Wayyyy back, I talked about the 5 most common interior design myths, and #3 on that list is what designers do all day. The myth? Fluffing pillows, playing with fabrics, and sipping champagne. Reality? So much more. (And we reserve sipping bubbly for Prosecco Fridays — we earned it!)
I love letting you peek into our world, so today, I’m taking you through “a day in the life.” I’ll also be sharing some of the tools we use for team management, productivity, and rock-solid internal processes. Follow me, and come on in…
A Day in the Life of… Blakely Owner + Creative Director, Janelle Photopoulos
Here’s a single day from my life last week. Although my workdays don’t always look the same, they are certainly all this action-packed!
8:00 Arrive at the office & check my calendar, inbox, and Slack (& make an espresso in my favorite cup)
8:45 Travel to a client consultation for a prospective project in Jamestown
11:30 Return to the Blakely studio (pick up lunch on the way) & complete a consultation recap
12:00 Present project proposal for a new client via Zoom
12:30 Lunch, check inbox & Slack again (& more coffee)
1:00 Client Schematic Presentation here in the studio
A sneak peek at the Schematic Design for a soon-to-be vibrant bedroom in the Anchorage Inn in York Beach, ME!
2:30 Internal kickoff meeting with the design team to share creative brief and design direction for an upcoming project on Great Island.
3:30 Principal review of material and fixture selections for our new construction project in Maine
4:30 Attend the Rhode Island Builders Association (RIBA) monthly board meeting via Zoom
5:30 Daily RAP (Review the day, action plan & schedule, preview the following day) and organize from the day
5:45 Head home to make dinner, pour a glass of wine, & spend time with family
7:30 Mastermind Group with fellow designers via Zoom
…Then eventually stop working! Other tasks (on other days) may also include overseeing project installations, meeting with the Business Team, hiring, and more.
A Day in the Life of… Design Director, Becky Cordle
Here’s a by-the-hour look at one of Becky’s days last week…
8:00 Arrive on site at the Poplar Point Project in Wickford, RI to walk through progress with the tile installer
8:45 Grab a coffee, head to the studio, check email, Slack & Asana.
9:15 One-on-one meeting with Brianna to review CAD drawings for the new construction project in Narragansett
9:45 One-on-one meeting with Emily to finalize fixtures and construction selections for our project in Green Hill
10:15 Spend time finalizing the budget for new the Narragansett new build
11:00 Client Block: depending on the day, this can be spent sourcing for clients, fine-tuning client presentations, etc.
12:30 Lunch, check inbox & Slack again (& more coffee)
1:00 Client Schematic Presentation here in the studio with Janelle, Emily and our clients
Bathroom Schematic Design concept for our Anchorage Inn Project. Seafoam and grounding navy? Yes, please!
2:30 Internal kickoff meeting with Janelle and design team for the new project on Great Island
3:30 Travel to a site visit in Charlestown for countertop template and contractor walkthrough
4:45 Stop at Charlestown Gallery on the way home to select art pieces for Phase 2 of the Safari Coastal Project
5:30 Head home to go for a bike ride, cook dinner, and relax with my husband
A Day in the Life of… the Design Team
Brianna and Emily are our Associate Designer and Assistant Designer, respectively, and round out our talented design team. Their days vary a bit more, but they include several key elements to our success: the design process, maintaining the Blakely Design Library. and client care. A “day in the life” might include:
- Site visits to measure all spaces in new projects in preparation for drawings
- Drawings on CAD & REVIT (which include space planning, electrical elevations, plumbing elevations, reflected ceiling plans, electrical switching plans, and millwork drawings)
- Developing client presentations for both Schematic and Design Development meetings
- Sourcing furnishings, fabrics and materials for each project
- Detailed accessory planning
- Communicating with reps or meeting with them here in the studio to see their new collections
- Client communication and weekly recaps
- Internal meetings with Becky and Janelle
Tips for Task Management & Productivity
How do we keep all of our projects and day to day schedules operating smoothly? After running Blakely for nearly a decade, I have become a big believer in time-blocking. It’s the practice of grouping like tasks together into a “block.” This results in greater focus, increased productivity, and greater weekly efficiency. Below you’ll find some examples of time blocks that I use to plan my day to be as productive as possible.
Client Block: Any work that is directly related to a client’s project, including design, budgeting, site visits and client meetings
New Business Block: For discovery calls, consultations, developing the scope of work, and proposing contracts for new projects.
Internal Meetings Block: For internal meetings related to design, marketing, and operations. These occur on specific days at specific times.
Marketing, Strategy & Operations Blocks: Includes strategic objectives, business growth planning, marketing initiatives and financial review.
Task Block: Dedicated time for ticking internal “task” related boxes, such as responses to team members by email, or in Asana or Slack.
Tip: The to-dos in the Task Block are the most likely culprits to slip into other blocks and derail productivity. If you have ever said, “I can respond to this email quickly,” and then lost 30+ minutes to your inbox, you know what I mean. (Happens to the best of us!) Dedicated Task Blocks force these tasks to stay in their own lane.
Coaching & Mastermind Block: For professional growth & networking. I’m currently working with Amber de la Garza, The Productivity Specialist, who has helped me hone in on my ideal schedule and work to develop time blocks that honor my goals for the business.
Tools We Use for Rock-Solid Internal Processes
Slack: We started using Slack while working from home during the pandemic and needing a way to communicate that was better than email. At the time, I was reluctant to add on another ‘tool’ for the team to learn and use, but I have quickly become obsessed with it!
Slack allows instant, conversation-style communication, channels that we can segment by team and by client project, and so much more. The “stay at home” order has long since passed, and we’re still going strong with Slack. I honestly can’t imagine us working without it!
Asana: Asana is a project management app designed for teams. We use it for all of our internal processes, creating tasks for every step in our SOPs, assigning team members to them, setting deadlines, keeping multiple team members informed of updates, and tracking all projects’ statuses so nothing slips through the — wait, there are no cracks.
DropBox: We have been using DropBox practically since the beginning of time. It holds all of our important documents, both internally (SOPs, employee onboarding, copies of press, etc.) and for client documents, project photography, and more. DropBox can get overwhelming, so I suggest keeping it highly organized and cleaning up any stray folders at least once per week.
Studio Designer – All of the elements related to every project lives in Studio Designer, a digital project management platform specifically for the interior design industry. ‘Studio’ is the backbone of the business, allowing us to manage every minute detail of each project including pricing, procurement, expediting and financial reports.
Words of Wisdom to any Fellow Entrepreneurs
Being a business owner is one of the most challenging things I have ever done, maybe next to raising children. If you own a business, then you know it’s a passion, not a job. It consumes my thoughts – how I can improve it, how I can offer better services for our clients, how I can create a better work environment for my team.
Our well-planned days, the tools we use, and our smooth internal processes didn’t happen overnight. They took (and are still taking!) trial and error, fine-tuning and polishing, and a team of incredible people who were willing to work through those initial kinks to create something special: a place we love coming to every day and work that makes us proud.
If you’re a fellow business owner, I would love to hear — which tools have made your life easier? Leave me a comment below!
If you’re thinking, “Janelle, how do I get your fabulous team to work on my project?”, we would love to help. Book a discovery call with us here and let’s get to know each other. 😉