Posts Tagged ‘organization’

Organizing for Marketing

This image is from my time with adult coloring books last year – trying out colors, experimenting. I love symmetry, but then I also like something a little unusual….which is where I am right now as I approach a new project. I really need to develop  more sources for passive income. I’m taking a free class right now from Convertkit on Product Creation – great ideas, and after two weeks of reading the information (a daily lesson), I decided to start at the beginning and develop a series of products that are useful to others. Hence, Organizing for Marketing.

The title is going through some revisions – still not catchy enough for me. But I already have all this content – in an iBook that isn’t selling  – and yes, I really haven’t done much to market it in the three years it’s been available (or is it four? Funny how time stretches out when you’re not teaching….).

So this is my first brainstorming at trying to make sense of what I want in this ebook product. I am very good at marketing and creating and organizing, so it makes sense to focus right there. When I reviewed the book last night, there is enough information to make it into three or four smaller ebooks and develop a continuous stream of ideas and techniques for people.

The first key is targeting my market. I work in fiber and textiles – pretty much a niche market when looking at the art world, although we are slowly making progress into mainstream. Thus I want to focus this on those of us who do art that is generally out of the mainstream. What can we do to get our work looked at, sold, appreciated?

Here’s my accountability checklist for this coming week, ending Tuesday, May 16, with my initial thoughts:

  • Determine revised structure of the ebook. I need to break up the information in the original book into smaller segments for action, and increase the information included in each of the segments.
  • Determine my ideal customer for this book. Who is my audience…artists without a lot of money to spend on marketing, artists with unique products, artists who have issues getting organized and accomplishing tasks.
  • Write two additional blogs this week – what questions do you want answered in a marketing book for those of us working in a niche market, and how would this be different from all the other marketing books out there? I need to make sure I start getting feedback from folks to help direct my work.
  • Evaluate ebook publishing sources and ease of use. CreateSpace seems mostly for print; research it more fully. Kindle seems easy and quick to do. IBooks seems too limiting, although I do have experience with that platform.
  • Plan for a “bonus” for people who buy this ebook. Already thinking about many of the blog posts I’ve already done in my Top Ten series. I think these could be manipulated into a bonus, once links are checked, and focus determined. Happened to just think about expanding ideas for Top Ten for other Bonus offerings.
  • Keep playing with title ideas. Suggestions certainly welcome! Organize, marketing, niche products…….
  • Determine launch date for the ebook – probably beginning of August.

Feel free to give me ideas and help keep me accountable to this project! You can be in the book with your website and product for helping out.

ORIGINAL BOOK

Ready, set, go – give me feedback!

Making Progress…..

Just a Collection....

Just a Collection….

So I have finished reorganizing my Bridge folders for all the digital work and storage of all things art. About 6 hours total, but it feels good to have it done – serious loose end. Now I need to go through iPhoto and get some folders made to organize photos there – hopefully won’t take as long. Slowly setting up the to-do list for all things business.

Organized!

Organized! (Aren’t I just so good?!)

The fist item over the next 12 days is to get every piece ready for a major display for Burlington City Arts. We will have 10-12 of our medium and large pieces on display in the Maltex Building on Pine Street for six months. Quite a nice venue, and our first major exposure in a contemporary gallery in the state. Lots to do – Ocean’s Bounty needs some work with the connecting beads and Gaia 2 (Pele) will be making its debut also, and I need to get it on its new hanging system.

Gaia 2: Beginnings

Gaia 2: Beginnings

LOVE this piece and have since it was completed many years ago. Will post when I have the new hanging system….hopefully cholla wood and braiding to hang each of the points.

Ocean's Bounty

Ocean’s Bounty

Heavy piece with all the beading and layers and stones – but it will be good for it to see the light of a gallery.

(Wow – I just took less than two minutes to get those pictures from the digital folder – nice organization, Linda!)

Hubby is marbling a lot, as we have new ways of marketing our fabrics. We are selling marbled fabrics in the Red Mill in Jericho, which is “coming home” again – his family settled this area and now he’s helping to support the non-profit mill craft and art gallery.

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-9-26-27-am

Four weeks today is knee surgery, with a three-six month recovery…I want to be back at the sewing machine within two weeks – too much to do!! I am finding guided meditations that will help prep for before and after surgery. My yoga practice is reviving itself as a way of strengthening the  knee and thigh muscles for surgery. I found an integrative medicine doctor through the medical center, and I LOVE her. Looking forward to working with her over the coming year.

On to attaching a piece to a covered canvas with fabric glue….will post when it’s finished and dry…..

Monday Marketing…….Not Really…..

Stones 2

Stones 2

It is Monday, and I sure haven’t been doing much marketing these last few months. Part of it has been illness, part has been writing, part has been making art, and part has been not really caring. I have realized that when I get in the mood for serious marketing, no art gets done. I find that unacceptable these days. There are more art pieces than I will ever have time for. Marketing needs to fit in as it can.

This doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. During our trip we did a lot of talking to artists, sold some fabric, and made some really nice connections. We came home ready to start a new series, Preservation. Both of us are excited about this, and now we need to do some serious planning. But I am still left with a conundrum over marketing. In between being sick and getting physically exhausted (which according to the doctors will continue until maybe the end of September), I finished a seven-piece commission, nearly the rest of my seasons grouping (pattern is next on the list), free-motion quilted a lap quilt for a friend, cleaned the studio (which really was pointless….), and tried to be ambitious. I did write close to 15,000 words on my novel, but I am feeling the need to have art-making take over for a while.

I did partially complete a gallery marketing class, and now I am awaiting to see if I made the first cut to a year’s mentorship with a gallery in Scottsdale. It would require a lot more art-making, and I think we would be good candidates for selection. But what I think and what happens usually are two different things. I am still being positive, and men tally I am feeling good. I still have my lists, and they have every kind of loose end I can think of, including doing some apartment applications for next spring when we move, and organizing all our photos. But each day I look at any “must-do’s” and “want to do’s” and work from there.

And….there’s the marketing book which I haven’t marketed, plus a number of other things I haven’t done. So I need to get off my case, make art, and let other stuff happen when it does.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it………….

 

 

 

Get Organized – Day 6

Maelstrom 6

Maelstrom 6

This is exactly how my brain feels today….more than overwhelmed, as I just started a new part-time job that is full-time for the first three months…….so it means wardrobe changes and a bunch of other things, and the usual work isn’t getting done….and I am surrounded by loose ends….which is how many of us feel a lot of the time.

I do have a solution I have used….it was going to be Day 6 in the series….it’s just that Day 6 took a while getting here….

Anyway, welcome to The Brain Dump.

My middle grade students would say I could bring any topic at all back to dinosaur poop and pee. But the Brain Dump is different, and it’s highly useful. I’ve been doing this at least once a month (sometimes more) for the last year, and it has really helped me organize myself. I find that as I start planning for this coming year, before I can do my backplanning (last post), I’ve had to do a serious brain dump and keep the paper close at hand for other loose ends that float to the top.

The idea of a brain dump is to sit with a blank sheet of paper and list everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – that you need to do, whether it is urgent or not. Don’t worry about order, don’t worry about whether things go together, don’t whether about if it’s several weeks away. JUST WRITE IT DOWN.

The advantage to this is to give your brain a break and a rest. Once you take everything that you are trying to keep straight in your brain OUT of it, you don’t have to worry about remembering it all. Now it’s down on paper, and you don’t have to keep thinking about that particular task, and the next one, and three more after that. It’s incredibly freeing and sets you up to be able to make sense of what needs to be done to accomplish goals.

Here are two examples of a couple of sheets I started with on January 1, as I plan out my month and my first quarter, as well as some longer-term objectives. I collected past sheets that still had items listed, and I started a new sheet with some of the newer items arising as a result of the new year.

BrainDump1

BrainDump2

Nothing is in any order. There are things on here I still haven’t gotten to from the previous year. But that’s okay. My main goal is to free up my mind from worry. I want to have everything laid out so I can use these lists to organize.  I realized yesterday as I was working on one particular area, that I really couldn’t just go into the backplanning process without doing this. Now, keep in mind this might not work for you, but I urge you to try it and see if you can relax a bit about getting things done without forgetting them. I keep my page handy for about a week, so that if something new comes to mind – like renewing the trade name this year – I can easily add it to the list.

Keep in mind, though, that this isn’t a daily or weekly list….this is strictly a list of everything floating in your brain. You want to free up that space without having to worry about the detritus – important or not – floating there. What I end up doing is looking at the master list and choosing what’s critical for the coming week. Your  mileage may vary.

I would love for you to share your thoughts – and lists – if you try this activity. Any suggestions for improving the process?

 

 

 

Get Organized – Day 5

GC13 Sometimes life gets in the way……actually, a lot of times daily life intrudes on our best of intentions. It has happened to me in designing this series, and probably many of you right now are having life get in the way of your organization. I chose the picture on the left because life certainly got in the way of the creature fossils 1200 million years ago – and still today there is a remarkable work of beauty as you walk along the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Just go with it. Just. Go. With. It. It’s okay. Life happens along the way. When I was writing the backplanning blog, I sketched out the plan to complete my marbling book. Once I got hired for a new part-time job that is ten days a month, I realized I would have to change some of my plans. Again, It’s. Okay.

What’s happening with your planning and organizing is that you are becoming very aware  of what you would like to do and the time restraints on you. Most of the time we just make lists of what we want to get done, but we really don’t understand just what the actual time allotment is. So I want to introduce you to the 80-20 rule, as it can apply to organization.

I think most of us are familiar with 80-20. Think about the 80% of things that are really important to you. Then think about the 20% of things that are not so important…..and now think about how much time you spend…….do you spend 80% of your time on the things that are most important to you, that will move your business ahead, that will increase your creativity? Or…..do you get stuck doing a lot of the 20% things because you feel you should?

Stephen Covey (2004) said, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” The 80-20 rule can guide us in determining how to use the very limited and precious resources we have of time, energy, and money.

When you look at what you will do backplanning on, on what you will spend your time and effort on this year, think about the benefits…..will you be able to spend 80% of your time, energy, and money on the things that matter most to you. Backplanning for me on the marbling book is a place where I want to spend my time and energy. The book will be a potential source of passive income, once it is finished. I have decided to go with a different publishing platform, because I simply don’t have the time to learn a new coding system, even though the publisher is fabulous, and I don’t have the money to pay for them to code. So I will work (probably) with Create Space so the book is available on all epub platforms, and not just iBook – even though I know that platform now. This is a worthwhile priority for us, so I will spend the time. Taking an online class in science fiction will no longer be a priority beyond skimming through the basic notes and making a list of what I would like to read in the future. I do not want to give up my time to read several thousand pages in six weeks. Not worth my time – although it would be interesting – but it will have to wait till a later date.

Some links on the 80/20 Rule:

Pareto’s Principle

Why will this change your life?

The 80/20 Rule of Time Management

So what do you think? Thoughts? Insights? Share! I’m interested in how you are organizing yourself.

Get Organized – Day 4

DSCN4603  So did you dream yesterday? Want to hear from you, so let me know in the comments. I chose today’s picture for a reason. In the midst of cluttered minds and prickly daily events, every now and then we get a bloom of an idea and begin to run with it. Organization can seem overwhelming at times – we can even become obsessed with getting organized – kind of like falling into a cactus bush and then having to pull out all of the thorns – you just can’t stop till it’s completely done. (Ask me how I know this….).

Here’s my dreaming from yesterday – goals for the New Year of 2014, with no monetary limits in my dreaming.

trips to Kauaii, San Diego, Northwest, Yosemite; marbling ebook published; seasons patterns completed; chakra commission completed; at least three more commissions obtained; licensing work through The Artrepreneur; better blogging this year (at least 100 posts); complete saving most of the money needed for our move east in 18 months; better correspondent with friends; complete at least three Coursera classes; finish all the Craftsy classes I have downloaded; weight loss yet again (maybe 25 pounds for the year); learn about my new part-time job; at least two silk classes with the textile artist in Jerome; get good at my dyeing fabrics; work on rayon scarves with dyeing/marbling; monthly lunches with my second mom; Friday dinners with my sister/friend; attend Road 2 California (missed it last year); finish novel DC12 and start next volume, and hopefully get the first one published; celebrate 38 years of marriage with my honey.

Now I will keep adding to this list for the next month or so, so I can let a lot of these ideas just simmer in my brain. Simmering is good; put something away and let it ferment – it leads to all kinds of interesting other paths.

Now for the next step: THE CONCEPT OF BACKPLANNING

You did your dreaming….within all those dreams are goals for this coming year. Now comes the time to put planning to work. I’ve used this system for decades – literally. I’m sure someone came up with the idea before, but to my knowledge no one else calls it “backplanning.” Because…..you plan backwards. It seems counterintuitive to how we usually plan, but this method pretty much guarantees you will finish on time, without that last-minute unpleasantness crammed in to a few days. In fact….you could be early.

What I also like about this system is that by the time you are done, you have a plan in front of you that looks extremely practical, manageable, and something that doesn’t scare you before you even start.

One thing to keep in mind – your goals can be any length, from a week to a year.  I’ve used this method to plan getting ready for a trip in two weeks to presenting a middle school musical in 9 weeks, to my yearly goals. For the school musicals, I started with a 9-week calendar that was determined by opening night. Then I started backing up important dates, until I had actually scheduled auditions.

What I want you to do next is skim through this calendar, top to bottom, and bottom to top. There’s room built in for snow days and other things that might come up, plus keeping in mind the attention span of middle schoolers. And, I feel it’s do-able for me, the director.

Friday, May 2 – afternoon and evening shows, strike set, cast party

Thursday, May 1 – afternoon opening, evening show

Wednesday, April 30 – dress rehearsal

Tuesday, April 29 – tech rehearsal everything

Monday, April 28 – tech rehearsal, lights and set changes

Friday, April 25 – run through all acts, costumes and props

Thursday, April 24 – run through all acts, props

Wednesday, April 23, run through all acts

Tuesday, April 22 – Act 3

Monday, April 21 – Act 2

Friday, April 18 – Act 1

Thursday, April 17 – all musical numbers from all acts, concentrated

Wednesday, April 16 – Act 3

Tuesday, April 15 – Act 2

Monday, April 14 – Act 1

Friday, April 11 – Act 3

Thursday, April 10 – Acts 2 and 3

Wednesday, April 9 – Acts 1 and 2

Tuesday, April 8 – Act 3 finish blocking

Monday, April 7 – Act 3 blocking

Friday, April 6 – Act 3 blocking

Thursday, April 5 – Act 2

Wednesday, April 6 – Act 2 blocking

Tuesday, April 5 – Act 2 blocking

Monday, April 4 – Act 2 blocking

Friday, April 1 – Act 2 blocking

Thursday, March 31 – Act 2 blocking

Wednesday, March 30 – Act 1

Tuesday, March 29 – Act 1 blocking

Monday, March 28 – Act 1 blocking

Friday, March 25 – Act 1 blocking

Thursday, March 24 – Act 1 blocking

Wednesday, March 23 – Act 1 blocking

Tuesday, March 22 – Act 3 blocking musical numbers everyone

Monday, March 21 – Act 3 blocking musical numbers everyone

Friday, March 18 – Act 2 blocking musical numbers everyone

Thursday, March 18 – Act 2 blocking musical numbers everyone

Wednesday, March 17 – Act 1 blocking musical numbers everyone

Tuesday, March 16 – Act 1 blocking musical numbers everyone

Monday, March 15 – Act 3 music main roles

Friday, March 12  – Act 3 music main roles

Thursday, March 11 – Act 2 music main roles

Wednesday, March 10 – Act 2 music main roles

Tuesday, March 9 – Act 1 music main roles

Monday, March 8 – Act 1 music main roles

Friday, March 5 – read-through

Thursday, March 4 – read-through

Wednesday, March 3 – cast announced

Tuesday, March 2 – auditions singing

Monday, March 1 – auditions acting

Mid-February – order scripts, pay royalties

Yes, there’s more behind the scenes going on before we even begin, but those pieces don’t involve a cast of 80 children. I need a schedule I can work with, students can take home for parents, and teachers will know when classes are disrupted.

* * * * * * * * * *

Here I just want to introduce this idea of backplanning. I’m going to take one of my goals – the marbling e-book – and do the backplanning right here (it will motivate me, as well as make it seem like we can do this……) Note that I start with the day I want to actually publish, and then I work from there.

June 1: submit final copy for publishing

Last week in May: complete review, checking spelling, layouts, sizes of pictures, videos

3rd week in May: make any final changes to layout of the book

2nd week in May: resources section completed

1st week in May: any appendices added

Last week in April: stories from other marblers chapter completed

3rd week in April: write chapter 11, pics and video on the weekend, marbling

2nd week in April:write chapter 10, pics and video on the weekend, marbling

1st week in April: write chapter 9, pics and video on the weekend, marbling

Last week in March: write chapter 8, pics and video on the weekend, marbling

3rd week in March: write chapter 7, pics and video on the weekend, marbling

2nd week in March: edit second three chapters

1st week in March: write chapter 6, pics and video on the weekend, marbling; send requests to other marblers for stories/techniques to include in the book

Last week in February: write chapter 5, pics and video on the weekend, marbling

3rd week in February: write chapter 4, pics and video on the weekend, marbling

2nd week in February: (silk classes in Jerome); review/edit first three chapters

1st week in February: write chapter 3, pics and video on the weekend, marbling

Last week in January: write chapter 2, pics and video on the weekend, marbling

3rd week in January: write chapter 1 and introduction, pics and videos on the weekend, marbling

2nd week in January: hubby starts photographs; videos on the weekend, marbling

1st week in January: (right now) – plan photographs and video needed for each of the 11 chapters; determine publishing platform (I’ve already eliminated one because I don’t want to spend the time coding each page)

* * * * * * * * *

So – now I’ve done that,and I am basically at today. I’m not comfortable with the schedule, since I am starting a new part-time job. I don’t know which weeks I will be working full time, so I know now that more time needs to be built in to this backplanning. I am going to delay publishing until the end of June, and that gives me four weeks as a cushion for the writing, especially within the first month as I am learning the publishing program.

Now – REMEMBER – this isn’t set in stone! You’re in charge – if you need to adapt, feel free. I will  keep you posted as to how each month works in this schedule.

Your task – take one item from your list of dreams, and try this. If you want to travel, start with when you want to go and work backwards – scheduling the trip, packing, saving the money – you get the idea.

Please leave comments for us on your thoughts, if you have done something like this, other variations you use. Let’s build from each other!

Getting Organized – Day 3

image

Sculpture at the Denver Art Museum, photo by Linda Moran, c. 2013

  I was looking through pictures to see about something appropriate for this third day of the series, and I stumbled upon one of my favorite sculptures from our trip east in July – the Broom and Dustpan at the Denver Art Museum. What a perfect way to look at a clean sweep of the least year and a new start for this coming year! Remember that you can start this series ANY TIME you want to. So…on to day 3!

 Dreaming the New Year

Now it’s time to think about this coming new year, regardless of when you consider your year to begin. When I was teaching, September was always the beginning of the year, not January. With retirement, my new year is the end of May. So you can do this at any time of the year, for however long a time period you want. Start with a month or two, or go for the whole year. If the process works for you, then consider doing a five-year plan. I promise you that this whole process really works!

First, though, you need to DREAM. If you need help in dreaming your goals, check out Dale Anne Potter’s website. She offers a lot of positive ideas for getting goals accomplished, and she has great resources. So does Alyson Stanfield, author of “I’d Rather Be in the Studio!”

I’m asking you to do away with limits on your thinking. No worrying about how much money you need, whether you think it’s actually possible to accomplish, or any other roadblocks you might place in your path. This is dream time. A year from now, what would you like to have accomplished? Just DREAM. Don’t limit yourself! And…don’t make it just about your business.

Here’s what I came up with in my brainstorming for last year:

a second online gallery carrying my artwork; publication of the book with my art quilts in it; a line of stencils for mixed media; two ebooks on marketing; an ebook on quilting marbled fabrics ; finish the ebook for a friend ; licensing some of my digital designs; at least four new patterns developed and available; at least three teaching gigs around the country; visiting Paducah to tour Quilt City; a trip to Kauai in the fall; visiting the Maritimes this summer; entry into at least two fiber/art shows; increase by 25% each the income from Ebay, the website, Etsy, and Cafe Press; another connection to the Martha Stewart folks for another article; additional writing and work done on my website; a visit with my foster son; visiting the old homestead in New Jersey; seeing my college buddy again; staying healthy; blog posts at least four times a week; articles in two art/quilt-related magazines; monthly lunches with my second mom; weekly Friday night dinners with my sister-friend; at least once a month something art/music-related to see; outdoor cactus garden established; and….a trip to Vienna to visit a friend.

Here’s how I did:

a second online gallery carrying my artwork (done); publication of the book with my art quilts in it (coming in June 2014); a line of stencils for mixed media (nope); two ebooks on marketing (got one, second in the works); an ebook on quilting marbled fabrics (just a tutorial); finish the ebook for a friend (done); licensing some of my digital designs (in the works); at least four new patterns developed and available (developed, not completed for sale); at least three teaching gigs around the country (did two, got one already booked for this coming year); visiting Paducah to tour Quilt City (done); a trip to Kauai in the fall (nope); visiting the Maritimes this summer (nope); entry into at least two fiber/art shows (nope, but not a priority any longer); increase by 25% each the income from Ebay (done), the website (nope), Etsy (done), and Cafe Press (nope); another connection to the Martha Stewart folks for another article (first article was a bust, not very cooperative, never got print sheets, not worth the time and effort); additional writing and work done on my website (nope); a visit with my foster son (YAY); visiting the old homestead in New Jersey (done – and in New York); seeing my college buddy again (nope); staying healthy (pretty much); blog posts at least four times a week (nope); articles in two art/quilt-related magazines (nope); monthly lunches with my second mom (done); weekly Friday night dinners with my sister-friend (done); at least once a month something art/music-related to see (done); outdoor cactus garden established (nope); and….a trip to Vienna to visit a friend (nope).

In retrospect, a lot accomplished, and some of the “nope’s” are not priorities any longer. The math person in me looks at 17 out of 30, a percentage of 57%. OVerall I’m pleased, because some other things got accomplished that I wasn’t anticipating, so a good year!

Your list can be as long or as short as you wish. Please do not try and limit yourself, even subconsciously. I have found the key in planning is to shoot for the moon. You’ll get a lot farther into the atmosphere than if you try to keep yourself grounded on earth.

Also, DO NOT FEEL OVERWHELMED with this list! In the next installment, I’ll be sharing the idea of backplanning – something that I have used throughout teaching, especially when I was doing theater. Backplanning makes everything seem absolutely do-able – I promise.

Feel free to share your dreaming with us. Some of us might get inspired by something you mention and decide to include it on our list. Let a comment and tell us what you’re dreaming about. You’ll head in to the New Year feeling very positive about what you’d like to accomplish! When I introduce you to Backplanning, you’ll realize you can accomplish what’s on your list. Now go and DREAM!

Get Organized – Day 2!

Balboa Park

Balboa Park – c. Linda Moran

Here we are at Day 2 of Getting Organized. Did you congratulate yourself on what you accomplished this past year? I always do, because even though we may think we haven’t done much, and then we are amazed at what we actually did do. Here’s a link to my year-end review from last year – which happens in May for me, because it marks the start of what I accomplished during my retirement year. Here’s a sample of one from Celestine Chua, who runs the Personal Excellence blog – she’s got some cool things she does.

Now for Day 2.

Step 2 is identifying what you DIDN’T get done. This is hard, and sometimes it can leave us with a sense of failure. Not so. Get it out on paper, have the pity party, get over it, and you don’t have to think about it as much. There were reasons why these didn’t get done: not a priority, not enough time, too much money, family and/or job commitments. Identify them and let them go. It’s okay if you are working full time and don’t have a lot of creative time or space. Part of what will follow in later steps will be adding realistic planning into your goals. WE’LL LOOK AT THIS SHORTLY. Recognize what you didn’t get accomplished for the year – I never did get my seasons patterns finished, and that is such a big loose end. Think about them, and then LET IT GO!!!! A perfect activity for letting go is New Year’s Eve!

One key piece here is to not beat yourself up about what didn’t get accomplished. Even though I slowed down this year, I still made deadlines I set for myself. There just weren’t as many of them. What was a priority for me DID get done, so you are on your way to prioritizing tasks, even if you didn’t realize it.

Step 3 is starting a list of all that you actually accomplish this year. Add to it throughout the year. Then when you reflect next year, you’ve already got your list. Get a blank sheet of paper, title it “Accomplishments of 2014,” and keep it where you work – desk, studio, whatever is easy access for you. Then as you finish something, WRITE IT ON THE LIST! A small thing to do, but oh, will you feel good about yourself this time next year!! If you look at the blog post I linked to here, all of those were taken from the list I kept. Real easy to write about it when the time comes.

That naturally leads us to Step 4.

Step 4 is sharing what you accomplished, on a blog, your website, a newsletter….or in the comments here. Let us celebrate with you. Working in isolation is tough, and since we have a cyber community, let’s take advantage of it! Leave a comment about what you’ve done, send me a link to your blog of accomplishments, and let’s celebrate in the next couple of days what we’ve done. I’ll share responses on this blog.

PS – this series is going to become part of my new marketing book, a large expansion on the one I’ve just published, Niche Marketing – Planning, Marketing, and Selling Your Unique Items. The new book will be on a platform for all ebooks, not just iPads. This is your chance to get into print bu the end of next year (a great marketing credit, by the way). I’ll be looking for individual stories and ideas to illustrate the various points I make, so you have a chance just by making comments on the organizing posts. So write to me!!

Get Organized!

GeckoBorder4Color

Two days left in the year – a perfect time to think about what has passed and what is to come. Here is part 1 in a series on organizing yourself and your business.

Get Organized!

Part 1: Reflecting on What Has Come Before

It’s the end of the year: fiscal, calendar, it doesn’t really matter. Most of us are already thinking ahead. Lots of ideas, plans, and probably a sense of “how can I ever make this all happen?” We can get bogged down in so many little spots, and ultimately we think we haven’t done anything. Or…we have so many ideas and no sense of where to begin to actually make this all happen.

If that’s your mind frame right now, then this series is for you. Step by step, let’s help you plan out the coming year so that it seems both manageable and practical. The best part? You can do this planning whenever you want; you don’t have to wait for an official beginning. You just start, whether it be an individual project, a month, or the whole calendar year.

Step 1 is reflecting on what you FINISHED. What did you get accomplished this past year? Let’s start here. Make a list of what you actually completed this past calendar year (since that’s what most of us work with). Consider everything: sales, new customers, teaching gigs, social media, newsletters, art shows, gallery entries, website development, blog writing, travel, new art work (definitely do not leave out the actual creativity!). WHAT DID YOU DO FOR THE YEAR? Now celebrate each and every accomplishment. You made progress. THIS IS YOUR JOB FOR TODAY!! We forget some of the things we’ve done that are sometimes very small, but they lead to much bigger things in the future. And….we never give ourselves enough credit for what we did do, mainly because we think it’s too small and insignificant. Start celebrating now! After all, tomorrow is New Year’s Eve…….

Step 2 is identifying what you DIDN’T get done. This is hard, and sometimes it can leave us with a sense of failure. Not so. Get it out on paper, have the pity party, get over it, and you don’t have to think about it as much. There were reasons why these didn’t get done: not a priority, not enough time, too much money, family and/or job commitments. Identify them and let them go. It’s okay if you are working full time and don’t have a lot of creative time or space. Part of what will follow in later steps will be adding realistic planning into your goals. WE’LL LOOK AT THIS TOMORROW.

Step 3 is starting a list of all that you actually accomplish this year. Add to it throughout the year. Then when you reflect next year, you’ve already got your list. I’ll show you examples of how to actually do this.

Step 4 is sharing what you accomplished, on a blog, your website, a newsletter….or in the comments here. Let us celebrate with you. Working in isolation is tough, and since we have a cyber community, let’s take advantage of it!

YOUR JOB TODAY – Step 1 is reflecting on what you FINISHED. What did you get accomplished this past year? Let’s start here. Make a list of what you actually completed this past calendar year (since that’s what most of us work with). Consider everything: sales, new customers, teaching gigs, social media, newsletters, art shows, gallery entries, website development, blog writing, travel, new art work (definitely do not leave out the actual creativity!). WHAT DID YOU DO FOR THE YEAR? Now celebrate each and every accomplishment. You made progress.

Interested in marketing advice? Check out my new book on iTunes: Niche Marketing – Planning, Marketing, and Selling Your Unique Items.

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Random Thoughts on a Saturday Morning…….

Why can’t I stay caught up on my blog reading? Which I really enjoy, and I get so many cool ideas, but then other things get in the way, and I get behind, and then I feel bad….of well, just delete the 75 items from Rachel Maddow and the 138 from Al Jazeera and move on from there…….

Marbling in the big tray this morning – and tomorrow morning – first time in over 2 years we’ve done really large pieces. We have orders for some, and when the Martha Stewart article breaks, we will be (hopefully) doing a lot of ribbon pieces. We’ve had to totally reconfigure almost everything in the house to make this work. The studio is changed around, the sewing table was totally cleaned off and reconfigured, so we could move the machine easily and set marbling combs on the table. The ironing board holds all the paint. The set tub in the garage works nicely – hot water on demand (unlike the rest of the house…). We’ve got the drying racks in the garage until we are done, and then the fabric goes into the dryer. The Kitchen counters are cleaned to hold the small table ironing board for quick wrinkly pressing. My table I do my school work on is cleaned off for a cutting boards now…and hubby woke up realizing he needed a LOT more carrageenan for tomorrow’s session. The idea being if we’re going through all this, let’s get the most use out of the session as we can…….But everything is working really well.

I watch Project Runway, and most times I have no idea what I would do with the challenge….except last night as we were watching the unconventional challenge, I had ideas….for the hardware. A really cute metallic vest. Hmmmm…..what does that say about my design sense?

I hate commercials – they’re just so…so….commercial. We don’t need that stuff. Too much conspicuous consumption. That said, I am buying a new sewing machine tomorrow, a Brother, with 90 decorative stitches and a basic alphabet….for less than $200, because I am waiting until it is on special. I started sewing on my mom’s 1000-pound Singer, bought a sewing machine within the first week of landing on Maui for my first teaching gig, left it with the drama department when I moved to Vermont, bought a Singer with “stretch” stitches that I passed to my mother-in-law, who sold loads of doll clothes for the grandkids. I bought a “computerized” Singer machine that had a lot of bells and whistles, and on which I made my husband’s first – and only – leisure suit. Twelve years ago I bought my Bernina workhorse 1008, and a used Bernina serger, and ended up selling the last two machines in a yard sale. I LOVE my Bernina workhorse, but it has extremely limited decorative stitches. My work with the marbled fabrics is taking me in another direction, and this is about all I can afford at this point, so, in the immortal words of Tim Gunn, I will “make it work.” Phew……

I do tend to believe in conspiracy theories – you will never convince me there was not another shooter on the grassy knoll. That said, I’m wondering about the Pope. I think there’s huge amounts of back-stories on him that are just now being hinted at. Dan Brown could have another interesting “Angels and Demons” if he wants. I want to know how the Hitler Youth played into his background. Granted, the church teaches about forgiveness, but inquiring minds….and just what is the Italian government after? The Catholic church will never be able to do enough to wipe away the stain of sexual abuse…..well, maybe making a woman pope would do it…….

I told you I would be rambling. Each time I take a break from the marbling process and sit here, something else is floating through my head…….

I seem to be falling behind on lists and blogs, and yet I am getting stuff accomplished. I finished a whole cloth fmq as a commission for a friend, and it turned out wonderfully. I have three other pieces backed and ready for the machine. The website has the ordering page done for the ribbons, I am staying up with college algebra teaching, and yet I don’t feel organized. I am meeting deadlines – two books in the works with some of our work, for example. But I am bogged down mentally. Part I am sure is not being back at yoga on a regular basis, and not getting the home practice of yoga back to daily. Too much sugar is definitely affecting moods. I want to travel – and I don’t want to have to wait until July to take off. Lately I seem to be really missing Hawaii – and New England, although not the snow and cold. Evidently I just need to “go with the flow,” as I am getting things done…..but the damn Autumn pattern is still not complete……………………………………

Doin’ the Brain Dump…..

Getting Organized – Part 4: The Brain Dump

Okay, so my middle grade students would say I could bring any topic at all back to dinosaur poop and pee. But the Brain Dump is different, and it’s highly useful. I’ve been doing this at least once a month (sometimes more) for the last year, and it has really helped me organize myself. I find that as I start planning for this coming year, before I can do my backplanning, I’ve had to do a serious brain dump and keep the paper close at hand for other loose ends that float to the top.

The idea of a brain dump is to sit with a blank sheet of paper and list everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – that you need to do, whether it is urgent or not. Don’t worry about order, don’t worry about whether things go together, don’t whether about if it’s several weeks away. JUST WRITE IT DOWN.

The advantage to this is to give your brain a break and a rest. Once you take everything that you are trying to keep straight in your brain OUT of it, you don’t have to worry about remembering it all. Now it’s down on paper, and you don’t have to keep thinking about that particular task, and the next one, and three more after that. It’s incredibly freeing and sets you up to be able to make sense of what needs to be done to accomplish goals.

Here are two examples of a couple of sheets I started with on January 1, as I plan out my month and my first quarter, as well as some longer-term objectives. I collected past sheets that still had items listed, and I started a new sheet with some of the newer items arising as a result of the new year.

Nothing is in any order. My main goal is to free up my mind from worry. I want to have everything laid out so I can use these lists to organize.  I realized yesterday as I was working on one particular area, that I really couldn’t just go into the backplanning process without doing this. Now, keep in mind this might not work for you, but I urge you to try it and see if you can relax a bit about getting things done without forgetting them.

I would love for you to share your thoughts – and lists – if you try this activity. Any suggestions for improving the process?

The Concept of Backplanning

Next in my series of organizing for the New Year. This pic is of my wonderful students (who now are grown and many have children of their own….) for the musical “Peter Pan,” which I use here as an example of the concept.

Get Organized!

Part 3: The Concept of Backplanning

You did your dreaming….within all those dreams are some goals for this coming year. Now comes the time to put planning to work. I’ve used this system for decades – literally. I’m sure someone came up with the idea before, but to my knowledge no one else calls it “backplanning.” Because…..you plan backwards. It seems counter-intuitive to how we usually plan, but this method pretty much guarantees you will finish on time, without that last-minute unpleasantness crammed in to a few days. In fact….you could be early.

What I also like about this system is that by the time you are done, you have a plan in front of you that looks extremely practical, manageable, and something that doesn’t scare you before you even start.

One thing to keep in mind – your goals can be any length, from a week to a year.  I’ve used this method to plan getting ready for a trip in two weeks to presenting a middle school musical in 9 weeks, to my yearly goals. For the school musicals, I started with a 9-week calendar that was determined by opening night. Then I started backing up important dates, until I had actually scheduled auditions.

What I want you to do next is skim through this calendar, top to bottom, and bottom to top. There’s room built in for snow days and other things that might come up, plus keeping in mind the attention span of middle schoolers. And, I feel it’s do-able for me, the director.

  • Friday, May 2 – afternoon and evening shows, strike set, cast party
  • Thursday, May 1 – afternoon opening, evening show
  • Wednesday, April 30 – dress rehearsal
  • Tuesday, April 29 – tech rehearsal everything
  • Monday, April 28 – tech rehearsal, lights and set changes
  • Friday, April 25 – run through all acts, costumes and props
  • Thursday, April 24 – run through all acts, props
  • Wednesday, April 23, run through all acts
  • Tuesday, April 22 – Act 3
  • Monday, April 21 – Act 2
  • Friday, April 18 – Act 1
  • Thursday, April 17 – all musical numbers from all acts, concentrated
  • Wednesday, April 16 – Act 3
  • Tuesday, April 15 – Act 2
  • Monday, April 14 – Act 1
  • Friday, April 11 – Act 3
  • Thursday, April 10 – Acts 2 and 3
  • Wednesday, April 9 – Acts 1 and 2
  • Tuesday, April 8 – Act 3 finish blocking
  • Monday, April 7 – Act 3 blocking
  • Friday, April 6 – Act 3 blocking
  • Thursday, April 5 – Act 2
  • Wednesday, April 6 – Act 2 blocking
  • Tuesday, April 5 – Act 2 blocking
  • Monday, April 4 – Act 2 blocking
  • Friday, April 1 – Act 2 blocking
  • Thursday, March 31 – Act 2 blocking
  • Wednesday, March 30 – Act 1
  • Tuesday, March 29 – Act 1 blocking
  • Monday, March 28 – Act 1 blocking
  • Friday, March 25 – Act 1 blocking
  • Thursday, March 24 – Act 1 blocking
  • Wednesday, March 23 – Act 1 blocking
  • Tuesday, March 22 – Act 3 blocking musical numbers everyone
  • Monday, March 21 – Act 3 blocking musical numbers everyone
  • Friday, March 18 – Act 2 blocking musical numbers everyone
  • Thursday, March 18 – Act 2 blocking musical numbers everyone
  • Wednesday, March 17 – Act 1 blocking musical numbers everyone
  • Tuesday, March 16 – Act 1 blocking musical numbers everyone
  • Monday, March 15 – Act 3 music main roles
  • Friday, March 12  – Act 3 music main roles
  • Thursday, March 11 – Act 2 music main roles
  • Wednesday, March 10 – Act 2 music main roles
  • Tuesday, March 9 – Act 1 music main roles
  • Monday, March 8 – Act 1 music main roles
  • Friday, March 5 – read-through
  • Thursday, March 4 – read-through
  • Wednesday, March 3 – cast announced
  • Tuesday, March 2 – auditions singing
  • Monday, March 1 – auditions acting

Yes, there’s more behind the scenes going on before we even begin, but those pieces don’t involve a cast of 80 children. I need a schedule I can work with, students can take home for parents, and teachers will know when classes are disrupted.

Next: Using Backplanning for your Goals

 

Part 2: Getting Organized – Start Dreaming!

Here comes Part 2 in my Getting Organized Series. You can follow along on the blog and get a head start before the posts appear on the Handmadeology blog. Share comments about your dreaming at the bottom of this post.

 Part 2: Dreaming the New Year

Now it’s time to think about this coming new year, regardless of when you consider your year to begin. When I was teaching, September was always the beginning of the year, not January. With retirement, my new year is the end of May. So you can do this at any time of the year, for however long a time period you want. Start with a month or two, or go for the whole year. If the process works for you, then consider doing a five-year plan. I promise you that this whole process really works!

First, though, you need to DREAM. If you need help in dreaming your goals, check out Dale Anne Potter’s website. She offers a lot of positive ideas for getting goals accomplished, and she has great resources. So does Alyson Stanfield, author of “I’d Rather Be in the Studio!”

I’m asking you to do away with limits on your thinking. No worrying about how much money you need, whether you think it’s actually possible to accomplish, or any other roadblocks you might place in your path. This is dream time. A year from now, what would you like to have accomplished? Just DREAM. Don’t limit yourself! And…don’t make it just about your business.

Here’s what I’ve come up with in my brainstorming, in no particular order.

  • a second online gallery carrying my artwork;
  • publication of the book by Linda Seward with my art quilts in it;
  • a line of stencils for mixed media;
  • two ebooks on marketing;
  • an ebook on quilting marbled fabrics;
  • finish the ebook for a friend;
  • licensing some of my digital designs;
  • at least four new patterns developed and available;
  • at least three teaching gigs around the country;
  • visiting Paducah to tour Quilt City;
  • a trip to Kauai in the fall;
  • visiting the Maritimes this summer;
  • entry into at least two fiber/art shows;
  • increase by 25% each the income from Ebay, the website, Etsy, and Cafe Press;
  • another connection to the Martha Stewart folks for another article;
  • additional writing and work done on my website;
  • a visit with my foster son;
  • visiting the old homestead in New Jersey;
  • seeing my college buddy again;
  • staying healthy;
  • blog posts at least four times a week;
  • articles in two art/quilt-related magazines;
  • monthly lunches with my second mom;
  • weekly Friday night dinners with my sister-friend;
  • at least once a month something art/music-related to see;
  • outdoor cactus garden established;
  • and….a trip to Vienna to visit a friend.

Your list can be as long or as short as you wish. Please do not try and limit yourself, even subconsciously. I have found the key in planning is to shoot for the moon. You’ll get a lot farther into the atmosphere than if you try to keep yourself grounded on earth.

Also, DO NOT FEEL OVERWHELMED with this list! In the next installment, I’ll be sharing the idea of backplanning – something that I have used throughout teaching, especially when I was doing theater. Backplanning makes everything seem absolutely do-able – I promise.

Feel free to share your dreaming with us. Some of us might get inspired by something you mention and decide to include it on our list. You’ll head in to the New Year feeling very positive about what you’d like to accomplish!

Next: The Concept of Backplanning

Reflecting on the Past Year…aka Starting Your Marketing Early

I’m starting a new series over on Handmadeology, with organization and planning steps to help you plan this coming year. I’m also taking all my own advice along the way, so if you are interested, you can follow along on my planning and perhaps pick up some ideas of your own.

It’s the end of the year: fiscal, calendar, it doesn’t really matter. Most of us are already thinking ahead. Lots of ideas, plans, and probably a sense of “how can I ever make this all happen?” If that’s your mind frame right now, then this series is for you. Step by step, let’s help you plan out the coming year so that it seems both manageable and practical. The best part? You can do this planning whenever you want; you don’t have to wait for an official beginning. You just start, whether it be an individual project, a month, or the whole calendar year.

Step 1 is reflecting on what you FINISHED. What did you get accomplished this past year? Let’s start here. Make a list of what you actually completed this past calendar year (since that’s what most of us work with). Consider everything: sales, new customers, teaching gigs, social media, newsletters, art shows, gallery entries, website development, blog writing, travel, new art work (definitely do not leave out the actual creativity!). WHAT DID YOU DO FOR THE YEAR? Now celebrate each and every accomplishment. You made progress.

This has been a productive year for us, with sales up about 10 percent. About a third of the income was from our participation in StashFest, a fundraiser for the La Conner Quilt Museum. Etsy is hitting its stride. Ebay was surprisingly quiet, especially during the summer. I entered shows for which I created very specific work (and didn’t get in), joined SAQA and Visions Art Museum. I did a newsletter each month starting with April. I created a tutorial for the SewCalGal free motion quilting challenge, got our work accepted in a book, and corralled a feature in the Martha Stewart Weddings issue for this coming March. I completed a pattern and had it reviewed and samples made. I have three out of four of my small seasons quilts completed. I revamped the website with some major changes, and I took apart five old quilts and requilted them. I also took a few classes. There’s more, but this is a good start.

Step 2 is identifying what you DIDN’T get done. This is hard, and sometimes it can leave us with a sense of failure. Not so. Get it out or paper, have the pity party, get over it, and you don’t have to think about it as much. There were reasons why these didn’t get done: not a priority, not enough time, too much money, family and/or job commitments. Identify them and let them go. It’s okay if you are working full time and don’t have a lot of creative time or space. Part of what will follow in later steps will be adding realistic planning into your goals.

As I am half way through my second year of retirement, I am getting used to working furiously for three or four weeks, and then taking at least a week or two to just relax. It is such a nice change from trying to make art during a crazy school year and then getting really productive in the summer, usually the few weeks before school is due to start again. I did have loose ends: a few art quilts that didn’t get completed, so they are still UFOs; the seasons pattern for autumn STILL isn’t done; a brochure for guilds with potential classes still not done; a collector’s newsletter still waiting. But I am learning to let it go. The important things are getting done, especially before deadlines, manufactured or actual, so I have to stop worrying about things.

Step 3 is starting a list of all that you actually accomplish this year. Add to it throughout the year. Then when you reflect next year, you’ve already got your list.

I actually started my list in May. I wanted to be sure I didn’t waste my retirement, so I started keeping close track of all projects I completed, deadlines I made, and business progress. It helps to read it over each time I add something newly completed to it. I can see on a regular basis exactly how I am doing.

Step 4 is sharing what you accomplished, on a blog, your website, a newsletter….or in the comments here. Let me celebrate with you. Working in isolation is tough, and since we have a cyber community, let’s take advantage of it!

 

Monday Marketing

So it is the end of Monday, and I am slowly getting things done in marketing. The last two weeks haven’t been incredibly productive – things have gotten done if they have had definite deadlines. Otherwise I have been plodding along, thinking about things to do, but that’s as far as it went. Which is why this article from Dumb Little Man hit home. Sometimes it just seems like there is a huge roadblock in your way – in this case, an icebereg.

“Icebergs can be deceiving, because what you see above water level is only the visible part of it. However, in some cases the iceberg could be a huge ice mountain, where the majority of its size is hidden underwater. Do you now see the connection between a iceberg and those certain types of tasks on your to do list? The task may look insignificant outside, but there is so much more to it than you think. It’s the hidden part that fools us into underestimating a task and promises an unrealistic optimistic timetable for finishing it.”

I think making my lists sometimes turns into an iceberg….I am still playing catch-up with to-do’s from four weeks ago.

To balance this article is another one from Dumb Little Man about balance.

4. Give yourself mini-breaks whenever you can.

8. Allow yourself the freedom to say “no.”

So I’m considering the last two weeks a mini-break….that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

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