making it happen

Happy Friday everyone! I'm in a great mood today, as the sun is finally out and I have some fun weekend plans in the works, including a stroll around the farmer's market, a double feature at the movies, and a visit to my favourite bakery. The cherry on top is that one of my closest friends is flying in on Sunday, and two other great friends are arriving later on in the week!

This week kind of dragged by, but it ended up being really productive and Fridays always feel extra good when you've gotten a lot of things done, right? On that note, I thought it would be fun today to talk about making things happen, and how to turn to-do lists into actual changes in our lives. How to we realize our aspirations?

I've always hated the term "weekend warrior" because it's just so damn condescending. For many of us, weekends are when we can finally get to all the things we've been daydreaming about, and that's a beautiful thing! I believe in seizing the weekend, filling it to the brim with both work and play. Back when I was balancing two full-time jobs, weekends were my saving grace, and when I'd finally feel caught up on everything.

Now that I work for myself full-time, my schedule is a lot different and more flexible, but the time-management and goal-setting skills I developed during that crazy time have carried through nicely. I thought it might be cool to talk about tools and techniques that help me get through my weeks, and I'd love to hear from you about your secrets for success!

Notebooks



For me, most ideas begin to take shape on paper. Whether it's with mindless doodling, mapping ideas, or writing lists and goals, my trusty notebooks are the best starting point for getting things done. I use it to hash out rough drafts of projects like my new client guide I'm working on:



I also use it to draw out initial storyboards for certain shoots. The one below is my initial sketch for the Fight or Flight shoot I posted earlier this week (see part I, part II):



Friends and Colleagues

Talking through rough ideas is a great way to help give them a real shape. Conversations with friends and colleagues are absolutely invaluable when it comes to bouncing around ideas and receiving thoughtful feedback.

Films

There's something magical about losing yourself in the sights and sounds and story of an amazing film. When I'm feeling zapped of inspiration, I go to the movies. It feels passively creative in some way, and   I've convinced myself that it counts as feeding my creative soul.

Drink a whole lotta water

This one is great for when you have a tonne of stuff to accomplish in a short time period. I actually learned this technique from one of my university profs. He suggested that if we were feeling stressed about being able to get it all done, or planning on pulling all-nighters, we should turn to water instead of coffee. Not only does drinking a lot of water (about 1 pint glass/hour) keep you hydrated, it also keeps you alert and less likely to suffer from a devastating caffeine crash. It also ensures you get up from your work to stretch at regular intervals, to refill your glass, and for inevitable bathroom breaks!

Walks

Taking a walk and varying your track is a great way to get a fresh perspective. Earlier this week, I walked to a new part of my neighbourhood and discovered the most beautiful things. Secret staircases down to tiny lakeside parks, and trees full of scented blossoms. I felt so silly for not having seen these things before, when they were really just 30 seconds off my usual path. Now I have a designated spot to go and clear my head, which is awesome.



Deadlines and Check-ins

Goals, even when written down, are pretty much useless unless you make yourself accountable to them. For every goal I make, I set a time limit for it, even if it's just "within the year" or "must finish this before you buy your next chocolate bar," or "you get to buy champagne when this is done," it helps me remember to not let it just float off into the ether. I also set regular check-ins with myself, which sounds all official but really just consists of looking back on my to-do lists over a strong tea and crossing off what's been done. If something is left undone, I ask myself why I've been dropping the ball in that area and try to make changes so I'm better about it.

Multitask

If you're working on something that is even somewhat repetitive (for me that's editing photos) it's great to accompany your activity with a little audio. Music is great, but podcasts are great to listen to while you work, because you always learn something as you listen. It also makes the time go by faster, keeps your mind from wandering, and helps you stay focused on your task.

Make it actionable

Instead of just writing down large goals, break each one down into more manageable pieces. For each piece, decide what specific actions will help you make progress, and then turn those actions into tasks. Actions are what make the cut for your to-do list; goals belong on another page of bigger ideas!

Workouts

When I'm really feeling stuck, I'll go out for a run or head to the gym to just loosen up. It always does the trick!

What helps you turn your ideas into reality? Do you have any rituals or techniques that help you make things happen?