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allora handmade blog: guest post: intentional

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

guest post: intentional

welcome to andrea from knitty bitties!

Thank you Jessica, for allowing me to guest post and have a little chat with your readers.
Let me start out by saying that I am not a writer. I think I'm a pretty great talker, but a writer, not so much. So I wish that we could just sit down and share a plate of fresh bakes cookies (I *heart* cookies & baking) and a glass of iced tea (I *heart* iced tea) and just talk face to face.

So picture that as I ramble on ...

I started this year like many of you, thinking about what I wanted it to look like, goals I wanted to accomplish, weakness' I wanted to grow out of ... and the one thing ... the one word that kept creeping into my mind was 'intentional.' I wanted to 'be intentional' this year.

So, I thought I would share a handful of ways I am being intentional with my days from the perspective of being a stay-at-home wife and mama who is also running a handmade business.


Be intentional with the state of my house.
I thrive on order … so one way that I am more effective at working from home is creating a home environment free from too many distractions. I try to always keep our home in a state that would not embarrass me if someone were to ‘drop in.’ It might not be 100% clean or picked up, but it’s enough that me and my boys are comfortable. Dishes are cleaned up with each meal, the dishwasher is ran in time to have clean dishes for dinner, beds are made each morning and I throw in a load of laundry when needed. I could write a whole post on how to keep up with your house and not devote hours to it each day … but I’m already going to talk your ear off with the business side ...

Be intentional with your workspace.
Make it work for you. I keep all of my tools, threads, bobbins, etc. within an arms reach. I start my day with a big glass of iced tea and I have a spot for my HP Mini next to me for ‘watching movies’ or listening to Pandora. My cutting area is cleared and ready for cutting. My iron is on, filled up and nice and hot. At the ‘close of business’ each day take 10 minutes to get things back in order and ready to start fresh the next day. This is HUGE for me. Walking into a clean workspace gets me energized to get work.


Be intentional with your shipping practices.
This year I’m going to move to shipping 2 days per week. Shipping can take a lot of time and this will allow me to block off a specific chunk of time on those 2 days and not stress about it the other days. I have a pretty good system, printing my postage online (PayPal is excellent for this), keeping my packaging streamlined and simple (white tissue paper, colored twine, business card and a thank you note) and almost never having to go to the post office (hurray!!). Also, be realistic with the shipping time you quote on your items. Most of my items are ready to ship or need only a little sewing before shipping. I feel like unless it is a custom order, a customer should never have to wait more than 1 week for an item to ship. If this is happening, maybe re-evaluate your work flow and work on more completed pieces ready to ship rather than always feeling behind.

Be intentional with processing day to day orders.
As I get orders I print off the invoice and note the day they need to ship. I then file them in date order and clip them up in my sewing room where I double check each evening to see what needs to go out the next day and make sure it is complete. Again, I try to schedule a couple set times throughout the week to do any ‘catch up’ sewing on orders that need to ship that week. So, if I’m going to be sewing  a camera strap slipcover, I don’t just do the one that needs to ship tomorrow, I grab all the ones that need to ship in the next 5 days or so. Then I’m caught up and a little bit ahead of myself :).

Be intentional when considering & accepting custom orders.
Custom orders take a lot of time. There is a lot of communication with the customer, special fabric ordering and creating a one-of-a-kind item verses creating multiple items at once. I limit myself to about 1 custom order a week. This has been the best schedule for me, allowing me to take custom orders (which I really love) and still having time to sew ‘en mass’ for the shop. I also have policies in place to secure custom orders with a financial deposit. This covers my time and material costs should the customer change their mind somewhere in the process.


Be intentional with your time online.
The online world can suck you in and before you know it you’ve wasted hours of your day. I try to schedule ‘networking’ (e-mail, Etsy, Twitter, Facebook) time for 30min. when I start my day, 30min. following my lunch break and 30min. at the end of my work day. I try not to surf the web or blog hop unless my e-mail is caught up, Etsy convos are answered, blog posts are drafted, etc.

Be intentional with ‘business hours.’
This has been especially important to me as my little guy went off to school all day this past fall. I know my #1 job is still being a wife & mama, but I have a large chunk of time (6 hours) each day I have to be very intentional with. This is what I consider my business hours. I try to get the majority of my ‘have to’ done during this time and then devote the after school and evening hours to my boys (and sneaking in a bit of house ‘maintenance’ too). All of the above help me to make the most of these hours and not fritter them away. One day a week I try to set aside for errands and I schedule this according to other appts. that might be scheduled out of the house or on a day where I know I don’t have a lot of orders due.

Now this doesn’t mean that after my son goes to bed that I don’t sneak in a bit more ‘work’ time. But I try to save projects that I can do away from the sewing machine (turning items, snipping threads, embroidery) for the evenings when I can sit next to my sweets on the couch and ‘hang out’ while I work. Or I might bring the Mini to bed and catch up on a few e-mails and such while we watch a little TV.

Be intentional about your workflow.
I learned long ago (thankfully) that if you’re sewing one of something, you might as well sew three more. It really is less work overall to sew several of an item than individually. I’m also learning that although I love creating multiple combinations of fabrics, it is more prudent for me to make 5-10 of the same fabric combination. I only have to photograph one and write a listing for one rather than 5-10 individual pictures and listings.


Be intentional with your schedule.
I like to get things out of ‘my head’ and onto lists as much as possible. It allows me to visually see what the week holds and build in room for flexibility for when ‘life’ happens. My new-to-me favorite tool is the online “TeuxDuex” list. It’s simple … it’s sweet … it’s perfect for what I need. {But I think I would be a whole lot more effective if I had the iPhone to go with it, right? ;)} A daily list to keep my mind focused and not wandering. I use this for scheduling blog posts, blog giveaways, custom orders, daily tasks, etc.

Phew … was that way to much to muddle through? I hope not. And I hope that I shared something that caused an ‘ah ha’ moment for you that will make you live your days more intentionally whether you’re a stay-at-home, handmade business owner, student, full time outside the home … whatever stage of life you’re in. In an era of so much technology, it is so easy to let it hinder us instead of help us. I can't help but think of the "Psalm 31" woman and verse 27, "She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." You an do so much with a day if you’re intentional about how you want to live it!

love these tips from Andrea! Thank you so much for sharing!!
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At February 2, 2011 at 8:35 AM , Blogger Gussy said...

i found myself nodding in agreement to most everything -- this is a great post and every business gal needs to read it :]

At February 2, 2011 at 8:43 AM , Blogger Marci Girl said...

Wow, this was a wonderful post, I think every time I find myself doing something unintentional (or wasting time) I am going to re-read this! Thanks so much!

At February 2, 2011 at 9:04 AM , Blogger Rae said...

GREAT advice, Andrea! I am going to definitely check out the TeuxDeux and implement a few others of your policies! Now I need to get OFF my computer and get to work! :)

At February 2, 2011 at 9:59 AM , Blogger Ari said...

Thank you for this post!

At February 2, 2011 at 10:07 AM , Blogger {april kennedy} said...

This list was JUST what I needed! Thank you, Andrea. I am craving to know how other handmade business work as mine continues to grow. Amazing ideas! The shipping part I really do not like. Even as organized as I am with it.

At February 2, 2011 at 3:18 PM , Blogger Megan said...

Loved this - thanks for posting! I love the idea of keeping intentionality in the forefront of my mind. Could you post the "how to keep up with your house without devoting hours to it" post on your blog?! I'm following you over there and would LOVE to hear your thoughts on that.

At February 2, 2011 at 5:43 PM , Blogger Sandy a la Mode said...

i definitely need this reminder about keeping my home and craft space clean! it's always been a mess... and i just have to find time to clean it up!!!

At February 3, 2011 at 7:45 PM , Blogger carlisle clan conversation... said...

I love, love, love this post! Could not have been more timely to apply not only to my business, organizing my life! Thanks Andrea!

At February 3, 2011 at 8:19 PM , Blogger Heidi said...

Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

At February 3, 2011 at 9:10 PM , Blogger Amy Lynne said...

Awesome post! It got me off the computer for a few minutes to wrap up some things around the house that have been needing attention. Less than 30 minutes and a whole of of things were checked off my list. Thanks for the kick start!


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