People often ask me how I have time to run my Etsy shop while working full time. My to-do list after coming home from London reflects the work that goes into running a shop:

  1. 13 custom pet portrait orders waiting to be drawn and shipped
  2. 1 wholesale request at an estimate of 50+ magnets
  3. 2 upcoming holiday craft fairs
  4. #LogaCat with at least 200 cats to go

That’s a big to-do list, but it doesn’t weigh on me. I have one habit that ensures it doesn’t. If I do this one thing, I feel accomplishment and can stay motivated. Keeping my sanity (and enjoying my business) comes from persisting to congratulate myself when I do small tasks.

When I started my shop, I didn’t think of all possible to-dos; instead I focused on filling one page of my shop with 20 listings. This small task (in hindsight) seemed large. I focused by breaking it down into smaller tasks. And I reflected on each one as an accomplishment when I finished it. Here’s how I broke it down.

First, I drew one portrait every evening for 20 days. I didn’t do anything else that goes into listing until these were drawn. I also didn’t agonize over the drawings. I just wanted to get started and I drew quick portraits. The below photo shows a few of these and how very different they are from GoodAfternoonan today.

girl drawings

Next, I spent one Saturday morning photographing all of the drawings and adding them to a Flickr set for organization. For the next 20 days, I wrote and published one post each evening. After almost two months, I had one full page of listings.

A year and a half later, I’m still working on adding to my shop little by little and have close to 100 listings up at any given time. For every new listing I post, I still take a few seconds to reflect on all I’ve done and to congratulate myself. This may sound self-involved. I believe, instead, that it’s a healthy state of mind. We so often devalue life’s small tasks, and unrecognized stress can eat away at our motivation. Sometimes all we need to relieve our stress is to simply stop and tell ourselves, “good job.”

Creative Impulse Series

This post is part of my Chasing the Creative Impulse Series, which explores techniques for sustaining creativity in a busy life. I believe that the habit of creativity comes from practice and not just from a compulsive feeling to create. This series outlines ways that I’ve maintained a creative life.

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