Really Simple Creative Time Planning, For A Small Business

Happy Monday, everyone! Today I thought I’d report back on last month’s post about scheduling your creative time. I applied Anneke’s ideas to my entire work week, instead of just creative time, and it’s been working well so far.

In case you’re interested, or if you’re also a creative business owner and wonder how others are managing their time, here’s what I’m testing out.

My Creative Work Week:

  • Mondays: Admin and Planning
  • Tuesdays: Product Development
  • Wednesdays: Blogging
  • Thursdays: Meetings, Errands and other off-site activities
  • Fridays: Sewing!

creative weekly schedule - as simple as it gets-1

(this is the wall above my computer, so it’s right there in front of me!)

That’s it! It’s a really simple way to divide my time.

Mondays I come in and deal with everything administrative, from accounting to paying bills to emails. It’s a good day to get through these type of tasks, at the start of the week when I’m rested and relaxed.

Tuesdays are focused on product development. This includes writing pattern instructions to working on our webstore, developing new designs, planning photo shoots and choosing fabric. Basically, it’s for everything relating to new patterns from start to finish.

Wednesdays are all about blogging, where I work on drafting blog posts, taking photos and writing tutorials, and planning what to write over the next month.

Thursdays are for errands and meetings, so I can be efficient and schedule everything on the same day. If I’m going to be out of the office, might as well do everything all at once! This also makes it a good time to pick up sewing notions and supplies, restock from our storage facility, anything that needs to be done with a car.

Fridays are the days I look forward to – sewing day! By the end of the week I’ve probably worked really hard, and look forward to a day to sew.

creative weekly schedule - as simple as it gets-1-2

Pros of doing it this way:

It’s really simple. It’s not overly complicated or hard to follow. One day, one focus. I’ve posted it on my wall for reference and it’s a crystal-clear reminder of what I want to accomplish. I get to work, look at my wall and know exactly what to work on.

Your time is focused. My team knows what I’m working on that day. You can’t put off the boring or hard tasks. You won’t spend a week sewing and forget to work on other important things.

You get excited about spending upcoming days doing your favourite tasks. By the time Friday rolls around I am excited to sew for fun. I also feel like I’ve made good progress all week so it’s okay to sew for pleasure.. and if an admin thing comes up, unless it’s urgent I know it’ll get done on Admin Monday.

You plan ahead for the week, deciding what will get done on the product development day and writing a to-do list for the errand day. Blog post ideas are recorded for blogging day.

Cons of this time-management method:

Sometimes you’re just not into the day’s task. It’s easier to write when you’re in the mood for writing, less so if you’re not. That does help in other ways, though. I’m never excited about admin or accounting; having a day focused on the less-exciting tasks means they do get done.

Some things require more than just one day a week. For example, in busy product development times, the whole schedule goes out the window. When you have something important booked like a photo shoot it has to take priority, we can’t not be ready when the day comes. Also, when you’re on a roll and really enjoying something, it makes sense to keep going while you have momentum and not switch focus just because the schedule says so.

There’s no time allowance for urgent things. When something comes up, I put aside what I’m working on and handle the urgent situation. It’s not ideal, if you spend half your day dealing with a problem on blogging day, then you’re behind on managing the blog.

It’s best if you allow yourself a little flexibility. The other day I was sewing a sample for the Renfrew Top tutorial and while trying to capture something on camera, I played with making a little video. Then I got excited about the possibilities and posted it on Instagram, uploaded it to Youtube and decided to finish writing the tutorial post right then while it was fresh. Being too rigid can be limiting!

sewing collar and collar stand 14

(I did a lot of the sewing for the Shirtmaking series of posts all at once, if I’d stopped I may have lost momentum!)

It’s been about a month now and so far, it’s working quite well. It’s structured, but with flexibility. There’s never enough time in the day to do everything I want, but at least I’m dividing time equally between everything that’s important!

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20 Responses to Really Simple Creative Time Planning, For A Small Business

  1. Violeta July 13, 2015 at 7:32 am #

    Thank you for reporting back about this! I was wondering… For my small business, I have to deal with my clients’ needs first, and they demand speed and accuracy. So, it seems to be a bit harder to make a structure like yours. But I have made it clear to myself that when I have some free time, I’ll use it for sewing at least once a day. One needs a creative outlet!

    • Tasia July 13, 2015 at 8:48 am #

      You’re welcome, I’m glad it’s interesting! When it was just me, before I had help, I had to structure my time differently. It’s only because I have staff that I can focus more on bigger picture things, since the critical day to day things are under control. And even then, sometimes I have to let go of my need for structure to deal with urgent things.
      Yes, it’s important to make time for the things you love to do! For me, in order to keep up a blog about sewing, I need to really love it and feel like I get time to experiment. Otherwise it becomes a rather boring blog!

  2. Eryn S. July 13, 2015 at 8:51 am #

    Thanks for sharing your update! Although it’s not without cons, it does greatly help keep one focused when you have an idea of the types of tasks you are working on for that day.

    Did you do a post on what your schedule was like in the beginning before you had help? If not, could you? Thank you!

    • Tasia July 13, 2015 at 9:03 am #

      To be honest, I had pretty much no structure when it was just me. I worked on whatever was most critical that day, which meant I was often pulled in different directions and spent time reacting to things, rather than being proactive. It also meant I’d spend a lot of late nights and weekends working to catch up. So I don’t recommend it!
      Part of that I think is the nature of starting a business, it takes a while to get your groove and find a routine that doesn’t take over your life but still feels like you’re providing a good product or service.

  3. Sarah July 13, 2015 at 10:37 am #

    So interesting to read this… thanks for sharing! There are so many aspects to running a creative business, I think it makes sense to structure separate times to focus on different tasks… probably much more efficient in the long run. But I definitely agree with leaving flexibility to run with something when inspiration is flowing! I’m going to try this method. Thanks.

    • Tasia July 13, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

      Glad it was interesting! I’m never sure how many people reading are business owners or just interested in what happens here behind the scenes. :) It helps me make sure I spend time on all the different aspects of the business, not just the most urgent ones or the most fun. Hope it helps with your own business!

  4. Cherie July 13, 2015 at 10:48 am #

    I love this! I just read the blog post you are referring to yesterday. I thought it was a great idea. I thought it would be a good idea to try with the different aspects of sewing that I enjoy. For instance, perhaps a couple of days of garment sewing, maybe another two days focusing on quilting and one for bag making, etc. It’s still in the thought process stage, so pretty soon it will be in the written schedule. I can’t wait to implement it in my life. Thank you!

    • Tasia July 13, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

      That sounds like a great approach to sewing different types of projects! I have to block off separate time for quilting too, it’s messy and takes up a lot of space so it’s best to do when I have a significant amount of time to spend.

  5. Marlene July 13, 2015 at 11:02 am #

    I like the schedule; it’s great to stay organized and on top of things.

    • Tasia July 13, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

      I agree! Being organized makes me feel good.

  6. Catherine July 13, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

    Very useful; thank you for taking the trouble to share with us.
    We always look forward to your blog presentations. They are very cheering. Sometimes I get demoralized by a sewing project, but your blog is always relentlessly positive and incredibly helpful. With your help, I have been enjoying my sewing more. I feel less anxious working on projects. (Thanks to your blog, I feel like I have someone to ask questions of.)

    • Tasia July 13, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

      I love that – relentlessly positive! I’m going to file that away as a good thing. :)
      It’s OK for a project to get you down. We all have those projects that don’t look as amazing as we hoped, or a fabric that wouldn’t cooperate. Think of each project as a chance to practice and learn – some work out, some don’t, but it’s all a journey towards advancing your skills and getting closer to sewing items you love.

  7. Casey July 13, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

    I hate doing admin tasks and tend to put them off – I’ll have to give this method a shot instead – thanks for sharing :)

    • Tasia July 13, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

      I know right? Today’s Admin Monday and I have spent most of the day dealing with accounting, taxes and filing. Boring stuff but essential to complete! I also have the ‘reward’ of more interesting tasks for the rest of the week, so it’s an incentive to finish the dry stuff quickly.

  8. Maria July 14, 2015 at 12:57 am #

    Hi Tasia,
    This is totally off the point, but I love the illustration/ painting featured in this post, the cotton reels. Did you create this yourself ? I am trying to source a gift for a very special “sewist” and this would be ideal.

    • Tasia July 14, 2015 at 8:31 am #

      Isn’t it pretty? It’s a watercolour painting my dad did for me, as a Christmas gift last year. I thought it was a lovely gift as well! It’s one of a kind but you may be able to find sewing themed illustrations and paintings on Etsy, that would be my first place to look.

  9. Joy July 14, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    The apple does not fall from the tree, your Dad’s artistry has surely had an influence on your creativity. Simply beautiful watercolour! I also agree with the compliment of ‘relentlessly positive’. Your posts have definitely inspired me to keep sewing when projects go awry. We all need creative influence, or just a nudge to keep going. It’s inside us all. Thanks Tasia.

  10. Karen July 19, 2015 at 3:04 am #

    I read the original post and immediately made a schedule for my week. The great thing has been that allocating a specific day for each of the different crafts I do, sewing, crochet, lace making, jewellery making, weaving, as well as the boring administration and research has really improved my output. I now have time to spend on all the projects, many of which had been sidelined as I got involved in one specific thing, and the items which have been sitting there undone are getting their weekly time allowance as well. Thanks so much for this hint, it is really working for me (again with some flexibility built in).

  11. Beth Dishong September 3, 2015 at 10:06 pm #

    Tania, I absolutely love your blog. I have been preparing everything I need to get my own started. Sewing is my specialty from very small useful items like pincushions, wallets, eyeglass cases, to much larger items like weekender bags, purses. I also make clothes from ready made patterns with lots of alterations. I have wanted to do this for so long that I can’t wait to get everything finalized so I can start. I have been doing a marathon session of reading your past blogs and have learned so much. I can see why you have such a successful blog and pattern business. I do have a question however about your Creative Time Planning for Small Business. I know that you do everything blogging on Wednesday,do you know ahead of that day what blog you will be writing and do you write and post on the same day? Also, on the average how much time does it take you to write and post usually. I almost forgot to ask do you take the photos for your blog on the day your posting it or before that day. I hope I haven’t asked too much but, you do an awesome job and I would love to have info from the best. Thank you so much Tania and good luck always.

    • Tasia September 8, 2015 at 10:37 am #

      I’m so glad you enjoy reading the blog!
      To answer your questions: I usually have a list of blog posts I’m working on, plus a notebook of ideas and notes I’d written while sewing. So when Wednesday comes around, I have plenty to work on!
      I never write and post on the same day. I’ll write and schedule posts for later.
      I have no idea how long it takes to write a blog post, as I don’t keep track. Longer than you’d expect if you count photo editing and uploading images.
      I take photos when the weather is nice, so usually, not the same day as when I’m putting the blog post together. It rains a lot here so I’m often waiting for a clear day to get photos!