Time management is a weak point for many "artsy" types; yet the more quality work we can produce in a streamlined manner, the better chance we have of making a living doing what we love! Here are some tips that assist me in my daily creating (I handknit five scarves without cutting corners in a typical day).
Set up work stations: I maintain a designated area for packaging orders with all necessary supplies and information within reach and each work station has the tools necessary to complete task(s) from start to finish without leaving the area.
Here's my "packaging station" computer: it doesn't have to be fancy!
Multiple tool sets: For essential tools, I find it helpful to have one in each work station as well as back ups on hand to avoid, “Oh no, I can’t get anything done, I lost my whatzit!” For example, I have a pair of sharp scissors for the car as well as each work station.
Be flexible: Since my main craft is knitting with yarn, I have a few pairs of each size of needle. That way, if I’m working on a blanket and an order for a scarf comes in, I can set the blanket aside and start right away on the scarf with another needle set.
Organize supply and finished product inventory: If we have and properly use containers, shelving or another keep-it-neat system, we avoid hunting for “that one bead” or “that journal I know I made months ago…”
Prioritize: If a task can only be performed at a particular workstation or time window (for example, my friend Erin Krug only brings out her soap making supplies when her small children are sleeping), then we must focus and work at maximum efficiency during that production opportunity (that includes ignoring facebook!).
Here's Erin with some of her top notch handmade bath and body products!
Take good care: I work best after enough (and not too much) nutritious food and a good night’s rest. I drink water throughout the day because I find staying fully hydrated allows me to think clearly. It also seems to prevent stiff joints and aching muscles, which is important for those of us whose craft involves repetitive motion.
Take a break: I stretch, do a different task, move around (and walk down the hall to the bathroom after all that water!) for about 10 minutes of each production hour.
Find a balance: Studies have found that we are at our most productive when we work “assembly line” style and concentrate on a specific task or set of tasks for a few hours, and then switch roles to alleviate fatigue and maintain speed.
I hope these tips help all my fellow worker bees as they hum along in their hives!