For me, the Christmas madness doesn’t end until around mid-February. I have a week off between Christmas and New Year to rest a little, but then swiftly move on to getting ready for the mid-January trade show ‘Top Drawer’.

With shop orders, web orders, Bath Christmas Market and running my shop, Paper Plane, the run-up to Christmas is chaotic to say the least. The last thing I want to do when I finish work at 10/11pm is tidy my studio! So me and my mess become one for around a quarter of the year! I can step around the piles of boxes, turning my movements into a practiced dance, weaving in and out of the piles of stock and rubbish. It is a miracle I haven’t broken my neck as tiredness takes hold and my brain turns to automatic.

So finally, after fulfilling the orders from the trade show, the time comes when I can spend a couple of days doing a deep clean and sort out – bliss! I can’t express how important this is to my mental health and the running of the business. A clear space is a clear mind as they say, and it is so true. Being brutal with old stock helps me make strong decisions about my business and the year ahead. Having a clear desk helps my brain make clear choices. Being able to move faster around my space gives me energy and motivation. I immediately notice the difference – jobs get done, I turn up early for work, and the year feels like something exciting to achieve… not something to dread as it often does in the last few weeks of the year.

Now i'm not pretending i have one of those blissful scandi style spaces (although i really wish i did!). My space is an old MOT garage i converted a few years ago. It is practical, cold, hot and ugly, but i love it. Here are before and after the 'big tidy' photos:

Once tidy, my space and mind are available for planning, working out schedules, finances, new ideas – it’s a very exciting time! Planners like ‘Dream Plan Do’ have helped keep me on track with my goals. I’m also extremely lucky to be involved with a women’s group. We meet monthly and set personal, work or life goals. Telling others means you have to ‘fess up if you don’t achieve them, and their support and advice is invaluable.

When I first set up the business my goals were massive: find a studio space, printing facilities, branding, make a website, learn SEO, product photography, accounting, marketing, contact shops… the list was endless and it all had to be done NOW! 5 years down the line, my goals are much more manageable. I stick to three main goals a year. So to hold myself accountable I’ll tell you my goals for this year:

1) Make a new website

2) Sort out my social media

3) Get a better work–life balance

I’ll breaking these goals down into monthly and weekly manageable tasks. It’s important to be realistic so I don’t get disheartened when I don’t get them done. I’ll also be logging how I feel about achieving or not achieving these tasks so I learn what makes me feel good and bad about running my business. I’ll be able to make choices taking my feelings into account. As I’m the only one running my business, it’s important I remain motivated and happy with it. I can try to outsource the bits I don’t like doing or am just not good at. Product descriptions, for instance, I’m not great at! But I can get someone else – using Fiverr, for example – to do the copywriting for me. Simple!

Getting accounting programmes like Wave can be helpful too – you can even just photograph your receipts through their app and they figure out the rest!

And you can get motivation by going to a small business talk. I enjoy the Festival of Female Entrepreneurs – there are always great tips and it feels like a productive day away from the desk.

One of the best things about February is I get time to design new products. It’s a real treat and gets me excited about photography again, and even marketing! And speaking of marketing – as a thank you for reading my blog, here’s a 20% discount code: craftermath18 which will last until the end of February. Go on, treat yourself!

If you have a similar beginning to the year as me, I hope you can get organised too. If you haven’t heard of some of my suggestions, click the links and do some research.

And finally good luck with all your plans, cleaning your space and getting stuff done!

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