Welcome back to “Making the Most of Your Polymer Clay Studio.” This month Ginger from The Blue Bottle Tree and myself are bringing you a collaborative series of posts. I hope you have enjoyed them so far. In case you missed one, I’ve put the links to them below so you can check them out. There’s valuable information in each article, so don’t miss them. I hope that you will continue to join us and chime in with your comments, thoughts, & ideas as well.
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Definition of Productivity
There are many ways that people describe productivity. According to the dictionary, productivity means “the state or quality of producing something.” Many people describe productivity as a “feeling of accomplishment.” Isn’t that something that each of us want, to feel “accomplished” or “productive” in our efforts for the day? I have been known to say around my house that “I’ve had a productive day.” What does this mean? Simply put, it means that I got a LOT done. But being productive at the office means something different than being productive at home, which means something different from being productive in your garden, or even in your polymer clay studios.
How to Be Productive
Being productive means lots of different things to lots of different people. But let’s face it, we all need to recognize a way that we can be productive and be the best we can with the time we are given. There are lots of ways to save time throughout the day, make time to get into your studio, & make time to make all those things you have on your “idea list” or in your sketchbook.
- Use a “To Do” List – I have written about my love of using a “to-do” list before, but this is still my best advice to anyone out there.
- Get Up Earlier – Again, this might seem basic, but it’s true. By getting up earlier in the day, you can get more accomplished and actually feel more energized about it.
- Stop Checking Your Email – Email is a time suck, plain and simple. Despite what you think, you do NOT need to check it every 10 minutes. Here’s a better idea yet, turn off your email reminders on your phone and only have your phone download your emails when you tell it to.
- Get Off FaceBook – WOW! If you are like me, there are a million things that can bombard you and take your time away from your studio on FaceBook. Not all of them are bad. However, they are a distraction from what you are trying to accomplish, being productive.
The Hardest Part – Getting Into Your Studio
I don’t know about each of you, but the hardest part of being productive for me is actually getting INTO the studio. It seems that there’s always something else pulling me away: laundry, dishes, phone calls, Facebook, the black-hole of Pinterest, work, my darling hubby, or the list of errands that need to be run. So how do you actually get INTO your studio?
Get into your studio by SETTING A TIMER. I know this sounds silly, but it works for me. Here’s what I mean: in the morning there is always a lot to do, devotions, breakfast, 2 cups of coffee, social media check, email check, and the list goes on. All of this has to happen before the “normal” things of my day. But here’s the catch, if I don’t set a timer, I can spend 4 hours doing those things. So … I do my devotions, eat breakfast, and hit the computer setting my timer for 30 minutes. If I can’t accomplish everything I need to in 30 minutes, then there’s something wrong. Social media, email, & Facebook do NOT rule your life or your business. The sooner you recognize that the better off you’ll be. When I set a timer, I can be in my studio and hard at work by 9 am.
Productivity in Your Polymer Clay Studio
So how do you decide what to tackle in your studio? How do you decide what to create? How do you get started? Here’s a few simple steps to help you on the road to productivity in your studio.
- Have a Plan – You’ll find it can be easy to waste time in your studio by not having a plan of what you are going to create. It doesn’t matter what you are going to create, but having an idea of what you’ll at least start with will help you in your overall efforts to be productive. You don’t have to have it perfect, but by having an idea of what you want to accomplish, will allow you to be far more productive overall.
- Make a List of Importance – Having a list of the things which are most important will help you decide what you need to do and in what order you need to do them. The bottom line: paid orders & commissioned pieces should always go to the top of the list. I know it’s fun to play, but your customers are helping to provide you with play time, so put them first.
- Scratch What Itches Most – What? What does this mean? It means that if you have something that has been running around your mind, playing as a part of your dreams, & creating itself in your head when it’s not even made … it’s an idea that needs “scratching” or creating in your studio.
- Turn Off the TV & Computer – I know this sounds strange, but promise me, you’ll be more productive. Turn. Them. Off. Why? Because these two elements can not only suck your time, but it can severely distract & damper your creativity, causing your mind to wander & not to focus on the task at hand. You are far better to turn on the radio if you need “background noise.”
- Take a Break – I know that this sounds silly because you’re trying to be productive, however, you can be far more productive if you take breaks. Work for two hours and then take a 10 minute break. Take a brisk walk, get a glass of water, dance to a song, play with your pets or kids … but do not go back to your computer. You will end up in the same trap you started out.
Measuring Productivity in Your Polymer Clay Studio
This is by far the hardest thing to do. Because each of us want to measure the number of pieces against time. I think that’s an incorrect approach. Here’s my take on measuring productivity (if you have other opinions or thoughts, let me know below in the comments) … you need to start measuring your results, not your time!
In other words, begin to work smarter, not harder. Are you making 1,000 beads? Then why would you make 200, bake 200, sand 200, and varnish 200? Wouldn’t it be smarter to make 1000 beads, bake them, sand them at one time, and varnish them at one time. It would. And … it does. This means that you are only getting supplies out once, the mess is smaller, and your being more productive overall. Make the shift in your mind: measure what you get done and not the time it took and you will find that very quickly you will be working harder, more efficiently, and in the end, be more productive.
Let’s be honest, the amount of work from one artist can’t possibly be compared to another. Some of us have a full-time job and do our artistic endeavors on the side wherever we can fit it in. Others make a living with their art. Those that make a living with their art spend the majority of their time creating art. Besides that, there’s also different types of creations. While one Parker scene may take me half of a working day to complete, others spend an entire month of a detailed dragon sculpture. For each of us it is different. You can NOT compare yourself to others, you can only compare yourself to YOU!
Want More Ideas?
Here’s a great article from Forbes on 24 Ways To Be Uncommonly Productive
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Fall In Love, No Matter the Size * Making Room for Your Polymer Clay Studio * How To Be Productive In Your Polymer Clay Studio
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5 thoughts on “How to Be Productive in Your Polymer Clay Studio”
Katie, thanks so much for doing this collaboration with Ginger. You are two of my favorite people. Great information. The most impressive part to me was that you revisited time management basics, which have kind of taken me over for the past few years. It’s easy to use excuses, but they’re exactly that.
I have implemented a daily checklist on my calendar with allotted times.
* Devotions/God time first. The day does go better that way.
* A little play time with a young, energetic pup (so she’ll leave me alone longer!)
* Blocks of time for the household chores
* Inviolable time blocks for studio time.
I will now get back to a running projects list, including experimental time, learning time, production time. I used to do all that before retirement, but I think I flushed it all when the tyranny of a fulltime job no longer governed my life! Thanks again.
As I am what I call a newbie to polymer clay, I am learning as I go. I wish that I had the tips that you and Ginger have posted, I might have not bought that new pasta machine. But I do want to thank you for the time you take to do this blog.
Thanks for joining us Patricia. Finding things you can reclaim is almost a lost art. People today want things “new” but in my opinion, there is no need to buy things new. Granted, I do have “new” things in my studio (like my awesome LC Extruder) but they are few & far between. If you have the time, it’s worth it to look around. I’m a great one to stop at garage sales in the summer time. Last year I found an awesome tool caddy for my hubby’s trailer that the man just gave me because he was tired of looking at it. I still gave him something for it, but you just simply never know what you will find. You just have to be patient and look. By the way used ATLAS 150 pasta machines often come up on eBay, I have seen several go for $9.99 plus shipping. Again, these are used, so many just want them out of their homes.
Thank you for this tip. I am learning that if I do devotions first, things seem to go smoother for the day. But, I am one who can and did get lost playing on line and am working to change that.
Surprise surprise! Most people’s days are not ruled by face book and social media. We actually have interaction with real people! Much more interesting!