When the month of May began, I looked at my diary and felt a pang of fear. It was quite empty. For the first time this year, I didn't have many jobs booked, and I'm going to be honest, it was quite scary!
I let myself feel a bit scared for a day or two, and then it hit me one morning - "This is my chance to do all of the stuff I've wanted to do for months, but haven't had time!" I don't know why it took me so long to realise that, but it did. So instead of sitting around and feeling terrified that "no one will ever book me again" I got my diary out, and began to make my own plans!
So here's how I've been embracing a quiet month in business:
Shooting loads of personal work
For most of the year so far, I've been too busy to shoot much personal work. It's been mainly about working with clients, and any quiet days I did have were dedicated to being at my desk, or literally not working at all. So this month I've been shooting plenty of personal work, and the images you see here are a part of that. My friend Jade and I had a day in the studio playing around with light set ups, outfits, and just generally being as creative as we liked! I'm absolutely thrilled with the results, and desperate to get back into studio again soon! I also did a bluebell shoot one evening, and have two more personal shoots coming up next week.
Getting on top of my admin
Ugh, admin. It's not the funnest thing in the world, but it is essential. I've been sorting things out like contracts, updating my website, writing copy here and there. Sorting out bookkeeping, sending out emails that I've been putting off, and also cleaning up around the house and tackling jobs that I didn't want to have to deal with when I was busy!
Branding & copywriting
Something that I haven't had a chance to get to yet, but that I'd quite like to use this down time for is working on my branding. I spent a few days going through Fiona Humberstone's "Brand Brilliance" a couple of months ago, and it was great, but it got put to one side when work got busy. This is my chance to go back to that.
I'm also tackling a lot of the old copy on my website, like my "About Me" page, which was in serious need of updating.
Getting inspired. doing research. reading loads.
When times are quiet, I like to use to get as inspired as possible, because I know that work is bound to get busy again, and when it does, I want to be sure I've filled my inspiration tank right up! So I'm spending time reading magazines, watching documentaries, looking through art work. I'm also doing lots of reading and research. I bought myself a course on pitching and sales on "CreativeLive" a couple of weeks ago which I haven't yet gone through, so I'm slowly working through that. I've also got another book on personal finance to read.
Relaxing. Taking it slow
Above all, I'm using this time to enjoy the glorious weather that we're having. May in Cornwall has been stunning so far. This heat and sunshine is absolutely incredible, and I want to enjoy it as much as possible. That means lots of dog walks, lots of sitting in the garden, BBQs with friends, exploring pretty locations. It also means watching TV, being a blob on the couch if I need to, or having a long bath.
I know that business will pick up again, it always does, I've been in business long enough now to know that quiet moments happen, and when they do, it's knowing how to embrace them and not panic.
What do you do when you've got some quiet time? I'd love to know!
Kayte Ferris is a marketing expert, coach, and slow living advocate based in Snowdonia National Park, Wales. I discovered Kayte a couple of months ago, and swiftly became completely addicted to everything that she does! Kayte is one of the most talented people I've come across when it comes to content creation. Absolutely everything she does from Instagram posts, to Live videos, to email newsletters, to blog posts, are highly engaging and valuable to her audience.
She only got started with her business last year, and went from a total newbie, to fully booked out in a matter of months! She's such an inspiring woman - I had to get her on my podcast!
In this episode of "You're Not The Boss Of Me," Kayte and I chat about the things we can all market ourselves better, how she created and launched her first course, why you don't want to go viral, how to create engaging content, and how to grow your Instagram account. We also spend some time chatting about slow living - something that Kayte is very passionate about!
Listen to the episode on iTunes here
Listen go the episode on Stitcher here
One of the biggest points I make at the end of every year is to really, truly take some time off. Don't get me wrong, I take holidays throughout the year as well, and I try to make my weekends as free as possible, but somehow, my head always returns to work in some way, shape or form. I find it very hard to switch off... and I know that I'm not the only one!
So how can you make sure that you take some really well needed rest time? What can you do? Here's some suggestions!
1. Block Time Off In Your Calendar:
I had to physically go into my iCal, and block off two weeks of holiday. When you work for yourself, you don't have an office you can leave, and an email you walk away from. It's always there, beckoning you. So to make things feel more "official," I've written the words: "Holiday, DONT BOOK ANY WORK IN" into my diary between the 20th of December (the day we go away to Spain for Christmas) and the 7th of January. Two full weeks off!
2. Plan Your Activities In Advance:
Might sound counter productive to get scheduling, but if I see that I've got two weeks of blank days, with nothing to do... I panic. So instead of just "winging it" I like to write down what I'd like to do, and when. But it's not work things... it's fun things! So grab your diary, and schedule in what you're going to do. When are you going to have that spa day? When are you going to explore that place you've been meaning to visit all year? What day are you going to have lunch with your friend? What day are you going to do nothing but watch Netflix all day? Write it down.
3. Put Your Phone Away
Its so hard, and I'm the first to crumble at this step, but if you can do it, put your phone away. Switch it off, log out of Facebook, delete the app off your phone if you have to! I am so addicted to my iPhone, its terrible, but the moment you put it down, everything gets better. Put it away, be in the moment.
4. Stock Up On Books
When I finished Uni, I suddenly became a massive bookworm. I'd always wanted to be a "book person" growing up, but never really got into reading. When I began to read self help/non fiction books at 21, I found my jam. I love to learn! So every Christmas, I make a big Amazon order of book I want to read. This is a fun activity, and it gets me so excited to have time where I can slob on the sofa and soak up all the knowledge!
5. Go Away
I know not everyone is lucky enough to be able to travel during the holidays, but if you can, I highly recommend it. Getting a change of scenery, and just changing up your usual routine does you so much good! I usually go home to Switzerland for a week or two at Christmas, and thats usually enough of a change for me. This year, I'm taking it to a whole new level, as Tom, my parents and I are going to Southern Spain for a week! I'm so excited for a warm Christmas, and all the sight seeing.
Sunsets may just be the most beautiful display nature puts on...ever. And the fact that they happen every day (well, some days if you live in the UK), I find that to be pretty magical! Last year, in the depths of Winter, I found myself really missing Sunset. We were plunged into an abyss of grey cloud, and I vowed to myself that I would make the most of sunsets the followed.
Well, guess what? I didn't really honour my vow. Months went by, and although it wasn't a total failure, I definitely didn't get out to enjoy enough sunsets.
So when we found ourselves living at Tom's parents house for a few weeks while our bathroom was being renovated, I decided the finally make the most of being closer to the North coast, and enjoying some more sunsets.
So, these images are a result of that night. The sun had been out all day, I had nothing planned for the evening, and Gwithian beach was only a short drive away. I messaged Anna, and a few hours later we were at the beach, enjoying an absolutely stunning sunset.
It's safe to say that these evenings when I make an effort to do something like this, I come away from it feeling totally invigorated. I don't know why I find it so easy to put stuff like this off, but I do, and I find myself getting into a rut of sorts.
Anna and I both agreed that we needed to experience more sunsets, and now that they are easier to access (ie. the sun sets much earlier in the day) there really is no excuse on a sunny day to NOT go and see a sunset.
What I need to tackle next? Photographing the stars. You may or may not remember some images I did over a year ago of the night sky, and I love them SO much. I'm obsessed with stars, and the cosmos, but I'm also a complete homebody who likes to get into bed early... not a very good combo. But I'm going to make a much bigger effort to get out there on clear nights, and photograph the night sky.
Please hold me accountable to that!
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Making friends gets harder the older you get. When you're little, you could just walk (or woddle -- depends how stable you are on your feet at that point!) up to someone and tell them that they're wearing the same slippers as you (no joke, that's how I made my first friend at Primary school). The older you get, the harder it is, especially because I spend so much time at home on my own.
I'm naturally quite a shy person. I worry what people think about me, and I find it very difficult to walk into a room full of people that I don't know, and speak to a single person. I've always admired people who can strike up conversation with anybody; my Mum is so good at that! I just go quiet, and listen to what everyone else is saying. Not great when you're trying to make friends.
When I moved to Cornwall, I had to make new friends for the first time in my life. I'd never changed school between the age of 5-18, so I'd always had that stability. When I got here, it wasn't only a new culture, but I knew nobody. Thankfully, because it was University, we were all forced to mingle and work together, so I made a great group of friends, fairly fast.
Fast forward 4 years, and all my amazing university friends and I were graduating; off into the real world. Here was the catch though: I was staying in Cornwall, everyone else was off up to London. I was back at square one; knowing very few people. Tom and I were still a fairly new couple, and thankfully his friends were all lovely, so I quickly became close to them, and I still am. For quite a long time though, I really didn't see many people. I was fine, mind you, because I was working so hard on Atlas.
Now, I don't think I actively go out seeking friends; friendships just happen. Where have I made the majority of my closest friends? The internet. Controversial for some, maybe, but being the shy, quiet person that I am, reaching out to other "Internet Folk" has been the way I've made some of my closest friends throughout the years, and I don't regret that one bit. Another place has been the gym. I'm there so much, I've certainly made plenty of friends just by seeing someone there frequently.
"But how on earth do you go about becoming friends with someone on the internet?" I hear you say. Well, it might sound silly, but just talk to them. Some people might say its cowardly to try to only make friends behind a computer screen, but most of the time, I've initially begun speaking to someone via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or their blog, and fairly quickly we're meeting up IRL (in real life) for a chat over a cup of tea. It's so much easier to work up the courage to start a conversation over the internet, because they're not seeing you go bright red or awkward!
Another way that I found making friends was the gym. Now, this isn't for everyone as I know that not everybody wants to be in a gym, and that's totally fine! But essentially what I'm getting at is: put yourself in some kind of social situation. It might be going to a local pottery class, or joining a book club. Why is that a good idea? Because the people there will most probably be into pottery/books, just like you, so you'll immediately have something to talk about. I find it easy to bond with people via the internet or the gym, because I'm really passionate about the internet-ing I do.
It's so important to have friends around you. I'm a firm believer that it's not necessary to have lots of friends; just a few really good ones is all you'll ever need.
Still days are few and far between in Cornwall in the Winter. The wind always seems to be blowing a gale, and it makes going on adventures slightly more off putting. But this weekend, the air was still. There are still so many places that I've yet to explore in Cornwall, but I can finally say that I've had a good walk around Kennack Sands.
Whilst co-ordinating with our friends, we settled on Kennack, mainly because it means that their dogs can run and play on the beach without fear of accidentally falling off any cliff paths... definitely less than ideal. It's quite far from Falmouth, about an hours drive, but once you're there, it's totally worth it. There is something so wild and rugged about The Lizard Peninsula, you really do feel like you've stepped back in time and are in an adventure story. Funny enough, I learned that the rumour is that the famous novel "Treasure Island" is based on this area of Cornwall.
I don't know what's been going on with me lately, but I've been feeling more and more of a need to "disconnect." It dawned on me a week or so ago, that for the last 12-13 years of my life, I've been sat in front of a computer for several hours of the day, if not all of it. Now, don't get my wrong, I adore the internet, my business relies on it, and I've made some of my best friends through it. But part of me feels like I'm missing out on real life sometimes. Going on walks like the one we went on to Kennack make me feel so alive, so happy, so free. This probably sounds so corny and all my friends will roll their eyes... but it's true!
Funny enough, I don't find it that difficult to log off. I often hear about people panicking if they realise that they're going to be on holiday and there will be no wifi access. I'll admit that from a work point of view, it stresses me out a tiny bit, but really, I love it. Zoning out from the internet means I zone out from work, and the stress that I have to always be producing, working harder, making things happen. I just make sure that before I head off, social media is ready to go, out-of-office replies have been set up, and everyone in my team knows that I'm going to be AWOL for a few days. And honestly? By the time I'm home, I'm feeling refreshed, relaxed and ready to go again.
I've also been trying hard since the start of the year to turn off my computer and relax past 7pm at night. I began to notice on days when I worked later, or carried on having conversations about work, that I didn't sleep as well. I'm someone who's always been able to sleep pretty easily, so when I find it harder to fall asleep, it really stresses me out. However, on nights where I've allowed my mind to relax for a couple of hours before going to bed, I really don't have that problem. It's amazing how much of a difference it makes.
Anyway, that's enough of a ramble for one day. I'd love to hear your thoughts on living a little bit slower. Do you make an effort to disconnect from your online world? Let me know.