Artist and author Kara Benz and I talk about building a business and living an intentional life–and a little about bullet journaling.
A bullet journal expert, but she’s about more than just bullet journaling
Kara Benz is the artist and author behind Boho Berry, a business that started as a jewelry store on Etsy, which inspired a blog born out of her own personal development journey. Kara is also a beloved and inspiring voice in the bullet journaling community, with well over 100,000 people subscribed to her YouTube channel, which features her video tutorials on various aspects of bullet journaling, and a big following on Instagram as well.
Kara runs a successful sticker shop on Etsy called Boho Berry Paperie. Kara is a military wife and a mom, and a very busy and productive woman.
How does Kara structure a typical week and day?
Kara practices a morning routine that she learned from Hal Elrod’s book, The Miracle Morning. This is a six-step routine that includes meditation, affirmations, visualization, writing, journaling, and exercise.
The rest of Kara’s morning consists of administrative tasks like making stickers and preparing orders for her Etsy store.
The afternoon is Kara’s creative time. During this time she writes, draws, and creates products.
She allocates certain days to different kinds of work to be efficient and productive.
Kara’s productivity challenges
Time management has been a problem for Kara in the past, but she now has tools that help her to stay productive.
Kara sometimes struggles to say no, and when a good idea pops into her head she wants to go pursue it right then, sometimes letting other things fall by the wayside. She’s trying to narrow her path as she goes forward so that she will have less stress.
Kara has found that it’s both a blessing and a curse that so much of what she does for fun translates so well back into her work. Sometimes it’s hard to separate work and play. This presents unique challenges.
What tools does Kara use to stay productive?
Bullet journaling is one of Kara’s best tools for staying organized and living mindfully and purposefully.
Kara likes the ATracker App, which tracks how you spend your time. Kara recently hired a virtual assistant, and this app helped her to decide what tasks she could delegate to her assistant, and which she should keep.
Kara uses Trello, a cloud-based project manager, for managing editorial calendars and keeping track of what needs to be done.
(The Bullet Journal® brand name and system are owned by Lightcage, LLC, which reserves all rights, including intellectual property rights related to the Bullet Journal®.)
Kara didn’t invent the bullet journal concept, but she relies on it to manage her time and projects, and she’s become a trusted voice in the huge and passionate community of people who love bullet journaling.
When I was first exposed to bullet journaling my initial reaction was, “That’s pretty cool, but I can’t draw or do beautiful calligraphy like that.” But then I saw one of Kara’s YouTube videos where she insisted there is no one right way to bullet journal. Her passionate defense of everyone’s right to use bullet journaling their own way convinced me to try it out. (I talked about my early days of experimenting with a bullet journal in episode 101.) Kara says “If what you’re doing with your bullet journal for you, then you’re doing it right.”
For those who are interested in the creative aspects of bullet journaling, Pinterest is a great place to find ideas for bullet journal spreads, especially if you don’t feel that you are naturally creative. Kara also offers great ideas in her Plan with Me videos and the other tutorials on her YouTube channel. She hopes that people won’t always copy exactly what she’s doing in her bullet journal, but will instead be inspired to create a bullet journal that is right for them.
Kara suggests that anyone just starting out with bullet journaling go straight to the source and visit bulletjournal.com. After that, check out Kara’s YouTube series, Bullet Journal 101.
When the day falls apart
Everybody has those days when it all kind of falls apart. Kara says when she’s overwhelmed, she has no problem with turning off the computer and taking a break–going off to relax and watch some Netflix. She finds that when she does that, even if it’s just for half an hour or so, she’s able to come back to her work with fresh eyes and a new perspective.
The first step on the journey to making a life that matters is to determine what is it you’re most passionate about, so you can prioritize where you want to spend your time. Once you have that solid vision, other things will fall into place and you can choose projects based around your passion and what kind of impact you want to make on the world.
What do you think?
Any questions for me (or Kara) about the topics we discussed in this episode? Your feedback is always welcome. Share your questions, comments, and suggestions in the comments section below or on The Productive Woman Facebook page, or email me.
More about Kara
Kara Benz is a 33-year-old military spouse and a mother to a beautiful daughter; she’s based in central New Jersey. After more than 16 years employed in the bar and restaurant industry, Kara woke up one day eager to expand her horizons and decided to start selling her handmade jewelry on Etsy.
The Boho Berry Blog started off as a way for Kara to showcase her Bohemian-style jewelry back in April of 2015. She soon began writing about the topics near and dear to her heart: mindfulness, meditation, goal-setting, and personal development.
Boho Berry soon took on a life of its own and has quickly become a hub for creatives seeking to improve their lives through planning, goal setting, and motivation.
On the horizon
Kara has partnered up with the owner of Create Lounge (an online community for creatives), and she’ll soon be the personal development expert on the new Create Lounge blog.
She’s also planning to put some courses together, perhaps on SkillShare, on productivity tips and tools. Watch her website for more information as these courses become available.
Connect with Kara
Resources Kara recommends:
- The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed To Transform Your Life… (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod
- David Allen’s Getting Things Done
- Her favorite Creative Business Coach, Lisa Jacobs
Announcements & Reminders
- I have a few openings in my schedule this year for speaking engagements. If your group, club, organization, or event would benefit from a conversation about productivity and making a life that matters, let’s discuss how I could add value through a presentation, keynote, or workshop. Email me!
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I really enjoyed this episode. I had sort of written off the idea of bullet journaling but my interest was piqued today. I just took a quick peek at Create Lounge and it looks like the sort of thing which will be right up my alley. I’ll definitely be spending some time reading there. Thank you, Laura and Kara for a wonderful interview.