truth be told, it’s not a necessity, but it sure is handy for things like browsing Pinterest in bed (v. important!), watching movies / videos / Vine mashups while I work, and my most favorite use, for playing with the Unstuck app.

Workspace Wednesday | Unstuck App | Ann-Marie Loves

I don’t even remember how I stumbled upon Unstuck, but my goodness, it is a workhorse for the mental warfare I wage daily upon myself. It leads you through a series of questions and exercises regarding how you’re feeling and what is holding you back. The exercise shown above is my favorite part. You quickly go through a deck of several cards and place them in the “So Me” or “Not Me” pile to help get to the root of what is bothering you. Genius.

Workspace Wednesday | Unstuck App | Ann-Marie Loves

I feel like there’s always something holding me back, whether it’s a personal, professional, or relational situation, and Unstuck helps me work through every single problem…sometimes the same problem many times over! It’s kind of amazing how breaking down an issue into small, manageable pieces brings so much clarity.

Workspace Wednesday | Unstuck App | Ann-Marie Loves

Once you’re finished with the exercises, you’re “diagnosed” with a certain behavior style and offered lots of suggestions as to how to get past your mental roadblock. It’s pretty incredible how glaringly spot-on the results are; I always feel like they were written just for me! I highly recommend this app, even if you feel like you are never stuck (and if you’re not, HOW?). Five stars, people.

list of favorite podcasts.

Posted on: Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Favorite Podcasts | Ann-Marie Loves

It seems as though there’s been a sudden wave of new podcasts to hit the scene (or maybe I’ve just gotten better at finding them?) and I LOVE it. Podcasts are my jam. They keep me company while I’m driving, walking, washing dishes, or doing any other activity that allows me to zone out for a bit.

Here are my favorite podcasts that I turn to time and time again:

Business / Creative

The Lively Show
Elise Gets Crafty
One Part Podcast
Raise Your Hand, Say Yes
After the Jump
Being Boss
Smart Passive Income
With Purpose
Accidental Creative
Our Style Stories


Joy the Baker
Girl Next Door
The Art of Simple
The JV Club
Here’s the Thing

Spiritual / Personal Growth

Tara Brach
Sarah R. Bagley
Tranquility Du Jour
The Wellness Wonderland

Narrative / Human Interest

This American Life


The Longest Shortest Time


How Did This Get Made?

I’ve been kicking around the idea of starting my own podcast for quite some time and I’m thinking 2015 is the perfect year to set that plan in motion. We’ll see how it goes!

P.S. Any good shows that I’m missing? Do tell!

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