#257 How To Makeover Your Home Office for More Productivity with Toby Fairley
Whether you’re working from home for the first time or trying to improve your established home office habits, this is the episode for you.
Finding your groove while working from home has been a creative challenge facing jewelerypreneurs (especially if you have kiddos running around!) on a massive scale.
But as a life coach and interior designer, Tobi Fairley has been helping creatives like you tackle this challenge long before stay-at-home orders were in place.
She’s one of those gifted entrepreneurs who know that your creativity is your greatest strength in business.
Tobi recognizes the connection between a well-designed space, a thriving business, and a fulfilling lifestyle that gives you space for all your dreams and passions.
With so many people working from home, she sat down with me to talk about how to makeover your home office (and your time-management habits) to maximize your productivity at home.
#257 How To Makeover Your Home Office for More Productivity with Toby Fairley Show notes
“So many of the creators that we have are not only just thinking, like, how do I sell my end product, but like how do I sell my intellectual property? How do I look at where people are suffering or there's a void and fill it in a way that I would have never imagined?”
Welcome to Thrive by Design, the podcast for ambitious independent jewelry brands, looking to profit from their products, get ready to make more and sell more doing what you love, without spending every single waking minute doing it. Hey, and if you're a creative fashion or product-based business, I want to welcome you to the show. I'll be dropping big tips on launching, growing, and scaling your business. Spend more of your precious time using your creativity to make you ready. All right, let's do this.
Tracy: Welcome to thrive by design, the podcast for ambitious independent jewelry brands, looking to profit from their products, get ready to make more and sell more doing what you love, without spending every single waking minute doing it. Hey, and if you are a creative fashion or product based business, I want to welcome you to the show. I'll be dropping big tips on launching, growing and scaling your business so you can spend more of your precious time using your creativity to make you ready. All right, let's do this.
Welcome to the thrive by design podcast Episode 257. Shout out to all my people working from home or who are forced to work from home due to everything that's happened now this episode was recorded actually, about a month and a half or two months ago. And I plan on having it a little bit earlier in our podcast plan, but things change and pivot. And so I took a pause for a couple weeks. And I'm excited to be able to release this because here's the thing, I know that some of you probably work from home all the time with your jewelry company, or your product based business or your if you're especially if you're in that startup phase, or maybe you have an outside area where you can work. And so that's great.
Other people were forced to move into their home because of everything getting shut down during COVID, and all those things. And so I wanted to do this episode with Toby, to talk about how you can set up your space in a way that actually fosters more creativity. And as you're going to see in this episode, Toby and I have a lot in common. I feel like we come from the same vein of like how to create more people creativity in your life and how to protect your creativity. And doing things as a creative entrepreneur to actually, that actually helps you do a lot more than you would otherwise. And so I'm excited to have Toby on the show.
I'm going to do a quick introduction momentarily, and we're going to dive in. I think the episode is a good length. So I don't want to chit-chat too much. But I also want to remind you that we are doing a State of the Jewelry Industry Report, 2020, state of the jewelry industry report. We're talking about what's working now for the designers who are actually crushing it and also figuring out what is going on with people who are really struggling right now. And we originally put this initiative out at the beginning of June, and we've extended the date to participate in this research study till the end of June, which I'm excited about because this is going to give us a lot more time to collect data and to really create an amazing report for you.
So here's the gist of it. I got really curious trying to figure out What was working for brands right now during these uncertain times and all this craziness, and also getting really curious about why some brands were really struggling? and outside of the obvious reasons, there were some really particular things that set the thriving brands versus the ones that were really struggling apart. And so I wanted to kind of do this bigger audience research to figure out like, what was it about these brands that are defying the odds? And what are they doing?
They're actually helping them have record breaking months during all these this time of uncertainty. So we're extending the report date. And basically, the only way that you can get this intense report, we're going to be talking about what's working in marketing, we're going to be talking about sales numbers and trends in the industry. We're going to be talking about what you can do as a company to actually pivot right now or basically protect your company. I've been seeing in some groups that many companies are actually going out of business, especially the brick and mortar businesses.
And so we're here to help you basically protect your business and keep it For many generations forward, so if you'd like to participate in this, the study will be an in-depth report. And you're going to get a copy of that when you participate in this survey. And the only way you can get the report is if you take the survey, so I'm not, we're not going to be selling this later, we will be presenting the high level information on an amazing masterclass on July 22.
So you can just keep your eyes and ears open for that. But in the meantime, I'd love for you to head over to https://www.flourishthriveacademy.com/report . And then right there, it'll give you more information about the state of the jewelry industry report that we're curating. And the survey will take you about five to seven minutes. That's on average, what it's what it's taking most of our participants. So head on over to do it right now. Even if you're a creative product brand, I'd love for you to participate too because I think you have a voice in this as well. Thank you so much for listening to me.
Anyway, let me introduce Toby because she's amazing. She's a Spitfire. I just love her energy. She added me on our Instagram a couple of weeks ago and I just really enjoyed it. Toby Fairley is an award-winning interior designer and business consultant, with over a decade of experience helping high-achieving creative professionals take their companies and lives to the next level. When she's not running her to seven-figure businesses, including an interior design firm and a consulting firm for artistic business owners.
She's busy leading an online membership community for ambitious professionals. Toby specializes in transforming home and business environments to maximize productivity and well being. She has been featured on television and in top shelf publications including Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, real simple, Better Homes and garden, the Huffington Post, Southern Living house beautiful and traditional home. As the host of her new podcast.
Toby helps creatives design businesses and lives that they love. Toby lives in Arkansas with her attorney, husband and teenage daughter. All right. Let's dive right in to this episode. I am super excited to have a very special guest from a different industry who works with people in a very similar way that we do just in a different space. Toby wells fairly. Thank you so much for joining me today here. So welcome.
Toby: I'm happy to be here.
Tracy: Yeah, I'm excited to have you here. You know, I saw an article. I think my friend Selena who introduced us, I saw an article that you were featured in Forbes, I think she posted it. And it was super exciting to see that. So congratulations on that. Thank you. And I'm really excited to hear a little bit more about your journey because you're an interior designer. You also help people with productivity and creativity and spending more time in their creative zone of genius, which are all things I totally jive with. So I'm excited to hear a little bit more about your story. So why don't we dive into that?
Toby: Okay. Perfect. So let's see how far back in this story do you want to go? I am from Arkansas and grew up in South Arkansas in a tiny town. I've always been creative. My mom was always creative. But the kind of what what my Forbes article talks a little bit about it are a lot about actually is that when it was time for me to go to college back in the 90s, it really wasn't kind of on my radar screen to go into a creative industry, I was more, you know, focused on what's something responsible or reputable or that will make a lot of money are those things that we think about and that our parents are thinking about, like, you know, what are you going to do when you grow up?
And so, I went into accounting, my dad always said, you know, well, you know, a business degree, particularly a finance or an accounting degree is always going to help you and he was right. But what I quickly found in that process is that I didn't did not want to be an accountant. That was not my zone of genius. Now, I'm thrilled that I have that, that education, that background, and I actually finished my accounting degree. But I also then immediately turned around and went back and got an interior design degree.
Because in that process of learning about business about accounting, I also learned what I didn't want to do for a living. And I really found my calling in that process, because I was always creative. And I mean, even as a child, my parents would wake up and I would have rearranged my room in the middle of the night. I mean, literally, I remember like wedging myself between the wall and the dresser and pushing it over with my feet because I would decide it needed to be on that wall instead of the other wall, which is a common story you hear about a lot of interior designers, we all have this in common that were like, we were rearranging our houses or our parents houses or our grandparents houses.
So definitely was always there but I really leaned into it, went back to school, ended up also getting an MBA and so I entered the world of creatives as sort of an anomaly the right brain left brain creative, the person who really understood business and it has served me so well. And so I built a wonderful business, a very nationally recognized nationally published interior design business, luxury clients all over the country.
So I'm outside the country. I have five product lines where I create furniture. So I really kind of did everything you can do in that industry. But about halfway through my career so far, in design, which is 21 years. So about 10 1213 years ago, around the last recession, really, when we were kind of in an environment like we are right now where things were uncertain. And everybody was thinking, how am I going to pivot or shift? I was looking at my business thinking, if everything if the bottom falls out of this design thing, like what do I have to offer?
And what I really quickly learned is there were so many creatives who wanted to know how I had built a brand, how I'd gotten published how I'd built a social media following how I had honestly just made money, which so many creatives don't do And again, that was the whole starving artist thing I talked a lot about in Forbes.
And so, at that point, I opened up a consulting business. I started coaching people having masterminds and that's led me all the way to today where I have an online coaching program for creatives, which is one of my favorite things I've ever done. And I help creatives really create a life in business that they really dream about, not the ones that they kind of accidentally create so often, that equals kind of, you know, burnout and low pay. So, so it's been really that's kind of the overarching theme of this process and of my life really, and it's been a really fun journey so far.
Tracy: That is so exciting. And you know, we have a lot in common because, in addition to Flourish and Thrive Academy in the Thrive by Design podcast, I also work with creative entrepreneurs. Doing something very similar, which is super fun. But really, it's about helping them spend more time in their creative zone of genius because that thing that you were just talking about that burnout thing, it's like a real thing. And if you're not spending most of your time doing what you're best at burnout is going to happen right away, which is.
Toby: And I've learned very well that I'm very much visionary, and not the integrator. I understand systems and I like that I'm so structured and organized like you probably are, too. I'm just not the person on my team. We want in the trenches, doing all the details. I'm like, totally 40,000 foot view, visionary lady, and that's where I thrive So, so yeah, that's where I try to spend most of my time for sure
Tracy: Awesome. That is amazing. SoI wanted to talk to you a little bit about organizing your space because in a lot of ways we have things that we teach that are similar like YouTube, time blocking, we also teach that we talked about Having a seat, we call it she visionary officer mindset you, you're talking about CEO mindset, yeah, all these things. And what I think is really unique is that you have an interior design background.
So yes, a lot of people are coming from, you know, maybe having a studio or an office space or somewhere where they go. And these jewelry designers who typically might be working with a team, or outsourcing some of their work, are now forced into their home with their kids at home, doing the school thing, trying to get work done trying to keep their businesses afloat.
But like that can feel really chaotic, especially if you aren't used to working from home. And there's so many things going around. So I really want to talk about something like, what are some of your best tips on optimizing your time so that an entrepreneur can stay really focused when there's so many distractions around?
Toby: Yeah, so I love this question. So as you said, I'm so interested in time blocking. And that really changed my life A few years ago, so, so kind of with that as a minimum baseline that both you and I believe in, right, which is which, I mean, let's just be honest, a lot of people really, especially a lot of creatives have trouble following time blocking, it's really like that, when I see my clients is they love the process of mapping it all out and making it all pretty and making things colorful, and they fit in all the blocks.
And then when it comes time to actually do the things, they get to that block, and they're like, I don't feel like doing that. That's not what I gotta wait for. The creative mood does strike me and so they are constantly hijacking in their own schedules, right? So one of the first things we have to really learn to do is actually show up for ourselves and do what I call moving through resistance, and just kind of admit and just know that we're not ever even as much as we love our businesses and our clients.
We're never going to want to do what's on our schedule when we get to that block, right? We're just not. That's why we really have to have this understanding that we're going to have obstacle thoughts come up every time when we get to the time blocking. And we're going to need to have a strategy in place to go ahead and do it anyway. Right. And so one of the things I do as simple as it is, is to when I get to those moments, and I have them every day, I had them this morning on a project I'm working on. I'm like, I hear the thoughts come up, if I don't feel like it, and I just kind of laugh and I become like the watcher of my own thoughts.
And I'm like, Oh, that's hilarious. That's the excuse we're gonna pull out today. Oh, that's funny. That's really good Toby that I hadn't thought about that one in a while. Okay, get back to work. And it's really just in the setting of your expectations, right? Because a lot of it's like, What's wrong with me? I don't follow the schedule. I don't follow through and I just want everybody to know, first and foremost, nobody wants to write none of this. Even those that are good at it. We don't want it.
So the first thing is to really start to manage your expectations around the calendar and the time blocking, but it's just truly important that you follow through. I think one of the other parts of it is now that we're working from home, I think one of the mistakes people are making is they're expecting to take what was their work schedule, the way it was at the office, and sort of just plop it down over top of their current existence, right?
They're like, well, now much like me, my husband's working from home, he's an attorney. My daughter's a teenager, she's schooling from home. And I'm here like, expecting to have the same day I had three months ago or four months ago before that happened is very unrealistic. And so I watch people creating so much frustration, because they're, it's like, well, I have to do this. And I have to be at this place at this moment or on this call, and they're not anticipating what else is happening in their environment. And truly, this isn't an environmental thing, right? It's not just time blocking.
It's the spaces we're living in. And we have to understand and now again, manage our expectations and plan for how this might look different. And I know a lot of people have young kids. So it might be that you literally are working two hours in the morning before they get up. And you're working two hours in the evening when you trade-off with your spouse. But having the expectation that you're going to have eight to five, uninterrupted is completely crazy. It's not going to happen.
And you're going to create a ton of frustration for yourself and right and a lot of us as creatives, we tend to fall into that all or nothing thinking, it's so easy to do that. And so then we're like, well, the whole day is shot, the whole day is ruined, because we're not managing our expectations. And so what I've done that's helped me a lot to say, you know, what are the non negotiables I have to get done today. And that might only be three things. It might only be these three things, and I put them in places that I feel pretty confident that they're sort of isolated or protected. And I also physically isolate myself in a room in a zone in a spot when I'm going to go do that focus work and beyond that sort of all bets are off in a way so that I can let myself not move into this place of frustration all the time. Because I'm bumping up against almost like a glass ceiling, right?
You're bumping up against an expectation, and it's really throwing you off. So I think those two things right off the bat, are really, really important. We're not going to want to do what we're supposed to be doing, especially when people are at home with us when they're watching TV when they're having, you know, lunch together. And we're also not really doing a good job of reimagining how our day should look and coming from a design standpoint, for your, your audience and mine interior designers for sure. It's so fun to allow yourself to lean into our strengths.
We're great at designing things. We're great at solving problems. So if we want to start to think about how I design my day, with my current parameters, which is completely different than we've been approaching it, we can have some huge aha moments and mental shifts that can make us really, really productive.
Because we've taken these, okay, these are the problems, you know, husband, kid, you know, whatever Netflix, here's the jobs I have to get done. How do we put those things together like a puzzle so that we really create the results that we want, and not totally remove frustration, but really kind of, you know, mitigate it, control it a little bit lessen it? Because we've really been intentional about how we design our days.
Tracy: Yeah, it's been an interesting process, I think for everyone, because I usually live in New York City, that's where I reside, and my boyfriend lives in Arizona. And when this whole thing kind of came about, like I decided on a Sunday, Sunday morning, it was March 15. I think it was the day that everything started in New York. I'm like, I'm getting on a plane and coming here. I don't know when I'm coming back and we're just going to figure it out. out. Well I live alone and Jason has children.
So it's been interesting because kids are here about half the time. And it's hard like I can see how people with children would feel off kilter. Because like no my typical routine of like, getting up or having like all these things on the calendar where maybe you have to do interviews, like Jason was just in here doing meeting for one of his clients, and I was like, This is the only room that is not too echoey in your house can shoot, You know, it's like, sorry, you gotta go.
Toby: That's one of the first things my husband and I did because he doesn't work from home. Normally I do work from home. Normally, I moved my office into my home almost four years ago. I've loved every minute of that. Prior to that I had 17 years of being outside of the house, having a team on site having, you know, several thousand square feet and a whole bunch of employees and I shift to more of a virtual shifted A virtual model which I, which I have loved, but I'm not used to him being here.
And I'm only used to my daughter being here in the summer because she's usually at school during the day. So the first thing I did with him, like literally, I was like, okay, ground rules, like, these are your zones. These are my zones. And we literally did where like, you can have the living room, there's a desk in there, even though I do sometimes like to work in there, I'll just concede that room. I'll take my upstairs space, which is what I'm in right now.
That's really my yoga room. And that's where I podcasts and other things. And then I'm like, I get the bedroom except for sleeping because I like to hang out there with my laptop on the bed with my coffee. You can have what we call the study or the kind of man cave, but we literally and we have stuck to those zones this whole time. And it has been so helpful because we were already anticipating he's gonna be on the phone sometimes while I'm doing a podcast or video. And so we tried. He's downstairs on the other end of the house for me right now.
So if we're both talking at this moment, neither of us have any idea But the other one is so yeah, so I think it's a lot about being intentional and thinking about the environment. Some people are like, well, we have a, you know, two rooms and there's four of us in here because we live in the city or whatever, you do have to get very creative, but I think just doing what you're saying, and comparing schedules versus activities versus zones, seeing if you can alternate if you have to be talking if they can do a quiet thing, and vice versa.
I mean, it takes some maneuvering, but it can at least be improved from what would happen when you just sort of all show up with your own expectations and haven't really been mindful of each other. You're laughing because I know what you mean. Because it's so I mean, it's mass chaos otherwise right?
Tracy: It is not. And you know, it's funny because Jason and I have been talking about, like, what can we do to like 92% like, the design of his house is so different than my space and like I love it that you're an interior designer, because usually have this like, really nice backdrop and I'm a jewelry designer. So everything's like Gold and blush are gray and like metallic colors. And I'm here and I mean, like a dudes place with. So we're like, I'm like, you know, aesthetics is going out the windows for now.
Toby: Brown and brown, or gray and gray, whatever, which whatever thing is gonna be like just a color is either brown or blue or beige. And that's pretty, you know, that's kind of it most of the time, unless they are an interior designer or something else. But most dude spaces are not going to be aesthetically exciting for sure.
Tracy: And so we're talking about, like, I just ordered a bunch of stuff from CBT. Because I like some of their things that we can like maybe build like a backdrop set or something. Like when I'm recording, it looks good.
Toby: That's a good idea. And that's the kind of thing I do in general with people's faces. So you're right, like what I love to do is combine the work I do with people in their businesses with the work I do with people in their home. So how do I create environments that increase your productivity, your profitability, your Focus, how you feel, how you want to feel, what kind of sleep you get at night. And so that's the very kind of thing we're looking at. We're going like, how do you even if your whole environment does not reflect your business quite yet or who you aspire to be like, how can and like you it's not that it didn't in your other home, but like in this space? Like how do you become intentional and thoughtful about exactly like you're saying a backdrop and where do you locate that where there's natural lighting and where there's, you know, sound control and all the things you need? And just and literally kind of going through the design checklist of how, how do I make this space work for this activity?
Tracy: I was gonna ask you, but you kind of covered it. And what we already talked about was like, when you don't have a dedicated workspace, like how do you organize that and it sounds like just like, you guys pick a spot like your husband gets the spot and you get that spot and you guys move around. Now for people who are already working from home. Have a dedicated workspace like how do you recommend for them to kind of optimize that space for productivity, and creativity and all the things that they're trying to complete as a business owner?
Toby: So the funny thing is, and a lot of people will be raising their hand like, yep, that's me. The funny thing we do with offices a lot in houses is we're like, let's, okay, I need to work from home. Let me pick that tiny, dark back. With all the boxes piled in there that we haven't gone through in years, it has the tiny window with no views, and no natural light is kind of hot in there or cold or both. At any given time. Let me pick that space. And that is for sure where I will be the most productive, right? Like with a stark quiet wall or a beige wall like you're saying, like that is just the most inspirational space and for whatever reason, I don't know if it's just cuz it's not being used that we're like, oh, yeah, that's the perfect space. And so really I mean, you can do things that even optimize a space like that. But I would rather you start with a different set of sort of criteria in mind. And so start to think about where you are right?
Tracy: Let me pause you right there just a moment because I had just made me think of something really funny. So, about two and a half years ago, I moved to a new apartment in New York City. I was living in the West Village, I moved to a new neighborhood called Hudson Yards. It's a beautiful brand new luxury apartment with all the finishes. So like it was amazing, like going from my little walk up kind of West Village place. It's funny when I first moved into the West Village apartment, in this particular apartment, there was a two bedroom and I specifically wanted a two bedroom because I had an office space for many, many years. And then I wanted to just build a business with a virtual team. So when I first looked, I was like, Oh, this tiny little bedroom in the back would be like a great size for an office and then I'm like, it's so dark in there. I'm like fall asleep wanna? Yes, basically like wanna kill myself every day?
Toby It's exactly what I'm talking about. You're like, I'm gonna get sleepy when it gets hot. I'm gonna be miserable when it's cold. I like going to want to poke my eyes out because I can't see like, there's no place to look down the street or open a window and get some fresh air or like have any natural light. Yeah, totally. And then we and then we're like, I don't understand why every time it's time to work. I would rather sit in the comfortable living room and watch television, you know, on the cozy sofa instead of going to like basically the equivalent of a straight jacket and put myself in it for several hours and wonder why I don't want to be productive, right?
Tracy: It's so funny. So I opted instead of like the room that should have been the bedroom to me. The tiny little dark room that could barely fit my bedroom. Because Yeah, this is New York. spaces are tiny. I took the best room for my office because I knew I would be spending most of my time there. My And you know, I could have multiple backgrounds and backdrops. And the thing about living in New York is sometimes you have to Multi Purpose room for two things. I had to still use it as basically a closet in a way, but I tried to make it look nice and put everything away.
Tracy: And that's exactly what I would recommend people do. And I do love Multi Purpose pieces of furniture and multi purpose spaces even. I mean, even if you're in the middle of the South, where I live, where we have kind of urban sprawl, and we have big houses, it's still an out still encourage people to not buy more house than they need and just learn how to really maximize and optimize each space that they have, right? And by using it for multiple purposes and other things.
So you're exactly on the right track. So so if you're looking for that space in your house, or you're in a space and you want to start to optimize it, I mean, there is a checklist that like what we've kind of basically what we've inferred already with this conversation is you know, check out the space. Is it dark, Is it cold? Is it that creatives do not do well in windowless spaces. We don't do well when we can't like it. just staring at a blank wall not great for us like if that's the only option then have something on that wall.
That's inspiring a beautiful piece of art or even some photography or something that feels environmental that almost is like an extension of the space like you're looking into a view in a sense because you can mimic the kind of what would be happening if you had windows but like for me, I look down in this space I'm in there's windows and on two walls and I look down this beautiful tree lined street I see people walking by and walking their dogs and it's not really a distraction to me it actually makes me feel comfortable. It makes me want to stay in this space.
So really you want to make the space attractive, even like James clear talks about and atomic habits. You know, he says he wants you to make things attractive for your habits. Well that's definitely true for your workspace, not just aesthetically pleasing, but you want it to attract you to want to go there is your chair comfortable is your desk comfortable is the lighting good or bad, bad lighting meaning like if it's if it's dark if there's kind of like a fluorescent bulb or bad LED lighting that looks very blue, it's not warm, it's not cozy, it doesn't mimic sunlight all of those things are going to make you want to escape the space for sure. And then you can really also look at color psychology, which is an actual real thing. And think about how you feel in spaces because you jokingly have said no, my boyfriend's house is beige. Like it is very clear how you feel about babies. Right? But like everybody's different.
And so we want to think about it but if you don't know, and I have a really cool download that we can talk about in a minute that has some color ideas for your audience. But if you don't know, here's some kind of rules of thumb. So blues and greens are always great colors because they mimic nature and we all know how we feel in nature. Blue is great for focus. It's it's not agitating the most people of course, it depends on the shade there's a million different shades and, and valleys can be dark or light, you just want to make sure it's not something that puts you to sleep if it's too soft, but a blue is usually a really good color for focusing for a long period of time. And green is very restorative.
So we think about how we feel in nature and how we feel in the spring when things start growing and blooming. That's how a green color so it doesn't necessarily have to be your walls it could be an accent chair, it could be a window covering could be something in your space or it could be paint could be artwork, but but thinking of blues and greens are going to make you focus longer which is great for productivity, they're going to make you feel restored and relaxed. Greenness is great for resting your eyes after staring at electronics for a long time. So you kind of can't go wrong with either of those colors.
And then there's a lot of other things I mean, we can go through the whole game but as you can imagine red probably is not a really good color for most people. It's kind of great for a gym. If you want to get really pumped up. But it's kind of anxiety increasing yellow is really good for energy if you need to feel happy if you're always falling asleep and and I have all that in the in the fun download for you but but color is a real thing that you should consider and people don't understand how what a toll it can take on you to spend too long in say a beige space of whitespace a drab gray space that you thought was chic and cool and sophisticated for like, you know your aesthetic, your like being a hip cool person in your apartment yet you go in there to work and you're like I've fallen asleep every time I come in here. You might want to check into that.
Tracy: So you know what's so interesting and I love that you talked about color psychology, so I'm definitely gonna like check that out. Naturally, I've always progressed . My first office was lavender because that was like my favorite color at the time. My second office was this light but bright blue. Kind of Like a robin's egg maybe, huh? And I also painted my bathroom in that West Village apartment that colored my office in the West Village apartment and then it moved into a beige space when I moved to New York City and was working out of the factory. I couldn't paint the factory but you know. And then my space in that West Village apartment was green. And I don't know why I just naturally gravitated to those colors but that totally makes sense.
Toby: Yeah, totally. Anyway and also you mentioned blush earlier blush is a great color to everybody looks beautiful and fills beautiful and looks healthy and like a paint in a shade of a pink room. And so my last office when I worked outside of my house was a pale shade of blush, which I love But yeah, pale blues, pale greens and blush all of those colors are really good for you feeling healthy for you feeling energized for you staying relaxed, feeling restored. So yeah, just think about that and think about it like when you walk into spaces, you can start to go Oh, no wonder like now I can notice that the colors playing a role and how I feel when I come into this room or this, you know, this zone or this area.
Tracy: I love that. So what else? Is there anything else that people should do?
Toby: So the other thing people do most if they don't go to the back corner bedroom that's hot and drab and ugly. Yes, they go to the kitchen counter or the kitchen table, which is at the hub of the house. Every human that walks through, it's in there, every pet that is in the house is in there. Every activity in there people are in and out of the kitchen all day for, you know, food and homework and to get something to drink and just to pass through on their way to some other place.
And so, most of the time, even though we imagine building businesses at our kitchen table, kind of like a good entrepreneur would. It's rarely a good space for you to really create your work zone and there's too many distractions, even the distraction of sitting there going, I need to be focusing on writing this proposal. You I'm getting pulled over to get those dishes out of the sink and put them in the dishwasher. So you really want to think about how many distractions there are in the space? Is it going to be noisy? Are there going to be people in and out because you're really just again, setting yourself up for failure. You want to have a dedicated workspace even if you don't have doors and walls that can close and secure you try to find a spot that is not the center and the hub of the home where all the activity is running through there unless you live by yourself. It might work but for a lot of people that's not what we're doing right now. And it's really an issue right?
Tracy: Yeah. And what's your thoughts on like the organization of your desk if you have a desk?
Toby: Absolutely. So I do this desk so I have two or three workspaces in my house, actually. And now that my husband told me that one of them but typically on a typical work week, when it's not, according to what I love is to move around my house. And really studies have shown that you're less fatigued if you don't stay in one spot all the time. So in the space that I'm currently in where I do my podcasts and videos and things, I have an adjustable sit to stand desk so I can not sit too much.
And I love that so I can stand up a lot when I'm teaching or talking or podcasting. I have a spare desk in the corner, the end of our living room where we use it to play games and other things, but it's one of my works ends. And then I have my interior design studio on the back of my house, which would be like a sunroom and it has a workspace in it as well. So if you have the option, working in different spaces is really great. And so they're all going to be a little bit different depending on the sunlight or what you have there and you're not going to carry all of your stuff to all those spaces.
And I like that I like that I can keep my podcasting stuff here and maybe my design work in another space but it's really important that you do think about the workspace the work zone, I think it's important that you keep it organized and you really do Want to make it attractive and as silly as it might sound, there's a reason why things like The Container Store and Crate and Barrel and all those places have stuff that people buy all the time. It does make us want to go there and it makes us more productive.
Like I'm looking on my own desk and I have containers for my pins instead of things just being everywhere. And I have an attractive, you know, inbox and, like, right here on behind me, I'm kind of credenza that's Plexiglas with brass piping that I put the things I want to get to first thing the next morning and, and I have, you know, an attractive post it note holder that I might use to write notes before I go on a podcast. But I've literally thought through those things, and it doesn't have to be expensive.
But if you can have everything not only look attractive, which will make you want to go there and get off the couch, but also the more that you can have what you need in a space, the less you're going to get distracted because every time you have to get up and walk to another space, we know we're risking that opportunity.
I have a 5-10 15 minute distraction. And then we have to come back and try to get back into whatever it is we were supposed to be doing. So I try to make sure that depending on the zone, to spend it depending on the activity really, that I thought through what's happening on my desk, what's happening in the room, what's happening with lighting, and very intentional, it's not hard, you just have to think about it. And most people aren't taking the time to think about it. They're just like, Oh, this will work. I'll just go here. And then they wonder why it's really not working for them.
Tracy: That's so interesting. It is like so many things. I'm like, Oh, I just naturally do that. Like I get up and like, I'll be tired of sitting at the table that I work on. And then I'll go sit on the couch, and then I don't really work from my bed. But in this house, I've been moving from space to space all day long because I'm like, I can't just sit in like one place all day.
Toby: Now. It's actually good for you and it's good for your productivity to mix it up a little bit. You get less fatigue. It's just if you know that If you can start looking at those maybe three or so spaces you like to work and think about, are they optimized? You know? Like, there's always things you can do like I do like to work in my bed and it's a bad habit that I have because it feels nurturing. But it's not optimal because after a little while my back's hurting,
I need to stretch it's not good for my posture, you know, it's just not optimal for depending on the type of work I do, I still do it sometimes. More than I would like to admit, actually, but I still think about, you know, like, kind of when and where I allow myself to be in spaces and how to optimize each of those. Where am I sitting? Is it supporting my back?You know, and you can notice this when you see yourself, take a break or get distracted or your mind wanders. Notice where your mind goes because a lot of times it's either like my back's hurting or I need to stretch my legs or you know, I'm hot or something like that.
And those can be the clues to say, you know what, maybe I need a different chair in that space. Maybe that's not the space where I spend long periods of time because there's not great air circulation in that space. And so it's really just being curious and being mindful and intentional.
Tracy: I love that. So many great tips. Before we kind of wrap up here. Is there anything else that you'd like to share?
Toby: So we talked about really your expectations and mindsets, which is the number one thing honestly about working from home successfully, whether it's a pandemic or any other time, it's just, I think, your mindset about it, and your expectations for it. So that's number one we talked about but yeah, really, all of those things matter.
The lighting matters. The I've used myself in the way I feel as a barometer, honestly, and I, like I was just saying, if my neck gets tense, if I start feeling agitated, a lot of times it really does have something to do with the environment, either there's too much clutter, or I can hear a noise distraction or something else. So I learned to kind of turn inward zone in and sort of almost do like you would in meditation, like a full body scan in your mind, and just be like, okay, what's happening?
Where am I holding tension? What and what and then kind of follow the trail to what's leading to that because most of those things can either be remedied or optimized in some way that you could have a much better, I don't know, productive, focused work session than what you're having right now.
Tracy: I love all that. I just want to ask you a bonus question. The coolest thing that you've seen someone in your community doing to kind of make money during this time?
Toby: So I've seen everything from designers with workrooms like drapery workrooms going into making masks which were so fun right at the first one making like gorgeous, beautiful masks at a designer fabrics and actually turning it into not only donating a lot to charity, but selling them to the public. So that was fun and heartening. And I think just honestly meeting people where they are, which has been so fun. So I just have another client who was already working on kind of shifting her niche. She's outside of New York City, and was really focusing on people moving to the suburbs.
And so now there's so much data that's showing all these people fleeing big cities and going straight to the suburbs. And I'm like, this is your moment to shine and it's been so fun. Instead of just shutting down like people paying attention to what's happening and leaning into it and meeting it, you know, meeting the situation where it is like meeting people where they are.
And so she launched a podcast called Welcome to the suburbs, like kind of on the fly, which is really fun. So just, you know, I don't know I just I love that when we get out of our own way, which is great. Kind of hard sometimes for a starving artist. But when we do when we really open our minds to seeing the opportunity that's all around us, we're some of the best people out there at meeting a need at getting creative.
And so I think that's been the really fun part to me. Another one of my clients is a chair designer. She has a chair, a luxury like a high end chair company. And we've worked together for about a year and so she's been launching courses on like, how to design your own chair. And now she has shifted into teaching people how to have an upholstery business. So people who maybe were put out of another business that have always loved this as a hobby. She's like, let's just teach you how to make money at this.
So I love that kind of so many of the creatives I have are not only just thinking like how do I sell my end product, but like how do I sell my this is what we teach a lot of my program, how do I sell my intellectual property? How do I look at where people are suffering or there's a void and fill it In a way that I would have never imagined that was possible. So that's been super super fun. Have you seen this thing with your own?
Tracy: Well, I mean, my primary audience is jewelry designers and aspirational product businesses. So, um, you know, at the beginning of all this, my business totally tanked at the end of in 2008. Because all the stores I was selling to so many stores and a lot of them filed for bankruptcy which left me and they had the jewelry So, right, big problem there. And so because of that, like I had to pivot and kind of switch so I've been through this before I've been through something Yes, me too.
So I've been talking to them for the last year and a half because I knew something was gonna happen. I didn't know what could never project a pandemic but exactly. So I've really been encouraging them to like to build their online sales skills if their primary business was wholesale or and these live events because if they go away or traffic ads are all the things, you know, you still have, you know, your direct to consumer customers. And I was just writing an email before this interview, like sharing some stats from our designers and so many of them like there's two that I'm featuring in this particular email one over last year, she has a 250% increase in our online sales. And it's significant because it's like 10s of thousands of dollars and another designer did like almost 400 times her online sales from this time last year.
That to me was stronger last year. It's like people just diving into what they can do and loving on their people and also their customers wanting to support small business.
Toby: We do have so much in common we should. We should chat over a glass virtually over a glass of wine. We have so much in common. But yeah, I feel the same way. And that's Exactly the same work I do. And I'm with you. I told in another webinar recently, I was like, a year ago in a webinar, I had a slide that said, If tomorrow, your opportunity to buy and sell furnishings and products at wholesale just instantly went away, what would you do? And I was like, of course, you would pivot you would change. And like you, I was thinking it was just gonna be more of the direct to consumer products or the internet or maybe a recession, but I certainly was not thinking pandemic and that literally in one instant, like our everything would be shut down.
But the point was the same and you and I were both sort of innocence preparing for the same sort of almost apocalypse. We even called it that in one of our webinars like the design Apocalypse, because like we knew something was on the horizon, because change has been coming so fast. We just didn't know what it was. And so it's been so fun. Like you like your people I know are the same way to be able to hear the stories where people are like, I'm so Glad I started this process six months ago, a year ago, like 18 months ago, and it's not too late for those that have it, you can still absolutely pivot.
But it's been fun to watch the people who were like, I believed you, but I wasn't quite all in and now I'm so glad that I took that leap that I went down that path and it sounds like that's exactly what your customers in your community are doing which is so exciting.
Tracy: I'm excited for them like rooting them on. So tell me you talked about this freebie, the color?
Toby: Yeah, I think it's called you're creating your most productive home is close to what the title is. They'll see when they download it, but we'll definitely have to get that over to you. So everybody can check that out because it talks about color psychology, it reminds you you don't have to take all the notes. It tells you what each color does for your kind of psyche and how it makes you feel.
And then there's some other sort of hacks and concepts in there of really how to create your most productive home whether that's you're doing daily living space are your workspace it applies to either one of those. And then beyond that, I think the most fun place to find me is on Instagram because of the work I do.
And it's very, very colorful, the high end design work I do for my custom clients. So it's a lot of eye candy, married with a lot of great business advice and entertaining ideas and fun things. So that's @tobifairley on Instagram. And of course, I'd love to hear from anybody DM me Say hi, say you heard the show. Ask me any question. It's a real fun place to be interactive too. So That's where I would, I would look me up.
Tracy: Amazing, Toby, thank you so much for being on the show today. This was such a fun conversation.
Toby: You're so welcome. I loved it so much too. And I love I just love to connect with other people that are just like minded, you know, instantly you're kind of like, oh, they're they're all they're my people. So that was fun. I enjoyed it a lot. Thank you so much.
Tracy: Thank you so much for listening to the show today. This is Tracy Matthews, signing off. If you haven't done so yet. Go say hi to Toby, we're going to have all of the links to her podcasts and our social media handles and everything that she mentioned in the show notes. So go check her out and say hello and give her some love and tell her that you saw her listening to her on the podcast here. And I would love for you to participate in the State of the Jewelry Industry Survey. If you haven't done so yet.
Head on over to https://www.flourishthriveacademy.com/report that will take you to the landing page where you can fill out the survey right there. It'll take you about five to seven minutes. And as a reward, we will give you this full in depth Detail Report. And we'll be sharing the findings of our study. I'm super excited about it. Anyway, this is me. This is me Tracy Matthews, right here signing off. Until next time, I'll see you next week.
Click here to download the show notes
Show Up for Yourself
Time blocking and creating a schedule for yourself is crucial for working efficiently and effectively.
Mapping out your schedule and creating a color-coded calendar feels great. Problem is… you usually don’t want to follow through when that time block rolls around.
As Tobi puts it, we need to manage our expectations for ourselves, be realistic, and push through that natural resistance.
That also means being kind to yourself and remembering that working from home is going to be a learning process all in itself. It’s not fair to expect your schedule to be the same at home as it was in the office.
Redesign Your Day
Tobi invites you to tap into your designer intuition when planning your day.
What are your most pressing tasks? What is the optimal space for you to complete those tasks in? How can you coordinate your schedule with the other people in your house?
Think of it as a puzzle. These are all pieces that need to fit together for you to get the most done in one day.
Experiment With Your Workspace
Where are you most creative?
If your environment isn’t comfortable and appealing, you're probably not going to want to work there for very long.
If you’ve been working somewhere for a while, remember to check in with yourself and see where you’re holding tension.
Maybe your chair isn’t very comfortable, or you’ve been sitting too long. These are small things that when remedied can go a long way for your own productivity!
Working from home brings both challenges and freedoms and it’s up to you to decide how to utilize them. Try something and if it doesn’t work, try something else!
The Design You Blueprint Download
Need Guidance? Check out our programs!
Participate in the State of the Jewelry Industry Report