My name is Susan Vaughan and I help Joanna run many of the Sew-Alongs that she hosts in the Fig Tree Friends Facebook group. (If you are not a member, join us HERE!) One of the questions I often get asked, is “How do you get so much done?” I have to laugh, because sometimes it seems like I get nothing done all day – with carpool, volunteer work and house tasks (and let’s be honest, checking Instagram and email ranks up there too). But, when I take a step back and look at the broader picture, I do actually get a lot accomplished.
A few years ago, I started to feel like I was spinning my wheels, and not finishing any projects. I started to make some small changes in my schedule and routine trying to find more of a balance. Some of them worked, and a lot of them didn’t. I’ve kept hold of the things that work and fine-tuned some others to find a system that works well for me in my current stage of life.
Joanna asked if I would share a few of these tips here on her blog. They won’t work for everyone, but maybe if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, one of these tips might help you out. Better still, they might be just a jumping off point for you to find a system that works for you!
One of the things that sets me up for success is setting a plan at the beginning of the week for all of the main things that I want to accomplish. This of course changes throughout the week, but usually on Monday morning, I have a pretty good idea of what the week is looking like for me. So, I sit down after dropping my daughter off at school with a cup of tea and some sort of sweet treat, and start filling out my “Weekly Planning” Sheet.
My “Weekly Planning” Sheet is nothing fancy, it is just a single page document that I made up, where I brain dump all of my ideas, and loosely assign different tasks to different days. I have tried fancy planners, or special quilt journals, but I keep going back to this simple sheet of paper. It’s inexpensive, I don’t feel guilty if I don’t fill one out for a week or two, and I can customize it for what works for me!
I thought I would walk you through the process on how I use my sheets.
On Monday morning, I clear off my desk and start my “Brain Dump”. This is where I list all the things I think I want to get done in the week. I usually have some pretty grand plans and need to edit it down, but if it is on my mind, it goes on the list. I also include a section for people I need to email or call, and for things I need to order. It’s a fast process and one you don’t want to over complicate.
After I have my “Brain Dump” complete, I fill out anything major I have going on that day, that might affect my sewing time. I note when my daughter has a day off from school, my husband is off from work, or I have something that is going to take a significant amount of time from my day. I don’t want to plan for doing something that will take me 4 hours, if I know I am only going to be able to sew for a half an hour or so. I also like to write the dates in for each day, and fill in the date range at the top of the page.
After that, I start to assign tasks. Here is where it will get tricky for you when you are first starting out. You will overestimate how much you can get done in a sitting. Do yourself a favor and start small. Break your project up into small bite sized pieces. If you think a task is going to take you an hour, it likely will take you two…maybe even three. If you give it a few weeks, you will see what you can and cannot accomplish in your sewing time.
Each day, I reference my sheet. I add to it as necessary and I LOVE crossing things off when I finish them. The sheets get messy, and usually have spilled tea or chocolate smudges on them (keeping it real!). I often switch things around, or move projects to different days and my schedule shifts and new things pop up that I want to do. I like to hole punch my sheets and keep them in a binder in my sewing room, as a reminder of what I accomplished.
The next Monday, I will print out a new sheet, sit down with my tea and clementines and start the process all over again!
I find this system works well for me for the days that I only have 15 minutes to sew as well as the days that I can dedicate a few hours. I don’t usually sew at night or on the weekends, so Monday-Friday is when I get the bulk of my work done. Your schedule might not allow for having time during the week, but you have a chunk of time on the weekend to get some projects done. Set yourself up for success by coming up with a list of a few tasks you can get done, so when you sit down to sew, you have a plan and are ready to go.
I hope some of these tips work for you as well! You can down load a copy of the Weekly Planning Sheet (one with headings and one where you can write your own headings on them) HERE. Let us know in the comments here or in the FB group if you try out this system and what worked (and didn’t work!) for you!
Your idea just might help someone else out!