Making hay while the sun shines

Here’s a good article on creating inventory when your craft is time-consuming. It could also apply to anyone with limited time and struggling to figure out how to make time for the crafts or art they enjoy creating.

http://beadingforbusiness.com/2013/04/29/creating-a-huge-inventory-when-your-craft-is-time-consuming/

I personally make each and every single item I sell. For the renfair, that means production pieces (ie many multiples/variations of a ring style), plus my unique OOAK pieces (one of a kind). It takes a long time to build the amount of stock needed to sustain eight consecutive weekends and filling custom orders and stock holes during the week.

I notice I have fallen into similar habits this article mentioned.

One, use your “down time”. My habit is to do my desk work (beading, or complicated) during the day when my husband is at work. At night, I want to spend time relaxing with him, watch TV, etc. Plus my physical and mental energy levels are lower by evening. So that’s when I do more repetative things (ie. twisting piles of wire, prepping bases) or more tedious operations (wrapping ring bands, ordering supplies) or ones that don’t require a lot of thought (some simpler designs). Basically things I can do while watching TV or distracted, and need a minimal set of tools. I have a little table by the couch I work on.

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The other thing I do is have what I consider “travel projects”. These are ones that require very little thought, tools, or space. Things like wrapping ring bands, twisting wire (it never ends), prepping simple bases (like earcuffs), simple bending (bracelets, bead rings). These are things I literally can do as a passenger in a car, visiting friends, waiting somewhere, babysitting, etc. Those stolen moments really add up.

That being said, general time management can be a challenge. A teensy one. Ahem. Having *too* much flexibility in the schedule (I work from home full-time) is a blessing and a curse. It makes it extremely easy to procrastinate because there’s time later. Then there’s always distractions of cats and laundry and phone calls at home. It’s a work in progress.

And then there’s the pessimistic/optimistic view of time.
1) that’s going to take *hours* (so put off until better chunk of time)
2) giant to-do list for that day (creating completely unrealistic and unachievable lists without discovering how to bend space and time first)

I’m always experimenting with time management systems. My best ones have been organic and not so complex they collapse under their own weight. I might have over-engineered a system more than once. Ahem.

The current one is working well. Designed to handle large amounts of orders (multiple items, realistic time estimations) and be flexible.

Current new system:
Basically, notebook paper with line across two or three times, representing three hour time-blocks. Then Post-its of various sizes (easy visual glance) representing my common time projects (4 sizes: quick/under30min, hour, one-and-half hour, three-hours).

I write the project on the closest size post-it for the time I’m estimating it’ll take. Projects are things like custom orders (big percentage during the renfair), stock production needs, or maintenance (ordering supplies, phone calls, etc).

Estimating time is helping me calibrate realistically how much work I really have to do. As I fill up my 3hr block pages, I can see at a glance what my week will be. And I can move things around.

Okay, yes, I know there are these fancy magic boxes (computers/apps) that can do all this. But I am apparently very visual and tactile in this regard and electronic sytems don’t work nearly as well for me.

I do suspect that once the renfair is over the post-it thing will be simplified a bit, but for now it’s working well with a larger volume of daily details.

The main thing I’m working on is getting into a good daily routine. I do really well with routines, but this last year in particular has been more chaotic than usual and routines have tended to get upended before well-established. But dust is settling on a lot of things and I feel the beginnings of a very nice routine with efficient and productive days, but relaxed as well. We shall see 🙂

So what do you do time-management wise? Especially when you have a lot on your plate?

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