1. PLAN--MY JOURNAL
I started with a simple blank lined pages journal, picked up at a bookstore. One good pen that I liked the feel of and one ultra fine Sharpie, in Fuchsia, that's all I use. The inside front page is the Index. On the left are the months listed and the page numbers they cover. On the right are what are called "Collections" but in the next edition I will simply call them "Pages". I am on my second edition:
After the monthly overview page, each day I list the things I want/need/hope to get done that day. To the left of each item is a square box that I check off when the item is done. At the end of the day, if the item is not done, I use the fuchsia marker to draw a down arrow, meaning that item got moved down to the next day. If I decide i will not do that item at all, I draw a line through it. Some days have lots of items, some days few, but each day is listed. I usually list tomorrow's items at the end of today--I know what I'm going to be doing the next day.
I don't carry the journal with me, it sits on my desk at the computer. When traveling, I simply list something like"Saturday June 16-Wednesday June 20, San Diego Canyon Quilters".
The Pages/Collections list is the secret to this system for me. Whenever I think of things I want to keep track of, I create a Page for that, wherever in the journal I happen to be at that point--today it would be in the middle of July--the next blank page is 88. I add the Page name and page number to the Index at the front of the journal and it is easy to find whenever I need it. Here are my current Pages:
Quilts to Finish
Tops to Quilt
Labels to Make
People to Make Quilts For
Quilts to Photograph
Where Did I Put?
One of the best of these is "Internet Purchases"--any time I order something online I put it on this page, page 8 in the journal, what it is, the cost, the seller, and then I check off when it arrives and when I pay the credit card for it. Before this list, I would get the credit card bill and wonder what that item was, a book? a sewing notion? Personal or business? Now I check page 8 and know instantly what I bought.
The last one is the most recent. Any time I say "I'll put this in a safe place" I add it to the Where Did I Put? list. Now I have a backup for my memory--aging is a real thing.
Your list will vary, start with those that make sense to you and add to them as you like.
Why does this save me time? First, it keeps me on track to get things done, on deadline or because that's what I want to do that day. Second, it keeps my ideas in one place, so I can find them again. Third, it keeps me focused--I never say "wonder what I'll do today?" I can break down a task into the required parts and give them a time slot.
This does not replace my calendar on my computer/phone/IPad--I keep that fully updated with appointments, trips, birthdays, etc. The journal simply works for me, keeping me on target for each day. Perhaps you'll find a different system.
2. THE 15 MINUTE PLAN
Today I have the luxury of working in my studio 9-4 most every day but it wasn't always that way. When I started quilting 35 years ago I had two kids and a husband, a household to run, several paying jobs, including tax season for 34 years, where I often worked 60-70 hour weeks, was always active in my local guild with all the jobs that entails, and I still found time to make some of my best quilts, of my own design, hand quilting many.
In teaching new quilters I came up with the notion of the "15 Minute Plan". If you have to wait until you have 3 hours of uninterrupted time to start, you'll never get anything done. Break your quilting tasks into 15 minute jobs. Before work, if you have 15 minutes, you can:
Select the fabric for the next block you will sew
OR Cut the fabric for the next block you will sew
OR Figure out how many strips of binding fabric you need and select the fabric for it
OR Cut the binding strips, sew them together if you still have time
OR Press the binding seams and binding
OR CLEAN UP THE CLUTTER--15 minutes of putting stuff away really helps so the job doesn't grow to an hour-long massive clean up
I always have something ready to sew right beside my machine--if I had 15 minutes I could sew this:
What can you do in 15 minutes, besides play Solitaire or Angry Birds?
3. LEADERS AND ENDERS--Make FREE Quilts
I am a huge proponent of the leaders/enders process made popular by Bonnie Hunter.
Why do I love it so? It saves time, thread, aggravation and fabric bits. All you need to do is have a PLAN. Simple shapes work well for this, squares or triangles are easy. As I am creating quilts, I cut the leftover fabrics into the size "scrap" that works for the plan I have. Currently, it's 1.25" finished half square triangles; before that it was 2" finished four-patches.
At the start and end of each line of chain piecing I start with a Leader and finish with an Ender--two units of fabric that I piece while sewing other things for whatever quilt I am actively working on. Here you see the Leader, a block unit being created and an Ender:
And it SAVES THREAD. Quality thread is not cheap and it just breaks my heart to see a student sew one little unit together, then pull it out of the machine with at least a foot of both top and bobbin thread attached, only to cut off that thread and throw it in the trash! Chain piecing keeps that waste to a minimum.
To make this system work, all you need is a plan, a quilt pattern that uses simple units you can easily cut from scraps and sew as you go. Here are just a few of the Leader/Ender quilts I've made in recent years:
|Queen-size FourPlay, pattern by Kinch and Storms|
|Doll quilt from a charm pack|
|Rainbow Baby Nine Patches|
|Queen-size Tumbler, Bonnie Hunter Leader/Ender Challenge project|
I hope you find an idea here that helps you. The lecture is full of lots more but these are the 3 I live by. What tips/tricks do you use to help you get things done?