Time management – Tools that make a difference

Starting our business has meant trying to hone the management of time, and make wise decisions to plan blocks of my day for productivity. Getting down to the actual work of creating is the easy part… it is setting it aside to do laundry, or take care of the housework that is my challenge. I get absorbed, find myself so involved that time passes quickly.

I found this great article out on the web and it summed up my goals for time management. I have hyperlinked the text to her page if you wish to read more:

1. Get organized

This sounds obvious, but us crafters tend to be a messy and disorganised bunch!

•Tidy work area – An untidy desk or workspace means you end up wasting time looking for things, moving things around and making room to work. Get rid of the clutter and put into practice that old cliché, ‘a place for everything and everything in its place.’

•Routine – A routine means you can get on with things automatically, without thinking about it. As a very basic example, if you always design on Mondays, create on Tuesdays, price on Wednesdays, photograph on Thursdays, etc then you won’t waste time trying to decide what to do today.

This doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible when necessary, but an overall routine makes managing time wisely that much easier.

•Planning – Include some planning time into your routine. Break big projects down into smaller chunks and plan when you will complete each one. I’m a complete list fiend – I write everything down, and even if I don’t always go back to those lists they do help me get more organised mentally!

•Efficient systems – Work out an efficient system for each of your different tasks. Use checklists if that helps you, and automate whatever tasks you can.

Having an assembly line mentality when organising your day can also save a lot of time – not just for creating your crafts, but for everything. If you make all your phone calls, do computer related jobs, etc at the same time, it tends to go a lot quicker than when you jump from task to task.

•Prioritizing – When you’re running a business there are always jobs you love and jobs you hate. Prioritise the most important tasks, so that they’re not neglected in favour of more enjoyable ones.

For example most of us prefer to just create whatever takes our fancy (and it’s important to do this sometimes), but if there are loads of custom orders waiting, those need to be done first.

2. Overcome time wasters

All those little things that eat into our time can end up making a big difference. Managing time wisely means taking those countless wasted minutes and turning them into productive hours.

•Interruptions – Working at home means being subjected to endless interruptions.

Phone calls, emails and visitors are the worst culprits, so find ways to deal with these. Get an answering machine, only turn your email on at fixed times during the day, and make it clear to friends and family when your working hours are and that they’re not to disturb you during that time.

•Distractions – It’s easy to be distracted by housework or errands that need doing, but remember if you were working in an office you wouldn’t be neglecting your job on account of them.

It’s also easy to get carried away with internet ‘research’ and ‘networking’ on forums – hours can be wasted if you’re not careful. If you do need to allocate some time to these, try using a timer. And turn that TV off!

•Exhaustion – Those who work for themselves often sabotage themselves by working too hard. Working late into the night to ‘catch up’ often backfires, as the next day you’re so tired you can’t think straight or get going, and you fall behind again.

Take care of yourself by making sure you get enough sleep and give yourself short breaks during the day to grab some lunch, clear your head or take a walk. If you keep your mind sharp and your body rested you’ll find you whiz through your daily tasks!

3. Your time has value!

•What would you expect to be paid if you did your work for someone else? The value of your time should be reflected in the price of your crafts and in the way you spend your day.