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Posts Tagged ‘organization’

Eliminating energy zappers

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

The topic of tolerations seems to come up every once in a while with my clients. It also comes up in my own life.

Tolerations could more accurately be called “energy zappers.”

They are those situations, problems, or things that are really solvable, but that you let stay unattended.

Those tolerations bug you on occasion, and you think they are just a nuisance.

What happens when you ignore them?

Read more…

Give Up Time Management!

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

 photo energymanagement-org_zps6xhepger.gif

Do you ever feel like you are so caught up in the everyday, ongoing activity in your business that you can’t actually find time to make decisions about your business?

Do you take on tasks that you shouldn’t?

Do you really need to be the person who runs to the post office to mail off the patterns you sold?
Do you need to run to the office supply shop when you are out of staples?

If the answer is yes, when do you have time to look at your numbers and make hiring or buying decisions if this is how you spend your time? We all know the answer to that one; you don’t.

While you may not see yourself in the above scenario, I’m sure you aren’t always working smarter in your business. And, it’s not really a function of managing time. We all have the same 24 hours. It’s more about managing energy. You can actually do something about your energy. And, if you can learn how to manage your energy, then you can put attention and focus where they belong — on your business.

Read more…

Exercise Your “Done” Muscle

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

A lot of us have problems getting things finished. Several reasons come to mind: procrastination, the need to be perfect, distractions by other things, failure to prioritize. Here are eight tips for exercising what I call your “done” muscle.

1. Get clear about what it is that you are trying to accomplish. Once you have clarity around your goals and/or a particular project, it’s much easier to move forward. As you work, keep your eye on the prize. This will help you progress.

2. Break your project down into manageable tasks. When you look at a goal or a specific project, it can seem overwhelming. If you can break it down into bite-size pieces, it’s always easier to see how you can accomplish it.

3. Look for where you need help. Just because you have a big project, doesn’t mean that you need to do it all yourself. Remember, it’s not necessary to know how to do everything, just what needs to be done.

4. Prioritize what needs to be done. This can apply to a specific project or your daily “to do” list. It’s easy to look for the quick and uncomplicated things to do each day so you can check them off the list. The problem is you aren’t really accomplishing what you need to accomplish. What you should be doing is tackling those projects that move you towards completing your goal.

5. Consider the ROI. That’s Return on Investment. You can look at your tasks and see if time spent doing these tasks is worth your time. Maybe you should delegate the tasks or not even do them at all.

6. Finish what you start. Make that your goal. Really look around at how many people actually finish what they set out to do. Many people say they are going to do something and don’t ever complete it.

7. Remember good enough is often good enough. Sometimes we spend so much time aiming for perfection that we don’t accomplish our goals.

8. Don’t over-think everything. As the Nike ad says, “Just do it.”

If you have a tip for exercising your “done” muscle, please share it on the blog.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business.  Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

Getting Through Your To-Do List

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

With the travel I’ve had this month and that I see ahead – hello, Houston and its deadlines – I have to be quite organized to get it done. Here are some tips for accomplishing all that’s on your to-do list.

1. Start with a written plan. Clear, written goals are essential. What is the major goal and what are the sub-tasks? For example, my trip to our industry shows, Quilt Market and Quilt Festival in Houston, is a major goal. It has a number of sub-goals, including creating handouts for the two classes I will be teaching, developing a look for the booth, shipping supplies, developing an order form, etc. I have written out all the specific tasks for each sub-goal in my plan. It lets me focus easily and assures I don’t forget anything.

2. Prioritize the tasks and set deadlines. You need to determine when all the sub-tasks need to be done for the goal to be completed. In the case of Quilt Market/Festival, we know it takes place beginning Oct. 29, so I create a schedule backwards showing when my display materials and class materials need to be shipped. I also like to build in a little extra time. And, you might find out that not everything on your list will get done, so focus first on those activities that have the greatest impact on your business results.

3. Make a daily schedule. Take time either first thing in the morning or the night before to plan your day. Then take daily action toward your goals. How you work toward your goals will vary. You may like to work on one project to completion or divide your day into large blocks for different tasks. In my case, I plan to work on the handouts for my classes on one day and then ship the materials this week. That way they are done, I can check them off the list, and I won’t rush at the last minute.

4. Create and use systems if possible. I have a checklist for booth supplies for trade and retail shows. When it nears time for me to pack my supplies to ship, I get out my checklist, note any additions I may have added at the last show, and print a revised copy to use. I allow extra time in case I need to replace something on the list, e.g., masking tape or a new bulb.

5. Not everything on your list will get done. Remember the 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of your activity results in 80 percent of your results. Concentrate on work in the 80 percent; that’s where your ROI (return on investment) will be.

6. And, finally, let go of perfectionism.This is a hard one for me. One of my mentors says to work to “good enough.” It might be that you set a timer for some of the tasks and what you accomplish in that time is “good enough.”

One of my favorite resources for getting things done is Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy. The book’s title references a quote from Mark Twain: “Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Brian goes on to offer his own two rules about “frogs,” your most important task. “The first rule of frog eating is this: If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first. The second rule of frog eating is this: If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long.” So when I have lots on my plate, I look for the frog and start there.

How do you handle getting everything done on your list?

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

Is Clutter Hampering your Creativity?

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Over the weekend we had a family gathering to celebrate the end of summer, the return to school, and my husband’s birthday. One of my nieces shared that her favorite day of the summer is the day she gets new school supplies. Can you still remember the smell of the new crayons when you opened the box?

I’ll admit I love to browse through the office supply store, looking for some new treasure that’s sure to solve my organizational problems and instantly improve my time management issues. Of course, that’s not likely to happen, as it takes more than pretty colored plastic boxes and a new calendar. Before you make the trip to the office supply store, try the following:

1. Clear the clutter. Do you really need that copy of Quilters Newsletter Magazine from 1998? You know, the one with the fabulous quilt you liked back in 1998, the quilt that doesn’t hold the same place in your heart today. A couple of years ago, I went through all the old magazines I was holding onto. I put a note advertising them on the QuiltArt list, and I had a taker rather quickly. I don’t know why I held onto all the magazines for so long. Well, maybe I do. I would feel badly (i.e., guilty) getting rid of them. I held some warped concept of their value. They had really stopped being of value to me long ago and were only collecting dust. They went to a new home where they were valued, and I had several shelves open in my studio.

I could look at my fabric collection the same way. I know we need a “palette” as quilt artists. Do we need that large of a palette? And doesn’t our palette need refreshing every now and then? If you’re like me, you’ll never live long enough to use all the fabric you own. You’ve seen the saying, “The one who dies with the most fabric wins!” I’ve decided I don’t need to be in the competition. I regularly donate fabric for charity quilts and recently made a donation of fabric for my guild’s annual show. I think some month, I’ll just show up with a fat quarter or two for everyone who comes to the monthly meeting.

I know it’s hard to get rid of “stuff,” and it can be overwhelming to do it all at once. If you can’t set aside a full day, block several hours in consecutive days just to clear out what you don’t want. Sort it into two piles – items to donate and items to trash. I know many people say add a third pile for stuff that needs to be fixed. I used to go by that theory, until I realized I didn’t want to fix the stuff.

2. Keep clearing the clutter. You made great progress getting rid of stuff, and your studio is now clutter free. However, the magazines will again stack up and the fabric will again overflow. Part of the solution here is to decide what you allow to come into your space. The other is to maintain a system to keep up with the clutter. The easiest way to do that is to set aside a certain amount of time each week or month to de-clutter.

One of the theories behind clearing the clutter is that clutter is energy draining. I can see that. When my space is clean, my mind is clearer, and I work better. You’ve heard the saying, “less is more.” Well, this is a good example. Once you operate in a cleaner, clutter-free environment, watch what new opportunities arrive or how your creativity expands.

3. Look at how you use your space. Do you need something to hold your papers or tools? Maybe you uncovered something during your de-cluttering phase.  And if not, head off to the office supply shop and enjoy picking out the supplies you need, knowing they will be put to good use and not just add to the clutter.

And, as you think about adding to your space, remember this wonderful quote from designer and craftsman William Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

Do You Know Where Your Time Goes?

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Since the last week was busy for me – getting ready for a show and then leaving on vacation a day after returning  –  it was important to pay attention to how efficient I was with my time. I can’t remember who said that you get more done in the day before your vacation than you do in the whole week before. I definitely think there’s some truth in that statement. For me, part of the reason I shift into overdrive before I leave is that I like to return to a clean slate. It would be great to work more efficiently more of the time. Here are a few tips that might help you do that:

1. Track how you spend your time. At the end of each day and at the end of each week compare the percentage of your time used toward fulfilling your mission and achieving your goals with that spent elsewhere.

2. Set your priorities for each day. Select your three top goals for the day and work to complete those. If you are clear about what you want to accomplish, it’s easier to say no to something that comes up that doesn’t fit into you time.

3. Keep a copy of your mission and goals where you can see them. If you keep the end in mind, it’s easier to keep distractions at bay.

4. Learn to say “no” more often. If you have problems with this one, you can read a great article on the topic in the Spring Issue of The Professional Quilter.

5. Use caller id and/or let your answering machine take a message. You can allot a certain amount of time at the end of the day to return the calls.

6. Limit time on social networking sites. Connecting through these sites is important for the growth of your business, but they can be big time vampires. Set aside 30 minutes each day for Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc., and then stay off the sites the rest of the day.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

Have you considered partnering with a Virtual Assistant?

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

This week we have a teleclass with Marcia Hoeck on working with a virtual assistant. I began partnering with my virtual assistant, Terry, about 16 months ago. I know some of you have had occasion to work with her. Why did I make this decision? I wanted to grow my business and knew I didn’t have enough hours in the day to accomplish everything. I also knew I wasn’t as skilled at some aspects of the business as someone else might be. And, I knew I got a better return on my time investment working on other projects.

How did I first learn about virtual assistants (also know as VAs)? That I’m not sure about. In 2004 I began working with a VA on my husband’s behalf and quickly realized the benefits. Dawn, his first VA, started by taking over his e-zine, something I had been doing. Today, she has another business and he has another VA. Partnering with a VA left him with more time to work “on” his business, rather than “in” his business. I was sure it would do the same for me.

How can quilt professionals use a VA? First get clear on why and how you can use some help. Are your books woefully behind? Some virtual assistants specialize in bookkeeping. Do you want to grow your business online with a monthly newsletter and don’t know where to start? Many VAs are skilled at html, so they can handle lots of online tasks. Here are eight ideas to get you started:

1. Start with the bookkeeping mentioned above. If this is not one of your skills, look for a VA who is skilled in this area. She can bill your clients and follow up on overdue invoices, keeping you abreast of a situation that you need to handle. She can pay your bills and balance your books.

2. If you are a quilt teacher, you can have your VA manage all your bookings. She can keep your calendar, handle inquiries for teaching, know when you need to be where, get your handouts prepared and shipped to your event. She can even book your travel.

3. If you are a pattern designer, your VA can handle your back-office support activities, including order processing, delivery confirmation and follow-up.

4. Most quilt businesses have a web site and/or blog. Your VA can handle posting, linking, site updates, etc.

5. If you are a longarm quilter, your VA can handle initial inquiries and schedule your work. She can keep track of your supplies and order them for you when you are low.

6. If you are coming out with a new product, you can find a VA to work with you to develop a marketing plan.

7. If you’re an art quilter and preparing for a show, your VA can send invitations, contact the press, help you create advertising and publicity materials, etc.

8. Many quilters today have online newsletters, or e-zines. Your VA can manage your database and work with you to get your newsletter sent out in a timely manner.

I’m sure as you look at your business, you can find tasks that a VA could do. As you go through a typical week, track the tasks that you handle. Many of these tasks, particularly those of an administrative nature, are ones that your VA could do. Sure you could hire someone locally, but you’ll find advantages to having someone do them virtually. The big one is that your VA owns her own business just as you do, and she’s committed to building her business. She’s also responsible for her own taxes, insurance, sick or vacation pay.

I found in the time that I’ve worked with my VA that I’ve been able to build The Professional Quilter into the International Association of Professional Quilters. I could not have done this without the help of my VA. Not only does she handle some of my administrative tasks, she’s a good sounding board for my ideas. A bonus is that she’s a quilter. Regardless of whether you choose to work with someone virtually or hire someone to come into your office, when you turn over some of your work, that lets you spend time working on your business not in your business. And that’s when your business can grow.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership here.

Getting Through the Holidays in One Piece

Monday, November 30th, 2009

In the Fall issue of The Professional Quilter, Longarm Forum columnist Mindy Caspersen lamented about the year she was quilting for customers right up until Christmas Eve. For her that year was not as joyful as it should have been. She missed time with her kids, and says she let herself be cheated out of her holidays. Vowing never to let it happen again, she took four steps to insure that her future holidays were full of joy. Here’s an excerpt from her column:

Without a doubt, the most important thing you can do is to schedule properly. You must take into account the number of quilts you can reasonably do without overworking yourself. A lot of us just put the quilts on the list as they come in the door or as the customers call, but this method will really put you in a bind as the holidays get closer.

If this is your first year in business, it’s very difficult to estimate how many quilts you can do in a specific amount of time, and it will take you a couple of years to figure out how many quilts you can comfortably do in that specified time period. Just try not to overestimate. It’s better to underestimate than to book too many right now. Do not try to schedule more than you can handle. Most of us don’t work well under pressure; we become frustrated, and then we begin to resent the whole process and our customers. You must set limits for yourself and stick to them! Understandably, you want to be as productive as possible and take advantage of this extra earning time, but overworking yourself only produces poor quality work, which will cost you customers in the long run. If this is your first time for a new customer, it may be the last time if you return poor quality work. Returning customers may be more understanding, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be happy. It may end up costing you more than you bargained for by having to refund money or do the next job at a big discount.

You also need to allow time for yourself. If you have family that will be visiting for the holidays or kids that are out of school for a couple of weeks, you need to be able to spend time with them and enjoy that time without constantly feeling guilty or feeling the need to get back to your pile of customer quilts. If you don’t allow yourself this time to enjoy your family and friends, you’ll resent your customers, and it will show in your work and your attitude toward them.

Also remember to allow time for the unexpected. Never had to set the timing on your machine? You’ll have to do it in the middle of the rush season! Never run out of needles before? It’ll happen now. It’s the nature of the beast, one of those Murphy’s Law things – whatever can go wrong will go wrong at the most inopportune time! Maybe you don’t have that perfect color of thread and you’re waiting for your order to come in the mail. And guess what? The mail gets overloaded at this time of year and slows down too! Or family or friends unexpectedly decide to come visit, or the furnace dies or the dog needs surgery. A million and one things can suddenly come up and take you away from your work. You can’t deal with those things if you’ve overbooked yourself with customers and are already frustrated.

To read more of Mindy’s tips in her Longarm Forum column in Issue 109 of The Professional Quilter, your subscription or membership in the The International Association of Professional Quilters must be current. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership here.

Book Review: Oh Sew Easy Life Style

Thursday, September 10th, 2009


Valori Wells & Carolyn Spencer
C&T Publishing; $22.95

In keeping with my organizing theme of the month, Oh Sew Easy Life Style has some terrific ideas to help you organize your life and personalize your home. Several organizers feature a hanging background fabric with large pockets handy for storage. One is geared to recipes, one to office papers and one to kids. Baskets are popular for organizing and Valori Wells and Carolyn Spencer show you how to make basket liners for square, rectangular and round baskets. On the functional side, you’ll find sassy aprons and a picnic cloth. And what life style book would be complete without a few tote patterns? Valori and Carolyn include a diaper bag and a slumber party backpack. In total the book offers ideas and patterns for 20 fun and stylish projects, as well as basic sewing techniques. You’re sure to find something to make for yourself or give as a gift.

Here’s a link if you’d like to add it to your library.

PQ Café Business Series: Get Organized, Finally!

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

PQ Cafe Business SeriesJoin us in the PQ Café on Thursday, September 17 at 8 pm Eastern for our next call  Get Organized, Finally! with Morna McEver Golletz and special guest Debra Lipp.

Have you tried a variety of methods to organize your quilting “stuff”? Do you buy every new organizing gadget you see? Is your studio space disorganized and inefficient – and you know it could be improved – but you don’t know where to start? Or, are the  organization strategies you’ve tried just not working for you? Do you migrate to the kitchen table to work even through you have designated a space for sewing?

It’s possible that you’re trying to put the proverbial round peg in the square hole because you haven’t fully analyzed what does and does not work for YOU and why. You’re trying to use tools that someone else says will work for you. Debra Lipp, a Corcoran College of Art + Design-trained graphic designer, is a task analyzer and organizational specialist who works with creative people. She loves to understand an individual’s thinking process and help to discover what works for them – as an individual. And, lucky for us, she’s also a quilter/fiber artist.

This teleclass is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 17 at 8 pm, Eastern Daylight Time. Registration includes the teleclass and MP3 downloadable recording, so if you can’t come to the class, you’ll get the recording to listen to at a time that works for you. Here are details.

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