Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Time Management for quilters and other artists

Nolde (photograph by me of the original which is in the GMOA in Athens, GA)

Do you ever feel as if you are trying to rush forward against a high wind and making little progress?
Because there just isn't enough time!

Elsie wrote to me last week that she had read that you can  - and should - always find time for that which is most important to you.

but how?

People often ask me how I find enough time to do all the things I do.....here are a few suggestions I've worked on over the years..some might work for you, others won't I'm sure..many you probably already do!

don't be a nolde-noodle!!!!

1.  Always have a diary - digital, pencil, fancy, home made - doesn't matter....but always.  So easy to forget appointments etc.

2. Plan out each day - yes yes I hear you groaning from here!!!!  but you can plan in "down time" "relax time" or "zoning time"...that's fine.
but if you plan the day, you'll notice that for most of us there are actually 16 hours! and that's quite a lot!!!  The plan should be based on your to-do list...if you have a lot to do then prioritize (A list, B list etc or whatever method you like).
A lot of time is lost between tasks if you don't have them listed and prioritized...
Big projects should be divided up into manageable sections - this of course is easy for quilt makers for every quilt is a Big Project...but with several steps, many steps, along the way.

3.  One trick I've learned is that if you have several things to do, always do the one you LEAST want to do first...everything will seem easy after that!

4. Another is that for a Big Project, the first step can be just getting out Everything you need.
For example, couple of days ago I had to put together an adjustable bed that came in kit form...and I had been putting it off a couple of days knowing what a pain it is when "some assembly is required"!
so my first step (before the cup of tea!) was to lay out all the parts in order, and get the tools organized...and the instructions clearly to hand.  And I'm not "allowed" my cuppa until that first task is done.  It's strange ...but seeing it all laid out like that, almost makes you want to take that first step...
for quilters, having some place that you can leave Everything out ...ready to go even if you just have ten minutes...is really helpful.

I think of it as being like Initial Inertia...in that it's always harder to start moving than to keep moving...I remember my first car - a 1948 Rover for those who are curious! - took about a gallon of petrol (gas) to start moving...but then it might roll for miles!!!

5.As you go through your day, notice where you "lose time".  This is one of the most helpful ways to improve your time management.  We all have different ways we "lose" it...and some we might not want to change!!!  e.g. walking around the garden to see what flowers just opened up etc...that's actually a good way to use time!  But having to go back to the grocery store for one item which we probably could have done without...well......or checking one's email every five minutes...hmmm
computer games are a big user of  time....so use them wisely..especially the ones with 30 second adverts.  UNLESS you stand up and do some push ups or squats during that time!!!
Make an especial note of time lost due to other people USING up your time.  People who want to stop and talk for example...just keep moving...very slowly....yes, it works!!!!  have a big smile on your face at the same time!!  Like they say, learning how to say "no".

6. Batching - don't do jobs, chores, errands etc in bits and pieces...stack them together in one batch.
for example, have one time a week for errands, drive to the one furthest away and plan an efficient route home calling in on all the others.  Don't go up and down stairs with one thing at a time, pile them all at the top/bottom and take all together when a bunch of them. Run machines when they are full...so that unloading is more efficient.  Cook enough for 2, 3 or even 4 days.  Everlasting soups are a great boon!

7. Filing systems - can be a nice filing cabinet, or just a cardboard box that happens to be the right size...don't leave papers lying around....then you lose time looking for them!  And talking about pieces of paper - the old idea of handling a piece of paper just once is really helpful. Read it, make notes on it, file it or shred it.  If it requires a phone call do it right away so you don't lose time thinking about whom you have to call and why.
Emails: I try to answer right away, so I don't have to waste time going back several days later, rereading rethinking etc.
also pet peeve!!  don't "reply all" if it's a group email and that's not relevant...then YOU are wasting someone else's time!  Yes ! those seconds add up!

8. Don't do what does not need to be done! Now this definitely varies from one person to another.  e.g. I HAVE to make the bed! can't stand the look of an unmade bed, for another person that doesn't matter at all...so for them - don't make the bed!!!  While it's good to patronize truly local businesses, if it's just a big box chain, then order on line - much more efficient.  If you like shopping, then do it as entertainment, but if you don't...don't waste time doing it.  When I had teenagers at home, I PAID them to do the grocery shopping!!! As you go through the day, think "do I really need to do this?" or "do I really need to do this every day?"  You can save a LOT of time by NOT doing things!

9.  If there's something Big and Important...be sure to spend a little time on it each day.
So for me, that is art, exercise and music.  Even if I just spend 10 minutes on a quilt....that all adds up...and doing it every day means that I know exactly where I'm at and doing have to spend a few minutes getting into the zone....

So good luck with the Time Management! and thank you for the question Elsie.
I'm sure there are LOTS of other ideas out there....so please, comment!! and tell me them.

And, if you have been, thanks for reading!  Elizabeth


Elsie Montgomery said...

Hi again, I appreciate this post. It affirms that I know what to do... like the hardest thing first, etc. After reading this and giving it some thought, I think the biggest problem is being easily distracted. ADD or lack of discipline? Either way, I need to pray lots for the ability to focus and not be interested in everything that catches my eye or pops into my head and becomes a time-waster. OR I could hire someone to hold a big whip and hold me accountable!! :-)

bless you!

Shasta Matova said...

I agree with all of these tips, some of which I do better than others. While I like to batch, sometimes that gets me in trouble in that I put off what I could easily and quickly do and then it becomes a project. Like the idea you have about the paper. Touch it once and decide what to do with it and don't put it off to do as a batch. I think the trick is thinking through what should be batched and what should be done right away.

tierneycreates said...

Wonderful tips - thank you :-)
Now if I just follow them, I can catch up on all my creative ideas!

Joan said...

Wow. What great ideas, Elizabeth. You’ve given me lots to think about. I have index cards at my piano and by my sewing machine on which I have written this advice by Bo Bennett: “Not managing your time and making excuses are two bad habits. Don’t put them both together by claiming you ‘don’t have the time’.” I’m embarrassed to say I sometimes have to remind myself of this. If I prioritize what’s really important to me, I always have enough time. If I don’t, I’m like the proverbial chicken.

Elizabeth Barton said...

Hi Elsie...and thank you for your comment! Re distractibility..sometimes it helps just to work on two things at the same time, continually switching from one to the other...so you do distract but to another project...then when you find yourself being distracted there you have to go back to the first one!! This is especially good if the two projects are at different stages.
Plus no computers in the studio!!! or phones!!! Elizabeth

Elizabeth Barton said...

Hi Shasta...and thank you for writing....yes if you find you're using batching as an EXCUSE for not getting something done!! Then clearly it's not the right technique....it's good to decide not to fool yourself! Elizabeth

Elizabeth Barton said...

Hi Tierney, begin with the tip you think might be the most useful...and see how it goes...then gradually incorporate the others.....Elizabeth and...thank you for writing!!!

Elizabeth Barton said...

Hi Joan...and thank you! yes we all have to remind ourselves and of that which we should be reminding ourselves!
I'm not any better at this than anyone else, at some things definitely worse!!! so good luck to both of us! Elizabeth