Tuesday, July 13, 2010

On Schedules

I've always liked making lists and setting goals. "Control" is of course an ethereal reality, but if you have a list, and you have some goals, you can at least attempt to move forward with the little things you want to do in life.

Before we started the store, I was always a one-project person: I would choose a really, really difficult pattern to make, spend about 6 months making it, and then choose the next really, really difficult pattern.

Now that we have a store, however, that doesn't work. I need to do projects for classes and inspiration. And of course, I get inspired myself, being around all those beautiful things. The ideas are a constant stream!

But sometimes it gets just a little out of hand. I don't know what to work on, when to work on it, or what's important.

The other day I looked in my closet and saw that I had over 30 projects going. Okay. That's when it's time to get some control back. When this has happened before, I've tried limiting myself to 3 projects at a time to get myself more focused--but even though that helped, it didn't always work. The long-term projects needed to be broken out differently.

I joked to Kevin that I needed a PERT chart to organize it. (Can you tell I used to work in an engineering firm?)

And then I realized that maybe this was no joke. Some kind of chart to organize it all would be great. I could figure out how much time I thought each project would take, and then I would schedule it in. Some projects--the long-term ones--needed to be broken into small pieces so that I wouldn't neglect other projects.

I spent about 5 very-worthwhile hours pulling all the projects out, deciding what mattered most, and figuring out what I really, really wanted to have done by the end of the summer. I charted it out:

I was tempted to put it on the computer to make it tidier, but I had already spent enough time on it. It did not need to be pretty. This is a practical document.

Down the left side, I listed each project that I wanted to finish this summer. Across the top, I broke out the weeks. Then I split the projects, if needed, into subgoals. (I do have another page of projects that goes into August, in case you were wondering.) I decided to stop at the end of August. At that point, I'll regroup for fall, depending on how far I got.

Then I plunged in and started actually knitting.

It is working beautifully. This week, my goals included doing 4 rounds on Kevin's sweater. Check. (I am going to keep doing 4 rounds a week until his sweater is finished.) I wanted to do blocks 8 and 9 of the mini-shawl. Block 8 is done as of tonight; block 9 is a piece of cake. I wanted to do most of a block on a log-cabin blanket I'm designing, then finish it next week. Check for this week. I want to finish my thrummed mittens to the point where I am past the thumb. That is for tomorrow morning. And I have a simple sweater I'm working on, made on large needles; it is low-hanging fruit. The goal there is to have the pieces knitted this week, and sewn next week. I'm on my way with that: two quick sleeves to go. I think it's doable.

In between, I'm free-motion quilting. I am doing that just a little bit at a time as well. Fortunately, I have only about 10 quilting or sewing projects--so I figure they don't require a chart. I'll just work on them as I can, but not be afraid to tackle them in 15-30 minute increments. Updates, reports, and pictures soon.

What would you like to get done? How could a chart like this work for you?

(How about getting ready for Christmas now instead of waiting until the November Panic?)


Cindy in Happy Valley said...

Christmas knitting almost finished!! I used all the Lamb's Pride from the Super Bowl sale and made French Press Slippers.....I. JUST. CAN'T. STOP.

Yarnhog said...

30 projects?! Okay, laughing my head off here! (Not at you, dear...)

I usually only have two or three projects going at a time. Right now I'm a little out of control. I have an afghan, a sweater, and a sock on the needles, and two more sweaters and a skirt in time out, waiting to see if I rip or finish them. I also have a quilt and a skirt in the process of being sewn, and three vintage sewing machines waiting for repairs. (But four others are done and working, so I don't feel too bad about that.)

Deb K said...

Maybe Kevin could write an app for that! :)