Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How to Get Stuff Done!

There are lots of things about ME that keep me from getting things done--MEANING GETTING QUILTS FINISHED.

For example, suppose I'm in a Swap and I have to make a miniquilt to be mailed in 8 weeks.   Here's what typically happens.....
  • By personality type...I am a Procrastinator.  I believe that time is flexible and that magically, the time I need to finish a project will magically appear.  There won't be any emergencies.  My sewing machine will work perfectly.  And, the binding will only take me 30 minutes to sew on a quilt that measures 36 by 40 inches [91 by 101 centimeters].  So, I'm likely to wait until 2 weeks before it's due to start designing.  Meaning no fabric is selected, no design in mind for SIX WEEKS!
  • Or...I'll pull a bunch of fabric and let the pile sit on the floor or the table for SIX WEEKS...After all, if I have the fabric, then I'm almost done, right!

  • I believe that design software will save me.  I'll start a design in EQ7.  I'll try 25 variations..all in EQ7.  OK, now I'm really halfway done, right [Hint: WRONG!!!]
  • I like STARTING new ideas, lots of them.....  So, I have at least 5 projects in one stage or another.  Fabric pulled, test block sewn, maybe a design started in EQ7 or whatever....
  • I have this MYTH that I get more creative when I'm under pressure.  But, looking at my completed projects in the past year, I know this is NOT true. 

My 15 Minute Rule

My cousin Pat taught me a very valuable rule for getting big projects done when I have a lot of different things to do.  Take 15 minutes and work on it.  Set a timer and when the 15 minutes is up, STOP.  [Yes, sometimes I keep going if I have the time.  But, if not, 15 minutes can be very productive.]

Why does this 15 minute rule work for me?  What  makes this a successful strategy?  One word: Organization.  

Step #1--Organize the fabric storage space 

I'm lucky to have dedicated space for my sewing room and fabric storage. But I think these tips could work even if you have limited space or have to share it with another function.

My first step was getting control of the fabric chaos that you see here. 

When I started, my shelves and the floor around them looked like this....and I had storage bins in the other room that were just as jumbled up.

Other parts of my work space looked just as bad. 

About a year ago, I took a few days and purged and organized my fabric by type (prints, solids, etc.) and color.    I purged....bravely getting rid of fabric and miscellaneous crafty supplies that I knew I wasn't going to use anytime soon. 

How to store the fabric so it stayed flat?  Answer:  I bought comic book storage boards at Amazon Comic Boards 

The boards are made of acid free paper and even in humid Florida, I haven't had any problems.  They're also cheap!

I sorted and folded fabric for a couple days.  I had a good audio book to listen to and that helped pass the time.  When I buy new fabric, I IMMEDIATELY fold it onto the boards.  This is a great task to do when you sit and watch TV.   

Here's what my main stash looks like today.  These shelves are IKEA Billy bookcases and they are about 15 inches wide and 11 inches deep.  You can adjust the shelves.  I like this width because it's perfect for folding yardage on the comic book boards. I can see what I have but the fabric doesn't get too dusty or exposed too much to light. They sit in a closet and I can close the doors.

I keep this stash looking pretty good.  In addition, in another closet, I have several plastic bins with fat quarters (sorted by type such such as all low volume FQ's together) and a few bins of batiks and patriotic fabrics.  I'm about to purge some of the bin fabrics--I kept WAY too much and I have a friend who will put them to good use.

Step #2--Organize your  project materials and work area

Next stop was the rest of my room, including my main cutting table.
In the old days, I let my cutting table end up looking like this.  There was fabric I was working with, tools, measuring tapes--all jumbled up. How could I find ANYTHING!!
Now, when I start a project, I get out a plastic bin like this--It's an Iris scrapbook storage bin that measures 14 by 14 by 3 inches.  I buy them from Joann's and recently they were on sale for about $4.00 US.  If I need space for more blocks or yardage, then I'll grab one of my larger plastic bins but the idea is the same.
Iris Scrapbook Storage Case.

Here's a case with project materials in it. I'm ready to work on the next project.  At the far end, I keep my rotating cutting mat, rotary cutter, my scissors, a couple of rulers and my glasses.

I add a label to the project case with project name and probably a due date if there is one.

Case open--Inside I keep printed instructions or other info, including paper piecing printouts.  All the fabric and in-progress blocks would also be stored here. Sketches or EQ7 printouts for the layout wold be added. I took the fabric off the comic boards so I could get more in the case.

When I start working on a project, I get out the fabric and instructions (if any) for ONLY that project. So my worktable looks like this when I start. A calm space that just draws me in. I keep my rulers in a ruler organizer so I can quickly grab what I need. And, the project case is on the floor under the table so when I'm done cutting from the yardage, I can put the yardage back in the bin.  

Ready to go!!

Ready for sewing a block.  I only use Superior So Fine 50 wt for piecing and I keep a large spool on the thread stand on the left of my machine.  Sometimes I use my 15 minutes to prewind a few bobbins for piecing.

Remember the 15 Minutes?  If I only have 15 minutes, I can start doing some cutting because my work space is already set up.  No wasted time looking for the fabric or the block cutting instructions or my rotary cutter or whatever.

When the project is completely done, I fold the yardage back on the comic boards and put it back on the shelves. I toss out miscellaneous notes unless I need them for pattern writing.

Oh, I keep a large plastic bin for scraps under the cutting table.  I just toss all scraps in as I go.  I never sort them.  I tend to go to my scrap bin to make improv blocks and might sort them at that time.  That's another 15 minute project--organizing scraps by color but I rarely do that.....

Lastly, I keep myself organized by putting this chart on my wall.  This one lists all Swaps and relevant information right in front of me.

Staying organized has increased my productivity and decreased my stress level.  I love walking into my sewing space and when it starts to get aout of hand....well, I know what to do to get it back in shape!!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I loved the title for this post as I so needed to read it. I too am named procrastination, hence why my blog is not yet up and running, and I too agree that I feel I do my best when under pressure, not. Thanks for all the tips. I might have to investigate those comic book boards.