Binges or stints?

I’m coming to realize that I tend to have a binge work style when I should be a “stint” worker. When I settle in to weave scarves I tend to do a bunch in a row. Likewise with sock knitting. I have quite a few knitting projects in the queue and when I settle down with one my inclination is to keep at it, to the exclusion of all other work, until it is done.

What I need to be doing is pecking away at building my scarf and sock inventory while still making progress on the knitting. I’ve always struggled with prioritizing my production work. When I have a choice between knitting, for which I will get paid upon completion, or building inventory, which I hope will sell in the future it is too easy to focus on the knitting.

I know, of course, that I can’t sell inventory that I haven’t created. An empty booth at the craft fair isn’t going to bring much income. So I’m trying really hard to be realistic about what needs to be done, and dole out my time between all of the projects.

I’d like to blame my work habits on not having the right planning method. I’ve tried a few different ideas for how to track what I need to do and still haven’t settled on one that I love. But really? I do know that if I spend a week knitting then it probably means I didn’t do any weaving. So I can’t really say the tool, or lack thereof, is the problem.

Right now I’m back to the weekly planner with the to-do section at the bottom of the pages. I’ve written in show dates and other obligations, and set target numbers for scarf and sock inventory. I’ve also noted the current quantities. I’ll update these numbers as I move to each next week which should make it pretty obvious whether I’m working on the right projects. [It has just occurred to me to flag the pages that have shows as a quick way to remind myself how soon they’ll be happening.]

So, back to that question. I think that bingeing on a project makes sense if it small enough to be finished quickly. Think knitting a hat vs. knitting a sweater. Or if the deadline is very close. If neither of those cases are true then stints on each area of work are a better way to reach my goals.

Although it tempting to schedule weaving on Mondays, socks on Tuesdays, etc it turns out that bingeing on one type of task for the whole day isn’t so good for my body. So smaller stints on a variety of projects is the new mantra.

And maybe it is working. Over the last week or so I’ve woven 3 scarves, remembered to post to Instagram occasionally, put in time on three knitting projects for three different clients and kept up with my business bookkeeping. I didn’t get to socks, other than counting them up for that weekly tally, but I’m sure they’re going to come up soon in the rotation 😉

And a p.s. to my fellow blogger Kerry who not too long ago wrote a great post about working in stints. You had such a great idea about using a reminder app that I had to try it for myself. Turns out that when I couldn’t complete the task when it was scheduled I just agonized over whether I should give up and skip it or mark it done, even when it wasn’t, just to make the reminder go away. It was too silly to let the tool control me like that so I’ve put the idea aside for now until I can figure out how to make it work for me.

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Author: Jennifer Kortfelt

Owner, Heron Pond Designs, a fiber and textile exploration.

2 thoughts on “Binges or stints?”

  1. It’s fun to read your perspective on all this! I’m convinced that the stint method works best for me, but I think we are all so different. But you’re experimenting and that’s good. Regarding the app–the one I have allows me to easily postpone an item for 1 or two days or a week! I use that all the time! The app is called Errands and I use it on an iPhone. Having said that, I know lots of people who like the good old day planner much better!

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    1. I’ve been using Reminders, which comes with the iOS. I’ll have to check out Errands and see if it suits my needs better. I suspect that what I really need is a huge wall-sized year-at-a-glance with an easy way to retire each month as it has gone by. Hmm, maybe a grid of months each on a separate page. All I need now is a blank wall 🙂

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