Monday, January 5, 2009

13 Ways to Organize Your Life In Craft

The following is a reprint of an article from The Craft Report:

13 Ways to Organize Your Life In Craft

Set regular business hours. Let your friends and family know that these are times when you will not be available for social visits or phone calls. This is your job. Act like it!

Leave phone calls to your answering machine or voice mail, and set aside a half hour a day, for example, to return phone calls to customers. Let friends and family know you will call them as soon as you have some free time.

Set aside time, even if it is only a few minutes, to relax. Set a "closing" time each day that you will put down your work and leave it until tomorrow. Some artists may work non-stop until a project is finished, but doing this consistently and consecutively can take its toll.

In the same vein, take regular, although perhaps brief, breaks. Walk outside for some air, run errands, etc., just to get a few minutes away from your work. Not only is this good for your peace of mind, but also for your body, which can get stiff from sitting or standing in one position for long periods of time.

Pick one day each week to do certain tasks: Mondays for mailing invoices, Tuesdays for follow-up calls on overdue bills, Wednesdays for ordering supplies, Thursdays for research/reading about your field or your market, Fridays for thinking and creativity -- focus completely on your work and new ideas.

Seek assistance in areas of your work that you can't manage and are letting slide, e.g., financial records, invoices, bill collecting, order fulfillment. Even an assistant who is paid to come to your studio once a month and update all billing and collect on overdue invoices may free up a greater deal of your time than you realize.

Talk to other artists. Other people may have learned valuable management tips through their own experiences or from other artists. Ask your neighbors at a craft show how they keep records, manage invoicing and collecting, ship orders, purchase supplies, etc.

Visit online news groups. Internet sites like The Crafts Report's online discussion group
( and the alt.crafts.professional newsgroup are online forums for craftspeople to share professional problems and solutions, or just keep in touch with other people with similar lives or situations.

Set realistic deadlines. Deadlines can help you stay on track from day to day, and if followed, will help you avoid hectic "crunch times" like pre-show inventory preparation and promotion, or submission deadlines for juried shows or competitions that seemed so far away just a few weeks ago. Set a deadline for having your pre-show mailing printed and ready to go in plenty of time. Set a deadline for having your work photographed and slides ready to mail. Mark a calendar and check it every day to see what you need to accomplish.

Prioritize. Whatever you have on the calendar for each day, do that first. If you have multiple tasks scheduled, decide which one is the most important and do that first. Anything unfinished should become the next day's priority.

Stop and think. This works if you're feeling overwhelmed -- you have too much to do and too little time, and all you can do is think about how much you have to do and how you'll never get it all done. Sit down and think about what is most important, and go from there.

Set aside the last few minutes of every day to review completed and unfinished tasks, and plan for tomorrow's tasks.

And, finally, take the time each day to appreciate your work and the fact that you can make money doing work that you love. If you're not feeling very appreciative of your work at the moment, ask yourself, "Why not?" and then try to think of possible solutions. If the bills are piling up and dealing with customers is making you dread answering the phone or making necessary phone calls, perhaps you can consider hiring a part-time business manager. Will the costs be offset by the extra time (and peace of mind) you will have to invest in your work? If not, what are your other options? Think about it and make it happen, so that you can enjoy the life you lead to its fullest.


  1. "Leave phone calls to your answering machine or voice mail" - This is so so important if you have young children. There is nothing more embarrassing than attempting to answer a business call with screaming children. I try to resist answering and make my phone calls at nap time. Good tips Larry. I like the working on a schedule thing... wish I was better about that.