Two! Two things! Count them! (insert thunderclap here) Ah-hah-hah-hah!

And if you don’t get that, you need to go watch this.

I hesitate to write, sometimes, that I have frustrating days. After all – or so I’ve been told by someone – all I do is “sit around and craft all day, so how hard can THAT be?” And a few times over on Facebook when I’ve posted lists of things I have to do in a particular day, I’ve gotten comments from people along the lines of, “yeah? Try doing all of that, but with kids!” (Which always makes me want to say “try doing all of that and remembering to take birth control! It’s a vagina, not a clown car!”) Or¬†invariably¬†one person will jump in with some one-upmanship and be all, “Well, I have to do all that, too, PLUS both my legs fell off, AND I ran over my grandfather on the way to the hospital, AND since I live in an Escher print it was uphill both ways TOP THAT.” … to which there really is no answer other than my eyes rolling so far back into my head that they get stuck. Yes. I have Tourette’s Syndrome of the eyeball roll. I’m not saying these types of people don’t have legitimate complaints about their own daily lives, but first that’s what their own blogs are for, and second what happened to the common courtesy of just saying, when someone says “I’m having a hard day” of just replying “wow, that’s really rough, but you’ll get through it and it’ll get better tomorrow.”

If you feel that you might be about to do any of the above things, please save yourself the horror¬†of me sending you a photo with my eyes rolled back to show you just how much of a fuck I do not give, and click the red “x” button in the upper right of your screen. If, however, you’re interested in the mental journey of how I need to work out a more effective work schedule for myself, read on!

OK, /end soapbox.

What I *meant* for this post to be about was how I need to narrow down, slim down, what I think I can accomplish during a day. Everything I do takes a lot of time, but almost everything I do also has spaces of waiting time built into it. Chaos surrounded by waiting until the chaos begins again. Sort of like driving across town in rush hour, and hitting every red light. But I seem to have an over-achieving broken sense of what I can do in a day… and part of that is because of the waiting bits that fall into my workday/week.

With ceramics, there’s pouring, waiting, draining, waiting, and opening the molds (with a repeat of pouring/waiting/draining for molds with more than one side that needs to be poured). Then there are days of drying, followed by a day of cleaning, a day of firing,¬†followed¬†by painting, waiting while that dries, glazing, waiting for drying time in between each coat of glaze, and a day of firing again. Oh, and photographing and writing down the dimensions and weight for listings.

With soap, there’s cutting up the base, waiting while the base melts, mixing in the additives, pouring the molds, waiting while more base melts, mixing in the additives,¬†pouring more molds, and pretty much repeating this all day until I have no more room in the soap bar. Followed by an overnight of setting, then unmolding, a day or two of drying and being exposed to air, and then photographing (if it’s new or if I need better photos), printing and cutting labels, wrapping (and cutting tissue paper to size when I’ve gone through the last batch), and storing.

With hand-dyed yarn, there’s winding, soaking, dyeing — which is interspersed with waiting while soaking in dye, waiting while soaking in citric acid, chaos while moving things around if it’s a multi-color, and rinsing — waiting between 1 and 3 days while it dries, rewinding,¬†labeling (printing and cutting and attaching it), and photographing.

With handspun yarn there are days and days of spinning, followed by plying, unwinding off the bobbin into skeins, soaking in wool wash (really the only waiting part is this, and then the drying afterwards), waiting for it to dry,  labeling (printing and cutting and attaching it), and photographing.

With pattern writing there are countless evening hours in front of the TV with my head in stitch dictionaries testing out different things, hours of knitting and ripping and reknitting, followed by hours of pattern writing, and then publishing. I have about 20 old Hanks patterns that I still need to reformat into my new look with HaldeKnits, and that’s going to be about… oh, let’s say three hours per pattern?

Then there are things like cleaning up after myself; washing off soap molds and letting then dry before storing… putting the molds that I’ve poured away so that I can bring out the next round of molds… cleaning slip and greenware dust off the floor… cleaning either the soap pots or the dye pots and moving one set back into storage so I can bring the other set out, depending on what needs to be done.

There are work-related office things that need to be done, such as listing new items on Etsy, renewing items that have expired, tweaking titles and¬†descriptions¬†or taking new photographs for items, and now I have to check all of the tags for all 250+ of my items as Etsy has just revamped its tag/key word policy. In gearing up for the holidays (and I wanted to do this last year but just didn’t have time) I want to put a line in all of my listings about “hey, like owls? See my other owl-related items here!” or “like this fragrance? I have other designs in the same fragrance here!” … and that won’t be time consuming, NOT AT ALL ahahahahahahah. There’s also checkbook balancing; taking stock of supplies and placing orders for things like fragrances or mailing boxes or tissue paper when I’m out; office supply runs for things like paper and toner and post-it notes; actually cleaning off my office desk; filing invoices and things; doing quarterly sales taxes; writing blog posts (both work related and personal, hey, remember personal posts?!); interacting with people via Facebook/Twitter/Ravelry/Etsy (answering questions, thanking them for kind words or reviews, instructions, wholesale or consignment term discussions, and occasionally just being silly). And the happy part of packaging up sales! That means printing invoices, carefully wrapping items, boxing, weighing, labeling, and taking it to the post office. And yes, I do know that you can schedule pickups — however, some days that post office run is the only time I leave the house, and the only time I interact with someone other than Tim. I need that interaction. Also it’s very easy to run to the post office when I’m running other errands — the PO is right across the street from my grocery store, and on the way to my office supply store and both of my knitting groups.

Plus I also want to relearn how to sew, and I have this watercolor set sitting on my desk reminding me that I wanted to learn how to do that, too, and it’s been waiting for about four months for me to touch it. And I’m in a writer’s group, of which my only contribution the last month or so has been to offer my house as the meeting place.

Oh, and at the bottom of the list are things like exercise, laundry, cleaning cat boxes, cooking dinner, shopping for said dinner, and running personal errands.

Do you know what’s at the top of the list, though? Making time for my friends and loved ones. I will drop work in a New York minute if a friend or family member needs me; I have that luxury of being able to turn the crock pots off and step away. I make time for my friends every week, meeting them outside the chaos of my house on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tim and I spend at least two hours together every night, and even though I’m knitting and we’re watching TV, it’s our time carved out of the day.

One of my big problems is that I really like doing what I do — and I don’t seem to have a developed sense of “what is too much to do in one day.” I’ve tried to narrow it down to three things that have waiting time built in. For instance, pouring ceramics (which has waiting time wherein I can do something else) and making soap (which has waiting time wherein I can do something else) and wrapping soap (from which I can easily step away here and there when the next stage of ceramics or soap-making calls). But then I find myself in about an hour of chaos every three hours wherein both ceramics and soap need my attention RIGHT AWAY. I feel like I’m being pulled apart by horses.

So I think – and it’s hard for me to admit this – I think I need to move that down one notch to doing only two things per day. And I need to choose one thing from Column A (crafting) and one thing from Column B (background work). So instead of pouring ceramics and making soap, I can either pour ceramics OR make soap; and the second thing I will do is, say, clean my office and file paperwork. The only time I can choose two things from Column A is if one of those things is firing the kiln — it’s loaded the day before and unloaded the day after, and really just needs to be looked at every now and then to make sure the back porch hasn’t caught on fire. So I could for example today… fire the kiln, and dye some yarn, and catch up on household chores.

While my gut feeling is that I’ll get less done (because, you know, doing fifty things at once HAS SO CLEARLY BEEN WORKING FOR ME) I hope overall that after a few weeks of being¬†rigorous¬†with this new scheduling rule that I will actually feel that I’m getting *more* accomplished… because I won’t be running from craft room to craft room seeing all the things I don’t have time to do.

I’ll keep you posted. If I have time. Heh.

4 Comments

  1. AnneB

    Good luck! Balancing a schedule isn’t my best talent either. I always feel I come down too much in one aspect of my life, and all too often it’s the housework side of SAHM existence, which is sort of not what the point of being a stay at home mom is about, it’s about being with my kids.

    Maybe sometime you’ll get lucky and find yourself a volunteer helper a couple times a week to handle some of the stuff you don’t like doing! Hahahahahaha…. dreams are wonderful things, aren’t they?

  2. Becca

    Don’t worry–you will more than likely be much more efficient, most people think they multitask well, then studies show they do worse on everything they do. So it will be a good change, methinks. Cutting back your expectations as to how much you can do is also really hard. You are finding a balance with your life which is ABSOLUTELY AWESOME. You’re a smart cookie–you’ll figure it out.

  3. I think you have the right idea. Balance in all things is crucial. You’re only one person so don’t stress yourself out. The whole point of making this your business was to have a life you love… overwhelming runs counter to that.

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