Thursday, October 15, 2015

Organizing My Project Queue Part 2

This is a continuation of the process I started outlining in this post.  You will need to complete those steps first before you can begin this section.

You now have a long list of projects, you can tell whether or not you've started each of them, and for some of them you've indicated that they belong to a special season or purpose.  Good job!  Collecting all the information is half the battle.

For my purposes, I'm going to assume that you actually want to finish every single thing on your list.  If there are some items that need to be tossed or given to somebody else to love and finish, then take them off your list and do get them out of your house this week.   Your list should be a happy reminder of all the things you really want to do.

For the next six columns on your spreadsheet, I want you to fill in dates a week apart.  I choose to start my weeks on Sunday, but you can pick any day as your cutoff for a week's worth of crafting.  Just be consistent.

I've just shown a few weeks here, and a few projects at the top of my list.  Now that you have a few weeks in place, it's time to make some decisions.

How many projects can you really get to this week?  Before you even look at your list, think about your crafting style.  I like to do some cross stitch early in the morning while I drink my coffee.  I like to crochet while I watch movies on television.  I tend to do my quilting in the mid afternoon.  Would I get to each of these things in a single day?  Definitely not, but over the course of a week I sure would.  In total, I personally think I can do at least a little bit on an average of 4 or 5 different things a week.  You have to guess this for yourself.  After you do this for a few weeks you will have a much better idea.  My advice would be to start with the lowest number you think is reasonable.  Getting things finished will really motivate you.  Seeing things unfinished will do the opposite.  If you think you can only work on one thing at a time for a whole week, then this system will still work for you.

Choose the projects for this week.  This is where those categories in the fifth column help. My criteria are only suggestions.  You might have many other reasons to choose your projects.

  • Do you have a deadline coming up, like a gift that you need to finish?
  • Would you like to work on something seasonal?  I like to do Halloween projects during the Halloween season, for example.
  • Do you have a project that only needs a few hours of work?
  • Do you have a project that's all kitted up and ready to start?  Or would you like to make a kit for a project that you want to start? 
  • Look at the projects listed in blue, that you've already started.  Remember these are the UFOs you want to get done.
  • Do you have something up on a design wall that you would like to clear off?
  • Do you have a very old UFO that you want to finish once and for all so it stops nagging you?
  • Most importantly, do you have a project that just sings to you?  Something that you just can't wait to get started on but you've put it off because you've felt guilty about all the other unfinished projects around?  I hereby give you permission to dive in.  Really.  This is all about having fun and enjoying what we're doing.
The bottom line is this:  Every hour that you spend working on something is time spent getting everything closer to being finished.  If your list represents 500 hours of work, and you do something on that list for one hour, your whole pot of projects is down to 499 hours.

Move the projects that you want to work on this week to the top of the list.  You are going to visually separate what you are going to be working on from all of the other projects. They will still be there waiting for you.  Cut each line and insert it at the top of your spreadsheet underneath the headers.  Remember your limit!  If you decided you can work on 4 things, don't put 6.

My list has a five projects that have a task listed for the current week.  I have a lot of finishes coming up, but it doesn't always look like this.  Some weeks it's just about making progress on my top five projects.

Assign tasks to each project for the coming weeks.
  • If there's a deadline or a goal date, write "Finish" in the box for that week and make the box a bright color like yellow for a visual reminder of your goal.  You will see on my top line I plan to finish one of my Animal Advent projects each week starting next week.
  • If you know that you just want to put some hours in towards a long-term project, write "Work" for this week.  Keep the box white for now.  Don't worry if you don't have a finish date in mind yet.
  • Break down each project by what you reasonably think you can accomplish in a week. Fill in tasks for the coming weeks.  For example, if you are starting a quilt one week might be cut fabric, the next week might be sew blocks, then a week for borders.  If you were only working on this one project, you could probably accomplish a lot more, but this method is about moving multiple projects along every week, so keep it small.  If you end up accomplishing more, it's just a bonus.
  • Right now, you might end up with future weeks where you have more than your comfortable number of projects.  I'll talk about shifting those in the next post.  Don't worry about them. Just make sure you keep this week to your maximum number of projects.
Use color codes to track your progress.  Here comes the fun part!

  • If you work on a project at all during the week, change the box from white to green.  Any kind of progress is a wonderful thing. 
  • When you finish a project during  the week, give yourself three cheers and change that box to blue or whatever color makes you happy.
Don't delete anything at the end of the week!  In my next post I'll show you how to manage moving through your projects week-by-week and what to do with those wonderful finished boxes.

Now for today's Harry Potter quilt block:  Professor Lockhart's quill.  He used a peacock feather of course.

The block includes an inkwell, a skinny book, and a bottle of some swirling potion.  The purple book is probably "Magical Me."  Remember, if you can't read the titles on the books it means you're a muggle.

2 people stopped folding laundry to write:

Rosemary said...

This looks like a great system. I'm going to get my daughter to teach me to use Excel and give it a try. I've always used tables instead of spreadsheets but I can see a spreadsheet will be much better with this system.

Laura Chaney said...

This is a great continuation post for your nifty system. I think listing out the individual things you hope to accomplish each week is a great way to keep the momentum going forward.

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