FIRST: NEW WEBSITE PLUS UPDATES
Welcome to my updated website, tessakoller.com (2.0)! Before I dive into this blog post, you should know that I am celebrating a lot right now. However, the news and some other personal stuff has gotten me down also. I know I haven’t been so vocal or revealing about my views towards everything happening in this crazy world. Troubles going on globally have, of course, weighed on my mind but I choose not to be outspoken about my opinions on political or personal matters.

The reason for this is I want to respect those directly involved in current situations while also respecting those around me. Social media and the Internet can be a source of negativity and unnecessary added stress. This Covid-19 pandemic has altered my life, and countless others, in ways I never could have expected. Just going out in public right now feels as though I’m gambling with my life because I am a high-risk individual with a not so strong immune system. It seems that numbers of Covid-19 cases are decreasing though I’ve been reading a lot of mixed information. I really have to stop trusting certain sources on Google.

While quarantined, there were a lot of tough decisions I had to make. One had to do with my conflict about returning to work and working with the public. Another had to do with all the things I’m already managing.  In the last couple of weeks, private matters relating to the pandemic consumed a lot of my mental and emotional energy. I found myself finishing up projects in the eleventh hour before they were due. I am known for diligence and time-management skills, but I am no superhuman. The pandemic alone has been a major source of stress (dare I speak for everybody?) and I don’t need world events being another brick piling on my back. The other day, I had to slow down and gather all the projects I’m doing in order of importance. Based on my current obligations, I used those to formulate my daily time-block schedule, ensuring I don’t skip a beat.

JUGGLING HEALTH, WORK AND LIFE
If you know me, then you know my story and are aware of all the things I juggle on a daily basis–sustaining good health and my work have been filling my time at home. Lately, I’ve been busier than Elon Musk and enjoying every microsecond. This past April, I moved for the fourth time in one year, among other energy sucking issues in between I won’t be delving into here. Life is full of stressors as is, and I don’t need happenings around the globe keeping me up at night. The pandemic pushed me to rethink my values and passions, reminding me of what I stood for in terms of my profession and career life. I am someone who loves being her own boss and in complete control of my schedule which leads to another update or announcement: after much thought and reflection, I’ve recently resigned my position at the bridal shop I was working at.

The stress of the pandemic and fears I had working in the public helped me reach this conclusion: to reopen my alterations business from home and do things my way. As my own boss, I get to set policies and enforce structures for how business is conducted. There is a lot to running a business but it’s so incredibly fulfilling and rewarding. Being my own boss is my calling and it’s my multiple creative endeavors that also inspired me to return to this way of living.

TIPS FOR REDUCING STRESS IN ALL AREAS OF LIFE
It wasn’t until college when I became aware that managing time wasn’t a strong suit for me. It was then, way back in 2005, when I learned the beauty and ease of time-blocking. Since then, every night, I time-block the entire next day. If you want to get s#!t done, this method of organizing your work load works like a charm. Known as a tool for increasing productivity, it also enhances workflow. There is nothing better than being super immersed in your flow without additional distractions or unnecessary obligations spreading you too thin. You’ll never endure that sense of severe overwhelm (with risk of burnout) ever again but only if you stick to this time-blocking method. An example of time-blocking looks like this:

1:00-4:00: Work In Studio
4:00-6:00: Write/Blog
6:00-7:00: Dinner
8:00-9:00: Yoga

As you can see, it’s quite simple to do and takes just a few minutes. Entrepreneurs, like me, thrive on routines. Time is something we honor and don’t take for granted. A full workload without balance is like a wagon without wheels–trying to accomplish tasks will feel like a higher power is dragging you through the dirt.

TURN YOUR TASKS INTO AN EXCUSE FOR UNPLUGGING
Art gives me the opportunity to unplug and relax; that’s what writing novels does for me as well. When writing, I get to be in another world for a while instead of focusing or dwelling on my own. Art, for me, is not an escape. Rather, it’s a way to ground myself and exercise my mind and brain. I’m someone who can fix my attention on a project for hours, thanks to time-blocking. If I block a few hours in the morning for a project, I do that and nothing else. My phone and notifications are silenced. Disruptions extract you from your work and can make it a challenge to return to it.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get a lot is: “HOW do you manage all the creative work and endeavors you do?” Time management is something I’m always aware of and implementing into my schedule. Creative projects demand time and a lot of it. Any kind of fine art or writing isn’t something you can hammer out in five minutes, slap together and hope for the best. Quality is of the essence, not quantity. Novel writing, though, you must write a certain amount per day in order to achieve the ultimate goal of finishing a book. Every morning, no excuses, I write up to 3,000 words or more.

Establishing a set time in a day is the way to get those huge creative projects done. Honor those parts or hours in your daily life and stick to them. If you want to write a book, then you better be writing a set amount of words each day. I like to tackle these tasks first thing in the morning before the sun rises. That’s when my writing mind is flooded with ideas and I hit the ground running with them.

Aside from my novel writing endeavors, I launched an art career I’ve wanted to do for years. Back in March, I began producing drawings and paintings with the goal of using art to support artists. Art has always been my go-to when things were rough. Now days, art has become my livelihood and I’ve officially infused it into my morning to night routines. Additionally, I launched my art brand on YouTube, which entails various art tutorials once a week, every Thursday. These how-to’s teach you everything from drawing to painting, Acrylics, watercolors, pencil art and more! Check out my recent video below: How To Draw A Portrait Of A Baby:

On top of keeping up with these YouTube tutorials, these past few weeks, I’ve been producing drawings and paintings for clients, family and friends. It’s easy, when you’re working on many creative projects at a time, to slip into the ‘I’m so overwhelmed’ default response/mode. I’ve been there before and discovered how I needlessly made things more difficult, unknowingly. If you are a creative person and enjoy multiple mediums, finding the discipline and time to accomplish big goals whilst carrying a full load can get unmanageable. Really, the reason I’ve fallen into the ‘I’m so overwhelmed’ cycle in the past was because I put too much pressure on myself and was not honoring the hours in my days. Instead, I was trying to cram everything in and do everything all at once.

Multitasking is the most unproductive thing any creative entrepreneur can do and it’s the surefire route to burnout. One year ago, I had a terrible burnout and don’t plan on ever having one again. I took on too much, was multitasking every day and not finishing tasks to completion. Burnout occurs after a period of overworking and over-stress. To avoid that, make a rule for yourself: only work on one project for a select number of hours (block and label it in your planner, see above). You can become a master at time-management only if you follow its routine structures. You can also master efficiency by disciplining yourself and abiding those rules you set.

JUST SAY NO!
It’s only natural to pile on projects and then slip into a cyclic rabbit hole of ‘I’m so overwhelmed!’ or my favorite one, ‘I should take the afternoon off’ (*but instead, continues working inefficiently and not finishing anything.*) We fear that saying no to opportunities will ruin our lives or affect our reputations somehow. Really, saying no to unnecessary things is another way you can protect your schedule and time. Believe me, I’ve felt the undeniable weight of always being the ‘yes!’ girl! You can be a mover and a shaker without all the moving that goes with it. Your reputation won’t take an ugly turn because you would rather work or relax.

PENCIL IN IDEA WALKS
I’ve forgotten which television show taught me this: idea walks. Though the character was trying to be funny, idea walks do generate ideas. One afternoon, I tried it out and have been doing this almost every morning or afternoon. A change of scenery or exercise gives you space to clear your head. Beautiful scenery or a break might inspire further ideas for projects you might be stuck on. Just being outside and inhaling fresh and clean air creates room in our minds. Thus, nature is a great source of inspiration and can be responsible for revitalizing your creativity.

RISE BEFORE 8:00 AM
Within the last few months, I’ve been greeting a new day before the sun rises. It’s my way of creating a positive head space by beginning with something creative such as writing. Doing those creative endeavors first thing sharpens your imagination. Throughout the day, more ideas even come to me, inspiring me to write and do more. How you begin your mornings sets the tone for the next twenty-four hours. Build a routine like that and you’ll never have a creative block again.

Another FAQ I receive is: “How do you come up with all those ideas for your novels…you just sit down and randomly create a world that doesn’t exist?” I can’t tell you how many people have asked me that and in that way. Novel writing is creative writing, which I also minored in in college. But at a young age, I was writing and illustrating books for mere pleasure. People told me I could draw like da Vinci and people still tell me this. My writing has also been compared to other huge authors of our generation.

At the end of everyday, I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment but also refreshing balance. If I was able to check off something enormous from my to-do list and treat myself to a tea break, then I am in sync with life. The tricky thing about stress is we often believe it’s positive energy or fuel keeping us going. In actuality, stress accumulates over a period of time and you might not realize, at first, the toll it’s taking on you. Insomnia, for instance, is one sign you’re overdoing it and need to restructure your focus and how you’re navigating day by day. There is no right or wrong way to manage your time and all your creative endeavors. That is all up to you.

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