A very special episode Reader Ashley (of oneinthehand.etsy.com) asked me how I manage my time, specifically crafting. While this is not exactly a step-by-step tutorial, I feel like it fits under the Let’s Make Stuff category! My time management skills are more what one might call organic, but I’ve found a few different tactics that work for me that I thought might be good to share.
1. Work when it happens.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to embrace the notion of creation when inspiration strikes. Do so! There’s nothing like jumping in and DOING for an idea to come to life. Or at least get further along in your mind’s eye if your first attempts don’t work. On that note…
2. Keep trying.
If something doesn’t work the first time, try again. Keep trying different variations til you get something that works. Sometimes, I find it best to try a bunch of stuff and then come back to a project a few days later and suddenly a lightbulb will go off. You just have to let your brain marinate those ideas idly in the background of your everyday life.
3. Write it Down.
If you can’t act on a creative impulse as it happens: write it down. Don’t count on your brain to hold onto that idea; it will float away. I’m a listmaker by nature. I write lists of everything. I take notes. Sometimes it’s a checklist, other times it’s just simply putting it down on paper so I don’t lose it in my brain. I currently run around with a filofax for more timely things and an 8-subject notebook for all the other less-time-sensitive things. This notebook is a bible of ideas and chicken-scratch doodle. My subjects:
1. To Do: Everything and anything that needs to get done goes on the list; 2. To Buy: grocery lists & household items; 3. Covet: Things I want to buy. Every girl has to have a wishlist. This is actually really helpful for me to prevent impulse purchases; 4. To Draw: lists of things I would like to draw; some thumbnail/rough doodles of different ideas floating around in my head; 5. Rottencupcakes! Upcoming blog posts; ideas about redesigning the site and other sections I could add. A list of Let’s Make Stuff projects; 6. Apartment Therapy: General nesting. Things I need to do or purchase to make our home more homey & less room-filled-with-cardboard-boxes; 7. To Knit: The long list of all the things I want to knit. Yarns I want to try. Pattern drafting; 8. Freelance: Upcoming projects and current project notes. Yes, I like this step.
Ideas are great! Actual stuff is better! Without your end project/piece/something to show for all the genius ideas you have in your head, all those ideas are still in your head. Make them reality.
5. Make time.
A lot of my projects are just work-on-them-when-I-work on them. For more intensive projects, like using my gocco printer or busting out a whole bunch of illustrations, I find it’s best to literally schedule time for those projects in my planner. If your crafting or art-making is sincerely important to you, you should make time for it. Priorities need to be examined. Decide what is important to you and make your actions reflect that hierarchy.
6. Make yourself accountable.
Rottencupcakes’ blog form is my way of keeping myself accountable. With an editorial calendar, it helps keep my energy focused and directed to a more consistent delivery of content. Content (product) is King. Everything else follows. It is totally awesome to link to all the neat things one finds on the internet (& goodness knows I love seeing what everyone is doing) BUT you have to limit the amount you ingest. Otherwise you’re gorging on the creations of others and not using that time to make your own stuff. For etsy, I tend to post to facebook or twitter or here about what’s coming up in the shop. Saying it makes it real and I certainly don’t want to disappoint.
7. Find your stride.
Have you noticed you get a creative surge at any particular time of the day? Day of the week? I find I create best late at night so I try to do most of my work at night; which works out since I have a full time job as an Art Director during the day. Working full time, blogging and having an etsy shop is a lot of stuff to do! If you find a certain time works for you, try to make room for that!
All in all it’s all about finding a process and series of habits that leads you to consistent production will lead you to greater creation. The more you do anything, the better you get at it. I think it all boils down to what works for you. And the willingness to endlessly discover better ways to do anything.
What about you? Is there any habits or tips that work for you to stay productive and to keep on creating?