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Business Bits - Creating a Schedule

Monday, February 15, 2010

{{NEWSFLASH: I'm currently working on an e-book to share my experience starting & running a successful Etsy shop - stay tuned!}}

Topic: Making It Work at Home- Creating a Schedule

A lot of people ask just how *exactly* it all gets done. Sometimes, I'm not really sure. I stare blankly and say, 'I don't know, it just does'. Was it fairy pixie dust? Do I sleepwalk & sew at 3am?

One thing I am certain of is our schedule. Oh, it sounds so blase doesn't it? Like maybe it will cramp my creative style? Well, once I made the mental switch from hobby to business, I just can't see any other (sane) way around it! Plus, I learned from teaching high school students with special needs for 7 years that schedules/routines/calendars can be surprisingly freeing....

Image Credit Fibers & Twigs

Here are some little bits on scheduling:
  • Make it before you break it: With a toddler our days are totally scheduled. I allocate time to play & explore & take classes together. And of course his naps are my time to work & treat myself. Evenings are broken up between partial work time & alone time with my hubby. Mornings (before the house wakes!) are my time alone & to create. Having this set in place makes it easier to deal with change. If something comes up we deviate, shift, compromise. And it all works out. But the opposite means running around crazy, stressing trying to find time to work....and feeling guilty about whether family or work is coming first. Having a schedule alleviates these headaches & makes (work) life so much easier....
  • Prioritize: There is a quote out there I've always kept in mind (but can't seem to locate so if you recognize it, let me know!) : "show me someone's calendar & I'll tell you what their priorities are." I guess in a way the calendar doesn't lie. If someone spends 15 hours a week at the gym we can assume they value health. So, when making a schedule, decide what's most important. Personally, I don't care about sleeping in (really!) ....so it's not in my schedule. But I do love snuggling in the mornings with my son- not much can get in the way of that.
  • Divide it up: A home-based business can be daunting. Technically, there is always work to do. It has to be divided. So, If I have an hour I set a timer: 30 mins of sewing & 10 for emails & 20 for housework. (you can see my priorities here, ha!) Also, my to-do lists are totally separate- one list for Quiltish work & the other for house/life/fun stuff - a very visual separation of home & work.
  • Seek (and accept!) help: This can be so hard for us moms, I think. Pride is it? Or just knowing that we can do it best! I realized though, that asking for help isn't like waving a white flag or whimping out or settling- it's just plain smart. Help can come in all forms and I (generally) accept it all & gladly schedule it into our week: our regular sitter, family members, my husband being flexible-ish...it can actually be surprising how many people want to help when asked (i had no idea my brother's girlfriend would go for stuffing tissue paper in bags- but she did and we had a blast laughing the whole time!)
  • E= MC2: I appreciate this concept from our pastor; It's easy to say, "I don't have time for that." But we spend our time, our energy doing something- so it often comes down to deciding whether I want to put my energy here (watching television) or there (marketing my shop).
  • Capitalize on Multi-Tasking: I have found the stirring 'underground' revolution of mothers & crafters & small business owners so inspiring- and a common thread I've noticed is an ability to multi-task. I don't mean chewing gum & rubbing your tummy. More like re-thinking how to set up the days & our lives. For example, during my child's first year, I craved exercise, time to think & ways to spend quality time with him. Initially it felt like all of these had to be met separately to be satisfied. But of course, like most other moms, I didn't have an abundance of time or energy or money & realized that taking 3-4 mile walks daily with my son in the stroller completely gave me what I needed: a chance to think, get moving, & enjoy the park/trees/trails/shops & sights together.
  • Every Last Drop: Sometimes an hour doesn't equal an hour. I know I can get a gazillion times more sewing done from 4am- 5am rather than the evening after a hectic day with the toddler. So, that's when I do it. I save emails & easier stuff for the evening.
  • Reevaluate: It's easy to get an a slump. Or get to a point where things just don't work. I often can go a whole week (or more!) like this. Finally, I come to a point & look at things & say 'wow, I've got to make a change.' I try to do this often. Helps keep things fresh & not feeling over-routinized. Never thought I'd enjoy working out at the gym in the late afternoons...but I tried it...and I do!
    Image Credit Studio Brainstorm

Thanks for reading this week's edition! Do post a comment & add any scheduling or time-saving tips you might have, I'd love to have a mighty long list!


Pili said...

These are great bits of advice!
A schedule does sound like a great idea, if you can keep an schedule imposed from someone else, how much better can you keep if you think about it yourself?

Jennifer Jacobs said...

I just started working from home..today(!) and need some structure. Thanks for the tips:)