*Editor’s Note: One of my favorite things about a new year is sitting down and assessing my accomplishments from the previous year and dreaming up goals for the year to come. Our Dear Handmade Life contributor Erin has some great tips to help you analyze your working habits for a more productive new year. As creative entrepreneurs we’re often so focused on our to-do lists that we don’t make time to better our working process. Analyzing our working habits is essential to growing our businesses. I hope you all take on Erin’s challenge below and honestly evaluate your productivity and make adjustments through her five tips to analyze your work routine for maximum productivity. If you want more tips on productivity, goal setting and intentions, check out this post by Kari Chapin on setting intentions and accomplishing your goals or this post by Eleanor Whitney on how to make smart goals and don’t forget to congratulate yourself for your accomplishments by making a way-to-go list as Erin suggests in this post. Lately I’ve also been totally obsessed with Kari Chapin’s new podcast: AIM (Action Inspiration Mindset) especially this episode with Craftcation presenter Rosalie Gale who is a queen of goal setting and getting stuff done! Happy New Year! -Nicole S.
Here we are 2 weeks into 2015. Hopefully you’re feeling well rested, and back in business mode. Most handmade businesses hit a slow time right about now, which makes the New Year an optimal time to set new work habits and jump into business planning mode. I know the beginning of the year is filled with resolutions, lofty goals, and objectives galore. I also know that when my business is slow, my procrastination hits new heights. I’m guessing that I am not the only one.
Many creative entrepreneurs (including myself) are the only body in their business. That can be a mixed blessing, but one of the beautiful things is having the freedom to schedule your time outside of a 9-5 work day.
My business is a creative embroidery business, centered around custom handkerchiefs, which means my busy time is just around the corner with the start of the wedding season. The holidays are actually my slow time. I realized that my slow time is the perfect opportunity to sit down and figure out how my productivity and focus coincides with my daily routine.
For me, 7am-2pm is the most productive embroidering time, and after 4 is best for returning emails and writing. Mondays are my most productive days, and Thursdays I spend the most time finding excuses not to work. I also started sitting down every Sunday with my calendar, and making a list of what is on my agenda each day for the following week, including deadlines that I need to pay attention to, so that there aren’t any surprises that end up hijacking my day. Keeping a schedule may sound like the enemy of creativity, but I think it is quite the opposite. It gives me the freedom to get lost in my creativity when I don’t have to get up each day, and shuffle through my notes to figure out my daily agenda, or reschedule a coffee date, because I’ve overlooked a deadline.
So, here’s how it works: For an entire week, write down how you spend your day from the time you wake up through the time you go to bed. Obligations and productivity vary daily, so I think it’s important keep track of your time for seven days.
Here 5 tips to analyze your work routine for maximum productivity:
1. Write down how you spend your time as you go—not at the end of the day.
2. Stick with it for an entire week.
3. Be honest—remember, this is just for you.
4. Note where you are working, and what is going on in the background (TV, music, podcasts, etc…)
5. At the end of the week, while it’s still fresh, sit down and evaluate your patterns of productivity in relation to time of day, and each day of the week.
When you go back over the breakdown of how you spend your time, don’t be too hard on yourself, this is just a helpful exercise, it is not a reason to beat yourself up for not being the most focused, most efficient person in the world!
Erin “Wren” Duncan is the owner and handmaker behind wrenbirdarts. She is a former bookseller, barista, grantwriter, event planner, and real estate agent with a Master’s in Social Work. Erin is known for her sometimes cheeky, hand embroidered hankies. Her work has been featured on Buzzfeed, HuffPost, Glamour Magazine, and in several local and international print magazines. Erin lives in Seattle, where you’ll find her walking around exploring farmers markets, the local craft beer scene, and scoping out local businesses. You can follow her on social media @wrenbirdarts.