Making effective use of your time is a real issue for a working craftsperson.
You want to have time for family and rest as well as for the studio and
business. This means you need to be rather efficient in your time usage.
And that, in general, means more organized.
Being more organized, and planning how you use your time will mean that
you will spend less time on some jobs and you will therefore have this
time available. I tell my students that they need to plan their time and
work fast, smoothly and efficiently not for its own sake, but to have
more creative time available. This greater efficiency also translates
into more income from your working day!
There are some side effects from becoming more organized, such as an
increased sense of control in one's life.
Planning, and setting aside time for planning as a habit really seem
to make a difference. Ten minutes in the morning planning the day and
merely looking at short, medium and long term goals seem to help bring
Make lists of your goals. List actions needed to move towards the goal.
Make To-do lists in the morning. Remember that any improvement in your
organization is a positive one.
Then there is the kind of time savings that can come from how you actually
work in the studio, how you produce your craft.
Ever watched a pizza guy at work? He takes the dough ball, slams it down,
whips it into the air and punches out a whirling pizza in moments. I call
this the 'dance of production', and
one only learns it in a factory job, a job so repetitive and boring that
the only thing left to do is experiment with time and space, with how
you move smoothly to perform a task, everything controlled and even and
fast. Not to mention efficient. So, moving and organizing time and space
to become faster is part of being more efficient.
Make things as easy as possible for yourself, so you have to do the least
amount of work to get things done. The blacksmiths have a saying: "If
you want a job done fast and smart then give it to the laziest guy in
the shop". Or perhaps we should say the person who works most effectively.
Arrange the tools and working surfaces in your shop for the smoothest
working process, the easiest, least stressful movements and procedures.
Put things back in their places as soon as you finish using them. That's
what surgeons, dentists and smart craftspeople do to work efficiently
and safely. I heard of a young man who watched a glass cutter one day
for a while, wondering that he returned each tool to its place as he used
it. It seemed like an awful lot of extra work. Then he noticed this cutter
was really fast in his working-faster than he would have been otherwise.
Irritatingly, as one gets older, the things one's parents said make more
and more sense. Phrases like "put things
back where you found them."
Organizing a work space can have amazing results in terms of time saved.
Mark Zirinsky describes a shop reorganization where the newly bare surfaces
and organized tools resulted in a time reduction per object built from
20 minutes to eight minutes while allowing an increase in work breaks
from a 1/2 hour a day to 1.25 hours per day. (Mark
Zirinsky, Orchid list, 4/13/97, "Re:
Some jobs can be outsourced to make your day more efficient, and some
things can be made easier by using a new piece of equipment.
Some people are 'morning people' or 'night people'. A teacher of mine
would not set a gemstone after noon, as he claimed he was not sharp enough
in the afternoon. Have a look to see when you are most productive. I think
morning is probably the best time for most.
Look for role models, look for people who have solved the problems you
are dealing with. See what ideas you can pick up from others. Make a game
of looking for efficient options with yourself and a friend. Spend some
time analyzing how you work to see if you can become more efficient and
thus have more "Creative Time"!
- Have the workplace intelligently laid out.
- Have the jobs ergonomically thought through, varied now and then, and
- Make sure tools and materials are easy to get, have specific homes, and
are well labeled.
- Put things back as you use them.
- Think about the task as a dance, how do you make it smoother?
- Use the right equipment for the right job. And don't forget your outsourcing