Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Time Management for Quiltmakers (and everyone else)

winter by the sea 72ppi

Like everyone, I never seem to have enough time to do all the things I want to do. So I’ve come up with a Time Management checklist for myself so see if I can’t just squeeze a little more juice out of those 24 hours!!

  1. I definitely have to have a diary/planner/appointment book. This is especially helpful for combining appointments and errands since I notice that leaving home even for something as small as picking up more thread somehow seems to waste a whole morning. If I can combine my thread, ink, shipping, library and dentist appointments then I’ve saved 4 mornings!
  2. I like to plan out the next day the night before – a nice to do list with items ripe for crossing off! I used to write it out at breakfast time but found I was waking up the night before thinking oh! I must remember to do so and so, and thus, and such and the whirling mind would lead to a whirling bod, wakefulness, finally dropping off to sleep just before dawn, sleeping in and wasting half a morning!
  3. Like a lot of people, I’m great at displacement activity – if there’s something I don’t want to do I fritter away time on inconsequentials while I work up to the Dreaded Deed! So now I put the thing I least want to do as Number One on the to do list, once that’s done and checked off, the rest of the day’s tasks seem easy by comparison. Checking off items on the to do list is a good reward too! I thoroughly recommend it!
  4. I’m also a great believer in Initial Inertia – I used to drive an old Rover 75 (1948!); it took about a gallon of gas to get it moving, but once it was rolling it was a great ride – very stately!! So I’ve found that if I can just make myself do that very First Step, I’ll often get rolling along quite nicely (not necessarily stately!). I’ve said before that I like to outline the quilt I’m going to make on the design wall with ripped off selvedges…and that’s an excellent First Step for me….if it’s a phone call I have to make that I really don’t want to, I’ll say: “just look up the phone number and write it down by the phone then when you’re ready, it’s there”. And of course that often gets me into dialing…and so on… Threading up a machine with the next color needed is another first step.
  5. I also try to notice where I’m losing time each day– which is one reason why I like to plan out a color scheme and have all my fabric pulled from the outset. I used to start with a couple of pieces then hunt through the stash for a third and so on, creating a veritable tornado of fabric by I was done. Then it all has to be folded and put away – another time waster
    . I have scissors Everywhere! – then I don’t waste time looking for a pair. The printer is wireless (now! After some sweating…) so I don’t have to email images to self from one computer to another…the main computer has a hub with all the different camera cables etc already attached and so on. I also fill about a dozen bobbins at a time and just have 3 bobbin colors: light, medium and dark.
  6. I really try to avoid other people wasting my time – politely of course! If it’s a nuisance call, obviously one just puts the phone down and lets them prattle on to thin air; if a friend or relative, I say “well I mustn’t keep you…” (translates as “I’m afraid I’m NOT going to let you keep me”!). I like to combine social time with exercise too – makes the exercise easier and makes double use of the time.
  7. I try to use distractions as reinforcements: e.g. checking for emails only AFTER so many minutes on task!
  8. I love filing systems!! Though I must admit to an overflowing In Tray too…and a huge pile of magazines and journals! Ostensibly to be read during adverts – yes I do allow myself a little telly! – but mainly just developing patina!
  9. I try to handle each piece of paper once which is why if you write to me you may well get your card or letter back with something scrawled on it! Or an email is replied to straightaway so then I don’t take the time to read it twice – quicker to hit reply while what you’ve said is still in my mind.
  10. And of course, it’s important not to do that which does not need to be done!! Such as ironing all the fabric….just iron the bits you are going to work with…yes I know ironing is lovely…smoothing out the wrinkles of the world..but it does take time! Tidying up the studio – do you really need to have everything arranged just so? I must admit I don’t understand the drive to have the perfect studio…do we really need to know who has the biggest one?
  11. I try to set goals well ahead of time with the Big Task split into many little ones and something accomplished towards it each day…like writing a book or an online course – 30 minutes a day is, I find, much more possible, than larger chunks of time which take a lot of working up to.
  12. I do like to write the blog, but always find I have to make it relevant to something I need to do – like manage my time more wisely! Having said that, I’m off to make a cup of tea – a very wise use of my time!

So, if you have been, thanks for reading…and I do hope you found it a good use of your time! Do share any time management tips that you have too….we all would love a couple more hours of creative time per day! Elizabeth

PS – The quilt at the top? I love space…the beach in winter is a wonderful emptiness.


Jackie said...

I find I have difficulty every step of the way during creation and construction of a quilt. My inner critic tells me loudly, "You've done well so far, but you're at another stage and you can really mess it up now!" A written plan for the quilt helps (though it's not carved in stone) as does a daily list, though I still find myself watching 'International House Hunters' from time to time. I'll print out this blog to remind myself of your strategies--Thank you!

Connie in Alabama said...

And how did you know that I was procrastinating about cutting into my fabric?

saskia said...

oh this brought a smile to my face and a sense of relief......I too am a big fan of lists and then ticking off all that has been done (however the list does have a tendency to grow all by itself) found you through Dee Mallon's blog,bye