How She Does It
Brie Milam describes herself as “imaginative, creative, a daydreamer, and an idealist.” As an artist, she strives to create things that add beauty and inspiration to people’s lives. She loves learning new things and talking about ideas. She values authenticity, growth, relationships, freedom, and peace. She finds most of her inspiration in nature and from deep diving into her own emotions.
As an artist and business owner, Brie thrives in her flexible schedule but still struggles to find the balance and structure she is looking for. What we love about Brie is her thoughtfulness, self-reflection, and her intentional approach to designing a life she loves. Here’s our conversation with Brie, an inspiration for anyone who wants to create their own path:
“I was creatively/mentally/
emotionally drained, and I needed a change big time. I knew I was in the wrong field, and I was on a mission to find what it was that I was meant to do.”
How do you typically spend your time on an average day?
I have a pretty flexible schedule. I live alone and set my own schedule, so I usually sleep in until about 9 and then have a slow start to my day. I am most productive in the afternoon, so around noon I will either head to Her.HQ, my coworking space, to get some computer work done, or I’ll work from home on an art project or jewelry collection until around 7 pm. In the evenings, I typically go to yoga, attend an event, grab a drink with a friend, or just relax at home.
How did you make the decision to leave the corporate world to work for yourself?
What helped you make the leap?
That decision was a big leap because I jumped from a full-time, well paying job to a part-time internship at a design agency. It was definitely an emotional decision, and I think what really drove me to make the leap was a feeling of desperation. I was creatively/mentally/
What do you wish you had known or considered at the time you were making the decision to change paths?
I’m not one to have regrets or look back – if I could do it again, I probably wouldn’t change anything. But I will say that I wish I had saved up a bit more money or made some kind of business plan before I up and quit. It’s been a long road of figuring-it-out-as-I-go, and I’ve struggled financially a lot because I didn’t have a road map of where I was going.
What have you learned about the realities of self-employment that you wish you had known at the outset, or that you would want to share with other women considering self-employment?
What do you struggle to make time for the most?
I recently discovered (after having an emotional breakdown the other day) that I need to set aside “days off” for myself. I need a day where I don’t do anything work related. When I worked a regular 9-5 job, I always had at least one weekend day where I took time to relax and have fun. But now that I work for myself, I have this constant nagging in the back of my mind that says “you should be doing something productive right now.” I’ve made a resolution this year to carve out at least one day a week where I don’t do or think about work.
How would you define “balance?” What does balance look like in your life?
Balance looks different for everyone, but I think you know you have balance when you feel at peace with how you’re spending your time. I don’t think balance is necessarily all about time management, but rather I think that you create balance by focusing inward. By letting go of the idea that you can create a *perfect* schedule in which you make equal time for everything important in your life, and instead embracing the chaos of life, you’ll start to feel more of that inner balance. For me, the things I want to balance are my work/productivity, time with friends, time with family, and time for myself. When I start to feel like one of these areas is out of balance, I make an effort to spend a little more time there. But I don’t beat myself up if the balance just shifts towards one area over the others for a little while.
How would you rate your balance?
My balance is ever changing, but if I had to rate my balance this week, I’d put myself at a 7 out of 10. I’ve nurtured all of my four categories – work, friends, family, self – in some way this week.
What would make it easier to improve your balance?
This is a great question. One of my biggest challenges is creating structure for my life. I think if I had a better schedule that I (and this is key) adhered to, then I might feel more balanced.
Do you keep a daily or weekly routine?
Honestly, no I do not. I have tried to create a weekly schedule for myself more than once, and I just never stick to it. I think this is because the nature of my work is ever-changing, and I really do thrive on spontaneity. There are days that I get very little work done, and instead I go on a walk or listen to a podcast until inspiration returns at 10 pm that night. Sometimes I have worked until 2:00 in the morning on a project. I am well aware that this kind of “schedule” isn’t realistic for many people, but for me it works.
What helps you get in the zone and be your most productive self?
I am highly susceptible to distraction. I credit this to my time working as an executive assistant where I needed to be constantly attuned to every ping, notification, email, text, etc. So now, if a notification pops up on my phone while I’m working, I can easily fall down a rabbit hole of scrolling and switching between apps. What helps me focus is having my phone facing down, putting on a chillhop radio station or rain sounds, and having my to-do list right beside me to work my way down.
“By letting go of the idea that you can create a *perfect* schedule in which you make equal time for everything important in your life, and instead embracing the chaos of life, you’ll start to feel more of that inner balance.“
“One of the biggest things that has helped me make time for myself is developing the ability to say no gracefully. When you say no to things, you give yourself the opportunity to say yes to yourself.“
What do you do to take care of yourself? How do you make time for self-care?
I try to go to a yoga class at least once a week. I take a bath almost every night. Whenever I’m feeling super stressed, I will meditate for a few minutes or make a gratitude list. Joining a coworking space has also been really good for me because I get to be around people instead of being at home by myself all day.
If you could share one secret to success with other women for taking care of yourself, what secret would you share?
One of the biggest things that has helped me make time for myself is developing the ability to say no gracefully. When you say no to things, you give yourself the opportunity to say yes to yourself. I’ve learned that other people generally understand if you turn down an invitation or a request to help them, as long as you do so gracefully and with gratitude. It’s as simple as saying, “I wish I could, but I just have too much on my plate right now. Please ask me again next time.”
No woman can do it all herself. What is one thing you find yourself needing help with the most?
Budgeting and financial matters are typically at the bottom of my list of tasks. I don’t derive a lot of joy from working with numbers or analyzing financial data, so that ends up falling by the wayside a lot of the time. Hiring a bookkeeper or accountant is one of my goals this year.
If you could ask the women in your life one question about how they manage and make the most of time, what question would you ask?
What helps you power through the tasks you don’t enjoy / the times you are unmotivated? What keeps you going when you don’t feel motivated?
If you could share one secret to success with other women for managing and making the most of your time, what secret would you share?
Two things: 1) Be real with yourself and make sure you are in the right job. If you don’t enjoy what you do at least 60-70% of the time, you’re going to struggle with managing/making the most of your time because you simply don’t want to do it. 2) Outsource or ask for help with that other 30-40% that you don’t enjoy or you’re not good at. Otherwise you will spend an inordinate amount of time on things that are a time and energy suck when you could be focusing on your strengths.
What questions or advice do you have for Brie? Share in the comments section below.
If you want to continue to follow Brie’s story, you can find her on Instagram (@briemilam) and on Facebook (Brienna Milam).
Check out Brie's Art!
If you want to see Brie’s beautiful art and jewelry collection (and support her awesome woman-owned business), check out briemilam.com and @briemilamjewelry on Instagram.
How She Does It is brought to you by Liveli Planner. At Liveli Planner, we value the women who do epic sh!t in their communities, homes, and workplaces. These ordinary women do the incredible every day but we don’t always hear their stories. Liveli Planner wants to change that. We believe that by sharing the stories we don’t always hear about, we’ll learn from each other’s wins and struggles and hopefully realize we are pretty extraordinary too.