Monday , 24 November 2014
Make sure your creative space is equipped for the volume you want to produce. A set up for the weekend scrapper will differ greatly from a 40 hour a week handmade business.

Make more-better-faster! Tips to Increase Productivity in the Studio

 

The summer craft show season is fast approaching and for many of you that means replenishing inventory. Here are a few tips for streamlining your production that you can use this summer and all the way through the busy holiday season.

Spring is a great time to reorganize and rethink your workspace. Arranging materials in the order that you need them is a great step to increasing productivity. We are all pretty visual people, and sometimes this can get in the way of designing a space that’s practical. For example, you may want to arrange your spools of thread in a beautiful rainbow when just putting the ones you use most next to the machine would be most efficient placement. Try envisioning a line drawn from one material you use to the next. If the line gets too tangled, you may need to redesign your workspace. Make a list of regular tasks that take place in your studio and prioritize them by their frequency. Make sure your space is best equipped for the tasks you do the most and map our a space every step in your creative process. The less time you have to spend pulling materials out or rearranging materials, the more time you can spend making lovely things.

Make sure your creative space is equipped for the volume you want to produce. A set up for the weekend scrapper will differ greatly from a 40 hour a week handmade business. As much as I want to put materials away so my space appears spotless, I instead found ways to display them on my studio wall and work surfaces so that they are all easily accessible. Come up with a system you can stick to when things get hectic. I have over 100 skeins of yarn in my studio and I arrange them in cubes on the wall by yarn type, then warm and cool colors. It’s not incredibly organized, but I’ve stuck to it for two years and I can always find the yarn I need.

Work in multiples. Last year I felt like I was always behind on inventory. I took a big step when I started making almost everything in multiples. If someone ordered something I would duplicate the item to add to our inventory. This method works best for smaller items and there are certainly many handmade items that can’t be duplicated. If your goal is creating lots of inventory, working in an assembly line fashion can be really beneficial. If I need a crocheted flower for an order, I’ll usually make 5 or 6 and put them aside for future use. Instead of making one bandanna here and there to order, I’ll dedicate an entire day to making 20. This is such a simple idea but also contradictory to my impulsive, creative mind so it’s taken discipline to implement. I have found that my performance actually improves with each item I make, so overall my products are getting better and better from the process making more and more in succession.

Finally, I close my computer when I’m working on orders. This one is rough. The internet is what connects me to my livelihood and I get stuck to it like glue. Still, closing off contact to focus on a task is really important for me since my computer is in my work space. Structuring work time and computer time is  an important step towards increasing productivity. Use a stop watch to keep track of the amount of time you spend at the computer versus studio time. It will most likely freak you out. Creating and maintaining a routine in the studio is a great first step to increasing your productivity and keeping distractions to a minimum.

This beautiful photo and amazing studio belongs to  Pixie Blossoms , and I found it via the Craft Rooms group on Flickr. Check out the group for some fantastic ideas about how to organize your studio space. Here are a few additional links to some tutorials for DIY studio organization:
Cork covered containers from Design Sponge
Fabric Storage Cube from Obsessively Stitching
Turn a Spice Rack into a Beautiful Bead Storage Rack from CraftyNest
Pegboard Organization from Nancy Rileyfb ad 2

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23 comments

  1. Close the computer? What is this that you speak of? lol

    Great article and I HEART that craft room! Or should I say I ENVY that craft room!

  2. Thanks Melinda, me too! I want one just like it when I grow up ;)

  3. Good timing! I have 5 shows in the next 4 weeks, and I’m looking around at my work space thinking there MUST be a better way…

  4. Two separate worlds together for me. Polymer clay over the keyboard NOT a good thing.

    Computer faces opposite my work area, so Pandora can play on while robot making happens.

    http://flic.kr/p/9vnTC9

  5. Wonderful natural light just makes all the difference – what a great work space !

  6. Great tips !! I have a wood studio and find that if you take the time to make some tool boards for your tools, they are always where you expect and if something is not in its space you notice & find it before it is lost.

    Tho I do not always practice this, I try to do a clean up/sweep at the end of each day. Makes going back in the morning much nicer, things are where they should be. Even when busy it gives you a moment to look at your work and reflect.

  7. Close the computer! I like this, but I would much rather be crafting that connecting with others online. I’ve struggled to want to spend the computer time and can’t seem to get through all the wonderful advice we get from these posts.

    My craft room consists of the space beyond the table where the sewing machine is. That’s why anything not sewing related spills over into the kitchen, and the spare bedroom, and the family room, and the…

  8. Close the computer… THIS is something I definitely need to do! I can use my iPhone for music. Also, I need to stop buying things to get me organized and JUST GET ORGANIZED which mainly means a large purge session. I’ve even hired a company to come help, but haven’t scheduled the appointment yet. Now if I can just find the time to do this for my space!!!

  9. LOVE this article and that picture! WoW ♥

  10. Closing the computer is essential for me to get anything done as well as letting the answer machine catch the phone calls!

    Great post – thanks. Now if someone can advise me on how to keep all my aprons wrinkle free between shows I’ll have it made!

  11. I wish I had my own studio. I work out of a community clay studio. I waste so much time dragging my tools into the studio and setting up, then after, cleaning up and putting it all back in my car. it drives me crazy.

    One thing I have found has been helping me stay on track: Working in small batches. I used to try to make as much as I could of something and would get bogged down. Now, instead of making 15-20 of something, I’ll do 6-12. My detailing has gotten better and getting to a finished product is faster. And seeing a beautiful, done pot, spurs me on.

    Another thing: Making list. I have a running list of stuff to make. I love crossing stuff off as I throw… Sometimes only to write it down again at the bottom again. Somethings are just that popular. It’s good for me to go over the list and see what i keep putting off. Sometimes I ask myself “why?” Sometimes, I just keep forgetting, cause there is a very popular item.

    Let’s stay on track!
    Ciao,
    Sally Anne

  12. Great information! It’s difficult, but I agree with turning off your computer (or, in my case, closing my e-mail program).

    I was happy to read that I have been using a few of your suggestions already. Amazing!

    My “studio” is in the living room, so, in deference to others in the house, I try to stay neat. Good luck with that! I’ve organized my fabrics according to color or theme and, since I have to change sewing machine feet for different stages of bib construction, making multiples so I can use the same foot (and thread) has worked very well for me.

    Thank you again for giving me more hints I can use!

  13. Excellent suggestions. I refer to mutiple productiona as ‘Assembly line style’ .. This is the BEST way. Before I was painting 4 ‘Circles of Inspiration’ washer charms and hour.. then have to resin coat then turn them into jewelry then list and promote. How much was I making in the end? I wanted to shoot myself! LOL Now I take 10 or so different words, Blessed, Love, Mom, Dream, etc, choose my colors and can paint them all in 30 minutes!!! Makes a HUGE difference. Efficency is key… And no comment about the computer .. we all know it is worse to turm away from than what TV was back when we were kids!! :)

  14. Great article. I really like the idea envisioning a line from one material to the next one that you use, and so on. Mine drawing would be very jumbled right now.

    I haven’t tried an assembly line approach, but creating multiples really works wonders for my time management.

    Thanks for sharing your tips!

  15. I have been doing craft sales/shows for years. My best advice to anyone is to dedicate a slot of time to organize and clean up your work area. You may think that it is a waste of precious time, but believe me…you will spend more than twice that time looking for a tool, digging through papers or trying to find room for something to dry etc. I also do things in multiples in an assembly line fashion…instead of making 1 or 2, I’ll make 10-12. This method has saved me more than a few times when I need that extra stock.

  16. Thank you for all this info! WoW! I wish my craft room/ office space looked like this!! More storage! I don’t even have a closet. My shipping area is a mess! and I can’t seem to find my desk. Ok, I will write down the small steps I will need to create an organized space.
    *this might get messy*
    1. when using something don’t put it “away” instead leave it out so you can see the items you use most often & keep them as handy as possible (to organize later)
    2. buy or make a multiple file folder accordion style, or find an old file cabinet & dedicate a drawer for hanging files, then organize it by what you use most up front & old “file away” stuff in back. I need to get more efficient at making/writing my thank you notes that go in each order, make a file for the papers & pre cut some, stamp them whatever, file in succession- ready to go, goes upfront.
    3. Shipping area- ugh! so many different sized boxes, and tons of repurposed bubble wrap. I need to get better at finding the right sized box,wrapping to ship then weighing it (also need to find/buy a package scale) so I can more accurately charge for shipping. Then somehow keeping track of the items that are boxed.
    4. Streamline my picture taking area. this does change during seasons for me however. but my props are consistently the same dozen or so items I already keep anything prop related in a basket so I can move it around easily.
    5. Organize my gift wrapping “box” I currently have a box where I literally toss in anything I will repurpose for gift wrapping (& I totally saved a ton of stuff from Christmas day – yes I was digging through the “trash” to find any keepers)

    So- make stations for each step & organize each one w/ most used items closer at hand.

  17. Great article! I fully agree, turn off the computer!

  18. Keeping the #workspace clear is a simple, but amazing way to increase productivity – as is turning off the computer – but my tip is to get on youtube and dial up some motivational and inspirational speakers to ramp up my production – it’s amazing how some positive vibes flowing around the studio can really help get thing moving!

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