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How to be more productive with your Crafting
Do you plan your crafts ahead? Or are you an ‘on a whim’ kind of crafter?
Do you schedule a whole day or weekend to make a project or is it a 1 hour here or there kind of thing?
Maybe you research all the materials, techniques, etc first or maybe you just dive right in and hope for the best?
I think my default mode it set to ‘dive right in’ however…since managing my own craft business from home and juggling it with childcare, blogging, and family life, I’m sort of realizing that a huge amount of pig-headed discipline, structure, deadlines, and schedules is all actually quite helpful.
SO I wrote this blog post about it hoping it might help you too…
The other day my fiancé and I went to collect a new freezer.
(Sorry another one of my stories)
Now, we traveled a good hour round trip to collect said freezer to only realize once we got home that the dam thing wouldn’t fit in its new home through my craft room / converted garage door. ( ok sure I don’t have the biggest house but why o why the lovely builders in the 1950s decided to make the particular door so narrow a standard under-the-counter freezer won’t fit through is totally beyond me…..Ken suggests it could be a fire hazard thing, and maybe they didn’t have under-the-counter freezers back then… he may have a point but still..…)
So, if we really want this freezer in my craft room then I’m afraid the door and most likely the door frame are going to have to come off resulting in quite a huge dent in our pockets (probably amounts to the same cost for the blinking freezer.) N.B the fact that this freezer is going to be living in MY craft room is not something I’m best pleased about but that’s a whole other story.
So, ok, yes I should have measured the freezer first, but I just assumed it would work and I was so totally in “omg this freezer is awesome we must have it now and its at such a bargain price” mode that within 24 hours there it was sitting in my hall.
Now, it is THIS exact mindset that I also have with crafting….
I get an idea, it’s totally amazing, everyone’s going to love it, quick do it do it do it! Then suddenly it’s all cut then I realize that it won’t blinkin’ fit the cup and I’m sat there’s wondering how I just wasted my whole day on a stupid hobby and how I should take up Badminton or something instead.
I’m so sure all my best stuff happens when I’m spontaneous. I do believe that as creatives it’s important to leave room for play and experimentation, and sometimes if we just go with our emotions wonderful things can happen… happy accidents!
But I just can’t afford to waste hours and hours and keep replacing all these cups (and door frames)
It’s safe to say, yes, planning your project before you start it is a winner. The materials you want to use, MEASURING your products before cutting I like to think my free my Cricut handbook will at least try to help you plan your project and your settings, etc. (I’m definitely getting a lot better now having it laminated on my key chain pegboard so at least now when I’m in a creative rush I have it gazing down at me as a HUGE reminder and can refer to quickly.)
But what about planning the time to plan a project? Making time in your busy week to learn a new technique. Maybe you have a day job and craft at night or you’re a working crafter and working all the hours nearing burnout!? Now, we can’t have that….
Let’s look at how we can keep things productive, save ourselves time and money but ALSO make room for some creative spontaneity.
This is my Solution to being a Creative Badass…..
Rule No. 1. Time-block
This is an absolute must. A total game-changer. And when I started doing it I couldn’t believe I hadn’t started doing it sooner. We hear so much about multi-tasking (especially women, it drives me mad.) but the truth is I don’t think humans can multitask well. When I give myself more than one task at a time, I lose focus and certainly don’t give it my all. Here are some ways we can structure our time better…
School timetable style
Do you remember how much information you had to take in on one school week because all the education was sliced up into small slots across each and every day!? Why the heck did I stop doing this after graduation!!!!? If you think of your day like an appointment book with each day cut into half-hour, hour or 2-hour intervals each allocated specifically for a single task think how productive you will be!!!? When you have a problem that needs dealing with and you block it in and then tick it off, you don’t need to think about it again. I find this works particularly well when I’m learning a new skill. Just one 1 hour a week, every week, in small chunks makes it easier to digest.
Batch Task style
Grouping together a set of ‘like’ tasks for example: Maybe you sell leather bows. With this style of time blocking you may block time for all designing, another couple of hours for building, and then half a day for decorating. Or if you are a blogger you would set out some time and write 4-5 at a time and schedule to send them out later.
Total Focus style
Don’t you just feel amazing at the thought of having a whole day to just have to think about one thing and one thing only? This style of time blocking looks at long chunks of time like half a day, a whole day (or even a week if you’re like me) where you focus on a specific task. I find this great for my creativity. I will allow myself to go deep in a project and shut everything else out and totally lose myself in my work. This way you can create something really ambitious like a huge shadow box or something and keep focused as you have no distractions in your day which may burst your morale or concentration.
If you’re like me I combine a bit of all three. I have 2-3, 30 minute – 1 hr tasks that I timetable in for certain days of the week, every week. And then I have a four-week schedule – week 1 where I focus my attention on researching and designing my products, week 2 I will batch make and video the products, week 3 I will batch blog, and week 4 I batch social media.
I also Time block hours for reactive tasks like checking emails. So for example, 2pm every day is just for answering emails. I don’t check them outside of this time otherwise I get too distracted and I lose my flow. Bella gets a lot of therapy appointments. I will time block this in on a month’s schedule and shift things about to make sure they are prioritized and I don’t overwhelm myself.
It’s so important to have time for you to be free and spontaneous. But this is only going to happen if you make time for it! I time block 4-5 hours 1-3 times a week to just sit down to doodle and draw. It’s through doing this I can switch my mind off from everything but also play and experiment with new ideas which have no pressure attached to it. Of course, I can ONLY do this now because Bella’s moved out in the week. When she was little it was so difficult, especially when I was on my own and knackered but I always tried to find some time in the evening or during nap times.
Rule No. 2. Create the right conditions
It’s all very well having an awesome schedule put together but if you let certain distractions interrupt your day all that hard work can fall to pieces..
Having a morning routine is a great way to set you up for the day ahead and put you in the right mindset to be a complete creative badass. These ideas aren’t for everyone but they are definitely worth a try…
- get up earlier (ignore this if you have children as I guess you’re already up!) I need a good two hours before I start work to get my head in gear but you may be different…
- Rehydrate your body as soon as you wake up with a pint of water and then do some form of activity, outside if you can – this could be a walk or yoga an exercise class, whatever works for you. (20-30 minutes but will make a huge difference to your mindset.)
- Try journaling – get anything out of your head that you need to, worries, ideas, rants, issues that need solving (The artist way, morning pages is really helpful if you have a creative block)
- Read/listen to podcasts about creativity, mindset, business, whatever you think will help you be more creative.
- Set an intention for the day “today I’m going to feel confident and relaxed” or “by the end of today I would have designed my Valentines/Christmas gift”
Turn off digital distractions
Hands up if you’re guilty of losing hours on Pinterest dreaming up loads of project ideas and then not actually starting any of them!!? Social media is awesome but it can be such a huge time suck and make us so much more unproductive. Smartphones and tablets are designed to be addictive. Every time you hear that ping you’re almost biologically dialed to check and see what it is. 100% turn off notifications! Nothing bad will happen if you don’t see every single post on your timeline promise! Schedule in a time in your day to check your social media/emails and give it a cut-off time.
Rule No. 3. Be strict with your self
- Do it once then forget about it. I used to be terrible with emails. I’d get a notification, read the email and start thinking of a reply but then leave to do it later and go back to my original task. The problem is that I’d be doing this all day and you’d be surprised how much time you lose practically and mentally when you keep being interrupted.
- Give yourself a cut-off time to crafting. I’m not going to say do not work long hours if you have a craft business and have orders to fulfill BUT working every hour on your business or project means nobody gets the best of you. Make sure you give yourself and your friends and family some time.
- Delegate. Look at your tribe – your friends and your family. Is there something that you are doing this week that really they could be doing? It’s so easy to say yes to everything. Because we are kind, lovely people but actually sometimes it is really ok to say no and to put yourself first! If Tuesday nights are for crafting it is ok to say no to the dinner out with your girlfriend.
- Do nothing – moments of disengagement. Sometimes it can help to schedule some time to just stop. Potter about the house. Go for a walk. Remove yourself from one situation to another. Your brain needs time to be unfocused and disengaged. Quite often ‘out of nowhere’ inspiration or an idea will appear.
If you find that planning out your entire day makes you productive and happy then by all means do that. But equally, if you feel restricted and unproductive because you didn’t do everything you planned then you’re not alone. It’s about making it work for you. These are just some ideas.
I think the most important thing is to MAKE TIME for yourself. Saying no to more things and putting yourself first is key. And also knowing yourself. I recently wasted so much time binge-watching all three series of ‘Succession’ over a week. I am soo sure I could have finished my SVG design course already if I hadn’t sucked my time away on TV.
I hope this post has sparked some inspiration for you and helped you, if anything, carved an opportunity to take some time for yourself to be that total creative badass!
I’d love to know though, do you have a schedule that works for you? What do you struggle with most?
Right, I’m off!
Have a wonderful weekend, I hope you get lots of crafting in and make beautiful things!
The Craft Party Bundle has 200 svg files, fonts, mock-ups and printable planners to use for your DIY crafting project or business perfect for Cricut and Silhouette cutting machine crafters who want to be more productive, save time and money!