Ask Kelly Rae:

Jun 26, 2012 | Entrepreneurship, Life in Progress

You ask. I share. We talk.

Ask Kelly Rae is your chance to prompt me with your thoughtful, soulful & beautifully complex questions about just about anything! Art, love, relationships, friendships, business, creativity, home decor, where I got my cowgirl boots — the doors are wiiiide open. Click here to submit a question for a future post. And enjoy today’s conversation . . .

Q: Dear Kelly Rae, I was reading about how you felt when you moved into your new studio and how it affected your productivity and your overall sense of balance.  I realize that this amazing step wasn’t realized until 5 years into your business, so my question is; until you were able to have that dream, what are some tidbits of advice or ways of dealing in terms of schedule and discipline etc. that you put in place in order to actually get some work done at your at home studio?

I love this question. Because we all struggle with all things time management, scheduling, and discipline whether we work from home, not from home, have kids, or don’t have kids. It is something that I’m always talking about with my friends and it’s something that I’m in a constant state of practice about. What I’m finding is that some weeks require more movement and flexibility (for creative projects) while some require super clear rigid focus (to actually get stuff done).

Now that I have a work space outside of the home, the struggle looks differently than it did when I worked from home.  But today, I’ll share what worked for me when I had my studio/office at home.

true boots

1. Separate your time in conscious ways. 

Meaning, when you’re with your kids, you’re WITH your kids (physically, mentally, spiritually). No checking emails, no surfing facebook biz pages, no checking in with work AT ALL – even during naps. I find that this helps me stay focused and less scattered as I move in and out of mama world and biz world. If I have True in the mornings, I try (really hard) not to enter work world during our time together. It can wait until the afternoon or its dedicated schedule that I’ve created for it. Otherwise I never quite feel at peace or in the present moment when I’m with him. When he’s napping, I use that time to rest, read a magazine, sit in the sun, call a friend, house chores – anything that doesn’t pull me into biz world. That said, I’m human. Sometimes (sometimes), when he’s napping (esp now that naps are longer), I’ll check in and answer anything urgent in my inbox, but I usually regret it. 

The same goes for work. When I’m working, I’m WITH my work (physically, mentally, spiritually) – no phone calls (I almost never answer my cell when working), no interruptions (unless I’m really needed as a mama/friend/wife/etc), no lollygagging around (though I do love to lollygag – just not when I need to focus). I currently work 3-4 days/week (some afternoons, some mornings = about 30hrs/week) which isn’t a ton of time considering all that there is to do. How do I get it all done? I’m hyper focused during those hours (more below). Since starting a family and letting go of my 60+ hour work weeks, I’m AMAZED at what I can get done in four focused hours. Amazed.

Bottom line? Defined work times, defined family times. Resist crossing into work world when you are in family world. Resist crossing over into family world when you are in work world. The result: you’re truly inside the moment in whatever world you are in and that kind of peace is priceless.

2. Housework. 

Let it go. If you can, hire a housekeeping service. We have someone who comes in twice/month for all the deep cleaning. Before we could afford a housekeeping service twice/month, we just let it go (seriously) and had a not so super clean house. We swiffer in between cleanings and sometimes our laundry only gets done once/month. Our current routine is to spend about 20 minutes at the end of the day picking up the house, putting stuff away, loading the dishwasher, and generally putting the house back together again after a toddler has thoroughly and joyfully created chaos. This helps us stay on top of things so that the house doesn’t get super out of control, but we’ve let the super clean house that we used to have pre business and pre baby go. I’d rather be remembered for the work I did in the world as a parent and as an artist vs having a really clean house.

Photo Credit: Tiffany Kirchner-Dixon

3. The down and dirty time management plan: 

In a nutshell, my strategy is this when it comes to getting work done. By the way, this was my strategy when I was the sole income of our household, when I was not, when I didn’t have kids, and now that I do. This was my strategy when I worked full time at my day job while growing my biz on the side and it remains my strategy now. It was my strategy when I was a one woman show, and remains my strategy now that I’m lucky to have help.

1. Make a goal (small, big, ginormous)
2. Write down every single tiny detailed step that must happen in order to achieve that goal
3. Schedule every single one of those tiny detailed steps into my weekly work schedule. Sometimes, when I’m all done scheduling in those tiny steps I’m just a couple weeks away from reaching that goal, sometimes months – depends on the size of the goal and how much time I have to devote to work each week.
4. If I can’t get to xyz step on any particular week, I simply move it to the next week. I keep doing this until I reach the goal.

    This is exactly how small steps lead to amazingness, as evidenced here.

    4. Motion = Progress = Success = Imperfect. 

    Motion means putting your work out into the world, even if it’s not perfect. For me this means no more super edited blog posts (which means many typos, etc – ah well), or finely crafted newsletters, or lots of preparation. I simply don’t have the time. I’m learning to simply get it out there – no waiting for the perfect time, or when it feels more finished or or or. Just get it out, so that you can make room and time (in your heart and in your schedule) for the next step, whether that’s another painting, another blog post, another newsletter, etc etc. Motion, however simple or small, means progress. And progress, my friends, is success. Plain + Simple.

    PS: Perfectionism stops motion (i.e. progress, success) in every way.

    Kelly Rae

    ps: Do you have any good tips for working from home? If so, let us know in the comments!

    Sending much love,

    Show/Hide Comments (8 comments)
    1. Lilla Rogers Studio

      So wish I had this when my kids were young! I totally agree with everything, kelly Rae!

    2. Alece

      Per usual, LOVE your encouragement and am inspired by your wise counsel. THANK YOU for giving of your time to us…we are blessed!

      Bought one of your pieces today for our future daughter's room…speaks of the things to light your way in the world. It will be the first thing to go in, and it's perfect…all the things we want her life to be guided by. We will be older parents, but we are grateful for the perspective that will bring to both our parenting and our own learning from her. Gifts all around, and SO thankful you are a part of it through your artwork! BLESSINGS!

    3. Liza Zeni

      Thank-you so much for opening up this wonderful forum for us Kelly Rae and sharing yourself, it's really helpful. I'm a stay at home mum with two busy boys 2 and 3.5 and it was just so helpful to hear your time and home management tips. It was a timely reminder to switch off from work and not be distracted when you're with your children, family / friends, or simple yourself which is so very important. I have 2 full days a week for my art biz but I find myself looking around the house so distracted by washing, cleaning, cooking and also the feeling I need to respond swiftly to emails and messages. I only began my art journey mid last year and I really have come to be super aware of how the online pull can deplete my physical and heart energy and I've really had to learn to pull back and set boundaries this year after feeling quite burnt out earlier this year. You're always such a wonderful reminder of what can be achieved and I'm so grateful for your open giving nature xxx

    4. Brooke Boynton Hughes

      What a wonderful post! Thank you so much for the good advice and inspiration! I'm so happy to have stumbled upon your blog 🙂

    5. kelly rae roberts

      I do remember when lack of money was my biggest struggle, but let me kindly suggest that time is money and it sounds like you have some time. When I worked full time (as the sole incomeer), I quietly and slowly built my biz and made art. I understand tire. And distracted. And poor.

      This blog post is about time mgmt options – not about hiring assts and housekeepers.

      We have to start with WHERE WE'RE AT. THat might be poor, wealthy, tired, energetic, with kids, without kids.

      Be kind to yourself and make your situation work for you…


    6. Metamorphis Arts

      My biggest draw-back is lack of money, not time. I cannot pay house-keepers, or assistants. I cannot pay for workshops to help me learn how to do what needs to be done to sell my work. I am the sole income. If I work outside the studio/house I am too tired and too distracted to do art. If I just do art, I cannot pay the rent or eat…catch-22

    7. Catherine Denton

      Write while waiting. That's been my saving grace. I keep a journal in my purse and jot down thoughts for my blog/business while waiting (at the doctor's office, school parking lot, or practices). Sometimes I snap photos a few photos too.
      Catherine Denton


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    Hello + welcome!

    I’m Kelly Rae Roberts

    Before I picked up my first paintbrush at the age of 30, I was a medical social worker. I followed my creative whispers, and today I’m an artist & Possibilitarian. I’m passionate about creating meaningful art and experiences that awaken and inspire our spirits.

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