Making Time

I’ve often posted about time-management before. Whenever I’ve posted recently, my focus has been about trying to find time to progress my knitwear design ideas. I thought it might be useful if I posted about how I’ve recently managed to incorporate knitwear design into my day. It was nothing short of making time.

Where ideas germinate...

Where ideas germinate…

One of the things I’ve figured out is time. Over the years I’ve tried different a approaches to getting tasks done such as Flylady, HabitHacker or Pomodoro Technique. Each to them advocates setting a timer for a specific length of time and working on it until the timer goes off.

Flylady’s motto is “you can do anything in 15 minutes”. When your 15 minutes are up you take a 15 minute break. Habit Hacker recommends two 11 minute sessions – one to pull something apart and the next to put it all back together again – with an eight-minute break afterwards.

Both of these shorter time periods are ideal for tackling chores about the house. If I was trying to get stuck into a longer task in work I used Pomodoro Technique. The time period for this technique, a Pomodoro, is 25 minutes long with 5 minute interval breaks. After four Pomodoros (i.e. two hours) you’re meant to take a longer break of 20 minutes.

After trying all of these strategies I’ve eventually progressed to a personal system of time-keeping, based on 12-minute time slots. I do what I call a brain dump and list out – in no particular order – all the tasks that are vying for attention in my head. Then I’ll assess the list to prioritise the tasks in terms of how important and/or urgent they are.

Finally, I assess the prioritised tasks for how long I think each will take – in multiples of 12 minutes. In this way, I can quickly assess how many tasks I can get done in a given time. If I only have an hour but I have five high priority tasks I know I can only spend on average 12 minutes on each. Or perhaps I’ll allow 48 minutes for something that requires more focus then I’ll take a break by doing something else for 12 minutes. This is currently how I organise my workday.

Adopting this method was very helpful in figuring out how my daily morning routine could be adapted to incorporate some time for knitting design. I determined a logical sequence for my morning routine tasks from when I got up until I left for work. By dividing the time into 12 minute slots, and assigning each slot activities from this sequence, I automatically became more focused on where my time was going. In turn this meant that by getting up only a little earlier I was able to fit in a 48 minute session for me to focus on designing.

Excerpt from my bullet journal

For Time it is a precious thing…

Rather than have timers going off constantly throughout the morning I have a mental timetable of what I should be doing at specific times. As a result my morning routine looks like this:

6:00 get up, use bathroom
6:12 load the washing machine from previously sorted clothes baskets
6:24 have breakfast
6:36 knitting design session begins
7:24 buffer slot: make a cup of tea / wake any kids not yet up
7:36 ablutions, dress for work
8:00 fold the laundry hanging to dry; hang the load just washed
8:24 cajole the kids to get their shoes and coats on for school
8:36 drive to work to start my full-time job.

I’ve been doing this for the past six weeks and it’s being working really well for me. It’s only thanks to this focus on time that I’m now able to sit down and knit design swatches and figure out details of the designs that have been buzzing around my head for years! As a result, I was able to send a design submission to Knitscene three weeks ago and I’m about to send a different design submission to another print magazine in the morning.

If I hadn’t taken the time to get to grips with time I would never have found time to make time.

Do you think this approach would work for you? If you have time-management tips and tricks to share I’d love to hear them.


8 Responses to “Making Time”

  1. TheDKC Says:

    I am a pressure cooker…. no time mange mentioned skills at all. Knitmas is in trouble….

    • undermeoxter Says:

      I’ve every confidence you’ll produce a wonderful knitmas gift just in the buck if time.

      I had to put mine on the back burner while I focus on other deadlines. I’m hoping I can pull it all together in time.

      Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. Really appreciate it!

  2. Heidi Says:

    Thanks for this post. It’s great to see not only how other people work but how to fit creative work into real life. Also a reminder that carrying a notebook with you is invaluable for collecting all the amazing ideas.

  3. Kersti Says:

    Knitmas is in trouble here too! I tend to just take on too much. Have tried a similar approach but using 5 minute blocks – it’s amazing how many of the 5 min blocks get derailed by the 2y and the under 1! It is a great approach though and the general idea is the main basis for pretty much all time management techniques – a finite amount of time means more productive time.

    I remember a few years ago seeing an article on BBC (which I cannot for the life of me find now) where a company experimented with a 4 day work week and found that productivity increased over a 5 day work week simply because people were more focused. Also countries where the culture is to work the hours you’re employed to work do not suffer the same productivity issues that those who expect employees to go above and beyond do… think Germany vs US…

  4. Jenny Says:

    I don’t have anything so precise as your, but when I sit down at my desk in the morning I make a mental list of my tasks for the day. I work in a very flexible environment so my schedule is totally up to me. I start with the most appealing thing on my list to get me started, then I do the least appealing thing to get it out of the way. I find this approach works well for me, although I’m still terrible at procrastinating (like right now).

  5. Mairin Says:

    Ahem – can I point out that your 7:24 entry looks like ‘Make Love’?!! Buffer slot indeed, ha ha!

  6. New Pattern Release: Muireann | Under Me Oxter - coz that's how I knit Says:

    […] was helpful in highlighting a number of issues. But it was really only when I recently started making time for design work every morning that I was able to give the pattern the focus it needed to re-write […]

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