Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Organizing My Project Queue Part 1

I get a lot of projects done these days in seemingly very little time.  The truth is, I use a lot of long-term planning and work to optimize the way I work on things.  I get restless working on one project too long so I spread out my creative energy.  I always have a few projects that are 90% finished.  As I complete them, I also bring other projects up to the 90% level.

If you would like to try my system, I'll outline it for you over the course of a few separate posts.  Let me know if you give it a try, or ways that you've tweaked my design.

The key tool that I use is Microsoft Excel.  All of my planning is done on spreadsheets.  I'm going to assume you can figure out how to do very basic things in Excel.

The first step that I recommend is simple.  Just write down all of your UFOs (unfinished objects) and WIPs (works in progress).  I know this is daunting - I'm still not finished finding all of mine.  Start with as few or as many as you would like.  You are not going to put all of them into your rotation, just capture that they exist.  List them in the first column of the spreadsheet.  I separated mine out by type of project.  Here is an example of some of mine.

Projects which I have not yet started are listed in black.  Projects which are underway have their title switched to blue.  Some of these have been sitting unfinished for a long time.

My second column indicates the type of  craft - X for cross stitch, etc.  This will come in handy with the next steps I show you.  For now, you can leave the second column off. 

The third column says "kit."  This tells me that I have all of the materials ready to go for those projects that I haven't started yet.  Usually this means I have pulled the fabrics and fibers together myself, but I also use this to mean a kit I purchased.  Enter the number "1" for each future project you have ready to go.

The WIP column is where I indicate all of the projects that I've started  Some, like the Animal Advent series at the top, consist of multiple parts that I've decided to count separately.  So the total that I need to do for that one is 6.  All others in this column are 1. 

Now the reason for the numbers.  Below the last project listed, I inserted simple formulas to total up the columns.

Just click in the box where you want to add the formula and enter =SUM( )  So for example In the box that says 31 I entered =SUM(C1:C93).  I put the same thing in the next box but indicated the D column.  The great thing about inserting a formula, instead of adding it up yourself, is that if you insert another line with another project, the sum will adjust accordingly.  Likewise, as you finish projects the total will go down (yay!).

Still with me?  Check excel help if you're having trouble.  It really isn't hard once you get it once.  Also, this step is sort of for fun to see the running total.  It wont make a difference if you don't add them up.

As you can see, I have about 90 projects that I've written down so far.  Some of these are just ideas and are not kitted up. Some are big, some are small.  42 total projects that I've made a start on.  Yes, I have a problem.  But that's why I came up with this system - to clear some of these up.

Finally I added a column to indicate to myself if a project falls in a particular season or category.  For me these include Halloween, Christmas, gifts, charity, etc.  You might have your own categories.  Not every project has a category and that's fine. 

This should keep you busy for a bit.  In the next installment I'll go over the next part of the spreadsheet, which is where the fun part happens.

Keeping with my October Harry Potter quilt reveal, here is the next block: the Monster book of Monsters!

I knew that printed page fabric would come in handy somewhere.  Unfortunately, his teeth don't show up too well in this picture, but if you look closely in the center sections you can see them. 

3 people stopped folding laundry to write:

Rosemary said...

Thank you for this. I think I'm going to take a leaf out of your book and copy your system. I really need to get organised before my UFO's take over the house!

quiltinbysea said...

Two gals to thank, you 'threeundertwo' for posting what promises to be a great organisational tool and Rosemary for posting a link in the Yahoo Group, 'Quilting Down Under'

Laura Chaney said...

And I've just bookmarked this idea to do later. Color coded excel charts!

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