Friday, March 23, 2012

The Challenge :: Progress and Armoire Transformation!

Thank you to all of you that read my last post about the Making Brands Happen webinar and all of the life changing that is coming about as a result. The kind words of encouragement from my friends and from fellow attendees have been so amazing, and I'm happy to keep at it! I didn't start the challenge until last Thursday, but I thought I should report on my progress for those of you following.

On Thursday I started step one, downloading, which involved writing down everything in my head for 10 minutes, non-stop. I put my pen to paper and scribbled out my fears, the daunting and never-ending tasks on my to do list,  and whatever nonsense came to mind. It felt good just to write things down. I ended up following Lara's advice and picking the three biggest items (one of those being TAXES, ugh) and creating 3 very quick, doable actions under each. They were very very small steps (for taxes I had 1. finding my quickbooks online log-in (I was searching every time I needed to log-in) 2. writing it down 3. taping it in my notebook), but I think the smaller the better for me starting out. The important part is that checking those items off the list meant I had gotten closer to accomplishing them. Would I have even attempted to work on these monsters that day otherwise?

I come up with lots of ideas, some great and some silly, for my business, life improvement, a plan to start cooking every day to save money maybe... And I never do them. It had become a cycle that was keeping me down in the same Groundhog Day every day, tethered to my computer and groaning, audibly. As I recently made a decision to outsource all but my favorite images from weddings (essentially letting someone else pick up and batch the rest with what I'd already edited, with the same style, I think of it much like the color correction a print lab does for film clients), I've actually had a bit of time to catch up on the rest of my to-do list, and to think, and to find four leaf clovers.

A few weeks ago I had a light bulb moment where I decided to paint the computer armoire in my office. I had intended to paint it from when I first purchased it (I found it via craigslist from a fellow photographer, who I then had the pleasure of photographing with her husband and 3 kids! She was excited to see what I would do with it, and now a year later I can finally show her!). I wasn't sure what I would do, I had thoughts of an antique white finish and I also toyed around with painting the inside red for a pop, but the longer I used the desk, and cluttered it up with random things that didn't belong there, the less I felt like taking it all off, unplugging all of the tangled cords, and actually taking the time to paint it two different colors.

Step 2 of the challenge was clearing the clutter, both physically and on your computer. I'll still be working on the email part of this step for a while but I must have unsubscribed from at least 50 email subscriptions. I guess I thought buying things on sale equaled saving money and thus I HAD to know about every sale ever at any place I might shop again. The idea of missing a coupon still makes me sad until I snap myself out of it. I probably received 50-100 emails EVERY DAY, most of them solicitations.

Helpful tip I discovered while getting serious about deleting myself from the lists:
In mail, if you search for 'unsubscribe' in 'entire message' you can quickly isolate all of the emails that have an easy unsubscribe button or instructions (and more readily find which ones have you on an email list rather than being a personal email). The ones that involve more work to unsubscribe would've exhausted me for the day anyhow.

I also resolved to give up social media for the weekend, so starting at 5:00pm on Friday I logged off of Facebook, Twitter, Hootsuite (a twitter app), Pinterest, and Instagram (and even Draw Something) to unplug a bit. It wasn't so bad. I thought that people would notice my absence somehow (and I did have two people ask if I'd seen posts on facebook during the 2.5 day hiatus), but really apparently other people actually enjoy their weekends, ha! Plus I spent a lot of Saturday with Morgan shooting a wedding (in a cave!) and on wedding days I rarely get on social media anyway. I installed Leech Block but haven't set up rules for myself yet.

I set aside Sunday to work on the armoire. The plan (haha) was to paint it all in one day, I only had to accomplish the one task so I thought I'd go to a home improvement store, buy some paint and a brush and BOOM.

Not quite. Garrett and I had a late brunch at V. Richards and I didn't make it back from Lowes until about 4pm (where did all that time go?). I had a photo request from a parent to work on and I really wanted to go ahead and knock it out, so I didn't get started until 6, when the sun was already starting to set. I spent two and a half hours on clearing off the armoire and painting most of the red surfaces. My office looked completely ransacked and I was exhausted.

On Monday morning I realized that since I had an album meeting scheduled for Tuesday afternoon I had to finish the armoire by then. I'm glad for the time crunch, because I'm not sure that I would've seen the task as doable and I really wanted to sit somewhere away from the paint fumes, preferably away from the sight of my destroyed office, and forget this crazy project. Somehow I finished the painting before sunset on Monday and I am in love!

Right around this point I wanted to give up. All of the taping and second coats that would be required to pull this off were overwhelming. I considered whether I would hate just painting the red and the stained wood as is. I would have. Fortunately I powered on.
If you want technical specifics, I used Valspar satin paint in Fleecy CI 201 and the red is a matte in "Cherry Pickin"CI 221 at Lowe's. I used some kind of liquid sandpaper that a fellow officemate (Danny with Paintworks) had leftover but there wasn't much of it so I probably didn't actually use enough to be effective. The paint will probably all chip off. Life is an adventure.

Okay, and get this. I picked out the red while looking for my business colors on paint chips while Morgan was shopping for the right shade of bright turquoise for her living room. I picked cherry pickin' for the red. Later when I went to buy the paint for the armoire I picked out Fleecy, an off white for the white, and remembered the cherry pickin'. When I flipped over the cherry pickin' swatch to see what the specs were it says "our suggested trim color: Fleecy". I am a genius.

The reveal!
Okay, and now as an actual working space.
 On my roll out keyboard tray, I have on the left a Pinhole Press notepad for writing notes to clients, my weekly planner (I write in all meetings and important to-dos here, it's a $1 Target bin find), and a sticky notepad for quick notes. I also have my keyboard and mouse. I ordered a custom aqua blue mousepad from Zazzle so I'm excited to add that to the desk soon! I also have a wacom tablet tucked in there for when I need to do some photoshop edits. 

My office supply drawer could use some thinning out but I am very happy to have "a place for everything and everything in its place" for now. No stuffing junk in the drawer!
 To hide the iHome that was already on my desk so that I can play pandora all the time (and use it to take care of my what to play during client meeting troubles), I placed it in one of the bins on the bottom left shelf where I could conveniently plug it in behind. 

For the surge protector, which used to be on the desktop with EVERYTHING else, I started with the surge protector before I put anything else in the armoire. I used different colored washi tapes on each end of the cords (for external harddrives, a usb hub, my computer, etc.) to help better sort out what goes with what when I need to unplug. The cords feed out behind the bottom shelf there and then up through that center cubby at the bottom, up to a hole in the desktop.
I had already purchased the red canvas bins before the makeover but I love how well they blend in, making the shelves look less full and cluttered. The bottom bin holds my iHome, while the shelf above has a red bin for things I needed readily available, notecards, napkins, stamps, a cd spindle for blank dvds, and a notebook I use to make notes about album specifics and other such need to know things. For the cubbies above the desk space I narrowed down the contents to a box for purchased item receipts (quick drop box so that I can just organize once a month) and current client notebook on the right and a few artsy books and my pentax on the left.

I love that everything pops more now, the reds blend in and the whites pop. So far I'm pretty dedicated to keeping it clean, having a good starting place makes letting things stay on the desk that should be put away a lot harder. I thought I'd touch up the paint on the white once I'd finished but I like that in places the dark underneath shows through a bit, it feels more antiqued. The desk is now my favorite part of the room.


  1. What a fun post to sit down to today! I've never been so happy about a craigslist sell! I'm so happy that it went to you. It was meant to be :) And, I'm wanting to schedule a shoot for my 35th(!) b'day this summer. Are you doing family shoots on the side at all? Email me with your prices if so (if you still have my address. If not, I'll email you).


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