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A fantastic post which will inspire you to find that elusive 25th hour (Maybe you could use it to update your craft blog!) You can find more great tips over at Rossi's facebook page - Silversense
6 Time Management Tips for Crafters
By Rossi Ignatova – SilverSense (www.silversense.biz)
When you run your own business things can get overwhelming and your to do list may seem like a never-ending strip of tasks, tasks, tasks. Listing new products online vies for your attention together with taking photos of new designs. Sorting through receipts for expenses gets competitive with research of new supplies and putting in order your stash. You get so drained trying to organise your priorities that packing and posting of orders gets accidentally left behind.
We are all given the same amount of time each day, yet some people do seem to be better at making the most of it by gently but steadily cajoling what we know as 24 hours to magically increase to at least 25.
So here is a list of 6 tried and tested tips aimed at helping you find some extra time each day. This way you can be more productive, more creative, and feel like you are achieving your goals.
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- Automate small tasks that take lots of your time.
For example, are you still handwriting the addresses of customers first on the envelope and then on the certificate of posting? Stop doing it now and get yourself a label printing machine. They don’t cost the earth and they print shipping and product labels like a dream. You can also customise the labels as much as you want and as the machine is thermal you don’t spend a dime on ink. I really don’t know what I would be doing without mine and it takes pride of place on my desk. In the year that I have been using it, it has saved me loads of time. So, spend a day just observing how you do things. Identify small, but cumbersome tasks that take an unnecessary amount of time and automate them now.
- Do things in bulk.
For example, print a batch of certificates of posting and then keep them in a neat folder close to your desk. Then, when the orders are ready to be posted, all you need to do is to grab a certificate, stick on it labels with the customers’ addresses and take it to the Post Office to be stamped by the clerk. This saves you the extra step of printing a certificate for the orders each day. Apply the same approach to other tasks that can be performed in bulk: create a whole batch of earwires to be used at a later time, collect in a plastic folder all your expense receipts during the month and then spend an hour sorting them through and also use a calendar to plan your Facebook updates for a week ahead.
- Set time aside for specific tasks.
For example, you follow certain blogs, read some industry magazines and also check some social networking sites for updates. Instead of doing all of this all through the day, constantly interrupting the task at hand for a quick browse of the latest post, issue or update, set aside a specific period of time. It could be simply 15 minutes at 10 am and 4 pm, but it should dedicated exclusively to this. The same approach can be applied to dealing with emails, checking for sales, wrapping and posting orders. In other words – instead of doing the same thing several times during the day, dedicate a particular slot of time just to it and once finished get busy working on your other tasks.
For example, get a virtual assistant (VA). You are a creative person and you have a business to run. You may even have a full time job and a family to take care of. So, you need to be clear what are the tasks that first, you are good at (creating and developing your product), second, you enjoy (communicating with clients, developing your networking strategy online) and third, generate your income (making sales). Then, you need to be clear about the tasks that you always seem to drag along (sorting through your expenses, creating a newsletter list, updating your product descriptions and so on). Instead of procrastinating on them, outsource them to a virtual assistant or hire some part-time office help. This will free your time to enjoy more what you do and to generate more income and it will also give you the great feeling of satisfaction that you are achieving things.
- Don’t waste even non-productive times.
For example, you may spend an hour each day commuting or waiting for your child in front of the school to take her to a swimming lesson and then back home. Use these prolonged periods of time creatively – your hands may not be doing much, but explore your inspiration and engage your mind. Visualise new designs, think how to troubleshoot a particular product which is not quite ready for launch, follow up resources on your smartphone or read industry books to expand your knowledge and your skills.
- Get in the habit of emailing instead of picking up the phone.
For example, do you want to spend 20 minutes listening to lovely Muzak which is regularly interrupted by a pre-recorded ‘We value your call!’? Or, do you want to get things done? Most companies have ‘Contact Us’ forms or email addresses given on their websites and not only automatically acknowledge receipt of customers’ emails, but get back to them within a short amount of time. Last week I used emails to inform several companies (utilities, TV License and even the local council) of a change of address. All was done within half an hour. Also, I got replies by email on the same day and - in the case of the council - by post at the end of the week. This saved me a fortune on telephone bills and above all emails can always be consulted back; phone calls – not so much.
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Well, time is money! And if you can stretch your day just a bit more, you won’t only get more things done, but you will be able to move your small business at a steadier pace ahead. So, we hope that the above 6 tips have been of some help and don’t forget to share with us your tips and tricks for a more organised and time-structured business life.
Rossi combines her love for crafts, jewellery and beads with her interests in languages and communication. She runs SilverSense (www.silversense.biz) – a dynamic jewelry making supplies company providing you with gorgeous gemstones, freshwater pearls and Czech glass beads. Please connect with SilverSense on Facebook - SilverSense, Twitter - @silversense1 and on Google+ .
Do you have any time saving tips you could add to Rossi's list?