Artisan Blog

Reflections: Is it Time to Quit Your Job?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Reflections: Is it Time to Quit Your Job?


The other day I was looking back at my writing of a year ago and realized it has been exactly a year since I quit my job. 

Yes, I quit. In a terrible economy, with high unemployment, I willingly chose to leave.

I have never regretted quitting, but even now it’s interesting to look back on why it was the right decision for me at the time. 

As a new year approaches, there are probably many people out there working in jobs they don’t love and wondering if there isn’t something better somewhere else.  Before quitting, however, it’s important to properly evaluate whether it’s really time. 

  • Is your job making you sick? Some jobs, for various reasons, are so stressful that they cause you to have medical problems like headaches, back pain, reduced immunity and sleeplessness.  If the health issues are inhibiting your creativity or stopping you from enjoying your life outside of work, it might be time to look elsewhere. 
  • Has your employer downsized your job too much?  Many employers have reduced hours, and pay, in recent years, especially in creative fields.  They are not investing in as many new projects and don’t feel that they need as many staff hours.  A downsizing can be good for your work/life balance or it could mean you have to add another part-time job to your schedule.  Remember--you’re investing your “time capital” in your employer.  If it becomes a money-losing proposition, put your capital into a better investment.
  • How is your relationship with your Manager?  If this relationship has somehow been damaged beyond repair, there is very little likelihood that your situation will improve or they will recommend you for a promotion or transfer to another department.  If your ambitions rise above your current role, you need to find somewhere you can grow.
  • Dread.  If you start every workday with a shudder and a sense of impending doom, leave.
  • Have you learned everything you’re going to learn?  This is the one I realized was true after I had already decided to quit.  I would have spent my remaining time in my role doing the same projects over and over.  Easy, yes.  Also boring and a waste of time and talent.  That “time capital” is not endless—don’t waste it!

With the holiday season already upon us, it is a great time to evaluate your situation at work.  If you find yourself thankful for the relationships you have built, for the rewards your job offers, for the opportunities for growth and learning that it brings, stay where you are.  But if you are suffering, you can take your talents to freelancing, to entrepreneurship or to another role that offers you what you need to flourish. 

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

7 Tips for Better Negotiating: How to Close the Deal

Thursday, November 10, 2011

7 Tips for Better Negotiating: How to Close the Deal


As a freelancer, I found myself presented with a rather unattractive job offer this past week and ended up thinking a lot about negotiating and how I wanted to handle the situation. I would like to close the deal and have some additional work – but was I willing to compromise significantly to make it happen? I decided to do some research about successful negotiating and found some pretty useful tips for anyone who might be searching for a job or freelance work:

  1. Be prepared. Once an offer has been made, you should have an answer ready for any scenario. The salary might be lower than expected, but you get to work from home. The drive might be further, but you would be working with one of your dream companies. Know your deal-breakers and on what you are willing to compromise.
  2. Plan your next move. When the offer is not ideal, make sure you are clear on what is most important to you. It might be vacation days, overtime, salary or telecommuting opportunities. There might be a way to get a concession on whatever your sticking point might be. Don’t be afraid to get creative with a counter-offer.
  3. Know what the other side needs. Their agenda is not your agenda, but they do need something from you. When presenting a counter offer - lay out exactly what value you bring to the table and make sure they understand that what they are getting from you is unique.
  4. Be sincere, polite and business-like.  By being yourself you remind them how much they would like to work with you day in and day out. Even if these negotiations don’t work out for either party, don’t burn any bridges. If they really need you, they might come back to you at a later time - but not if your relationship has been damaged by the negotiation process.
  5. Practice. Try out your presentation on someone else first. It will help clarify your thoughts and the language you will use in the negotiation. The more constructive feedback – the more focused your presentation. The more you practice, the better you will deliver.
  6. Know when to walk away. This is the hardest one, especially in a down market for employment. Remember that the way they treat you before you are hired is a good indicator of their company culture. A deal that negatively affects either party in some way is not a good deal. If it doesn’t offer you something you can be happy with, try again somewhere else.
As for me, I have decided to walk away from my unattractive offer for a few reasons and am preparing for that conversation later today. I have run my arguments by a few trusted friends and am determined to be polite and sincere, but express very clearly that this is no longer a good deal for me. We shall see if there is a counter-offer in the cards!

UPDATE:  My negotiation meeting went very well and I received a better offer a few days later, which I accepted!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Revive Your Creativity

Monday, September 19, 2011

Revive Your Creativity

If you follow Artisan Creative on Twitter or like us on Facebook (and if you don’t yet, click on the links!), you probably noticed that this week’s theme is Creativity.

I spent some time getting inspired by finding quotations about creativity and ended up thinking about the ways I get inspired--get my creative juices flowing.

Whether it’s the 4:00 Wednesday afternoon slump or you just feel stuck looking at that blank screen, there are lots of ways to inspire and enhance your creativity:

  • Learn something new.  Picking up a new skill makes you think differently about the skillsets you already have and especially ways to make them work together.
  • Get out and get moving.  Changing your environment can definitely inspire new ways of thinking about old problems, especially if you’re feeling stuck.
  • Start by fixing something small that’s broken.  You may not know how you want your entire design concept to look, but you can fix that header and maybe that will tell you what you want to do with the next element.  And the next.
  • Keep a notepad and pencil in every room.  Don’t let those fleeting moments of brilliance get away!

Me? I’m a fiber artist in my free time and I love to surround myself with color, riotous, crazy, vibrant color.  Color makes me happy, wakes me up and inspires me to make something new—create.

Recently CEO’s were asked what is the most important leadership quality they need but have trouble finding and the winner: creativity.

"The creative person is both more primitive and more cultivated, more destructive, a lot madder and a lot saner, than the average person."  Frank Barron

What inspires and enhances your creativity?  We would love to hear about it in the comments! 

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

6 Ways to Beat Burnout & Improve your Work Life Balance

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

6 Ways to Beat Burnout & Improve your Work Life Balance

In recent years, with a number of cutbacks and layoffs, many employees have felt overworked, struggling to balance the demands of their careers and personal lives.  Afraid they, too, could be out of a job, they are putting in more hours at work and leaving their health, families and personal enjoyment to suffer. 

If you find yourself sharing this frustration - you are not alone!   

The good news is that with just a few small changes, you’ll could find yourself not only more effective at work, but also happier when you’re not working.


Here's what we recommend to better juggle all that work and life have to throw your way:

Schedule it. Whether it’s work or play – plan your time and protect it.  If you won’t be available certain nights and/or weekends due to family commitments or you need an hour each evening to complete work engagements, communicate these times to both managers and loved ones so they know when they can reach you and when you will respond.  With little ones at home, Jess & Jamie G. couldn’t agree more. 

Can you Telecommute? In many industries, working from home is both realistic and possible. With no commute, limited office chit-chat and less meetings, you can get more done at work and use the extra time to meet household or personal responsibilities.

Get out and get moving!  Everyone on our team agrees that getting out of the office and doing something active is the best way to help them unwind.  Jamie D’s article in Business Week discusses how he uses fencing to reduce stress.  Maggie is a certified Pilates instructor and loves how Pilates exercises both her body and mind.  Carol creates balance, literally, with Yoga.  For Laura it’s spinning and walks on the beach!  Ana, our Controller, agrees that walking on the beach is great exercise with the bonus of calming waters and relaxing ocean waves! 

Be creative! Even if you work in the creative industry – by pursuing a creative outlet that you don’t utilize every day at work, you create a separation from your work life and allow yourself to do something you're truly passionate about.  Stephanie in Accounting loves to draw and play music after work.  It’s the perfect distraction from all the numbers she deals with during the day.      

Switch off. Without technology, we could never keep our work or personal life running smoothly.  But it shouldn’t rule your life either.  It’s important to make technology-free time to spend with those who are important to you.  Set aside rules – and stick to them.

Treat yourself!  Doing something special for yourself on occasion isn’t a luxury, but a must.  We all work very hard and deserve to be rewarded.  Margaret plans a number of short weekend trips to literally get away from her work and personal commitments.  It allows her to return to her routine rested and more focused.  Kevin prefers an evening of cigars and fine liquor with friends.  The perfect escape from a normal evening at home. 

Still not sure how to keep everything in check?  Try CNN’s Work Life Balance Calculator to help you strike a balance in your work and personal life. 

What do you do to beat burnout?

Jess Bedford, Marketing Manager

9 Tips to a More Organized Work space

Thursday, July 07, 2011

9 Tips to a More Organized Work space

I sit back for a moment and look around my desk. It’s covered in paperwork, files, pens, business cards, industry trades and several remnants of my lunch - consumed (once again) at my desk. I know where everything is.  But why does it look so unorganized?  Is this what they call creative clutter or am I just plain messy?

In speaking with friends and colleagues, I realize there really are common elements that make for a more productive, organized work space:

  • Think green. Before you hit “Print” on that email or document, ask yourself, “Do I really need to print this? Or will it just lie in a pile on my desk and collect dust?” If you do have to print it – use recycled paper.
  • Stay organized. For the paperwork you do need to action/review frequently – create a filing system on your desk. In our office we prefer stackable letter trays for certain action items and desk sorters for others. Keep blank file folders nearby so you never have an excuse not to file something properly. Remember, if you use something daily – it should be closer to you than the items you use less frequently.
  • Avoid Post-its. Prevent those sticky notes from getting buried on your monitor, desk and wall. Try using your email calendar or mobile phone to store important notes. If you’re like me and can’t quite give up the paper and pen – try using a spiral notebook instead. This keeps all of your important notes in one place.
  • Throw out all those extra pens. Keep only 3 or 4. General rule – if it’s leaking, chewed or missing a cap – it’s time to go!
  • Keep personal items to a minimum. Pictures of or personal tokens from family and friends help keep us motivated and remind us of what’s important. However, any more than 3 items becomes a distraction.
  • Eat away from your desk. This one is tough for me. I can’t remember the last time I ate lunch at an actual table! When we eat at our desk it encourages trash to collect. An empty cup. A take out bag. Extra utensils. Salt & pepper packets. More napkins than you could use in a lifetime. Prevent the trash (and crumbs) by eating away from your desk (and preferably out of the office). We all need a daily break from work to keep us at our best!
  • Keep phone and computer cords to a minimum - Go Wireless. Move freely by investing in a stylish wireless mouse and bluetooth headset. You can even upgrade to a wireless pen tablet.
  • Keep electronics off your desk. Even if you have the room, items like printers, routers, batteries, etc take up space and just add to the clutter. Move them to another piece of furniture or the floor (if appropriate)
  • Cleaning supplies. By keeping cleaning supplies nearby, you’ll be encouraged to wipe down your surface more often.
Well, I know my marching orders tomorrow: take an actual lunch break, spending 30 minutes outside (away from my desk eating lunch) and the other 30 minutes inside (at my desk) getting organized! Cheers to a more productive week ahead!

Jess Bedford, Marketing & Project Manager


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