Friday, January 7, 2011

Managing Time

So, how does a crafter, who sells and works from home, manage her/his time? There’s ALWAYS something to be done…designing, creating, packaging, mailing and marketing…so, how does one manage it all without going crazy?

Here are a few tips and pointers from a seasoned time manager. These should help you stay sane, stay organized and have a little more “me” time.

1) First and foremost, keep your work area organized. There’s nothing more frustrating and time consuming then trying to find something and not being able to due to disorganization. It’s worth it to take the time to get yourself organized for future time savings. Utilizing shelves, craft drawers, etc. and labeling them will help shave time in the future. Check out to or your local thrift shop for great deals or even free items to help you with this project. This also includes organizing your packaging for shipping.

2) Carry a notebook with you everywhere you go to take notes. I use a school composition book. It has a hardbound cover; it’s not spiral or 3-ring bound – I personally am not a fan of curled pages and won’t use the book through the end if they do. IN this book I keep separate pages for:

a. New ideas

b. Supplies to purchase

c. Priority list – things to do – I keep my book open to this page every day.

d. And then I keep a grocery list going too (but, that’s just me)


3) Hang a large-spaced calendar in a well-traveled area to mark deadlines. Deadlines for shows, for sales, for custom requests, etc. And most importantly, make a point to look at it daily.

4) Keep a 3-ring binder of all printed patterns or designs. Many of us type up or print out patterns to use for a specific project. Rather than throwing them away after the project is over, keep them in a 3-ring binder for future use. Even better, you’ll have your own personal notes for the next time!

5) Keep a folder on your computer for everything related to your craft. Here’s how I have things organized:

a. Main folder – I called mine Crafts

b. Sub-folder 1 – Merchandise – this includes already doctored photos and descriptions of each item, I have an individual folder for each item. As I upload them and they go live I then place each completed item folder into a sub-sub folder called Uploaded. This way, when I’m working on uploading and get interrupted I know what’s left to do.

c. Sub-folder 2 – Branding – this contains folders for business card designs, hang tags, banner ads, festival signage, gift certificate designs, product price lists, etc.

d. Sub-folder 3 – Invoices and shipping labels

e. Sub-folder 4 – Festival Paperwork

f. Sub-folder 5 –Photos of work – it contains various photos of my work, both at festivals (festival booths) and photos folks have sent me wearing or using my products. This folder is basically for any photos that I won’t use to upload with a description. This is also where my raw, untouched photos of items go before they get sized and color-corrected for uploading. Once I work on the photo it then goes in it’s own folder in the Merchandise folder.

g. Sub-folder 6 - Blog Entries – each document labeled according to which blog and topic.

6) Keep completed projects organized in a separate location. I have small clear plastic tubs where I sort everything according to type of product. I then place several of these in larger clear plastic tubs for storage until needed.

7) Keep multiple small-project bags for separate projects. If your work is transportable (like mine), and you’re an A-personality like me, you can utilize lots of down time by taking work with you for places like a doctor’s office waiting room, in line at the DMV, on road trips etc. I pre-plan projects and have made up 10-12 project bags in which I keep only the tools and materials needed for each project. When I leave to go on errands or trips I then grab the top priority project and work on it on the road or during down time.

8) And lastly, don’t be afraid to throw things away. Keeping something for a rainy day may be a good idea at the time, but if your collection becomes unmanageable then you’ve become a hoarder (and none of us want that, now do we?). If it doesn’t fit in to your overall plan then it may not be something keepable. Keep in mind how much space you have for your craft and don’t go over your boundaries (I struggle with this one regularly, so don’t feel bad!).

9) Oh and one final thing – have fun!

Many people call me over-organized or OCD (I come by it honestly, my mom is 10x worse) but to me, it’s super important to utilize what time I have available as efficiently as possible. These are some of the main things I do to keep myself on track and on schedule. I hope they help you take back time for yourself to either relax or, if you’re like me, get more things done!