Entries Tagged as 'goals'

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!

as of late | december edition.

Posted on: Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ann-Marie Espinoza Photography

Going on Day 9 with a cold that just won’t quit. There’s only so much I can do to keep Briar safe from my germs (read: there’s pretty much nothing I can do), so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she walks away unscathed!

Hooked on Marry Me. That Casey Wilson can do no wrong in my book.

Loving that Rachel Bilson named her daughter Briar, too! I feel oddly validated, like “See! It is a real name!”

Getting excited about my family’s upcoming trip to Cambria. I can’t wait to roadtrip and drink Scout Coffee and bundle my babe up in cold weather clothes, like this sherpa bear suit…!

Stamping this stamp on everything in sight this month. ‘Tis the season!

Dying over Lay Baby Lay. It is one incredible blog, jam-packed with baby, craft, and home design inspiration. (What blogs are you loving these days?)

Digging the branding + the styling behind this new sling wrap biz. I’m telling you, good design goes a long way.

Trying hard to come up with a holiday wish list but I’m struggling! There are really only three things I want: stylish yet comfy booties, a new fedora, and a craft coffee subscription. (Wait, am I a hipster?)

Thinking back on 2014 and deciding that it was NOT my favorite year. Not by a looooong shot. However! It was the year that my daughter made her debut, so despite the many uphill battles it held, it will forever hold a tiny soft spot in my heart.

Making pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I’m the only one that likes pumpkin in this house so I get them all to myself. For better or worse ;)

Feeling a little blue + overwhelmed for no particular reason these days, but I’m finding relief in afternoon walks, listening to music at home, and basking in the glow of the Christmas tree every night (bonus points if it’s with a baby in my lap).

Listening to Serial every Thursday. You were right, guys…it is good! (I found this article to be super interesting.)

Thanking the powers that be for inventing baby play mats. I can plop Briar on her mat for a huge chunk of time and not feel guilty because she is moving and grooving and learning and enjoying herself (all while Mama Bear sneaks in some work ;)).

Speaking of baby products, I spent a good chunk of time in the baby food + supplies aisle of Target yesterday. My four month old is now eating real food (well, if that’s what rice cereal is?) and I had to find some colorful spoons to celebrate the occasion.

Dreaming of what I want 2015 to be like and three goals come to mind: build a photography business, partner with an awesome company to design baby / mama products, and try something new with my shop

workspace wednesday | free project list printable.

Posted on: Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Free Project List Printable | Designed by Ann-Marie Loves

At any given point in time, I have an ongoing list of a million and one projects that I want to accomplish, like, yesterday. While some of them can be achieved in a single step, others take several steps to finish. So instead of writing “decorate the nursery” on my to-do list day after day, knowing full-well that it will never to be crossed off, I’ve created a free printable that turns big projects into bite-size tasks.

 Free Project List Printable | Designed by Ann-Marie Loves


Free Project List Printable | Designed by Ann-Marie Loves

P.S. I talk at greater length about the idea of breaking down projects into manageable chunks and include a more comprehensive list printable in my e-course “Make It Happen!”

july 2014 limited edition stamps.

Posted on: Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July 2014 Limited Edition Stamps | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

We are halfway through 2014, my daughter is arriving sometime this month (?!), and I am nesting + working like a crazy person, so I figured July 1st was as good as any day to start something new! From today until July 31st, there are five limited edition rubber stamps available in my shop. Here’s what they look like:

July 2014 Limited Edition Stamps | annmarielovespaper.bigcartel.com

01. Soak Up the Sun | 02. July | 03. Let’s Go On Adventures | 04. In the Summertime | 05. You Are the Best

I’m so excited to try something completely new and exciting! I spent most of yesterday afternoon through late until the evening working on designing, shooting, editing, listing, etc and it all felt so seamless and easy. If only all projects could be so satisfying!

You can find out more about the July limited edition stamps HERE.


“Make It Happen” E-Course is Now Live!

Posted on: Thursday, May 29, 2014

Make It Happen | An E-Course on Getting Things Done | by Ann-Marie Espinoza

Happy Thursday! I’m so excited to finally be launching my “Make It Happen” e-course! In this class, I cover all sorts of tips and tricks for getting things done and feeling good about yourself. It’s very akin to my Workspace Wednesday series, except in much greater length and detail.

Make It Happen | An E-Course on Getting Things Done | by Ann-Marie Espinoza

“Make It Happen” includes advice on:

– overcoming those inevitable creative blocks
– developing up a rewards system that fuels you to power through any task
– knowing when to take a break and when to push through
– setting deadlines and sticking to them
– determining your ideal workflow

The class also comes with a free goal setting + achieving printable worksheet that will help you break down any project into bite-size, manageable steps.

Make It Happen | An E-Course on Getting Things Done | by Ann-Marie Espinoza

As a creative freelancer for the past two years, I’ve learned a ton about what it takes to stay on top of my to-do list and make things happen for myself time and time again. I can’t wait to share my knowledge with you!

To purchase “Make It Happen” (for only $9!), click HERE.

workspace wednesday | rethinking goals.

Posted on: Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Ann-Marie Loves

With the third trimester well underway (WHAT?!), I am definitely starting to notice my pace slowing down.

At the beginning of the year, I set a goal to release a new e-course every single month. Well…let’s just say I am starting to rethink that (super) lofty plan. If I can eke out two more e-courses before the baby arrives and then maybe two or three more after she is here, I will consider 2014 to be a successful year. I’ve been spending the majority of my recent afternoons laying on the couch, either taking short naps or simply allowing my body to rest while I catch up on Instagram or the latest issue of Domino. I’m no stranger to dealing with a lack of motivation from a mental standpoint, but from a physical standpoint? Whoa there. Totally different ballgame.

So in the meantime, I’m trying to go where my interests and my energy levels are best suited. There are a few different short-term projects that I have been thinking about pursuing and those actually feel much more inspiring (read: more likely to get accomplished) than e-courses. If this pregnancy has taught me anything, it’s that I just need to roll with the punches, even if it means rethinking my well-intentioned plans. (It has also taught me that I am BEYOND grateful to be a freelancer who can set her own schedule, complete with midday naps and a nonexistent dress code…hallelujah!)

There will be plenty of time to get things done. But for now…the couch is calling.

creating routines + getting things done.

Posted on: Monday, April 14, 2014

Thoughts on Creating Routines and Getting Things Done | Ann-Marie Loves | Quote by Pearl S. Buck

I go through phases where I spend my last few minutes every evening either scrolling through Instagram + Pinterest or by reading a book on my Kindle. Lately I’ve been turning the former way more often than the latter, but last Thursday, I decided to revisit my Kindle and ended up purchasing Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind by Jocelyn K. Glei. Turns out, it was exactly what I needed to read! (What’s that saying about when you’re ready, the teacher will appear?) I quickly burned through half the book in a single evening and felt so inspired by the quote above, that I decided to create a new tradition: Friday morning coffee dates with my laptop and my to-do list. I am 100% guilty of waiting until my mood is “just right” or when inspiration strikes or when a deadline is dangerously close before I actually begin, so you better believe this quote was the kick in the pants that I desperately needed ;)

P.S. Normally I save work / life balance posts for my Workspace Wednesday series, but this quote just felt like the right note for kicking off of a killer Monday!

planting new seeds.

Posted on: Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ann-Marie Loves

This past week has been a bit of a doozy, to say the least. There have been many moments where I am overcome with feelings of “what am I doing?!”, except with more expletives and maybe a tearful outburst or two. But despite this week’s rocky start, I’m now feeling renewed and ready to jump back into the fold. I recently read my 2014 horoscope and whether or not it has any shred of truth to it, I choose to believe it wholeheartedly. I like imagining positivity whenever possible and this year is apparently full of it for Scorpios like myself!

Yesterday I left the house for a bit to run some errands and I have to say, being out and about in this beautiful city was like a breath of fresh air. Sometimes I spend so much time at home, I forget that I get to live in Pasadena (a longtime dream of mine!). I remember writing in my journal about wanting to move here a few years ago and at the time, it seemed like a long shot (this was back in my Utah days). But it’s amazing how a tiny seed of an idea can get planted in your subconscious and before you know it, you’re walking down Colorado Boulevard on a Wednesday afternoon because this is your neighborhood, gosh darn it! Life is a funny thing.

So what I mean to say is, I’m planting new seeds. I’m thinking about what’s next for me and I’m hoping for the best. First up: a brand new e-course in which I share all of my favorite tips + tricks for styling, shooting, and editing photos for blog posts! (Look for it to launch by the end of the month!)

P.S. The photo above? Old. Pre-wedding. Pre-baby. But totally fitting of my mood ;)

my freelancing story.

Posted on: Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Freelance Story | Ann-Marie Espinoza

I should start off by saying, I never intended to be a freelancer.

While it’s the lifestyle I’ve always dreamt about, it’s not something I imagined I would ever really have the guts to dive into headfirst. But life has a funny way of throwing you into situations you never expected and showing you that you are capable of so much more than you know.

A little about my background: I graduated from San Diego State in 2009 with a degree in Multimedia Design. At the time, I had no clear direction as to where I was going to go with my career. Using the economy as a blanket excuse for any and all problems is a tired justification, but if I can be real for a moment, graduating smack dab in the middle of the recession was terrible. TERRIBLE. I had zero job prospects when I was handed my diploma. Not a one. I moved back home with my parents and took on odd gigs here and there (medical billing, anyone?). I remember interviewing for temporary work at the mall that following November and going up against people who were far more qualified and far more educated than the job would ever require. And the result of those interviews? Futile. I couldn’t even get part-time, minimum wage, seasonal work! Needless to say, it wasn’t a high point in my 27 years.

But then in 2010, I applied for an In-House Scrapbooker / Product Designer position as American Crafts. I was absolutely positive that I would never get the job (I lived in Southern California, the position was based in Utah), but within three weeks, John and I were living in Orem, Utah. Life is weird, you guys.

Working at my (then) dream job was an amazing, invaluable, unforgettable experience that taught me so much about design, marketing, and finding things to do on a Sunday in the Mormon bible belt. But almost two years into the job, I was unexpectedly laid off. I was crushed. I was shocked. I was panicked. There was no way in hell that John and I were going to stay in Utah a single minute longer, but how in the world were we going to pay for all of our moving expenses and still have money left over once we got to California?

Out of desperation, I posted a few rubber stamp designs (that I had previously made for myself) in my online shop, not expecting anyone to buy them. Within an hour after posting, I had a handful of sales. I couldn’t believe it! People really wanted to buy my designs? This was incredible! And that’s where the ball got rolling. The sales continued to grow and grow and for the first time ever, I truly believed I could support myself without the steady financial backing of a company. I had cash flow and confidence. Things were looking up.

By the time I returned home to California (peace out, Utah), I begin working part time with Amy Tan, taking on various freelance design projects, and selling more and more stamp designs in my shop. I was lucky enough to receive some press from big names including Swiss Miss, Oh Hello Friend, Fab.com, Cup of Jo, Uncovet, and a handful of others, which helped launched my business even further than I ever imagined. Each day was a new adventure and I couldn’t believe I was actually getting to live life on my own terms!

Over the past two years, I’ve grown my business in different ways. I’ve expanded my shop to include new products. I’ve put my graphic design background to work on various freelance projects. I’ve tried my hand at producing e-courses. I’ve creatively collaborated with various individuals and companies. I’ve blogged professionally. I’ve delved deeper into photography and styling. And as always, I’ve continued to craft and make things with my hands. I’m nowhere near where I want to be professionally, but I have full faith that I will get there in due time.

Now, living in Pasadena with my husband and a baby on the way, I’m still freelancing and enjoying the adventure that it is. I will admit that life is getting more and more expensive all the time (private health insurance, car repairs, and baby expenses are a few of the big culprits) and there are many occasions when money can be tight. I’m fortunate that my husband works a steady 8-5 job as a graphic designer, so the consistency of his paycheck helps to balance out the unpredictability of my income greatly. But the truth is, we are a team. I feel just as responsible for our financial future as John does, so we both do our part to make sure we are creating a solid fiscal foundation month after month.

Even though everyday is a different experience and I often ask myself “WHAT AM I DOING?!,” it’s an amazingly gratifying life and I’m so happy to be along for the ride.

workspace wednesday | freelancing.

Posted on: Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Things I've Learned About Freelancing | Ann-Marie Loves

It’s always around this time of year that I start to question why the heck I ever became a freelancer.

As everyone else (or so it seems) is turning in their W-2’s and talking about how they will spend their tax refunds, I’m gathering together a mountain of receipts, tallying up miles driven, calculating my expenses against my income, and kicking myself for not being more organized the year before. Ah yes, tax season.

With that said, freelancing is a wonderful thing. Sure, maybe I hate myself for a few days out of the year, but for the other 360? I love my life. It’s unpredictable, it’s stressful, it’s a straight-up breeding ground for self-doubt, but gosh darn it, I have no one to answer to but MYSELF. I set my own schedule. I go to sleep and wake up whenever my body wants. If I need to take a day off, I take that day off. I am constantly pushed to try new things and grow creatively to keep income flowing (for better or worse). And most importantly, once my daughter arrives this summer, I’ll be able to stay at home with her for as long as I need to (although paid maternity leave sure would be nice!).

Here are some things I’ve learned about being a freelancer over the past two years:

Taxes are expensive.  I pay taxes on a quarterly basis and while I dread writing a meaty check to the IRS every three months, it’s a small price to pay to be able to live life on my own terms.

Time is finite. Time is precious and the time to make things happen is now. In the past I tended to drag my feet when it came to taking charge of my goals and making things happen, but recently I’ve been able to break out of that mindset more often and it’s paid off tenfold. After all, if I don’t go after my dreams, who will?

Charge what you are worth. Oh gosh, I hate dealing with pricing. Hate it, hate it, hate it. I hate sending off e-mails with my price sheet and wondering if I charged too much or too little for the task and the client at hand. I hate asking for raises. But even more than that, I hate working for free. Sure, it’s okay to do pro-bono work every once in awhile (especially for a person or a cause I truly love!), but when projects get dragged out longer than expected or additional assignments get tacked on without any extra compensation, it leads to resentment and discontent. And really, that hurts both parties. This is why it’s paramount to charge what you are worth from the very beginning. (Remind me of this the next time I tense up over a pricing inquiry!)

Money is a renewable resource. This is probably the biggest lesson I keep learning and re-learning over and over again. When the jobs are rolling in and the money is flowing, I feel powerful and confident and hopeful. But when the gigs are less frequent and my bank account is starting to dwindle? Not a good feeling. Money often feels elusive, like it will never return again, but somehow, some way, it always comes back. Recently I’ve learned that the best way to break out of money ruts is to get creative! Being forced to come up with new sources of income is a great way to push my creative boundaries and try new things that I may not have otherwise had the confidence to pull off. Many of the ideas that I put into action out of a need to pay the bills (i.e. rubber stamps and e-courses, to name a few) have turned out to be my most profitable revenue streams yet! BE BOLD, BE BOLD, BE BOLD.

E-mails are a necessary evil. I’m going to be honest: I don’t love dealing with e-mail. While I would choose it ANYDAY over talking on the phone, it still has a way of taunting me. Lately I’ve been making a conscious effort to stay on top of my inbox every single day, but admittedly, I still fall short.

Be honest. Even when you are your own boss, you’re still going to deal with unpleasant circumstances. When an unhappy customer e-mails me about an issue, I listen to their concerns and offer solutions to the problem (even if it means my feelings are hurt or I have to eat the cost of an item). When I make a mistake on shipping, I own up to it and fix the problem on my own dime ASAP. When I find out a client and I have a miscommunication, I take a step back and apologize where need be. But most importantly, I have to be honest with myself. If something doesn’t feel right or I’m not 100% in love with the product I am about to launch into existence, I have to own up to it and make the necessary changes (even if I hate every minute of it!)

I am never stuck. Knowing that I have a college degree and real-world experience in my back pocket provides me with a mental safety net. I feel confident that if someday freelancing is no longer a viable option for myself and my family, I can always go back to a more traditional career path. (However, after having a taste of self-employment, I am more motivated than ever to stick with it as long as I possibly can!)

The beauty of freelancing is that it really is freedom; just so long as you are doing things that make you FEEL free.

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