10 Tips for How To Make Time for Quilting

How to make time for quilting - 10 tips

How often do we hear patchwork quilters complain that there’s never enough time for all the patchwork quilting they want to do? And how many of those quilters spend even a little time learning to manage their time better?

I have grappled with time management for many years, and generally manage to accomplish my goals. Here are a few tips from my personal experience on how to make time for quilting, and I hope they will help you find more time for patchwork quilting!

1.  Prioritize activities for quilting

Prioritize all your activities, and decide how quilting fits into the picture. Make a list of all the things you do. Eliminate some of them, those that are unproductive, time-wasting activities. Delete from the list anything you can live without doing.

Then, prioritize the remaining items on the list. You may be surprised to see which activities take highest priority. Where does quilting fit in? Be realistic, but optimistic!

Then, make a list of your quilting activities. What projects are  you working on now? List them all, even the UFOs, and then prioritize that list. Systematically work your way down that list. Do not take on any new tasks until you complete the ones already begun.

Only by being disciplined about this can you clear the mental clutter of having multiple projects under way. This step goes a long way toward helping you relax and make your quilting time more productive because you can and will accomplish the work.

Set up your lists of activities as “to do” lists. Manage your to do lists and you manage the work!

2. Keep a quilting calendar

How to make time for quilting? One thing that works is to keep a calendar, and schedule your quilting time and the projects you intend to accomplish during that time. Make it formal and stick to it. Use a digital calendar or make notes on a printed calendar, whichever you prefer.

The advantages to working with a digital calendar are that you can easily shift things around or delete events without leaving ugly erasures behind, and you can set useful reminders with alarms to help keep you on track. Then, schedule everything else you need to do around that quilting time. Anticipate potential conflicts and adjust your schedule as needed.

3.  Establish a quilting routine

Get into a disciplined routine – do your quilting every day or every week at the same time. This helps make a productive work rhythm, and it helps train others to respect your time. If the routine breaks occasionally, you will manage it. If the routine breaks too often, something is wrong about your priorities or your schedule.

Find out what is causing your routine breaks, and sort it out. For example, you schedule Saturday afternoon as your quilting time, then discover that your kids have activities going on and they need you to transport them. Reorganize your schedule so you quilt in the morning and ferry the young in the afternoon. That way, you keep everybody happy!

4.  Respect your quilting time

Train family and friends to respect your quilting time by not disturbing you while you’re working. They expect you to respect their work times; teach them to respect yours. This need not be an unpleasant task; it may be as simple as inviting a friend into your quilting space to chat while you carry on working.

It may mean scheduling quilting time when family members are out of the house, working around their schedules even as you respect your own. If you respect your quilting time, others come to respect it as well without resenting it. Will this help you how to make time for quilting? Yes, definitely!

5.   Defer email, phone calls and messages

Your quilting time is committed time. Use an answer machine or service to handle telephone calls and messages while you work. Switch off the ringer if you can; even that little noise is distracting. Unless you expect to hear from someone or need to keep tabs on family members who may need your attention, switch off all incoming communications. Keep your mind on the quilting work, make notes and take photos if you like, but do your social networking later.

6. Audio, not video, background

Listen to your favorite music, audio-book, radio program or podcast; never watch television while you quilt. Audio media frees your mind to think about other things while your hands are at their busiest. Visual media, especially anything moving, distracts you, wastes time and can cause you to make a costly mistake (I share personal experience here).

Engage and entertain your mind while you do the more tedious activities of quilting, but never neglect the quilting. Occasionally, try silence! Have a quilting session with no outside noise. You may enjoy the peace and focus that a quiet working environment affords. Your mind turns to other, uncontrolled thoughts, as in meditation. Keep a notepad handy to record for later use any important thoughts you experience while quilting in silence.

7. Quilting space control

Organize your quilting space and keep it organized. Organize so that setting everything up takes less than 5 minutes, and putting everything away takes less than 5 minutes. Know your stash – organize it by fabric and color. This is a great way of how to make time for quilting.

Know where to find every tool you own by grouping like tools and storing them always in the same convenient place. For example, all my sharp cutting tools – rotary cutters, craft knives, embroidery scissors and dressmaker shears, live in a little drawer in my cutting table. Only my thread snips stay in the top drawer of my sewing table.

Sort threads by type and color, and store them all together in one place, near your sewing machine so you have only to reach to select a new one.

8. Quilting? Go slow

Do everything slowly and correctly the first time. There’s no point in asking how to make time for quilting if you just rush through it and make silly mistakes. Ripping out mistakes wastes a huge amount of time, much more time than it would have taken to slow down and do the job correctly. Again, I speak from experience!

9. Get quilting help

If you get stuck on a technical issue, seek help immediately. Online resources are amazing, and you can find tutorials and videos about almost any technique you can imagine. Quickly search and find a solution to any dilemma, learn from what you see, and get straight back to work.

Never, however, shift from help-seeking to social media networking, checking email or surfing – these activities waste huge amounts of time, especially if done often. Save these activities and do them all at once, after you finish quilting for the day.

10. Tidy quilting

As soon as  you finish a task, clean up the mess – NOW! Don’t make one mess after another, thinking to clean up at the end of the day. A few seconds spent tidying your quilting space after every phase of the work is productive time. Keeping the space clear makes a place to do the next job well.

Allowing a mess to accumulate during the day wastes valuable time sorting it out at the end of the day, or, worse yet, you walk away and leave it to face the next time you come to work. Clutter is unnecessary. It wastes time because it hides needed materials and tools. Things get lost and you must waste time searching for them.

Being where it does not belong, clutter negatively affects your ability to do the next task at hand. The trade-off is a few seconds of time spent putting everything back in its place versus many lost minutes spent searching for something that you cannot find. Begin work with a tidy quilting space and end it that way.

If you are among the many wonderful creative people who have difficulty finding (or making?) enough time to do all the quilting you really want to do, hopefully this can help your time management.

Now that you are thinking, learning about and hopefully taking charge of your time, how about finding time in your busy schedule to start a new project with some great quilting patterns? With better time management comes more time to do make lovely quilts. Good luck!

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