Originally posted here (but changed up a bit for the blog).
I'm quite a procrastinator, so it has taken me a long time to get to this point. (Well, I'm not really sure what 'this point' is, because I've gotten much better since I started Heidi & Seek, but I still procrastinate.) I find that I'm a big workaholic when it comes to being online and promoting that way. But when it comes to making things, I've built it up in my head that's it's maybe more effort than it actually is, so often I have to use some strong willpower to get away from the computer, head over to my studio space and start making.
I've tried making timetables to schedule blocks of time, but I can never stick to them. I guess they just don't make me feel very in control. They don't cater for creative types like me, where sometimes I get an idea and just want to run with it, regardless of what I'm 'supposed' to be doing at that moment. So lately I've been working without particular goals, and not getting very much done consistently. I have spurts of making and spurts of procrastinating.
So I made a little notebook to help me instead. It's filled with weekly charts of blocks of time that must be completed by the end of the week. I don't schedule time, I just have a weekly goal that I can work on at any time. I colour in each block as I complete it. So far it's working better than any other system I've tried. Here's how to try it for yourself.
- Firstly, work out how much time, on average, your items take to create. Then place them in a box, using Word or Photoshop or whatever you prefer. It might look like this, for example:
- Work out how many of these you can realistically complete in a week. Then subtract a few, because we're going to start small. I worked out how many days a week I have to work on my label (4), then how many items I want to make each of those days (5). I'm using a conservative estimate to start with because I don't want to feel too overwhelmed. That's 20 items per week. That's my goal. Yours will probably be different.
- Put all the blocks in rows and columns on a page each. (I printed three weekly charts to a page to save paper, then cut them out). If you want to work four days a week and make 3 items a day, and your items take about 25 minutes to make, your chart will look like this:
I've purposely not written the day dates at the top of each column, beacuse I don't want to feel 'behind' if I've not done all the day's work or too boxed in, just that I have to make some more by the end of the week.
Paste the chart into a notebook with a week to a page, and write the week dates at the top of each page. For each item I make I will colour in one block, until all the blocks on the page are coloured in, hopefully by the end of the week.
- I've come up with a reward (mine is a visit to an op shop or second-hand market), which I may only happen when the week's blocks have all been filled in. I can then 'cash in' my week's chart for the reward.
Make it fun! Use a cute font for your charts and colour the blocks in with your favourite colours. If you're using a plain notebook, dress it up by making a collage on the front or covering it with fabric. I haven't decorated mine yet, but I'll post it when I have.
The benefits of this method are:
- It encourages you to set goals. Most successful people set goals for themselves.
- You can track your progress in a fun way. You can see exactly how you are or are not meeting your expectations of yourself.
- Writing how much time it will take puts the task in perspective and makes your creating seem more achievable. Sometimes when I have an hour or two to spare I don't think to make an item because it seems like a bigger committment. With the blocks you can see right there that it's really only about a ___ minute committment.
- It's not just for makers, you can apply it to any project if you can accurately estimate how much time it will take you to do, then break it down into small pieces.