Hey guys! I'm Lindsey from The Chesapeake Needle, and I'm so excited to share some tips with you as a guest on the Our Maker Life blog today!
As a maker with an almost-full-time day job, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to balance work and running a business and keeping up with laundry and feeding the fish and calling mom and . . . you get the picture. We only get 24 hours every day to get things done, so it's important to make the most of our time, especially during market season! Here are some helpful hints that I find really boost my productivity; hopefully they will help you too!
1) Set the mood
I have found that one of the biggest keys to productivity is to make yourself as comfortable as possible! If you're feeling fidgety, you'll most likely end up distracted and wasting a lot of time. I have several little habits that I do daily, if at all possible, because sometimes getting into a routine puts you in a workin' mood!
For instance, the first thing I do when I need to get big things accomplished is I start the coffeepot. I always love (more like NEED...) a good cuppa to sip on while I work! It helps me to feel cozy and content, and the caffeine helps my brain focus on the right things. If coffee isn't your thing, try a strong black tea instead! Something else that helps me get a lot done is to put forth a little effort to get ready for the day. Sure, it's great to stay in your pajamas until the last possible moment, but something about wearing a cute outfit, brushing my hair, and even putting on a little makeup helps me to feel put-together and ready to conquer the world! Finally, having some quiet instrumental music or my favorite podcast playing makes helps me to really tune in to my work.
2) Work smarter, not harder
Sometimes the way you were taught to do a certain activity is just not the most efficient way to accomplish the task, and knitting is no exception! I learned to knit using the English method, which means you hold the working yarn in your right hand and "throw" the yarn around the needle to make stitches. Before long I discovered that no matter how quickly I threw the yarn, all that extra motion was extremely time-consuming and sometimes painful! So I decided to take the plunge and learn how to knit continental style, which means you hold the working yarn in your left hand and use a "picking" motion to make stitches.
I used to be SUCH a slow knitter back when I was using the English system, but once I got the hang of continental knitting, I literally doubled my speed! I went from spending 3-4 hours on a chunky beanie to taking about an hour and a half. It definitely took a lot of effort and concentration to switch to a different technique, but it made a huge difference in my productivity! If you are struggling to make the most of your time, try rethinking your methods to find a more efficient way to do things.
3) Prioritize your tasks
When I'm feeling overwhelmed, it helps me immensely to sit down and make a list of everything that needs to get done. Sometimes seeing my tasks on paper shows me that I really *can* get it all done if I plan well! After I figure out what I need to do, I go through my list and number the items according to priority. If know I have a pattern to finish editing that's due in a week, a guest blog post to write that's due in a month, and a custom beanie to make that needs to be shipped tomorrow, obviously I need to work on the beanie first! It's all common sense, but again, seeing it written down puts me in a productive mood and I end up getting more accomplished. I just start working on number one and keep going until it is finished, then move on to number 2, and so on. Make sure to stick to the list though, because jumping around on your list will only slow you down!
4) Take advantage of the moment
Have you ever had one of those days where you felt like you worked really hard, yet you had nothing to show for it? That can be so frustrating and disheartening. One thing that may help with that is keeping a temporary time log so you can see how you are actually spending your day. You may discover little slots of time that could be used more productively!
For instance, if you spend 8-9am at the doctor's office, you could bring a knitting project to work on in the waiting room. Then later if you happen to get stuck in traffic on the way home from 10-11am, you will have something to do until the traffic jam clears up! You will be surprised to see how much you can get done in the little forgotten moments of your day, and having a time log helps you be more intentional with what you do. In addition, keeping track of the time you spend working on your projects greatly helps with calculating how much to charge for your items!
5) Give yourself a break
Self-care is such an important topic, and I honestly feel like not enough people talk about it, much less practice it. Constantly working on project after project with no break is the fastest way to get burned out. If you take a little time to do something for yourself here and there, you will be amazed at how much more you can get done in much less time!
If you are feeling very groggy, run-down, or stressed, it's perfectly okay to take a short break! Go take a walk or a quick nap, flip through a magazine, or call a friend, and you will come back to your list re-energized and ready to go. I find that if I try to power through a slump, not only does it take me longer to do simple things, but I "clock out" for the day much earlier than I would if I had just taken a little time to rest.
Intentionally making the most of your day is a practice that isn't always easy, but it's always worth it! You will feel much less stressed and happier overall when you get more accomplished, and you'll have more time to spend with family and doing other things you enjoy (for once)! I hope these tips are as helpful to you as they are to me. I'd love to hear about your results! You can contact me anytime via Instagram @thechesapeakeneedle.
Happy Making, productively!
Lindsey Faciane is the knitting-obsessed designer behind The Chesapeake Needle . She is loving life in Baltimore, Maryland with her college sweetheart, Dan. She enjoys reading, visiting art museums, and trying new yarns for her #YarnYouNeed Club. You can connect with her via Instagram at @thechesapeakeneedle or find her on Ravelry as Lindseyfaciane!