Archive for October, 2016

What’s Distracting You?

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concentrate

Happy Halloween! Did you get your candy for tonight? Are your kids’ costumes ready? Oh, and be sure to get something for dinner. And the dog needs his flea meds. Did your mom call you back? Need to check in. Hey, look what your friend posted on Facebook – that’s awesome! Let’s go see what’s on Instagram.

No, I’m not practicing stream-of-consciousness writing. I’m giving you an example of “monkey brain” – an overstimulated, unable-to-concentrate thought process that most of us experience in today’s wired world. The problem? There’s almost no room for focus. We’re just too distracted! And that can hurt our clients and our businesses.

It’s so bad – thanks to the Internet and all of our favorite apps – that Harvard Medical School research shows we have “culturally generated ADD.” We’re all now inattentive, disorganized, overbooked. Yikes. Not a great set-up for small businesses that need ALL of our attention.

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It’s so bad, that most medical research on multitasking now calls it attention switching, with your brain trying to switch constantly to other topics or chatter at you until you stop focusing on the task at hand. So what’s a “monkey brain” to do?

Stanford University research says that focus can be developed, like a muscle. We just have to literally practice focusing. How do we do that? You know the answer. You have to clear the decks of ALL distractions.

Peter Shankman, an entrepreneur who has written five books, found concentration so hard for him that he actually booked round-trip flights to Tokyo just so he could write without anything grabbing for his attention. He found it to be a small price to pay to get his books done. But I love flying today for the same reason – no distractions. You just have to try to resist the temptation to log onto inflight WiFi.

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Here’s how to start using that focus muscle without a flight to Tokyo:

  • Turn off all alerts on your phone. You do NOT need to know how many people like that photo you posted. You can look later. It’s hard to resist the temptation to look, so help yourself by eliminating those alerts.
  • Put your phone on Do Not Disturb. You can set it so your child’s school can still get through; no one else really needs to. So shut it down. We used to live through whole days without talking to people who weren’t involved in our actual jobs, so you can do that for a few hours each day.
  • Turn off every window on your browser except the one you require for the task at hand. That includes Facebook.
  • Tell your team/spouse/mom/whomever that you are working and can’t be disturbed. Period. Hold them (and yourself) to it!
  • Turn off the noise. That includes televisions, radios, anything else that’s distracting to your concentration. Consider using white noise machines, a fan, anything to block whatever might cause your brain to disengage.

It can take up to an hour to get your brain back in gear once you’ve been distracted, so don’t let that monkey brain run away with you! Think about how much more you could get done in a day if you really and truly focused on your business. It could be a game changer!

What distracts you from your work? Let me know in the comments section below!

xo,

Tobi-Signature

 

 

 

 

 

What Is That Color? Hunter Green

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So many things inspire the color palette for a room, from art to fabrics to wallpaper. And wallpaper is exactly where I found the gorgeous hunter green for the painted walls in this penthouse dining room!

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This custom de Gournay wallpaper is just stunning! My client absolutely fell in love with it, and it inspired all the other colors in the room, including the Sherwin-Williams hunter green paint color called Rookwood Sash.

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I love this shade of green, and it was the perfect complement to the wallpaper, so I used it on the other walls in the space. The mix of color and pattern makes this a very fashion-forward dining room, perfect for my hip and chic client!

Do you like hunter green? Where would you use this color in your home? Let me know in the comments section below!

Colorfully yours,

Tobi-Signature

 

 

 

 

Behind the Scenes at High Point Market

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I just wrapped up a whirlwind week at High Point Market, the largest trade show for home furnishings in the world! It’s so exciting to show everyone the new designs I’ve created with my partners – and today I’m going to give you a sneak peek at what we unveiled! Like my brand new outdoor furniture line that made its debut with my partner company Woodbridge Furniture, above.

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One of my favorite new designs was the channel-backed Tilley chair in a bright yellow velvet, from CR Laine. It is comfortable for everyone from tall people to petites! Tilley was also selected by Laura Umansky, a market Style Spotter, as one of her favorite products, which was such an honor!

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I was lucky enough to have three of my new products “Style Spotted” in High Point, including my Calhoun chair from CR Laine in bright yellow chinoiserie. It was selected by the amazing designer Scot Meacham Wood.

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And in Woodbridge, my new Nick table in brass and acrylic was chosen by Erika Ward as a top market product! Thanks to all the Style Spotters for the honors!

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Speaking of Woodbridge, what do you think of the coral and gray palette I used in this room? It really highlights my new Emery cocktail table, Thomas console, and the best-selling Sarah chest that’s custom painted in gray.screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-3-03-22-pm

Half the fun of going to market is seeing all of my fellow designers, retailers, and friends, like this group of my former Mastermind consulting group members! Billy Ceglia, Lisa Hough, and Shelly Lloyd are all piled up with me on my Bradley bed from CR Laine, with gorgeous bedding from Eastern Accents!

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And I was even more lucky to be able to show my hubby the crazy fun that is the High Point Market! It was his first time at the big show and I know he loved it!

Stay tuned in future posts as I show you more of the amazing products that made their debut this week! Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments section below!

xo,

Tobi-Signature

 

 

 

 

Tobi TV: 4 Ways That Art Can Inspire Your Decor

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I love original artwork! I collect a lot of original art, and I love to use it when I’m designing homes for clients – it actually often inspires my designs. One-of-a-kind pieces really add personality that can’t be recreated in another house or room.

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The key to using original art in your home’s decor is to let it inspire the rest of the room, and to allow the art to be the focal point. It really will give you space that is all your own and is full of personality.

So let’s take a look at some of my top tips for using art to inspire you:

I’m feeling inspired already! Here is a quick recap of those top tips:

  1. In a neutral room, use a brightly colored painting to add that pop! You don’t always want to match to the painting, but do use the colors in the art to inspire the palette for the rest of the room.
  2. Choose art that has sentimental value for you, or that reminds you of a special moment or person in your life. It will add meaning and emotion to your room!
  3. If you have a piece of art that’s by a famous artist, like the painting in my client’s home by Dale Chihuly, hang it front-and-center so it can be enjoyed by your family and your guests.
  4. If you’re a collector, edit your art so that pieces will complement each other, and will complement the rest of your decor.

What art or items do you collect? And how can they inspire your home’s design? I hope these tips have you looking at your art in a new way and seeing how each piece can inspire a room’s decor! Please let me know in the comments below how you’re using art in your home!

xo,

Tobi-Signature

 

 

 

 

For more tips and ideas, be sure to check out my YouTube Channel, featuring every episode of Tobi TV!

4 Ways to Rethink Your Work Team

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I’m asked all the time when a small business owner should hire employees – and there’s really no easy one-size-fits-all answer. You have to determine that for yourself based on your income and overhead. But I will tell you that I have completely revamped how I work with team members, and you can too! Let’s take a look at 4 ways to create a lean-and-mean productive team:

1. Make a list of all your tasks and jobs required in your company. Remember what I always say: You should spend 80% of your time on the thoughts and activities that will produce the most results (aka MONEY) for your business. So look at that list and mark the things you need to do to make your company money or that require your skills. If an activity doesn’t give you a strong return on investment, then you should not be the one doing it. You have to assign tasks that you should not be performing to other people. That’s going to make your company more productive. After all, if you are the most important asset your company has, can you really afford to be the one taking out the trash or cleaning your office? Making that list will help you focus on where you need help.

2. Once you know you have job duties that you should pass on to someone else, it’s time to decide what type of person can handle them for you: an outsourced hire or an employee. The advantages of outsourcing include: getting specialized experts for a fraction of the cost. You also don’t have to pay for insurance, retirement, payroll taxes, office supplies, a workstation or a computer. In most cases, you pay when the work is complete. And you don’t have to manage anyone in-house. I outsource things in my company like bookkeeping, web design, IT help, graphic design and more.

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There are advantages to having an employee, of course. You have someone to work with you and to bounce ideas off of. They are on-call immediately and can help when there’s an issue. Once they’re trained, they know the “ins and outs” of the business and can help make decisions without your guidance, which comes in handy when you need to take time off. Once you really think about the pros and cons of outsourcing versus having an employee, you need to do a cost/benefit analysis to determine which type of employee makes the most sense for your budget and your needs. You may want to use a hybrid, like I do, with employees handling some jobs, and other things being outsourced.

3. Think global rather than just local. In today’s world, your team doesn’t even need to be in the same place – you can hire the right person for the job, regardless of where they’re based. As many of you know, I have full-time team members in different states, and my outsourced people are in other states, too. Because of today’s technology, we stay in touch and work together just as if we were all in the same office. Having a virtual team allows you to get the best and brightest in the field and not settle for less just because that’s all you can find in your area.

4. Get connected. We are so lucky to have so many tools available to us today that let us connect with people around the world. They also help keep a hybrid work team connected and productive. Some of the tools we use are Studio Webware, Asana, Dropbox, Skype, Google calendars, Time Tracker, and more. It creates a seamless work system that feels as if we’re all working in the same office.

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You’ll also have to meet and check in with your team a little more often just because you aren’t sharing the same office space and you don’t have the luxury of gathering around the water cooler or break room and casually discussing topics. Organize time when your team can socialize and get to know each other and build a relationship that will last.

Building a team, like building a company, takes some work and time but if you put these ideas into place, you should end up with a more productive and smoother-running company in the long run. Let me know what you think in the comments section below!

xo,

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