Crafty Business Routines: Part 2: Daily Tasks

I’ve been trying to get to work by 10am for over a year now with varying degrees of success. I started when I had an in-home studio and now do the same for my out-of-the-home studio. It is finally becoming a habit and I’ve been happily working away by 10am. Even though it’s a habit, I still feel lost. What do I do when I first get into the office? There is no order of operation. There is nothing waiting for me on my desk that is marked “urgent” or a task list from my boss in my inbox.

It’s the same situation I talked about last week with the schedule. Because I’m self employed, I don’t HAVE to do anything at any particular time during my day. Sure there are things I should do and eventually if I put things off I’ll reach a crisis point where I’m scrambling.

Last year I tried out the Fly Lady for my home and have decided that it’s worth trying at work too. It really does work. By having a concentrated burst for daily tasks, I’ve been able to spend as little time on them as possible. Then I can move on the fun (or not so fun) projects, work ahead on posts, or flex my creative muscles in the studio.

If I spend 6 hours of my day packing orders, answering emails, and scrambling to get a post up, it doesn’t leave time for long term projects, tasks, or free time to be inspired (which is where my best ideas come from!).

The Fly Lady divides these daily tasks into a morning, afterwork, and bedtime routine. I’m simplifying that for work (though I do the three for home). It’s a list of the things I have to do daily that I tend to spread out over the day instead of getting them done at once.

Setting up Your Daily Task List

Make a list of everything you HAVE to do each day. This can be all sorts of tasks. You can get as specific or general as you need to. And don’t forget to add in some time to foster your creativity (which is an important daily practice).

1. Put on studio shoes – Inspired by Mr Rogers, I have studio shoes (especially in the winter) that I slide into so my feet are comfy warm and I’m not tracking snow everywhere.

2. Start up Timer – On my Macbook I was using Chronograph, but now that I’m using the PC for work, I found this great time tracker called ManicTime. It’s perfect for how I work and I actually recommend more than the former.

3. Check email – Scan through my email and reply immediately to anything I can as quickly as I can. Make a list of emails that need a longer reply, but not necessarily today (just so they don’t get lost in the backlog of my inbox).

4. Pack up all orders – Most mornings I have at least a zine or two to pack up and send out. I drop them off at the mail box down the street before the daily pick up at 3pm.

5. Catch up on RSS feeds – I use the list view in Google Reader and expand out anything that piques my interest and mark the rest as read. This is really important to do on a daily basis. It’s inspiring + keeps me up to date on the crafterdom I am a part of. :)

6. Write a post – If I don’t have one already scheduled for today, I’ll finish it up and post it. If I do have one already scheduled, I’ll write a new post or two, research/plan the next few posts upcoming, or clock some time on a more time intensive upcoming post (like a pattern, which usually equals playing in the studio).

These are the things I have to make sure to hit up each day, otherwise I start falling behind really quickly. It’s a great way to start the day and leaves my afternoon open for long term projects. Some days I finish everything in a half hour, other days it takes 3 hours. But if I tackle it first thing, I feel like I’m ready to take on the world in that lovely afternoon time.

I just started using an Errand app on my iPod and I’ve set up the above daily tasks to repeat as a work related checklist. If you are making a notebook journal like the FlyLady suggests: the first page is your daily schedule from last week’s post, next page your daily tasks.

Next week I’m going to talk about setting up those elusive weekly tasks. Things you don’t have to do daily, but if you don’t do them on a semi-regular basis they become monumental (bookkeeping, promotion, cleaning up the studio, etc).

Check out the other parts of the Crafty Business Series: Part I

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