Tips for Self-Management
Regardless if you are a full or part time crafter or if you work from home or at a studio, I can almost bet you have a hard time keeping yourself on track or on task at times. I bet you even procrastinate sometimes, don’t you? Actually, I know most people do. Another thing I know about crafters is that we are crafting because we love it and either we use it for a hobby, a supplemental income, or because we want to make a real go at it. What is bothersome to me is when crafters I know procrastinate and put off doing something that they love. Now, procrastinating on doing laundry or dishes I can understand, but crafting? You love it. Why are you putting off what you love?
I have heard all sorts of excuses.
“The studio is too messy.” “The kids won’t leave me alone.” “I’m too busy with xyz to sit down and create.” “I don’t have the money to buy the supplies I need.” “I’m not sure what I want to do.”
I am here to tell you that now, RIGHT NOW, is the time to stop procrastinating on what you love, to get organized and to start making again.
When people aren’t organized or they don’t manage time well, they are told they need to develop “time-management skills.” I’m here to tell you something. No matter how hard you try, you can’t manage time. The clock will keep ticking and the time will continue to refuse to slow down for you. Now is the time to quit trying to manage time. Now is the time for you to learn to manage yourself and what you do with the time that you have. This, my friends, is art self-management, and once you master the task of managing yourself, you will see a huge increase in your ability to get things done!
I know you might be thinking this sounds a bit cheezy, but you have to trust me that it isn’t. Until I learned the art of self-management I was a procrastinator, a time waster, and I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of my life or my business. Now that I am self-motivated and self-managed, I see my life taking the path I want it to take.
Today I want to share with you some tips for self-management. I hope these tips will help you realize the goals and your dreams for your craft business in a way you never have before. These tips and tricks are techniques which are tried and true. If you feel overwhelmed, start with just one and then try more and more as you become better at self-management. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask.
Have Clear Goals
It is very important to know what you want out of your business. You will flounder around and waste time if you do not have a clear set of goals to keep you on track. Write goals for your business which are realistic, but challenging. Write goals which are specific, dated, and measurable. Write goals that are personal to you and you will want to achieve them. Break goals down into short-, mid-, and long-term categories. Short-term goals can be completed within one year, mid-term goals take about 1 to 3 years to achieve, and long term goals take four years or longer to be reached. Think of your long-term goals as your dreams and set attainable short-term and mid-term goals to help you reach your long-term goals.
Make a To-Do List
Take time each week and each day to write down tasks which need completed. Rank those tasks by importance and work on the most pressing tasks first. If the most pressing tasks take the longest amount of time to complete, break up working on those tasks by completing smaller tasks at regular intervals so you can see your progress as you mark stuff off your list.
Set a Schedule
A schedule will help you stay on track throughout your day. Use your to-do list to determine what is most important and approximate how long each task will take to complete. Use a daily planner to map out what your day will look like. You can do this each morning when you wake up, or you can do it once a week. It may help to assign specific tasks to specific days each week and always do those tasks on the same day. Having a routine like this will help you to get things done without having too much pile up.
Trick yourself into working. That’s right, trick yourself. You can tell yourself you will only clean the studio for 15 minutes before you move on to something else and find you have spent two hours. You might not want to sit down and write a blog, so tell yourself you will free-write or brainstorm ideas for 10 minutes. You will find that an hour later you may have a whole week’s worth of ideas and even a few posts drafted out.
Ask for Help (or Hire Help)
If you need help meeting a production goal, ask a friend to help you do something which is helpful but doesn’t require your immediate supervision. Maybe they can fold package inserts or stuff envelopes or cut fabric squares. You can’t and you should push yourself to do everything for your business and this is a good start to letting go. You could also hire help for things like bookkeeping, packaging and shipping orders (why should you waste your time in line at the post office?), or for something else entirely different. Does it bother you that your house is a mess and you’re stuck on getting it clean before you get to work? Hire a cleaning service to clean so you can go into your studio and work.
Deal with Stress in Healthy Ways
If you are stressed out because you are feeling overworked, you have writer’s block or you feel stuck and can’t create, take a break! The world won’t end if you take one night off to relax and watch your favorite TV show. The Facebook/Twitter world won’t think you’re dead if you don’t update every 20 minutes, so go take a walk. Get some exercise. Buy yourself a massage. Drive to the corner coffee shop and get a latte. Go to the craft store and browse for inspiration. Do something to break up your day when you are feeling stressed or stuck and you will feel better and more rejuvenated and you will be more productive in the end.
Turn off Facebook, get out of Twitter, forget about your RSS reader, avoid YouTube, and ignore Google. Turn off your cell phone and take your phone off the hook (if you still have a landline!). You will find that you are more productive and less distracted if you are not feeling that nagging desire to check up on your friends, to Google that new book you heard about, or to tweet you just spent 10 minutes thinking about tweeting. Just take a break from the computer and the Droid and give yourself at least an hour a day of uninterrupted, technology free time, and you will find you are able to accomplish so much more. In fact, you may find that you are better to schedule your computer time and not use it the rest of the day. You’ll get so much more done when you can finally break free from that internet nag. Like it or not, the internet is a time waster. An energy vampire. It will always take more than you care to give. Set your priorities and have one of them include less time online.
Ok, I know no one likes that last tip, but it’s oh-so-true. But, before you log off, tell me what things you do to help keep yourself motivated and on track? What do you do when you are feeling a creative block? What tips have I written about that you think will come in handy? And good luck with your fresh start at self-management. A change in mindset is the first step to recognizing that you are the one in control of you.