Category Archives: Organization

Business Budgeting Setup

I’ve had my fair share of financial highs and lows when it comes to my business. Photography is something I love doing and would do for free if I wasn’t hoping to someday do only that and work for myself. Just because you love doing something as a hobby, doesn’t mean you can’t organize yourself to hopefully make a profit off of doing that thing. Today, I’m sharing how I do just that – organize my business budget and accounting to (hopefully) make a profit.

Now, if I were to try talking about everything that I do with all the little pieces, it would turn into a series (which I would be okay with, so let me know if you want that in the comments below). There are literally whole university classes that teach only this subject – for multiple years in a row! I’m no expert or professor, but I like to think that I’m a pretty good self-starter and DIYer who has a few methods that anyone could use to get started.

Goals

You can’t have a budget without knowing what your goals are. I have a Google Sheet devoted to my year-to-date (YTD) budget goals (just some ballpark numbers based on the cost of new equipment I want to buy or photography expos/conferences I want to go to, and so on).

Expenses

Right now, expenses are few and far between in my business. I’m purposefully trying not to spend too much on the little things so that I can save more toward the big things. But I still track what few expenses I do have in another Google Sheet so that I can keep a close eye on those numbers – like a hawk, trying to make sure there’s still enough food rationed for each of her children (I know, weird analogy; I feel weird today). I use the app Expensify to log receipts quickly while I’m out and about so that later I have a good record to bring over to Google.

Income

Income is anything that I’m paid by an investor or a client – so money invested towards my business and clients paying their service invoices. I list all of that out with descriptions in a – you guessed it – Google Sheet. Even if someone is just giving me a tip in cash after I photograph them – I log that as income.

NET Revenue

This is where it all comes together. “Net” means different things for different businesses; some go all in and itemize literally everything and include their price reductions from last year and the cost of the sweater they bought for their great aunt Silvia as “loss.” I just treat “net” as a basic equation: NET Revenue = Income – Expenses – Taxes Paid  Basically, for a small business sole proprietorship like mine (I retain all of my revenue), net revenue is my profit that I get to save or spend on things. Simple!

Those are the basics of my budgeting and accounting setup. It’s nothing fancy, but it helps me keep track of my earnings and stay on target for my goals. Do you have more questions about business budgeting? Ask them in the comments below!

My Updated (And Now Official..) 2019 Planning Routine

Hello again my friends! I wanted to post this updated planning routine today as we are officially at the half-way point in the year – only 6 more months until Christmas which basically means the year is half over!

I’ve perfected my planning system – the system I will officially be using for at least the rest of this year. Keep reading to learn more about what exactly I do to stay on track and keep on top of my crazy busy life!

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So I have a few different methods or areas of planning, and you’ll recognize the logic here if you read my post about my favorite smartphone apps (a good quick read if you’ve got a couple minutes). My planning supplies are: bullet journal, smartphone, desktop computer. Please note that these methods are generally only used for things that I’m involved in by myself – household planning that would require my husband to be included is done with a different system entirely! (Because..I’m crazy)

Desktop Computer

I just recently purchased a desktop computer (even though I do have a laptop), and I can honestly say that I do not regret my decision at all. It’s so nice to have a larger monitor to work with when designing my “productivity wallpapers.” The wallpaper pictured below is one that I started using about a month ago in conjunction with the sticky notes software on my computer.

I basically use this as a catch-all area where I can quickly jot down any events/to-dos/reminders that I think of while I’m browsing the Internet, editing photos, or writing. It’s a way for me to visually see everything at a glance without having to scroll through a smartphone or pull out any paper/pens. You’ll notice that the wallpaper has different sections (and a color code) that allow me to organize the sticky notes at least a little bit.

Smartphone

This is where the crux of my on-the-go planning happens. I don’t usually cart around my bullet journal – which you’ll read about next – and I definitely can’t take my digital sticky notes with me wherever I go. So my phone is where some other magic happens!

I use Google Apps for all of my Gray Graphics communications and content implementation, so it only makes sense that I use it while I’m planning for some stuff as well. This helps keep my iCal app on my phone free of business events or other tasks that I don’t need to do right away for my personal life. Plus, I can access the GA suite from any Operating System (which is great ’cause my desktop uses Windows while my laptop/phone runs on Apple’s iOS). Again, I really only use these apps while I’m out and about so that I have another way to do the “sticky-notes-on-my-desktop” thing without having my actual desktop!

My Bullet Journal

I love, love, LOVE the bullet journal method of planning. I can literally customize any spread I use for inspiration so that it fits my exact needs. There’s no hassle involved with trying to rework an already-printed planner; I just have to draw in my own pages! (Honestly, the drawing is pretty therapeutic though, so I don’t mind it.)

This is usually the last place I visit on a Monday morning once I’m ready to plan out my week with a more solidified method. I use my “bujo” – as they’re usually called – to plan out my months and weeks and to brainstorm/plan my blog content from the sticky notes and GA suite stuff I have up until this point. And every morning after that, I open up my bujo and add any other things I’ve added to the two methods above while I didn’t have my bujo.. It’s a lot, I know.

Here are a couple of photos that give a glimpse into my usual weekly spread and blog planning spread.

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Basically, I’m an organizational wizard! (Or an organizational freak, depending on who you ask…) Anyway you guys, that wraps up today’s dose of inspiration and content. Do you have any tips/tricks/crazy-weird-things that you do to plan your life? Share them in the comments below!

Until next time!

My 5 Most-Used Apps

Hey everyone! Today I want to talk about the most-used apps on my phone. As a photographer, digital media manager, and writer, I have a LOT going on – especially on my phone! My 5 most-used apps help me focus on individual tasks and be as productive as I possibly can. Keep reading to find out what they are and how I use them!

  1. Alexa App (free; Dot is ~$40 on Amazon) – I have an Alexa Dot and use it mostly for home organization; my husband and I can both add to our shopping list or to-do list and can set different reminders based on which of us is talking to Alexa at any given time. It does so much more than that, but that’s how we use it most frequently!
  2. Cozi (free) – This is another one of those that my husband and I both have which helps to keep our home organized and running smoothly. We use the Cozi app to sync up calendar items (and set who is attending each item) and to plan out our weekly meals and who is cooking. The app also has pre-loaded recipes that we’ll refer to when we run out of dinner inspiration!
  3. Productive–Habit Tracker (free) – I can’t say enough about this app; it has honestly changed my habit game. You can set multiple different habits and assign a “completion schedule” to each individual habit. Every morning, I wake up and check this thing and just start checking things off the list. The app also has a “stats” section where you can keep track of which habits you fail to complete the most often or how many perfect days you’ve had. So great!
  4. Forest (free) – Okay, I think you guys have seen me talk about this on my blog before, but I LOVE the Forest app so I’ll talk about it more. It works to get you off of your phone while you’re trying to complete a task (or series of tasks) while also giving you a chance to make a real-world difference. You set a timer in the app for however long you’d like to work without checking your phone; I usually set my timer for 25 minutes then give myself a 5-min phone break before starting to work again. While your timer is going, if you don’t check your phone, the Forest app starts to plant a tree in your “Forest” in the app. Once your timer is up, the tree is fully grown (the longer the timer, the bigger the tree). If you check your phone or exit the app while the timer is going, your tree dies. The more larger trees you have, the more in-app coins you can earn. For every 2500 coins you collect, the Forest app developers will plant a real tree somewhere in the world!
  5. LightRoom (free) – I couldn’t resist putting a photography app in this mix as well. The LightRoom iOS app is completely free (whereas the actual software for a PC or laptop will cost you a premium), and there are so many cool functions. I am currently playing around with LightRoom “presets” that allow you to apply the same editing macros to any photograph. This has helped me so much with my Instagram branding. The app also keeps any of your edited photos in its own storage silo in the Cloud so that you don’t have to worry about losing anything. So nice!

Well folks, that’s it – my 5 most-used apps. Do you have any apps you use on the daily that you think your fellow readers would enjoy learning about? Drop them in the comments below!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post (a day late – whoops!). If you did, be sure to hit that “Like” button or subscribe to the blog – I would really appreciate it. Until next time!

My Crazy Budgeting for Beginners Routine!

I’ve been a budget-planning freak for a longggg time, but I just started getting into real-life situational budgeting about a month and a half ago. My husband and I moved into our new apartment (the tour for which is coming up soon!), and we’ve got all of the #adulting to do – including paying the bills.

Which is why I invested in the Plum Paper organizer that I posted a review of last week! I wanted to be have a tangible budget (instead of just the Excel spreadsheet I had been using) because I like to be able to sit down at my desk and view our finances all in one place at-a-glance. If you want to know what I’ve been doing to run a smooth ship, just keep reading!

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At the end of every month, I sit down with my planner, organizer, cell phone, and a calculator. I get on the Internet and log into every single web portal we have for bills – DelMarVa Power, Progressive, our leasing company’s site, Comcast, GMC, etc. etc. etc. The list goes on and on ‘cause we have a lot of crap for which we have to pay bills. I use these websites to triple-check that we’ve paid-in-full up until that date, and then I write each bill (name and amount) into my planner on the correct dates for the upcoming month.

Once that’s done, I log the total amount of bills into the “Expenses” section of my budget organizer. Then I write in each of Ben’s pay-days (which are usually every Thursday) and each of my pay-days (which are usually around the 15th and 30th of each month) into my planner on the correct dates. I add up our estimated income and add that to the “Income” section of my budget organizer.

Hang on folks, ‘cause we’re just getting started..

Now I’ve planned out the income and expenses for the coming month. Sometimes, I’ll even add in how much I think we’re going to spend on groceries at the beginning of each week. Once all of that is written into my planner and organizer, I’ll take a look at the first week of the upcoming month.

Using what I know about what’s in our bank accounts on that date, I’ll add and subtract the incomes and expenses for that first week. I do this religiously at the beginning of every week because I want to make sure that we’re on track to maintain all of our bill payments with how much we’ll have/be making that week.

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I know that this all sounds super crazy, but that’s just because it is super crazy. I’m a freak about budgeting because all of the adults in my life never were. I learned from their money mistakes, and now I’ll be able to put aside a good chunk of our income each month to use as a down-payment on a house later on – or a good car, or our kids’ college funds, or whatever! I’m trying to be a responsible adult about this. Of course, Ben just sees my budgeting as crazy – as would anyone else. But I thought I’d share the process with you all anyway.

So what do you do to maintain your household or personal budget? Share your process in the comments below!

Inside Look at My Desk & Office Space

Sooo I know that not everyone has a designated “office space” – some people simply cart their stuff and their laptop around and plop down wherever they can find a free seat or wherever they feel the comfiest. Honestly, that doesn’t sound too bad, and there are definitely times when I just find myself a cozy corner of Starbucks and get a sh** ton of work done. HOWEVER, whenever I am at my house and trying to do productive work, I can’t seem to concentrate – unless I am sitting at my desk with no clutter around me. I love my new desk, and it helps a TON when I’m trying to concentrate on Gray Graphics stuff or wedding planning or whatever other #adulting things I have to get done each day. So I thought I would share my desk/office space setup with you all!

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photo 2

This is an overview of my office space. Notice my new desk – I got it on sale at Walmart, and it is holding up pretty well for my purposes! It’s not the biggest desk in the world, but it is made of a pretty nice material that’s holding even under the weight of my printer. So that’s good. My office space consists of my desk (with all of the decorations and such), two three-bin Steralite drawers, a module dry-erase planning system, and my TV/Xbox.

The big picture above is of the very top shelf of my desk. There are a few different décor pieces up here because I believe that in order to be productive, you have to be surrounded by things that make you feel good – things that make your mental space clear and positive. The biggest décor piece I own is the sketch of a naked woman. I found this at Goodwill and bought it for $3! I honestly love it so much. I also have a smaller framed quote – “positive mind, positive vibes, positive life” – to remind me of my mantra every day. In the way of littler nicknacks, I have a vase of fake flowers, my cup of dry-erase board supplies, my portable bluetooth speaker, and a 365-day devotional journal. The smaller picture frame there is currently empty; it says “I Do” on the bottom of the frame, and I’m keeping it empty until I have a wedding picture of Ben and I to put in there.

The two separated shelves underneath of the top one hold a bunch of different smaller office supplies – sticky notes, binder clips, stickers, note-pads, stamps, index cards, etc. The drawer to the right of those two shelves houses all of my files – tax documents, wedding checklists, personal stuff, etc. On the main surface of my desk, I keep my computer monitor – which I almost never turn on because my desktop computer is out-of-service right now – my Gray Graphics business binder, my filing system organizer, my pens/pencils/paper clips/etc in that little organizer, and my printer.

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This modular planning system is a dry-erase set that I bought at (can you guess it?) Walmart. The top left is a cork-board where I place important appointment reminders or flyers. The top right is a space for notes which I usually just use to record an inspirational quote each week. This week, my quote is from Romans 15:13 – “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” It’s a nice reminder to let God handle it.

The bottom left is – obviously – a monthly calendar. I use this mostly to track when I work at my part-time jobs each week. I also write down appointment dates and other non-recurring things. The bottom right is a weekly layout that allows me to write down important to-dos that I need to get done throughout the week. I use this actually to help me remember my daily routines. As you probably know if you’ve been following my blog for a while, I have anxiety. It helps me to have a set routine each week, and this panel allows me to write out that routine so that if I forget what I have to do on a certain day each week, I have this as a reference.

Underneath of my desk (on the right) and to the side of my desk (on the left), I have those three-bin Steralite drawers. Right now, the one under my desk is pretty well-organized. The one to the side, well…. Not so much…. The one under my desk houses a bunch of office supplies in the top drawer, technology supplies in the middle, and printing supplies in the bottom. The one on the side houses (in no particular order) essential oils, a lighter, candles, printing supplies (I know, redundant), crafting supplies, and countless other things that I haven’t had the time to go through… My Xbox sits on top of the drawers and is connected to my TV (which is mounted to the wall above those drawers).

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Woo! That was a lot of explanation! As you can tell, I do like to be super-organized (for the most part). Again, this is a concentration thing. I find that if my desk is cluttered, my mind is cluttered, and then I won’t get any work done even if I am sitting down in front of my computer. I hope you guys enjoyed this inside look at my desk and office space! What kind of desk/work space do you have? Let me know in the comments or send me pictures on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!