Productive Flourishing
Productive Flourishing
135: How Side Projects Help with Your Main Project with Nicole Stevenson

135: How Side Projects Help with Your Main Project with Nicole Stevenson

A lot of creative people thrive on having multiple side projects, but at the same time, having side projects may cause your main projects to suffer. Nicole Stevenson joins Charlie to jam about how having side projects might help you with your main projects. She brings her vast experiences as an entrepreneur - clothing line creator, craft show extraordinaire, illustrator, among many others - to discuss how she got started on the two main ventures she’s working on today, aspects of working with a business partner to make projects work, as well as the various benefits working on side projects can provide to main business projects.

Key Takeaways:

[2:53] - Nicole shares a bit of her history, recounting some of her business and entrepreneurial ventures and tracing their evolution to get to where she is today. Her creative interests led to observations about different things in the crafting community, and she joined with her aunt to start up Patchwork Show and eventually Craft-cation.

[7:47] - Charlie talks about predetermined business plans versus responsive business plans. With Nicole’s sort of adaptive process, how did she and her business partner let go of the old things to focus on the things that matter most right now? As she evaluated which aspects of her work were exciting and profitable, she slowly let other things drop off.

[12:17] - Sometimes when things reach a certain level of maturity, or aren’t as new anymore, they might lose some of the magic that had us holding on to them. On the flip side, sometimes when projects are spaced out at cyclical intervals, each time you come back to it can be new and exciting.

[14:09] - When we’re in the business of making creative things, there are a lot of open-loop projects. Having some closed-loops projects, maybe more of the admin side of your business, can be refreshing to balance out the other projects.

[17:01] - Breaking down your tasks into smaller steps can make tackling some of the big projects more manageable. It can also increase our sense of accomplishment to be completing small steps towards finishing a big task. A good balance between small tasks divided over a certain amount of time is very beneficial in keeping your to-do list manageable.

[20:20] - How can managing side projects make us better at our main projects? Having side projects that may get us connected with other people or things can be refreshing towards work with our main projects.

[23:31] - Part of being a creative knowledge worker is recognizing that our emotion is one of the ingredients we’re working with. It is important to be mindful of our emotions and how they tie in to what we produce. Side projects can be an avenue to separate some of these emotions so the negative effects don’t drift into the main projects.

[25:28] - Charlie talks about the importance of being in a divergent population of creatives, and the benefits of small projects can help the work we do with our main projects be more focused and provide different solutions.

[29:05] - How do Nicole and her business partner workout temporal misalignments, or managing different time requirements between side projects and their main business? Evaluating who is better suited to managing and working on different tasks is important for both parties involved. Specifically for Nicole and Delilah, communication is key.

[33:59] - In a partnership, it is not likely that each person will be doing the exact same work during a week. It is unlikely that it will be an even 50/50 distribution. Keeping track of these hours can also lead to conversations about the relative value of work.

[38:02] - How does Nicole measure success when it comes to all her projects, both side projects and main projects? At the end of the day, she measures success based on whether she is proud of the work she’s doing, and feels like she is giving the best she can give to her community.

[42:28] - For creative entrepreneurs in general, it is important to make reading about financial aspects part of your regular flow.

[45:59] - Nicole leaves listeners with this invitation: start a side project, whether it’s something for your business, something for yourself, or something for your money. Anything that requires your attention is considered a project - pick a project out that is the most manageable for where you are.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Creative Giant Campfire Facebook Group

Nicole Stevenson Studio

Dear Handmade Life

Patchwork Show



TCGS Episode 131 with Larry Robertson

App: Hours Keeper

Investment App: Acorns

Credit App: Credit Karma

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Productive Flourishing
Productive Flourishing
Productive Flourishing (formerly the Creative Giant Show) explores how to do the work that matters to become your best self in the world. Host Charlie Gilkey and occasional co-host Angela Wheeler take listeners on a deep dive into the lives of leaders, changemakers, creatives, and entrepreneurs who are thriving in life and business by doing work that matters. Listen in to see how they cultivate meaning, success, and happiness as well as their approach to productivity, business, health, and the challenges (yes, even the deep, dark ones) that show up in their lives.