A majority of the monthly Freelancers Union Spark events are educational and focused around a specific topic or speaker. However, once or twice a year, Spark hosts an open networking happy hour. In addition to offering drink specials, snacks, and opportunities to win free drinks and Freelancers Union swag, these particular events tend to draw a strong crowd because of the promise to connect.
As freelancers, we don’t have traditional co-workers, clients, or employees. Most of the time, our work is done remotely, our meetings are conducted over phone or video, and our day-to-day operations take place in our home offices. There are things that seem commonplace to those in more conventional jobs, like getting up and getting out of the house each day, bouncing ideas off your office-mate, or taking a lunch break with your boss. However, these things are luxuries to freelancers. So, when a chance to connect with our peers presents itself, it’s no surprise that we’ll flock there.
This month at the Manhattan Spark happy hour, we convened in Tribeca over cocktails, craft beer, pub fare, and prizes. Freelancers gathered around high-top tables, and the other co-leaders and I circulated the space. As we moved from table to table, we asked the attendees who they’d like to meet at the event and worked to connect them.
While the topics discussed in the more educational workshops are always incredibly relevant and useful, this ability to connect is what makes the monthly Freelancers Union Spark events invaluable. Before I became a co-leader, I connected with two girls through Spark events, one who has become a dear friend and another who has become an incredible accountability partner and friend. Now, as a co-leader, I’m honored and thrilled to be able to facilitate connections among other freelancers.
Freelancing can be a lonely and isolating line of work, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re looking to make more connections with fellow freelancers and grow your work community, I highly recommend checking out a Freelancers Union Spark event. There will likely be another happy hour event later this year. However, at the end of every Spark, there’s about half an hour of open networking following the workshop. To find an event near you, check out the Freelancers Union website. If you’re in the NYC area, stop by the Manhattan event and say hi – I’ll be there co-leading, and I’d love to connect!
Growing up as an only child, you get very creative at finding ways to entertain yourself. One summer, on a particularly long and lazy day, I remember starting an idea jar. I carefully cut several pieces of paper into small strips, grabbed a box of crayons, and started writing down every activity I could possibly think of. Then I went to the kitchen cupboard, grabbed a mason jar, and filled it with all the little strips. After taking some time to make an elaborate label for the jar, I gave it a shake to mix up all the creative goodness. Time and time again, I returned to this jar, usually out of boredom but sometimes out of the thrill of letting the fates decide how I might spend my afternoon. I continually added to the jar whenever a new idea struck me, and the possibilities grew and grew.
As a self-employed individual, it’s often challenging to know how to productively use breaks throughout the day. Most times, I’ll turn to whatever book I happen to be reading or my coloring book, or, if weather permits, I’ll go outside and take a short walk around my neighborhood. But lately, I’ve been looking for something new, and I remembered the idea jar I created when I was a kid. I immediately had an ah-ha moment: I need an adult creativity jar.
So, I reverted back to my eleven-year-old self. I carefully cut several pieces of paper into small strips, grabbed a box of crayons, and started writing down every creative exercise I could possibly think of. I started with each creative habit I’ve shared in this series – it seemed like the logical jumping off point. Then I continued to brainstorm and get specific – go outside, sit in once place for fifteen minutes, and write down at least fifteen observations… take a book from the shelf, open it to a random page, choose a word or phrase, and start to free write… pick a playlist, put it on shuffle, and dance it out to at least three songs (thanks for the idea, Jess Grippo!).
For this month’s AOC Blog Creative Habit Challenge, start with a jar and fill it with every creative exercise you can possibly think of. Get started with the concepts from this series, then let the ideas flow from there. I’m always on the hunt for new creative activities and sources of inspiration, so please share one of the original ideas from your creativity jar using the hashtag #AOCBlogCreative habit.
As I stepped off the escalator and headed toward the stairs leading down to the subway, I could see the uptown train waiting. I started sprinting, as every good New Yorker does, but as I reached the platform, I could see the train doors were closed. Damn, I thought, just missed it.
I stood there, expecting the train to depart any second, but it didn’t. It sat, doors closed, for another couple minutes before it finally took off. I sighed and rolled my eyes in frustration, and I noticed another woman on the platform who had experienced the same misfortune. We both glanced around the station and quickly caught each other’s gaze. It’s the worst when that happens, I said, and we struck up a conversation.
At first, we commiserated over the occasional annoyances, like this one, that come with relying on public transportation. Another train arrived, and we sat, continuing to chat about the usual things. As the conversation inevitably shifted to work, we began to click. Before we parted ways at the station where we both needed to transfer, we exchanged business cards. This woman is now one of my clients.
Why should you always dress to impress? Because you never know who you’re going to meet. As artists, bloggers, entrepreneurs, and the like, we often live in our loungewear and activewear. Full disclosure: there are days when I work in my pajamas and only throw a coat on to run to the bodega up the block. Living in New York City (where the streets are filled with people bringing their fashion a-game) has inspired me to put a little more effort into my appearance before I leave the apartment. Fortunately, on the day of my subway debacle, I happened to have done my hair, thrown on some makeup, and put on “real clothes.”
When you work from your home office a majority of the time, it makes sense to only dress for video calls or in-person meetings. Most of the time, the first contact we have with our potential clients is on the web. They see the styled and polished images depicted in our bios and on our contact pages, not the girl in the yoga pants and oversized sweater on the other side of the screen. In our self-employed lives, we can’t forget to maintain a certain level of professionalism outside of our online presence. You never know if your next client may be behind you in line at Starbucks.
What you wear says something about you and your brand. Not the designers or trends you sport but how you present yourself. Just like the story you use to introduce yourself, clothing is a medium you can use to portray something about your business. Is your brand bold and colorful or sleek and minimal? Look at your company’s aesthetic, imagine how it could be translated into an outfit, and take it into consideration next time you’re running errands around town or walking your dog in the park. If you need a little guidance translating your brand’s image into your personal style, connect with me. In addition to writing, I happen to do a bit of styling on the side!
We all have big plans for 2015, and we need somewhere to write them down and keep them organized. That’s why the best way to set yourself up for success in the New Year is to start with a new planner or agenda. I’ve used a number of different planners over the years in all sizes, layouts, and colors. I’ve also found that as my life has changed, my agenda has needed to change with it – from student to employed to self-employed – each has required a certain type of organization. However, the one thing that has never changed when shopping for a planner is finding one that is charming and inspiring. So, I’ve rounded up 5 perfect planners for 2015 to cater to all your scheduling needs. Plus, each planner is beautifully designed to suit your personal or professional style. Make 2015 the year you plan for success by organizing your time, tracking your progress, and dreaming big! Start the New Year with a fresh new agenda to write down your goals and aspirations for the year ahead!
1. THE BIG CALENDAR WEEKLY PLANNER, $24
Gain an outlook for the weeks and months ahead with The Big Calendar’s Weekly Planner. This hard-cover agenda with sweet floral watercolor design is sure to help you maintain an organized schedule in 2015! Includes yearly calendar, international holidays, notes pages, and monthly overviews upon request for no additional charge.
2. SARA PINTO WEEKLY PLANNER, $20
This Sara Pinto Weekly Planner is the most affordable of the planners showcased and features an assortment of three available patterns, including this unique and girly camo print. Includes three year snapshot view, monthly view, notes pages, weekly view, special days, future planning, and telephone/address section.
3. NINJ & NINJ WEEKLY PLANNER, $25
As a writer, I’m quite partial to this Ninj & Ninj Weekly Planner, which features a Shakespeare quote from a Midsummer Night’s Dream on the front cover: Though she be but little she is fierce. It’s also perfect if you’re petite like me! Includes 12-monthly weekly planning pages with notes section, 2015 and 2016 years at a glance, monthly overviews between each month, separeate notes pages, and storage pocket.
4. MAY DESIGNS AGENDA, $22
A friend gave me a May Designs Agenda a couple years ago, and I absolutely adored it. May Designs agendas are completely customizable – the planner pattern, monogram shape, typography, colors, and inner pages. If you want an agenda that absolutely suits your style and organizational needs, look no further than May Designs!
5. SHE PLANS TO DO LIST PLANNER, $36
I splurged on this ShePlans agenda for the New Year. If you know me, you know I’m a major maker of to-do lists, so this was the perfect planner for me to kick off 2015! Includes A LOT!
• Colorful laminated Monthly Tabs
• Notes Pocket in the back of the planner
• National holidays on both weekly & monthly pages
• 10 pages of notes (including a specific tab for notes) at the back of the planner
• A User’s Guide – great information on how I use my To Do List Planner
• Important Dates & Personal Goals for 2015, by month
• Gift Giving page to jot down ideas as they come to you throughout the year
• Holidays & Observances at a glance for 2015, 2016 & 2017
• 2015 & 2016 calendars at a glance
MONTHLY SPREADS include
• inspirational quotes & space to reflect upon those quotes
• large format calendar for maximum writing area
• national holidays
WEEKLY SPREADS include
• My MASTER LIST of things to do
• Monthly “at a glance” calendars for previous, current, and next month
• Moments that make this week special section to reflect on the week with gratitude
EACH DAY includes
• Today is Special section to note birthdays & celebrations
• Appointment times from 7:00am – 7:00pm
• Evening Plans for meal planning, late night practices, or anything you’d like to accomplish at night.
Please note: In order to celebrate the holidays with her family, Ashley (owner of ShePlans) only has printables available Dec 20th-28th. All planners will be available for sale beginning on the 29th. Ashley is awesome to work with, so feel free to send her a message if you need additional assistance purchasing your planner.