May 20, 2011

On Managing Projects (and the rest of life)


Can I let you in on a secret?? Harry Potter is ruining my sewing. I'm currently reading the final book for the first time. Since the most recent movie was released I got it in my head that I wanted to read all the books before summer when the last HP movie comes out.

Don't ask me why. I've never been interested in HP before and I had never read the books before now either but once I started there was no stopping.

I've mentioned this before but I feel compelled to finish whatever project I've started immediately lest I put it on the back burner and never pick it back up again for 5 months (cough*thiscynthiarowleydress*cough). This urge to complete projects has extended to reading these freakin' books until my eyes bleed because heaven forbid I put the book down for five minutes to do basic daily things like eat or shower or sleep! Ugh!

You can imagine that Harry Potter has kept me from the sewing table and kept me from completing much desired projects. The only reason I made my jeans was because I had just finished reading book 6 and had yet to start book 7.

So this leads me to a question I've been thinking about since it was posed on another crafty/sewing blog, Always a Project - how do you manage all of your projects - be them sewing or otherwise - while still getting everything else in life done?

I think it is important to work with your personality quirks not against them - like my need to "finish."
  • I try to limit the number of projects I'm working on at a time. This doesn't always work, though. When you have so many ideas in your head it is hard not to want to do everything, but I try to resist! That way I don't start 12 projects at once and have that must-finish-now mentality take over which would only lead to disaster and my head exploding.
  • I like to schedule projects to give me set deadlines. For instance I have a baby quilt that I must finish before the end of June. I'm about a quarter finished with it but rather than picking it up now I decided to push back my start date to the beginning of June so I'll have a few designated weeks just for that quilt. Before then I'm going to knock out a couple other projects. For June I'm going to focus mostly on the quilt until it is finished and if I finish early I can start on another project as a reward.
  • Feeling productive is another one of my neurotic quirks along with "finishing" so I try to always have something to do in my downtime that isn't necessarily sewing. That way when those times hit when I feel frustrated or just plain tired of sewing and need a break I can still feel like I'm not wasting my time. Maybe I'll read a book for my book club, blog or do some laundry. I get antsy when I feel like I have nothing productive to do. Maybe I just can't relax. Seriously, going to a beach resort where all you do is sit around in the sand all day is not my idea of a good vacation.
  • Making lists helps me control all of the ideas floating around in my mind about projects to sew and makes it easier to see what needs to be done sooner than later. It also helps me to remember projects that I've put aside and need to start working on again.
So how do you keep track of and manage your projects? Are you like me and have more projects than you could possibly work on?

Have you ever neglected other important things in life to finish a project (Showed up late to a party because you just had to finish that hem? Forgot to take the laundry out of the washer because you got distracted with decorative top stitching? Or worse, forgotten to feed your cat because you'd been sewing all night? Yes, I admit to all these things. Sorry, Peanut.) Have any tips for me? I really wonder how other people manage it all.

I'm looking forward to your input! In the mean time I'm off to read The Deathly Hallows...

8 comments:

  1. Ah, Harry Potter! I read them all in one summer besides the last one, which came out later. So I know what you mean.
    My productivity ebbs and flows. Sometimes I can churn out several awesome things in a row, sometimes it takes me a long time to finish something. I've actually been thinking about how to get a handle on it lately.
    I'm a list maker, too. Only writing lists though. I almost never refer back to them.

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  2. I too often neglect things like eating and my children. Luckily I can sleep and sew at the same time. I find that if I try to work on everything in my life in 20 min increments I get a lot done. clean 20min, sew 20min, cook 20min, etc.

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  3. LOVE Harry Potter! So glad you are reading all the books! Ohhh..I've got loads of thoughts on productivity and sewing...since joining the Sew Weekly--I've had to really examine how I get to (or don't get to) sewing on a regular basis ;) And I've definitely postponed other things in life for sewing!

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  4. Oh projects... Have you ever had someone get you going on what you are working on and you ramble so long on so many subjects you begin to sound like a deranged lunatic but kind of like MacGyver too? I'd love to hear it if anyone has figured out how to manage it all!

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  5. I made a list recently of my goals for this semester and one of them is not procrastinating. Law school keeps me busy and I tend to want to do everything but study. Now I am working on focusing on hw and taking short breaks in between assignments to do something else. Keeping lists is good for me and also saying no. Sometimes taking something off the list can be just as rewarding as completing a project.

    It sounds like you are very productive! Maybe a little hard on yourself? :)

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  6. liza jane - I'm the same way. Sometimes I can go weeks where I crank out projects and then I can go weeks (like now) when I don't finish much.

    montanachic - 20 mins increments is a good idea!

    debi - I've been to the sew weekly site a few times, maybe I need to check it out more

    Stacie - I think I just need to accept that managing it all is an impossibility and just go with the flow.

    grace - You're right, I am too hard on myself but it's ok because it keeps me motivated ;)

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  7. I am completely and totally a list maker and a planner, both long and short term, and I find that really helpful. I also like to think in terms of deadlines, I make a lot of projects specifically for events, because I like to wear something new to play premiers or friend's birthdays or whatever. The problem is I really can't work on more then one thing at once, and I think that's because I get very immersed in a project and don't have time to read and digest two sets of instructions at the same time, so I would rather finish out one thing before I jump onto the next. I can multi-task in life, but not in sewing...

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  8. PS: Harry Potter is the best. Snape is innocent!

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