The Computer Time-Suck: We have all sat in front of the computer to respond to emails, check the status of a supply order, update order status - and then suddenly, 2 hours have passed. It's some weird phenomena of time and space...or, something like that.
"That takes me about 30 minutes to make." - or does it?: I have sat down to create a custom piece (or even a piece that I have made multiple times) and felt that I had a good sense of how much time it was actually taking me to create from start to finish. I base my pricing according to how much of my labor goes into each piece (I'll have a post on pricing in the next week) so it needs to be accurate. I found that I was about 15 to 20 minutes off (sometimes more) my guesstimate.
"I can't seem to get my day organized.": When you look at your to-do list for the day, it can be daunting, especially when deadlines are involved. No matter how many lists you make (and lists are good!), I know how disappointed I am at myself when I did not cross off as many items as I would have liked to for the day.
Alright - so, the tip?
If you set up segments of time - say, 20 minutes to respond to emails from 9 - 9:20 - and the timer goes off and you aren't quite done...Tough. Time is up and you need to move on to your next task. You will be able to finish responding emails at your next alloted time. This 'time allotment' is something you can jot down next to each item in your to-do list.
You will be amazed at how much more productive you are when you know you only have a set amount of time to complete a task. I know that when I have those 20 minutes to reply to emails, I cannot get distracted by surfing the web for materials for my next project - if I need to look for materials, I need to put it on my to-do list and set up a chunk of time for it.
I set up segments for how much time I can spend packaging up items for shipment, talking to vendors, even eating lunch. There are, of course, times when I am interrupted by unforeseen, unscheduled events (my mother's helper had to go home early, my son falls out of a tree and breaks his wrist, the washing machine floods...you know the drill) but by and large, the timer is a magical bit of technology that you need to have as a staple in your home studio, office...wherever. I am honestly reliant on it to keep myself on track.
The use of the timer has also helped me to pinpoint exactly how much time it takes me to create/design a piece of jewelry so that my labor charges are accurate. I should not be undercharging for my time - that is crucial! And guesstimating your labor time is doing you a huge disservice. You would not guesstimate on how much it costs you in material, right? Your time is just as valuable, if not more.
Go out and try it - use your cell phone, or download one that you can put right onto your computer. Here are a few links:
I use a stand alone, digital, kitchen timer. It has three timers in one, so that I can set a timer for the entire time I have my mother's helper, one that counts up when I am creating my pieces, and one that counts down for the task I am working on off my to-do list.
Try it and let me know how it worked for you - or if you have any suggestions! I am always open to learning how to make better use of my time!