Thursday, 14 July 2016

Getting stuff done

A few times recently I've been asked by people how I get stuff done with two young children to look after as well. Here are the culprits: Mia is nearly 2 1/2 and Jess is 12 weeks. It got me thinking - what do I do to get stuff done. Here are my thoughts...

First up, I want to get stuff done: that's a really important factor. It does take some effort to do 'stuff' after I've done middle of the night feeds, a ridiculous number of dirty nappies, and built a train track and a duplo tower, not to mention done the washing, cooked dinner and loaded the dishwasher. Sometimes the temptation to do nothing is huge. Sometimes it wins.

Once I've decided I want to do something, the next important factor is that I can. Even if I only have ten minutes overlap between a Jess nap and a Mia nap. And the key to that is that the sewing machine, and associated mess, is right there in the corner of the living room. This has downsides: what with my piles of mess and the children's toys everywhere, the living room almost never looks spotlessly tidy. But neither does the rest of the house if I'm honest, so it doesn't make much difference. Here it is in all it's glory:

And this was at the start of the day before we really started to make a mess!

In that small corner, I keep all of the projects I'm working on at the moment, which means they are close at hand for those ten minute slots. Some are in baskets on the shelves, some are in the boxes under the desk. Some are in that pile in the left hand corner of the desk. Some are scattered. The desk is not normally tidy. But surely it would easier to work on a tidy desk, I hear you say - if it were tidy I wouldn't spend the entire ten minutes looking for my rotary cutter. I totally agree. I just can't do it. Every so often it gets a tidy, I discover hidden wonders. Then I bury them again. Last weekend I did tidy - perhaps slightly embarrased by the above photo! Look - it won't last!

But there is some order in the chaos. Hidden.

Then it's all about being focussed in those ten minute slots. It's no use spending the entire ten minutes wondering what to work on. And that is a real danger. At the last count I had 74 projects in various degrees of progress. Yep. 74. Some are tiny. Some are huge. Some are barely more than a collection of fabric. Some are half-made. Some are nearly finished. Some are unloved. Some are long-term. Some are hidden in the cupboard upstairs. Some are on my Finish Along list. Lots aren't. But time spent cooking dinner, or loading the dishwasher, or folding washing, is time when I can be planning those next ten minutes. And that means that when I sit down, I know what project I'm reaching for and what the next step in that project is.

And breaking each project down into little steps also helps. I've got into the habit of cutting for lots of blocks one day, and then piecing lots of blocks another day. Do you like my new notice board where I keep the cut blocks ready for piecing. This does take organisation so I don't cut the same block twice, or where it matters, particularly in the #365 quilt, I'm cutting the right colours to get the balance of the finished quilt right. But all that said, I am embarrassed how often I find I haven't cut, for example, all of piece A for a block....duh!

And that is how I get stuff done. Some days I have to content myself to a few ten minute slots. Other days, whilst Mia is at the child minders, I'm lucky and Jess will nap for four hours straight. It doesn't happen often, but when it does! Bliss!


Lin said...

Organised and focussed! xx

Anthea said...

Sounds like good ideas & planning to me, Jennie - always great to have some 'own time' if it can be created.

Archie the wonder dog said...

Sounds like thinking ahead is the answer - I may try it!