the 5 days you’ll meet working from home

Cup of coffee and pen on notebook with calendar planner on wooden desk background, top view

nine months ago, i started a new job. we have a Buckhead office for occasional internal and client meetings, but for the most part, everyone works remotely. it’s totally cool, but (like most things in life) it’s not exactly how i thought it would be.

before i started, i imagined that my life would suddenly transform. obviously, i would automatically be transported to the magical world where lifestyle bloggers live . . . where life is clean white and stylish with the warm glow of a scented candle and a sweet doggie curled up quietly by my side as i worked. i imagined that through the magic of time shifting, i would be a beacon of productivity on the work front, while also maintaining an immaculate home, effortlessly preparing a balanced and interesting meal every evening at a reasonable hour and definitely being in the best shape of my life, thanks to daily workouts in between conference calls . . . Continue reading

5 ways to make Mondays suck less

here i am at 4:00 on Sunday afternoon . . . working. ugh!

actually, a really exciting opportunity has come up for my company and i am hard at work brainstorming and laying the groundwork for a proposal for a big, interesting, international (!) project that i’m totally psyched about. Spy and Miss Girl have gone to a movie, allowing me some peace and quiet for this and giving feedback on another project that is happening. going in, i already know this week is going to be insane with this proposal due Friday on top of 2 sets of deliverables due Monday, proposal housing one of those due Tuesday and moodboard through final design due on the other, yes, also Friday. oh, and an all day team offsite on Tuesday sucking precious time for actual work.

unfortunately, this is not the weekend i won the lottery. so that plan for avoiding the week is not happening. but i have gotten over being totally pissed off about the whole “everything is a priority” scheduling and am looking forward to the feeling of accomplishment i’m sure to have after i get through it. and i’m trying to do what i can to make it suck less.

so just then . . . PureWow sent me an email with this as the lead article. i’ve already decimated way #2, but other than that, i think it’s totally solid advice. check out their 5 Ways to Make Mondays Suck Less and make the most of the next 8 hours or so of Sunday, y’all! hope everyone has a great week!

5 Ways to Make Monday Suck Less

5 on Friday: a(nother) Writing 101 mashup

turtlerace(photo: thrillist.com)

um. didn’t Writing 101 end like 6 weeks ago? you’re asking. i know, right? but here i am. still. did i ever tell y’all that i didn’t graduate college on time? yeah, somehow at the finish line, i still needed one more class and ended up hanging around Winter Park for the summer taking an Ann Tyler class to fulfill my very last couple credits and officially get my degree. so this feeling is super familiar.

that said, creative combinations seem to be my secret weapon here, so i’m doing it again! i didn’t have anything pulled together for Friday list of 5 when i remembered that Day 11 asked

What do you do when you’re not writing? How do you reset and return to this dashboard, refreshed? What do you need in your day-to-day life to maintain balance?

since my last post was a week and a half ago, this really resonated today. what have i been doing? why haven’t i been writing? that second question is probably a bit more complicated than “life got busy,” which is what i like to tell myself. i’ve been questioning again what i’m doing here. i’ve also been exploring a book idea and much of my focus has been on whether that idea is viable, how to make this space more fun for me — and for you — and kind of generally doing a gut check about my writing and what i want to do with it. deep, y’all. and i’m not ready to write about it yet. ha. Continue reading

Friday favorites: procrastination edition

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so today’s Writing 101 challenge asked us to write a post about one of 5 Tweets. this one obviously spoke to me. it’s been a weird, long short week. and i definitely believe procrastination is essential to creativity. here are a few ways i have procrastinated this week. and i totally feel more creative for it! happy weekend, y’all 🙂

1. the perfect jeans
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yeah, i literally (okay, not literally) have 100 pairs of jeans in my closet (18?). but every fall, i’m like omg what jeans am i gonna wear?? it’s kind of dumb, but you have to have jeans for flats, jeans for heels, skinny jeans, not skinny jeans, dark wash, medium wash . . . it’s exhausting. my time-consuming, work-blowing-off quest this week has turned up these J.Crew Factory straight-leg jeans. if they fit i have found heaven. if not, i’ve got a Boden go-to that has rocked my world all summer in white.

2. do i need shoes to go with those?
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no, do i? yeeeeeeeessssss. really? lots of time spent thinking about whether to order the shoes, too. decided to confirm the denim first. and look in my closet to see what i actually have before buying more stuff. who is this responsible me? i don’t even recognize you, girl!
procrastination hours logged: 1?

3. margaritas. duh.
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a girls’ lunch at Bone Garden was way overdue. what? hours of procrastination that directly resulted in at least 1,000% increase in creativity. period.

4. Apple shit
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okay, so if you work in this weird space between advertising and technology that i do, you are pretty much a total asshole if you weren’t live-streaming the Apple shitshow announcements this week. who can get anything done with that on the  72-inchers? do i need a phone the size of my head, an iPad the size of my TV and a subscription that ensures i’m never a nanosecond behind? hells no. but i prolly will. and i also could totally get behind the Hermès wrap-around watch. but that’s just between us girls.

5. September 11 Rainbow
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this is the first September 11 that i haven’t thought about the weight of the day, that it hasn’t meant something to me. that i haven’t been afraid to get on a plane. that i haven’t spent a moment (until now)  reflecting on how that day changed the lives of everyone who lived through it — and weirdly, how little it means to most millennials, who were i guess, only like 18?. this morning, when i got in the car, MSNBC was on the Sirius. they were talking about a potential terrorist attack. i wondered what the fuck now? and then realized they were replaying tape from that Tuesday morning. i immediately switched to BPM. i can’t do it again. i just can’t. but i was really psyched yesterday to have seen this beautiful image and story. and spent several minutes blowing off whatever it was i should have been doing to stop, watch and reflect.

Friday favorites

yay! it’s a big Friday around here: Miss Girl makes her acting debut this afternoon in a video we’re shooting for a client (free talent is good talent on this budget). i can’t wait to see how she does pretending to make popcorn and watch a movie with her fake family. speaking of fake families, i was recently cast for another client and got photoshopped into some scenes with another fake family . . . i’m seeing a theme here. if there’s one more i think i’ll have to do a post! on the topic of my real family, though, Spy heads out for another European jaunt tomorrow, so Miss Girl and i will be holding down the fort for the next 2 weeks. i love my husband, but wow, do i love when he leaves for a little while. my house stays cleaner, there’s no pressure to cook (hello, wine and hummus dinners) and it always seems to be productive for writing. absence really does make the heart grow fonder. in the meantime, here are a few fun finds from this week. enjoy and have a great weekend!

all about that bass

so all about this. just really fantastic.

 

all about a closer look
rialtomirrorso while i was in Columbus last week for work, i got treated to an amazing magnifying mirror in my hotel room. it was terrifying. and addictive. nobody needs to see their face that close up/everybody needs to see their face that close up. whenever i have a hotel room with one of these, i vow to get one for my own home. this time i actually did. a Saturday morning whim became reality on Tuesday. thank you Amazon Prime. the good news is my skin looks way better up close than i expected. the bad news is i’m a woman of a certain age and goddamn if there isn’t more random hair growing in random places than anyone would ever deem acceptable. truth, y’all. ugh. thank you 8x for the good and the bad.

 

 

all about that style
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i was an avid StitchFix user back in 2013. they always pushed my limits a little and i tried to like it, but in the end, i never felt like there was an entire box that was really me. fast forward after taking at least a year’s hiatus. i updated some settings and my Pinterest board and tried again. look out for a full post on what i received, but at first glance, i’m thinking they totally upped their game! stay tuned . . .

all about those ads

gaaaaahhh. i know i’ve mentioned before how i’m a sucker for animals in ads and how the Clydesdales pretty much get me in tears no matter what they do. i’ve been sneak-peaking in hopes of not being a puddle on game day. verdict: i’ll still be a puddle when i see this one on game day.

all about PuppyBowl!
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Wednesday, Uber teamed up with animal shelters in 10 cities to bring puppies to the people. simple. order an Uber with the special puppy code and they bring you some puppies to try out for 15 minutes. the hope was obviously that the pups get adopted. the problem was that nobody accurately anticipated demand. at least in super-dog-friendly Atlanta. my agency (among many others hoping for great social cred) tried all day and were consistently met with a response noting that all the puppies were currently being snuggled and to try back later. hope the program was really that successful and that Atlanta Humane Society  (Lily’s previous home) found homes for a few snuggly puppies!

’tis the season for mailmen

i’m such a nerd. i well up when they play the Clydesdales ads on the Super Bowl. i never change the channel during commercial breaks because i might miss something interesting. i can get caught up in a 30-second story like it’s a feature film. i guess that’s why i went into advertising. blame it on Spy, but i also have a soft place in my heart for ridiculously antiquated things like newspapers and the United States Postal Service. and i love the holidays. so this little nugget of goodness, with all these things i love wrapped up with a bow, has had me happy dancing every time i see it. who actually wishes for a certain commercial will come on? anyway, i totally wanted to high five my mailman this morning when he dropped off a special delivery of Christmas party lights like 8 hours before he usually comes. enjoy!

NaBloPoMo: bonus post!

okay, okay. for those keeping score, this is less of a bonus post and more of a make-up post. call it what you want. with just 2 days to go, i’m officially caught up on this 30 days/30 posts NaBloPoMo insanity. whew.

so, i usually try to stay as far away from work here as i can (especially on days i’m not working!). but here’s a funny little story that happened Wednesday when my mom was visiting.

first. have you seen the new Buick campaign? if not, watch this.

we were leaving lunch in Midtown with Spy, who’d met us after some morning meetings. we entered the garage and our cars were parked next to each other. recently, Spy finally traded his 14 year-old BMW for a Buick Lacrosse. among other things, it’s fantastic for the ongoing joke about my husband being the middle-aged white guy driving the Buick. at any rate, we all said our goodbyes. we got in our car, and Spy got in his. as Mom, Miss Girl and i pulled away, this happened:

Mom: is that Spy’s car?

Me: um, yeah.

Mom: but i thought you said he bought a Buick.

Me: it is a Buick. pause. bwahahahahaha. that’s just like the ads!

Mom: oh my god, it is.

i am completely not shitting you. that really happened. then, of course, much laughter ensued.

as much total fluff advertising as is out there, there’s also a lot where agencies (in this case, Leo Burnett) have really done their homework, found some real consumer insights and built simple, but interesting, stories around them. yeah, their brief is showing a little, but i still think it’s a great campaign because it speaks so much truth about the brand, how people perceive it and how it’s changed. also, because whenever i see one of the spots, i’m always weirdly proud of my middle-aged white-guy husband for choosing that car.

and now, we return to completely non-work-related programming.

take back your time

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happy Monday, y’all! after a couple stupidly over-scheduled weeks at work, i’m definitely hoping for a little less intensity and a little more productivity this week. i was not at all pleased when Apple recently announced one more way to make sure you’re constantly connected and now literally physically attached. no thank you. i mean, please.  get all these people out of my calendar and turn off the constant notifications! was pretty much all i could think. (though i will say the one pictured here is really pretty.)

even before the announcement of shiny new toys, i’d been thinking a lot about how i manage my own time at work and at home, and what i can do to keep sane, even when it seems impossible. i write this knowing that i generally think about 80% of what i read in “time management” articles is completely unrealistic and unrelated to my life and therefore, complete and utter BS. that said, here are a few things i’ve found that help me cope with the chaos.

prioritize yourself
i’ve started putting all my personal stuff on my work calendar — doctor’s appointments, school activities, lunches with friends, the gym, anything i need to do for me or my family that’s important. now i might not always make public what those things are, but the time is blocked. and unless something comes up that just can’t get scheduled any other time, i say no to meetings that overlap those times. why? because i’m tired of re-arranging my schedule 60 times because of other peoples’ scheduling problems. it devalues my time. same thing with blocking time to actually do work. running from meeting to meeting all day, then getting pulled into impromptu conversations and dealing with the inevitable advertising emergencies keeps my job interesting, but it rarely leaves me with any actual time or the mental space i need to focus and actually get my job done.

i can’t say it’s always perfect, but standing firm on taking the time i need helps me be a lot more productive and feel a lot less frazzled, even when my calendar looks like a Jenga stack. and everyone involved is better off for that. same thing at home. it takes more work there, but when i’m feeling overwhelmed, i have learned to stand back, refocus and make my family work around my schedule and what i need to get done, rather than running around like a maniac trying to cater to everyone else’s whims. basically, do your thing and let others fall in line as much as humanly possible, rather than the other way around.

get organized
okay, this one sucks. but it’s just a fact of life for me and i’ve been doing it for so long that it just pretty much comes naturally. i know that if i can stay in control of what i can control, the unexpected things that always happen may throw my day off course a little, but don’t turn the whole thing into a complete disaster. usually. that means doing things like keeping the house picked up or my inbox relatively cleaned out, filling up the gas tank every other weekend and making lots of schedules and to do lists. it means taking 5 minutes to do something i’ve been putting off for a week or taking an open 30 minutes to go for a run just to get it out of the way. by staying on top of the things that have to get done, i can make time for the fun (or, okay even not fun) things that come up because i can see where those things fit into my day and they don’t have to take the place of one of the necessities.

stay flexible
yeah, this seems totally opposite from what i just said, but just wait for it. nothing ever happens the way you think it will, right? best laid plans and all. being organized doesn’t mean you have to be a total rigid control freak about your schedule. when i’m organized, i have a clear picture of what my day or week looks like and can better pivot when things don’t go as planned. last minute shift in plans on who’s picking up Miss Girl? no problem. she can come to the gym with me and we’ll pick up dinner on the way home, instead of me coming straight home, throwing dinner in the oven and going out for a run. unavoidable client call? can we wrap our status into the 10 minutes after that instead of keeping 30 minutes later blocked? fantastic. it’s about seeing the opportunities to do things differently and then seizing them. and as long as you reach your destination, how you do it doesn’t really matter.

blow stuff off
i’m serious. it’s taken me a long time (and it’s still a work in progress) to realize that everything doesn’t have to be perfect all the time. sometimes the mental and emotional relief of just taking a break is worth 10 times more than 10 items checked off a to-do list. truth. this weekend, while Spy and Miss Girl were away, i thought i was going to get 1,000 things done. in reality, i spent the better part of Saturday napping and watching TV — 2 things i never usually do. groceries didn’t get bought. nails didn’t get done. laundry didn’t get folded. my closet didn’t get changed over for fall . . . surprisingly, the world didn’t end, no one has starved yet and probably, no one will leave the house naked this morning. but for me, taking that time to just do nothing was absolutely worth every undone chore. i’m mentally more prepared for the week and can actually now face taking on some of those tasks over the next few evenings. it’s all about thinking what will make you feel better and giving yourself permission to stop caring so much about the things that aren’t critical to actually functioning.

and with that, here’s to a productive and peaceful week!

3% in ATL

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last fall, this Forbes article about the mismatch between female consumers and agency CDs caught my attention. and shocked me. did you know that women drive over 80% of purchasing decisions, yet the number of female creative directors at agencies hovers sadly around 3%? i don’t often write about work stuff here, but obviously, this is an issue close to my heart. seems pretty crazy, right? not that men can’t create work that resonates with women and vice versa, but hello? this totally does not make sense when you think about how little female creative perspective goes into so much of the work targeted to women.

why is this? i have a lot of theories that actually don’t fall far from the typical corporate story about why women don’t typically advance as quickly or to the levels men do. a lot of it has to do with decisions about family, work and communication styles and (sorry) old boy networks and status quo. and all that is probably for another post.

i feel incredibly lucky to have achieved what i have in my career. i say lucky because, well, it’s just not feminine to boast about my own talent. lols. okay, so totally not, um, at all. i say lucky, because in addition to knowing what i’m doing, i think i’ve just been at the right place at the right time quite often and had mentors (actually, mostly men) who believed in me and helped me get ahead. i don’t take lightly the responsibility of my position and over the years, have tried to help out other female creatives — with advice, a recommendation or whatever other support i could offer — whenever i could.

that’s why i’m super bummed i’m not able to attend today’s 3% MiniCon right here in Atlanta. i was asked to take part in the Speed Mentoring session, but had to decline in favor of preparing for a big client presentation tomorrow. i would have loved, not only meeting some eager young talent, but also connecting with others invested in making change and hearing some of the awesome lineup of speakers. i’m sincerely hoping everyone who does get to attend gets inspired and empowered, and that some enlightenment and change are underway. maybe they’ll need to change the conference name to 5% soon.

 

that’s a wrap!

i can’t count the number of times over the past 6.5 years that i fantasized about writing my farewell email to Razorfish. there were angry versions, sappy versions, breezy versions, short versions, long versions, versions that included video, song lyrics and animated gifs, versions that referenced inside jokes and ghosts of other fallen fish . . . while my fantasies deeply indulged the emotion of all these versions, when it came to the actual words i would type, they confirmed only the vague notion that there would definitely be some words in that email. note to self: improve level of detail in fantasy life.

well, now that moment has come. and over the past few days, as i thought more specifically about what to say about leaving the job i’ve held for longer than any job in my 14 year career, all i could come up with was a big, fat blank. not that i don’t have a lot to say. i’m mad about how things ended (but i’m not here to bitch about it). i’ll definitely miss a lot of people. i decidely won’t miss a few people. over the years, there were a lot of good times, and a lot of really fucking horrific times. (there were usually cocktails either way.) there were successes, scandals, failures, many lessons and life skills learned—and taught. there were solid friendships, mortal frenemies and enough compelling stories to fill several seasons of the next critically-acclaimed TV drama (which i will now, finally, have time to write). it’s been a truly epic journey in many, many ways.

perhaps my writing skills are a little rusty. perhaps it was just too emotionally draining. but after several attempts, i decided a couple sentence email simply couldn’t do justice to everything that had happened and all that it had meant. it was like trying to create the digital equivalent of a high school yearbook signature, written to the entire graduating class and summing up all 4 years. i didn’t want to cheapen the experience by glossing over it. and i didn’t want to send some version of that farewell email i hate. you know, the one written by someone who thinks they’re much funnier, more poignant, more important and better liked than they actually are. so i chose not to say anything at all. i shut down my email for the last time this morning, without writing a word. and didn’t look back.

today, in the real and silent final version of my farewell, i realized that the people who mean something know it. they also know where to find me. and more likely than not, we’ll be tipping back cocktails (on French Papa’s tab, i hope) sooner rather than later. so, here’s to whatever is next.

 

 

(okay, i couldn’t help myself.)