Fresh Take Friday: Flose Boursiquot

FRESH TAKE FRIDAY IS A BI-MONTHLY SERIES SPOTLIGHTING CREATIVES OF COLOR AND THEIR PERSPECTIVES ON CREATIVITY, POSITIVITY AND GETTING SH*T DONE. I'D LIKE TO PRESENT TO SOME AND INTRODUCE TO OTHERS, AUTHOR AND POET FLOSE BOURSIQUOT . 

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT FLOSE'S WORK, BE SURE TO FOLLOW HER ON TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM.

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Your first published body of work "Close Your Eyes, Now Breathe" encourages readers to embrace the moment of pause and to reflect on now before moving forward. What was your process in putting together this book, and how much more did you learn about yourself both personally and creatively? What does a moment of "pause" look like for you? 

FB: Close Your Eyes, Now Breathe is not only a reminder to take in the moment and move forward, but also one that constantly engages with the side of me that says “I can’t.” The process for putting #CYENB together started about a year and a half before its publishing date. When I compiled all the poems that I thought I wanted in the book I had about 200 pieces, eventually I edited down to the 67 that are in the book. There’s also a short, short story, the first few chapters of a working novel, and a poem on the back cover. Besides editing, I had a strong support system there reminding me why I made the decision to publish.

CYENB has taught me that I am full of greatness. There’s still a lot that I have not figured out and there’s plenty to learn, but this book provided me with the confidence to keep writing and sharing my work. The most critical lesson I’ve learned from this process is that not everyone will like my work and that is okay. A close friend and fellow writer, Joshua Everett, helped me understand that. Since then, I keep reminding myself, Beyonce is not for everyone. I’m not on Bey's level yet, but its a reminder that perfection isn't a true standard although that's what I'll always strive for. 

My moment of pause happens somewhere out in nature. Since I live in South Florida, it usually involves taking a walk to the beach and wading in the water. Once I'm deep enough, I begin to speak what I am grateful for as the water moves me. I'm not a great swimmer so I don't walk very far, but I get in deep enough to feel the power of the ocean. I do that until I run out of things to say then I begin to speak things that I'd like God/the Universe to make way for in my life. 

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In the CYENB promo, you speak to how it is okay to be vulnerable and to share our feelings with one another. As a poet and a writer, has there ever been time when you felt hesitant or doubtful about sharing your vulnerability? And if so, how did you overcome that fear? What would be your advice for other millennial writers who may be faced with the same feeling? 

FB: Absolutely. Discussing my sexual trauma is something that took me years to do. Poetry has been that outlet for me since elementary school, but none of that content has been public until now. I overcame the fear and shame because my trauma is part of my story in the same way my battle with anxiety is. I want to speak on those things and do because there are other people who have experienced abuse who need to know that there is a place for them in this world. There are young people especially who are struggling with shame who need to know that they will be okay and that shame is not theirs to own. 

My advice to anyone who wants to tell their story is - just do it. There are people out there who don't feel a desire to publicly share their experiences in this life, good or bad, that's okay. But if you are one of those folks, like me, who has a desire to share with the hope of learning more about your own humanity and that of others, do it. CYENB has made it comfortable for parents to come up to me and say, "My child is struggling with this and I purchased your book for them." CYENB has made it comfortable for friends of mine to message or call me and say, "I never knew and here's my story." That's powerful and I cherish those moments of shared humanity so much. 

In a 'perfect' world, what does a day of productivity look like to you? What tools are you using to get sh*t done, and what are major distractions you do you best to avoid? 

FB: I want to answer the second question first because my major distraction is so real -- social freakin' media. So, if I want to get anything serious done, I have to physically remove my phone from reach or give myself markers. Like, Flose, if you focus on this retreat application for two hours, you can go on Twitter for 15 minutes. It's kind of sad, but I do love my social media.

In a "perfect" world a day productivity looks like me waking up naturally, without my usual three or four alarms. Having a glass of room temperature water, meditation, maybe a walk, and some early morning writing. Right now it would entail getting to my office by 8:30 AM. Once I get off around 5 PM, it would mean coming home to lose myself in writing. I'm still working on my second manuscript so I crave real time to crank out some good stuff! 

When you find yourself in a rut, (emotionally or creatively) what are some things that you do change your mood? Who (or what) do you turn to for encouragement, and how do you persevere, even when you may want to remain stuck in your feelings? 

FB: If I'm emotionally overwhelmed, I cry. Creatively, I write. Like, if I'm trying to get something out and its not turning out right, I keep writing through it. If I'm in a serious creative rut, I get away from the piece. I'll go for a walk or maybe watch a TV show or something. 

I also have a core group of friends who keep me encouraged. I know it's important to find internal motivation, but I'm definitely one of those people who does better when she's being checked. I'm also super competitive so if someone is like I'll give you five Swedish Fish if you write for two hours, I'll do it! 

There are times when I stay stuck in my feelings. To be honest, if I get to that place, I crawl inside of myself. I deal with it by crying, writing, listening to music or maybe taking myself out for a walk. As much as I am an outwardly positive person, when I'm down, I have to just let myself get through it. 

How would you describe your 'fresh take' on creativity? What keeps you inspired to develop new ideas and collaborate with other creatives? 

FB: A mix of imagination and engagement with the world inspires my "fresh take." There's a piece in my second book titled, Career, and in it I talk about my job being life. Living boldly and following my urges is what inspires new material. For example, traveling to Central America for two weeks or picking up a job at an Internist's office, new experiences keep my fire burning. When I get bored, I don't create as much. 

As far as collaborating with other creatives goes, I love being around people and engaging with them. It's something I've desired as long as I can remember, so when the opportunity to collaborate creatively with other folks presents itself, I go for it. There's always much to be learned about our humanity and this world when we engage with others.

UPDATE: 22 Newsletters That Should Slide Into Your Inbox

22newsletters

Newsletters.  While most people don't like their inbox cluttered with more mail than it needs, I actually look forward to receiving certain e-newsletters on a daily and weekly basis. I love reading and learning new things, so each newsletter is an opportunity for me to add to my toolbox of knowledge (or 'stay woke' as the kids say.)

Not only do the curators of these kick ass newsletters work super, duper hard to pull together this amazing content, but it's vital information for our every day lives! For those who want to know what's going on in the world of tech and diversity, to those who are looking to work on their fitness, enhance their sneaker game, or boost their creativity and entrepreneurship, these newsletters will provide the major keys for you to level up.

So in no particular order, peep the 22 e-newsletters that you should to subscribe to ASAPington.

The Plug
The Plug
  1. The Plug. Launched by Sherrell Dorsey in April 2016, The Plug is a daily curated newsletter that shares the latest in tech and inclusion. Sherrell without a doubt is a mover and shaker within the tech space, and it's incredibly refreshing to read her take on recent events day after day. Subscribe here.
The Create Daily
The Create Daily

2. The Create Daily. To all the creators out there, receiving The Create Daily is an absolute must read. From fellowship and job opportunities to upcoming events, The Create Daily is your plug for all things creative. Subscribe here.

Sunday Quiver
Sunday Quiver

3. Sunday Quiver. Arriving every Sunday to my inbox faithfully, the Unmistakable Creative's newsletter pulls together cool videos, articles and interviews that surrounds a weekly theme. Get Quiver here.

Fusion
Fusion

4. Fortune RACE AHEAD. A new vertical from FORTUNE, author Ellen McGrit spotlights the  necessary stories in diversity and inclusion in corporate America. My favorite part of the newsletter? Her haiku poems that come every Friday to summarize the week's headlines. You can subscribe to RaceAHEAD here. 

jessica_lawlor_enews
jessica_lawlor_enews

5. Jessica Lawlor. Known for empowering millennials to 'get gusty', Jessica's bi-weekly newsletter shares her experience as a new CEO (she just started working for herself about six months ago) and how we can all apply a positive mindset to whatever obstacle we're facing. Subscribe here.

Code With Veni
Code With Veni

6. Women In Tech. This monthly newsletter is an inspiring collection of stories and resources for women of color who are kicking ass the tech industry. Curated by all-star coder Veni Kunche, the newsletter is great for those who are really into developing. Subscribe here. 

The Intersection
The Intersection

7. The Intersection. If you follow me on Twitter, then you know I absolutely adore this newsletter. Created by public relations savant + petty psychologist Anuli Akanegbu, The Intersection is complete with pop culture references, helpful resources and her insightful take on what's currently going on in the world. Get you some Saturday morning goodness by subscribing here.

Darius_Foroux
Darius_Foroux

8. Darius Foroux.  I can't exactly remember how I stumbled across this newsletter, but I'm glad that I did. Darius is a researcher who focuses on productivity, procrastination and achievement - all things he covers in his weekly newsletter. Get you a piece here. 

It's time to #DiddyCrop your life. 

It's time to #DiddyCrop your life. 

9. Make Email Great Again. My fellow creative and social media strategist Michell Clark has created a lighthearted newsletter that provides thoughtful insight on how millennials can not only move toward personal improvement, but stepping up our game in these digital streets. Make sure you get this goodness in your inbox by subscribing here

theseam
theseam

10. The Seam. Created by journalist Darian Symone Harvin, The Seam is a creative collection of stories of hip-hop, fashion, social justice and community. What makes it unique is that Darian makes sure to highlight issues that we millennials are discussing on a daily basis. Subscribe here. 

marie forleo
marie forleo

11. Marie Forleo. This woman has been my mentor-in-my-head for as long as I can remember. Businesswoman, philanthropist and overall bad-ass Marie Forleo always gives me the good word I need every time I open an email from her.  Just go 'head and subscribe, I promise it's worth it.

My Creative Connection
My Creative Connection

12. Sunday Sermon. If you're not hip to the #blkcreatives community, breh - where have you been?! Social media goddess and #blkcreatives founder Melissa Kimble does a fantastic job empowering a strong community of creative thinkers, and I'm so glad to be apart of it. Make sure you get her Sunday Sermons by subscribing here.

Emmelie
Emmelie

13. Emmelie. With her witty subject lines and the keeping-it-real content to match, personal branding expert Emmelie De La Cruz shares her authentic take on pop culture as it relates to marketing, social media and business. Gone 'head and get you a dose of Boardroom Betty here.

CNKDaily
CNKDaily

14. ChicksNKicks Daily. Any sneaker heads in the house? If you're into the latest fashions for your feet, then you absolutely have to subscribe to this newletter. Curated by chief of sneaker chic Channing Beumer, CNKDaily provides awesome updates and a dose of #Chickspiration to keep you on your game. Subscribe here.

GOODWRK
GOODWRK

15. GOODWRK. Need to spice up your workout routine? Personal trainer Percell Duggar's weekly newsletter will not only get you in formation, but it'll keep you inspired. Subscribe here.

NYTrunning
NYTrunning

16. New York Times Running. For all of my fellow runners, the New York Times has curated a newsletter just for us! With dope training tips and inspiration, you'll be getting those miles in sooner rather than later. Subscribe here.

21ninety

21ninety

17. 21Ninety.  Blavity's newest lifestyle vertical, 21Ninety, empowers millennial women of color with the message, "21 days to form a habit. 90 days to create a lifestyle."  Their daily newsletter has health and wellness content that ranges from yummy smoothie recipes to yoga poses you can implement in your next work out.  Subscribe here.

TheBroadsheet
TheBroadsheet

18. The Broadsheet. Created by Fortune, this newsletter highlights the latest moves by the most powerful women in various industries. Subscribe here.

The Daily Carnage.

The Daily Carnage.

19. The Daily Carnage. For my fellow advertising and marketing nerds, this is definitely one you want to subscribe to. With articles and podcasts on content marketing, social media strategy and even a section that features ads from the past, The Daily Carnage keeps the emerging marketer on game. Subscribe here

20. Harvard Business Review: Management Tip of the Day. This is one of the first emails I wake up to every morning. For anyone who is a junior staffer or in mid-level management, this email provides thoughtful tips on everything interacting with co-workers who may tick you off, to dealing with that boss who may have a habit of spilling too much of the company tea. Click here to subscribe. 

thebridge

21. The Bridge. A newsletter that serves as the cross section between current events in D.C. politics and tech advances of Silicon Valley, The Bridge does a great job curating job opportunities, news and other musings that demonstrate how these two worlds uniquely collide. Get your bi-coastal fix by subscribing here

The Hustle

The Hustle

22. The Hustle. Finally, The Hustle is a humorous account of news stories within the world of tech and business. Also, the pop culture references are always SPOT ON. Subscribe here. 

What are some of your favorite newsletters? Leave me a comment below or send me a tweet to let me know what needs to be added to the list!

Chasity

4 Ways Creatives Can Be Productive Before Bedtime

Blessed Thursday, everyone! 

For those of you who follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you've probably noticed that I'm an early riser. To me, there's nothing more perfect than waking up before dawn, embracing the stillness of the morning and knocking a few things off my to-do list before heading to work. 

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine joked that I didn't get any sleep because I always seemed to be getting sh*t done. While I was flattered and I'm not at all where I want to be with effectively managing my time, I'm here to set the record straight once and for all - I am HUGE fan of sleep. Power naps and siestas are my absolute jam, and I actively look forward to sleeping in an extra 30 minutes or so on the weekends. Why? Because a good night's rest does wonders for my productivity. 

As a creative, my to-do lists are never ending. From drafting and publishing blog posts, to scheduling (and aimlessly scrolling through) social media, to setting up meetings with future collaborators via email, it feels like I'm always in grind mode and can sometimes find myself wanting to work around the clock. But here's a secret: the work will always be there. Unless you are responsible for protecting the nation's nuclear codes, you absolutely deserve to get at least six to seven hours of sleep per night. 

Night, night! (via Giphy) 

Night, night! (via Giphy) 

I've realized time and time again that the lack of sleep not only effs up my productivity, but it makes me forgetful and disoriented. If I'm not careful, I can find myself staring up at my ceiling at 2:30 AM thinking the most random thoughts. So to avoid walking around like a grouchy zombie, I've made it a practice to be in the bed by no later than 11:30 pm during the week.

If you are finding that it's still a challenge to get to sleep without worrying about what the next day may bring, peep these four ways you can be productive before bedtime: 

1. Set a bedtime (and wake time) and stick to it. For the last nine or so months, I've been doing my best to consistently hit the hay during the week by 11 PM. While life does happen (phone calls with loved ones, dramatic reactions to episodes of Scandal with my group chat, informative Twitter chats) I have made it a non-negotiable to be in the bed by this time to get a solid 6.5 to 7 hours of sleep. With help from my Bedtime app, (sorry Android users, this is an iPhone function) I can set my bed and wake up times. iPhone is even kind enough to provide you with an analysis of your sleep!

Take a look at mine below: 

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2. Make your to-do list for the next day BEFORE you go to sleep. As I've said before, there's nothing more harmful to your psyche and sleep pattern than staring at the ceiling in the wee hours of the morning trying to figure out what you did and did not do the day before. Break out your handy dandy notebook and write that sh*t down! Not only will you feel at peace with yourself, but you won't overthink to the tenth degree. Let go and let God, beloved. 

But don't be like Patrick though. (via Giphy) 

But don't be like Patrick though. (via Giphy) 

3. Do something that requires your full attention that isn’t a cell phone or television screen. Read a book, journal, knit, make origami - whatever! Personally, I have a bedtime book that I read (currently, "Adultery" by Paulo Coehlo) and within 20 minutes, I'm out like a light. According to the National Sleep Foundation, "even our small electronic devices emit sufficient light to miscue the brain and promote wakefulness." So to combat that, I would highly suggest putting your phone out of reach (I keep my phone on the kitchen counter) set your alarm for the morning and forget it! Trust me, those Instagram stories and Twitter threads you think you might miss from your favorites will be waiting for you in the morning. 

4. Set your intentions for your morning, and be consistent. Each and every morning, regardless if I'm running late or on schedule, I have to have my quiet time. This consists of prayer and meditation, journaling and reading a morning devotional. (Getting right with God in the AM = MAJOR key.) And once I'm done with that? I turn up the tunes have a good ol' fashioned dance party. Of everything on this list, I would say this has been the most constant part of my routine for the last nine months. Not only does this quiet time give me a chance to center myself before stepping out into the world, but I'm able channel my energy positively and not let anyone or anything stop me from having a good day. 

And that's all she wrote! What are some ways you practice productivity before bedtime? Send me a tweet and let me know!

-Chasity 

P.S. - If you want learn more about the power of practice, join Nia Phillip of Creative Smart Girl and I for "The Practice Pop Up" on May 20th (Brooklyn, NY) and June 3rd (Washington, D.C.). Sign up for more information by clicking here. Hope to see you there!

Fresh Take Friday: Jonathan Jones

FRESH TAKE FRIDAY IS A BI-MONTHLY SERIES SPOTLIGHTING CREATIVES OF COLOR AND THEIR PERSPECTIVES ON CREATIVITY, POSITIVITY AND GETTING SH*T DONE. TODAY, I'D LIKE TO INTRODUCE YOU TO AUTHOR AND TRANSFORMATIONAL SPEAKER JONATHAN JONES.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT JONATHAN'S WORK, BE SURE TO FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM.

Photo: Jonathan Jones

Photo: Jonathan Jones

Your latest book focuses on a subject that our generation often wrestles with - PROCESS. What lessons have you learned on your own journey about the power of process, and what advice do you have for our generation on the importance of enduring and appreciating it? 

JJ: First, I had to learn to be patient. Nothing happens overnight; we’re in a rush to make it to the top of the mountain, but why? I’ve learned that most growth and fulfillment takes place through the midst of working and through daily perseverance.  By learning to go through the process of our lives, you realize that you cannot skip steps. Imagine if a caterpillar just turned into a butterfly without going into its cocoon; it wouldn’t have the strength that it would need in order to fly. The process is necessary for your own personal growth.  When we skip steps, we miss out on valuable information and life lessons that we need to access the next stage in our lives.

Next, like the old folks use to say, “Get your house in order.” If we’re being honest, there are some challenges that each and every one of us face. You know that thing that you may have blocked off or that you are currently have trouble dealing with, I suggest seeking help. I want you to know that you aren’t alone; we all have some type of baggage. There are many therapists, recovery programs, and church initiatives for whatever that need may be. We all have some area of opportunities (others label them as weaknesses) in our lives that could be a little bit stronger. Once you begin to invest in yourself by dealing with these issues you will begin to feel freer than you’ve ever been. Don’t allow your past to hold you back from being present in your future!

One of your recent blog posts discusses "Mountains and Valleys in Entrepreneurship" and how everything about working for yourself isn't always going to be glitter and gold. When did you realize that you wanted to pursue entrepreneurship full-time, and how did you prepare? What keeps you focused on executing to the best of your ability, even when you're faced with adversity? 

JJ: Out one day, exhausted at the last retail job I had, I thought to myself, "This can't be it." From delivering phone books door-to-door, to tossing boxes off the back of a delivery truck. I knew that the calling on my life was far greater than for me to sit here working at a retail job the rest of my life. After realizing that I had a voice and realizing that I wanted to be the individual that wanted to inspire my generation, I said it’s time for me to step it up.  

First, I hired my father, Dr. Fred Jones, to walk me through the process of writing my Amazon #1 Best-Selling book. He showed me that by writing my book, it would create instant credibility and make me the expert of my own story. Next, I hired a coach because I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so utilizing the knowledge of someone who’s been in this space for sometime in conjunction with the information my father shared, I began to slowly put the pieces in place. During this time, I already had one foot out the door at my job, while still working to create my own personal enterprise. Lastly, I left my full time job and began to drive for Uber during nights and weekends while I had my days to work on balancing business and graduate school.

The best way to keep me focused might sound contradictory, but it's creating an interruption in my daily routine. I have to get up and away from my desk to be able to gather my thoughts. Sometimes this may look like taking a casual 30 minute nap Sunday afternoon that turns into two hours, but then I'm charged and ready to work through the hours of the creative at around 2 or 3 am. When adversity strikes, I have to get out of my head! Some days just taking a leisurely stroll around the block to unplug leaving all electronics behind and to be present with the world around me, the birds chirping and the sun shining. Following this, I return to my to-do list with a clear mind and an attack mindset!

In a 'perfect' world, what does a day of productivity look like to you? What tools are you using to get sh*t done, and what are major distractions you do you best to avoid? 

JJ: My most productive days start off with my gospel grooves playlist, followed by me taking in some bible verses and prayer to center myself, getting my mind, body and soul focused on the day ahead. I’ve realized that without a daily planner, my thoughts are scattered all over the place. 

With my daily planner, I take notes and utilize a system called time blocking so that I will be able to be most effective for that day. The strategy of time blocking is simple: create a list, label which projects are of the highest priority or which have quickly approaching deadlines. Next, I incorporate them into my Google Calendar, allotting a certain amount of time each item. This way, I create mini deadlines or checkpoints to hold myself accountable. I also set reminders on my iPhone and use Hootsuite to pre-schedule my social media content. 

If you don’t follow the guidelines you set, it’ll begin to infect your relationships, your lifestyle and most definitely your business. Respect your schedule and value your time.

When you find yourself in a rut, (emotionally or creatively) what are some things that you do change your mood? Who (or what) do you turn to for encouragement, and how do you persevere, even when you may want to remain stuck in your feelings? 

JJ: I take a moment for myself and I have to literally give it to God. No matter how bad the mood may be in, I have to shoot up a quick prayer. Then, there are few people that I will call to help me snap out of those dark places and dark moments. One is my best friend, Mahiri Takai; he helps remind me not to be so hard on myself and continues to encourage me. Also watching YouTube videos of people like Will Smith, Tony Robbins, Kobe Bryant and other individuals who have been able to yield success in their respective fields. Lastly, I’ve realized that when I find myself stuck in my feelings, the thing that really brightens my day is giving back and helping others. It might be doing a favor for a friend or taking someone out to eat. When you can, begin to channel that energy that you are focusing on yourself and shift the focus to doing something for others, I think that’s the best way to see what truly matters in life. I whole heartily believe we are blessed to be a blessing to others.

How would you describe your 'fresh take' on creativity? What keeps you inspired to develop new ideas and collaborate with other creatives? 

JJ: USE YOUR GIFT! I don't care who you are, you are more creative than you think, I promise. It’s just tough for me when I hear people reflecting on their lives saying, “I wish I did this or I should have done that,” often seeming like they allowed themselves to have these regrets that could have potentially been eliminated.

I love to collaborate with others because I know that I am not a Jack-of-all-trades.  I view collaboration as an opportunity to expand the impact and increase the reach while making a world of difference. Working with other experts, they are able to present different approaches or dynamics that I couldn't have even dreamed of. I'm inspired to offer fuel to empower our generation and the generation looking up to us because there’s so much potential in each individual. I’m a firm believer if I do my part to just spark the mind of somebody to do something, then I’ve done my job. Bob Marley said it best, “The people who were trying to make this world worse are not taking the day off. Why should I?”

We must continue to strive to make a difference daily and collaborating with other creative makes this all possible! Stay true to the #process!

Fresh Take Friday: Ashley Coleman

Fresh Take Friday is a bi-monthly series spotlighting creatives of color and their perspectives on creativity, positivity and getting sh*t done. For the inaugural post, I'd like to present to some and introduce to others, author and creator of WriteLaughDream.com Ashley Coleman. 

To learn more about Ashley's work, be sure to follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Your latest book, "Love On Purpose" sheds light on why we must be intentional when we choose to show love to others - mostly romantically. but there are a number of great gems that can be adapted to platonic relationships, too. What inspired you to dig deeper into what it really means to love with purpose? Where there any challenges you faced during your writing process, and if so, how did you overcome them?

AC: Honestly, it just came from watching so many misconceptions on my timeline. People spew out their thoughts on various different things all day. And I just realize that so many people have it all wrong when it comes to what love really entails. They’re so selfish when they think about relationships and I remembered when my now husband, boyfriend at the time, first said to me, “Love is a choice, it’s a decision.” It really changed so much about what I thought love really was. It helped me understand my responsibility when it came to love. When you accept that, I think that everything else changes. How you speak to other people, how you communicate with your partner, all that. And then there was my revelation of how God loves us. He gave his son, that was an action. If we are in his image, then we ought to love like he loves, which means in action, not just words, and not just when it feels good to us.

There’s always challenges in writing. I took off running at first and then hit a crazy lull. I had so many other projects going on and then finally I said, you need to finish this book. All the other stuff you are doing is not as important as this message. So what could have essentially took about 6 months, probably took about two and a half years just by virtue of stopping and starting.

In a 'perfect' world, what does a day of productivity look like to you? What tools are you using to get sh*t done, and what are major distractions you do you best to avoid?

AC: In a perfect world, productivity is definitely those moments when you cross everything off the list you wrote that day. Ha! Nothing gives me more satisfaction than putting a line through tasks. But honestly there are just some days when you’re like, “What did I even accomplish?” It’s all about staying focused. That’s the biggest challenge for me at times. The biggest distraction is definitely my phone. It’s like, you come to a task that’s harder than expected or a page is taking too long to load and there I am scrolling and wasting time. I’ve resolved to putting it across the room or sometimes in another room when I really need to buckle down.

The tools I really swear by at the moment are my notebook, yes a pen and paper. My Passion Planner which keeps me on course. My chalkboard wallies where I write out my projects for the quarter, Asana, an online project management interface, and Google Drive.

As a blogger, you've often discussed consistency and how it is important to building your brand. How can creatives become better at creating systems for themselves so that they producing content (whatever it may be) regularly?

AC: Consistency really is key. I know that it sounds like this thing that people just say, but think of most of the people you admire and then think about how consistent they have been in producing quality content. Success and consistency really go hand and hand. When it comes to creating better systems, I think it’s really just knowing what works for you. Like, research other peoples’ systems and then sort out what fits with your personality. The biggest systems I have in place are really:  

+ Batch writing, writing multiple posts at one designated time.

+ A designated writing day. Every Wednesday, I make sure I have either completed a newsletter, blog post, or filled in an outline for a new project.

+ Scheduling social. Every Sunday, I schedule social posts for the upcoming week.

+ Timed Writing. Instead of focusing on pages or word counts, when working on a book, I would set timers for 30 minutes to write, uninterrupted.

Whatever your field, you have to just try some things on for size and see if they help produce better results. For me, these are a few of the things that have just tried and I liked the results. But only after spinning my wheels and feeling completely overwhelmed at times and knowing that I had to figure out a better way to get it all done.

Photo: Ashley Coleman

Photo: Ashley Coleman

When you find yourself in a rut, (emotionally or creatively) what are some things that you do change your mood? Who (or what) do you turn to for encouragement, and how do you persevere, even when you may want to remain stuck in your feelings?

AC: Well, first and foremost, I feel like it’s important to say that sometimes I just allow myself to be there. Sometimes we are so caught up in the grind that we don’t give ourselves time to just feel whatever we’re feeling. Sure, you can’t stay there, but I think you are doing yourself a disservice if you keep pushing those feelings down which sometimes affects your craft in the long run anyway. Outside of that, I will sometimes read which always gives me new ideas and new ways of thinking of things. I will just do something I enjoy that has NOTHING to do with business like going to the movies or hosting friends. I typically will turn to my husband because we are such a big support system for one another in that way. We talk each other off the ledge constantly as we are both creatives. I persevere by knowing that my work is really bigger than me and how I feel at the moment. For those of us who believe in God, we know that we were put here for a purpose and we don’t really have the time to waste. God will get it done, with or without you. And I don’t know about you, but I want to make sure I am on the team. So I push past being uninspired or doubt or whatever else we come up with knowing that my work is needed.

How would you describe your 'fresh take' on creativity? What keeps you inspired to develop new ideas and collaborate with other creatives?

AC: Man, I think my freshest take on creativity at the moment is being in tune with you and that little voice inside. We are SO distracted. We’re looking too much at other people and their lives and we have to really turn inward and assess, who am I? What do I want? How will my creativity exacerbate my greatest gifts? And really being present. Art and creativity is honestly just this reflection of what it means to live, to experience, to participate. We have to make sure that we are actually doing those things in order to keep creating. So I’m inspired by every part of living and breathing. Everything that I see, taste, touch, hear, and smell inspires me. I literally have new ideas everyday, at times it’s overwhelming. But I never want it to stop and I have just learned to write them down and some ideas I explore and others may be for later. But I always write them down.