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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Week 1 - Recap

Well, amazing how things never go as planned!  Week 1 turned into a two-week whirlwind of cleaning, organizing, and finishing up some of my many half-done projects.  I found at least 10 projects that are all at the 80-90 percent done phase.  What is that about??  As a result, instead of sitting around dreaming up new projects (though I did jot down a few new ideas like the original plan called for), I've been trying to assess what gets finished, what gets put aside again, and what gets pitched.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself - a good portion of my time during this phase of things has been spent organizing, maybe not my thoughts as this blog post is demonstrating, but at least my physical arts and crafts supplies.  I'm truly committed to figuring out the hopefully finite universe of "stuff" that I've already got and getting it all organized in a manner that makes it easy for me to access and actually do something with.  I got a bunch of nice boxes and labeled them:  "needles and notions," "pompom makers" (yes, I actually have enough of them at this point to warrant a separate box!), "buttons," etc.  That way, as I plow through all the bags and piles of the craft supplies that I have, I can immediately "file" them away in their new homes.  For example, I discovered that I have a total of 14 yarn needles, and, now, I know where they all are :-).  I still have five more project bags to go through and assess, but I feel like I've made progress in getting a handle on what I've got and what I want to do with it.  I will post photos and give more specifics about the tools and tricks I've used to make this a fun and inexpensive endeavor, but here's one quick hint:  Michael's sells packs of photo boxes that are perfect for organizing all the little things that easily get lost and disorganized.

In addition to the physical reorganizing I've been doing, I've been trying to get my digital world in order too.  I've joined the legions of people who can't live without their iPhones!  But, what can I do, between some great apps and the ability to sync with my phone and real computer, I'm finding ways to be more efficient and organized in the virtual world too.  For example, one of the main themes that emerged these past two weeks is that my "branding" needs some freshening up.  So, one of the first steps I took was to revamp my crochet pattern template.  Now that more functionality has been added to Word (or maybe my knowledge of that functionality has increased), I was able to set up a template that I like as much as the one I had on InDesign.  I also discovered that my hastily created system of 1) typing a pattern into SnapWriter, a notetaking app that works with Evernote (because, of course, my phone is right next to me while I crochet), 2) later accessing Evernote while sitting at my real computer and copying and pasting the crochet pattern instructions into my new Word template, and 3) then being able to convert the Word doc into a PDF and list on Ravelry is actually working out pretty well (though I have not made it yet to the third step because I need to re-test the pattern and finalize the instructions, and, oh, take a few more photos too!).

I'm also in the process of testing out Trello and Milanote, but I need to work with them both a bit more and gather my thoughts before posting about them.

And, ha, I haven't even told you yet about the cookbook that I just self-published -- You'll have to visit my new website and Facebook page to learn more!

Now, off to figuring out what Week 2 is going to be about!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Week 1 - Organization and Ideas

Hard to believe summer is over, and I've got a lot of blogging to catch up on (my trip to London and some projects and partnerships that have been in the works!).  But, first, I feel the need to do some "spring cleaning" that never happened during the actual season :-).  That spring cleaning is taking place both literally and figuratively.

I've written before on this blog about the many challenges of running a small business, especially on a part time basis. And, lately, I'm finding myself yet again pulled in many directions.  And there's a lot of materials and "gurus" out there offering direction.  It's hard not to get caught up in those free ebooks that promise to give you all the inside secrets about how to do whatever you've chosen to do successfully.  But, of course, to get more than just generalities like "create it, post it, and watch the revenue stream in," you've got to spend at least $97 for the full program (it always seems to be $97, discounted from thousands!).  I'm not knocking these offerings; I'm sure that many of them are quite worth it, but, even having explored some of these tantalizers, I'm not sure that I've found the one perfect program that's going to be right for me; I'm finding the need to cobble together bits and pieces from many different sources.

So, I'm challenging myself to find/create my own path, and I'm going to share my journey with you, frankly as a way to hold myself accountable (and, who knows, maybe I can charge $97 for it someday too ;-).  Over the next several weeks, I'm going to try to methodically go through the general steps that many programs suggest and adapt them to my particular situation.  I want to combine some resources and pick the best high and low tech tools for getting things done.  I tend to be a paper and pen kind of gal, but I have a feeling that there are apps and software out there that might actually make my life easier in the long run.  I want to explore how I can, wisely, make use of virtual assistants and gig providers on Fiverr, for example, to free up my time to do what I do best and what I most enjoy doing -- crochet (plus a couple of other areas of interest I hope to be exploring more ...).

Since it's Sunday, it seems like a good time to start Week 1: Organization and Ideas.  This week, I'm going to concentrate on just organizing my creative resources and supplies and brainstorming about the content that I want to create.  I've always just started crocheting when an idea pops into my mind because I really can't draw (or, more accurately, I've never taken the time to learn some fundamentals of drawing), and I'm not suggesting that I'm going to abandon this approach.  Instead, I want to harness it a bit better.  I've got a bowl of yarn and some hooks sitting on the coffee table so that, when an idea strikes, I can actually start playing around with it.  But, ideas don't always strike when it's convenient, and, to me, it's hard to be inspired when I don't even know all the supplies I already have.  I've kept all sorts of inspiration boards on Pinterest about how to organize a work station and my craft supplies, but it's time really to start implementing some of those ideas.  I can't keep running out and buying stuff when I can't find stuff that I know I already have!

So,  I want to use this week to just take the pressure off (hey, that's what August is for, right?!), look around my world and see what inspires me and what needs to find a new home, organize the remaining stuff and write down some ideas about what to do with it all, and then be able to look at the big picture to prioritize the projects I want to pursue.  For example, this week, instead of thinking of a potentially great idea and then promptly forgetting it, I'm literally going to carry around pen and paper to scribble down whatever pops into my head.  Then, later in the week, I will go back through my notes and see if any of it still makes sense!  There are a couple of apps that are supposed to help you virtually/electronically create project boards and organize files and resources, so I want to experiment with some of them to see if I can combine physical and electronic methods for getting projects launched and finished efficiently and cost effectively (I'm sure you're sensing another theme here too about maximizing already existing resources so as to achieve cost savings :-).

I hope my musings (not sure I can really call this a "plan" just yet...) about Week 1 are inspiring you to undertake your own journey as well.  I'll be posting each week about what I've learned the previous one as well as where I'm intending to go the next week.  I'll be posting on Facebook and Instagram as well about the progress that I've made, so please come follow me there!