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10 Crafty Questions with Megan Reardon – the Wonder Lady behind Not Martha

Woo! new interviews here on CraftBoom!� ‘10 Crafty Questions with…’ are a little different from our Crafting Heroes Interviews. These interviews are a bit more person orientated and there’s also a fun twist: I ask the interviewee 5 questions and the interviewee makes up another 5 questions to ask themselves. Sound like fun? Yep, I thought so too :) So without further ado I’m sooo delighted to be able to present to you the lovely Megan Reardon writer of the blog we all love to love that is Not Martha and boss lady of The Organized Knitter Hurrah!!!

Megan Reardon

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CraftBoom!’s 5 Questions

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If you could be any crafter/artist (past or present) for a day who would it be and why

I would like to be Elsa Schiaparelli for a day, especially around 1927. She lived a remarkable life and didn’t bow to societal pressures. She was a fashion designer who hung out with Surrealists and collaborated with Dali, she was a rival of Chanel. She used innovative knitting techniques and wasn’t afraid to shock anyone. You can read about her on Wikipedia. I went to an exhibit of her clothing and they were things that wouldn’t be out of place in shops today, and almost seemed unremarkable unless you knew what decade they were designed in. This photo exhibit online from the Philadelphia Museum is great if you’d like to get to know her work.

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If you had magic powers what 3 things would you do to advance the Crafting Movement?

I would go back in time and make sure Sassy magazine didn’t fall before it’s time.

I would create grants (or just piles of gold coins) for those who put so much work into creating craft shows like Urban Craft Uprising, Bizarre Bazaar and the DIY Trunk Show.

I would create a neverending supply of fabric so that certain styles wouldn’t run out, and I wouldn’t feel the need to hoard fabrics quite so obsessively.

Some things just defy explanation; which means you’ll probably find them hanging around on Megan’s blog.

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What are you most skilled at craft wise and what craft skills would you like to be more skilled at?

Having studied it in college, my sewing skills are the strongest (if a bit rusty when it comes to making clothing). I would like to be more skilled at graphic design principles in order to adorn my own work, or print my own fabric Spoonflower or Ink&Spindle. I think knowing more about graphic design would also help me design, or at least make decisions about, my house, garden, and website.

Megan is also pretty handy with the baking too. Will you get a load of that perfect pastry on that pie; why don’t I have neighbors or friends who can do that?

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What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

I think it may be the bacon cups, though it was almost accidental. They were created as a result of being invited to a bacon-themed pot luck at the home of a chef and a food writer. I don’t have a lot of aptitude for cooking so I decided, the morning of the pot luck, that if I couldn’t do something that would taste good, I might as well do something that looked dramatic. I had no idea they would be so popular on the interwebs.

Megan’s world famous bacon cups. Drool…only another 2 hours before lunch…

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Besides family/friends/home/health what is your most treasured possession?

At this very moment I’m smitten with my iPhone, I feel like I have such freedom to have access to any information I might need or want from wherever I might be. I can look up recipes, yardage for yarn, maps and addresses, and all that stuff I print out but inevitably leave on my desk on the way out of the house. I’m hoping it will make my scattered self run a little more smoothly.

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Megan’s 5 Questions

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“Megan please choose another 5 questions to ask yourself. So these self chosen questions can be about anything you like. It would be nice if they are somewhat craft related questions, but they don’t have to be; I happen to think things like that “who would you like to share a roller coaster ride with” or “who you would to knit a jumper for” or “your favourite brand of chocolate milk” for example, quite interesting :)

NB: Meg thought it would be a cool idea to ask her Not Martha readers to think up some questions for her to answer:

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What do you do when you’re suffering a creative block to unblock?
I find something in my daily life that I would like a solution for but cannot buy. My shoe racks are an example of this. Not only did I end up with a solution for keeping shoes my tight little corner but I found myself wandering around hardware stores completely engrossed in discovering what I could do with things I could find there. This lead to a bunch of other things I wanted to do and suddenly I find myself inspired to work on a bunch of things.

Megan’s stylish DIY designer shoe racks.

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What are your fledgling hobbies–as in, what would you be tackling next if suddenly the craft world went boom, yarn disappeared, and uh, food made itself? Are you a closet golfer? Aspiring Toastmaster?
I would love to make video games and study game theory and structure. I grew up playing the Kings Quest games, and credit the early ones with teaching me how to type properly. I really admire Erin Robinson at Livey Ivy, and I’m a fan of Ragnar Tornquist.

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Was your business planned, or did it naturally evolve? I mean, did you actively seek out having a business, or did the business find you?
My business, The Organized Knitter grew from not being able to find the type of knitting needle cases and storage that I wanted. Once I had my idea I set out to make it a business. If I could do it again I would wait longer to quit my job until the small business absolutely demanded it, I did a lot of floundering around initially and would have felt more secure if I hadn’t put so much pressure on myself. I wish the books Craft Inc. and The Boss of You had been out when I was starting my business, they would have helped a lot.

Inside view of one of Megan’s crochet cases. Enough organization to bring on a feeling of peace and calm.

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What are the crafting tools that you cannot live without?
I cannot live without disappearing markers, the packaging often calls these ìair erasableî. They make it so easy to place something and you don’t have to worry about washing or brushing away chalk later on. I never did like thread tracing. I also really love the Clover fabric eraser, I mark all my sewing and cutting lines in pencil and this does the best job of getting that up out of fabric if I need. It’s pencil shaped as well so it’s easy to keep in with my other marking supplies.

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How did turning your hobby into a business change your feelings about it?
Since I spend all day sewing I now considering checking my email to be relaxing. I still enjoy sewing but I’m less likely to think up projects that involve it. I do think I have focused my excess creative energy on knitting and cooking than I would have otherwise.

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Thanks so much for the interview Megan. So many of us check-in to Not Martha daily wondering what type of coolness we’ll find, so it’s really nice to know a bit more about the driving force behind such a wonderful site. Wishing you lots of happiness and wishing you luck in your business. I wonder is it possible to Fed-ex Jar Pies to London? :)

I hope you enjoyed that. More of these 10 Crafty Questions are in the pipeline. Look out for them!

Are you copying me?

Last night I was loafing about on Etsy (like you do) and I happened upon a seller of clasp purses (also known as kiss lock purses). The seller’s site was nice and fresh looking and they had made a considerable number of sales over the years. The purses were yummy and the photography was great too, you could tell that this person puts a lot of effort into their shop. “Good on them” I thought to myself.

A few more clicks and few more shops later I happened upon another shop also selling clasp purses and I thought “Hello does the last clasp purse seller have 2 shops?” These are a few things that I noticed where identical or similar between these two clasp frame purse sellers:

  • Some identical purse frames (bag and purse supplies are my thing so I can tell whether 2 frames are identical are not).
  • Some identical photo views (and in some cases) even down to a photo showing a hand holding the purse.
  • Similar price points, though one seller was slightly cheaper than the other

Now I can’t prove anything and I’m not going to make any accusations, but if you look at the ‘member since’ dates of the sellers one of them started their Etsy shop a year earlier than the other. **UPDATE** It looked to me as if there were 2 different sellers here, one of which was (shall we say) ‘heavily inspired’ by the other. So go figure; do you think it’s just a coincidence? Have you come across something like this before?

How I organize myself in my Craft Business: Part 3 – Staying Seasonal

The first part of this series is: How I organize myself in my Craft Business: Part 1 – Paper work.

The second part of this series is: How I organize myself in my Craft Business: Part 2 – Time Management.

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Why be seasonal in your Craft Business?

A readiness be seasonal in your craft business will make you more relevant and hopefully more busy! Of course some businesses are more driven by the seasons and the holidays than others, but most of us can devote a percentage our inventory in order to capitalise on Christmas, Summer, Valentines, Easter, Winter, and so on. Periods such holidays put people more in a mood to buy because there is purpose to buy! So it makes sense to sell relevant items in order to anticipate their needs.

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Start thinking, planning & preparing a Season in advance

So if we want our craft business to be ready for the upcoming holiday or season we have to prepare in advance. If you are busy making items for the Christmas holidays during the Christmas holidays than you are taking away precious time and energy from selling and marketing your items at the crucial time, thus increasing your chances of being left with unsold Christmas stock…urgh!

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How I try to Prepare for the Seasons

In my experience I find it best to work a season in advance. So for example to be ready for Spring/Summer I start thinking about it in mid Autumn, I hope to have selected and ordered Spring/Summer stock by mid winter, and I hope for it have all delivered by the the end of winter. This gives me a couple of weeks after New Year to have all photography, product descriptions, and marketing ideas all sorted before we all turn our attentions to Spring/Summer in Feb/March. Well that’s the plan anyway, it doesn’t always pan out like that :) So my craft business focuses on craft supplies, but if your business is centered upon handmade items the principle is still the same. For example; the peak selling time for Summer goods is now over (and lots of sales are on so the Summer stock can be shifted to make way for next season) and by now you ideally should already be in production of your Autumn/Winter items.

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Start Preparations with Research

One of the keys to staying one step ahead is research this is because in order to be ready for the next season/holiday a certain amount of prediction is involved. We have to hone our fortune teller skills by trying to figure out what key things, events, people, colours, etc. are going to have an influence on fashion or lifestyle trends.

Fortunately for us Goobers (that is Amy Butler’s term for folks like me (and a lot of you) who LOVE the internet and technology. I met and chatted her last week and she called me a Goober! I was so touched!) Info about what’s new, what is hot, and is going to be hot is never far away. Check out the blogs you love, check out the craft portal sites, and get a feel for what the crafting world is being influenced by. Other sources of research can include magazines, film, music, whatever! The secret is to not just copy what is going on, but to learn what is happening out there and then interpret these influences in your own special way. Here are some of the those sites (make a cuppa, get yourself some biccies, and get researchin’):

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Understand the trading patterns within a season.

Another Key to staying one step ahead is understanding the trading patterns of a season. This will help you plan and prepare to make the most of the season you are working in and also plan and prepare for the following season. My theory is the busy-ness of a season can be typically broken up into 3 parts. If you take fashions stores to be an analogy:

  • The Lead-up period (transitional period) - we are coming out of one season (and we are all sooo bored of it!) and we are now entering the new season. There’s a buzz about the new season in the press and the media and we are beginning to hanker for the new stuff. During this time the previous season’s items will be greatly reduced in the last of previous season sales. Time to grab a bargain winter coat for next year, but also time to start thinking of pretty summer dresses and sandals.
  • The In-season to peak season period – we are in the full swing of the season and (the shops hope that) a majority of the in-season items are being sold (at full-price) during this period. There are no sales on at this time, (but there may be promotions to stimulate sales), and shops are not re-stocking any In-season items. Time to buy those pretty summer dresses and sandals.
  • The Peak season to end of season period - just after the peak season is over (almost half way though the season) the shops start reducing the price of their items and/or putting them in promotions. The further on you go into this period the more aggressive the price reductions. The shops are off-loading their season’s stock because the next season’s stuff is already ordered and soon they will start putting it on the shop floor. And before you know it, the circus starts all over again and we are back into the Lead-up period of the next season! Time to buy some timeless classics for next summer at reduced prices.

I am soooo proud of this photo it aint true!

10 Crafty Questions with Kathreen Ricketson – The Wonder Lady Behind Whipup

Woo! new interviews here on CraftBoom!� ’10 Crafty Questions with…’ are a little different from our Crafting Heroes Interviews. These interviews are a bit more person orientated and there’s also a fun twist: I ask the interviewee 5 questions and the interviewee makes up another 5 questions to ask themselves. Sound like fun? Yep, I thought so too. So without further ado I’m sooo delighted to be able to kick off these interviews with the lovely Kathreen Ricketson founder and boss lady of the crafting quintessential Whipup. Hurrah!!!

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CraftBoom!’s 5 Questions

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If you could be any crafter/artist (past or present) for a day who would it be and why?
I am pretty happy as myself right now – of course there are lots of things I would like to do better – and I admire women who seem to be able to combine their dreams with being wonderful mothers at the same time. Two women I am attracted to for both their talent, their devotion to their children and to their craft/art are:
1. Blogger/homeschooling mama – Amanda Soule (of Soulemama.blog) she is so kind and talented but it is her mothering style that really draws me in – I love reading her blog and her recent book – both very inspiring. (read Amanda’s Crafting Heroes Interview here).


2. Australian artist Del Kathryn Barton, won the Archibald prize for painting this year with a work titled “You are What is Most Beautiful About Me”, it was a self portrait with her children. I have always loved her paintings and drawing but recently saw her soft sculptural work at the Melbourne Art Fair and it simply blew me away. She says “Mum taught me to sew, fairly unsuccessfully, but I like to keep it rough because it gives a quality of vulnerability and honesty to the marks I’m making.”

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If you had magic powers what 3 things would you do to advance the Crafting Movement?
If I had magic powers I would be stopping wars and saving trees and whales – but if its a crafting hero you want – Crafting seems to have a momentum of its own that needs no help from magic – unless you call the internet the hero of the crafting movement – which in a way it is – it has brought together people and ideas from such disparate areas that any magic I had would only be enhancing that effect.

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What are you most skilled at craft wise and what craft skills would you like to be more skilled at?
Sewing is my most craftiest thing – I make clothes and house accessories and am obsessed (still) by quilts, I make bags (for myself mostly but for friends and kids too) and make presents for people – I like to have a stash of tiny baby pants and shoulder bags to give as gifts. I also dabble in handmade books and dyeing fabric – but mostly my love of crafting revolves around an obsession with fabric. I would love to get into fabric design – but this is just as yet a very vague desire.

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What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
My children for sure. They are the love of my life. I couldn’t imagine my life without them. I do think though that completing my postgraduate studies with top marks while having two children in the midst of it all was a pretty good achievement too.


Awwwwww! Such a lovely picture.

I also think that Whipup is a good achievement – I have really loved being part of the craft blogging world and am grateful for all the people I have ‘met’ through Whipup and before that through my blog Redcurrent (which I know only update on a very irregular basis).

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Besides family/friends/home/health what is your most treasured possession?
Photos – I have so many gorgeous photos of my kids that I love. Apart from my enormous photo collection I also treasure the handmade lace from my late grandmothers estate.

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Kathreen’s 5 Questions

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Kathreen please choose another 5 questions to ask yourself. So these self chosen questions can be about anything you like. It would be nice if they are somewhat craft related questions, but they don’t have to be; I happen to think things like that “who would you like to share a roller coaster ride with” or “who you would to knit a jumper for” or “your favourite brand of chocolate milk” for example, quite interesting :)

Oh ok here goes – no celebrity questions – I admit to knowing next to nothing about celebs and wouldn’t want to go on a roller coaster with someone I was not very comfortable in the company of…

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What was your first crafting disaster and success?
I started crafting by making dolls clothes – I went from that to pillow cases and patchwork cushions – I made a few shirts which were difficult and took ages – with button holes and tailored collars – then took a leap into the unknown and made my end of year dance (prom) dress. It was a spectacular disaster. I took my (over protective and no fashion sense) mothers advice and bought dark green taffeta and made a bouffant thing that never quite fit properly, didn’t stay on my shoulders and gave me no confidence at all – I believe I looked quite frumpy – it was the late 80′s after all …

Crafting success – the best thing I have ever made has got be these pants for my boy – 2 years on (and a bit taller) he is still wearing them – they are a bit faded and bit short but he wears them nearly everyday – they are comfortable, easy to wash and super duper groovy.

Aw man! Those pants seriously rock!

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What crafting experience would you never repeat?
I used to have a market stall every Sunday at the local craft markets – but after a year of Sundays and early mornings and weekends used up I decided to quit and oh boy what a relief! I wish that Etsy was around back then – what a bonus for crafters now having such a fabulous marketplace to sell their wares.

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What skills would you like to pass on – and which ones do you feel you missed out on?
I would like to teach my kids to cook and to sew really well – Also to teach them an appreciation of handmade and handcrafted things. To teach them to enjoy the making as much as the using/eating – we don’t go to fast food restaurants for that reason – and we now spend our Sundays baking bread or gardening or making something – instead of rushing around like we do the rest of the week.

Mmmm I can almost smell it!


The Ricketson family’s earth oven.

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My favourite snack to munch on and favourite music to listen to while crafting away?
I will always love banana on buttered toast with a cup of tea. not too practical to eat while crafting as it is a bit crumby and buttery – but I like to pause and sit and enjoy my tea break before getting back to the cutting/sewing bench. Music though is a different matter – I enjoy a range of old jazz, musicals and moody music – my husband calls it wailing music – but i find the old women of jazz very soothing to listen to.

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What do you want more of and less of in your life?
I want more space – I want a sewing room (I have given up my dedicated sewing room so the children could have a room each – boo hoo!) but as we are currently extending our house I will hopefully soon have my own space back again – smaller but more compact and organised. I want less stuff. I can’t bear all the junk that seems to accumulate – I love to chuck out clear out and give back to the charity shops – I am striving for a simple life without lots of mass manufactured stuff around me.

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Thanks so much for the interview Kathreen. So many of us check-in to Whipup each day so it’s really nice to know a bit about the driving force behind such a wonderful site. Wishing you lots of happiness and many more craft successes. I don’t suppose you could whip up a pair of those groovy pants for yours truly? :)

I hope you enjoyed that.  More of these 10 Crafty Questions are in the pipeline.  Look out for them!

How I organize myself in my Craft Business: Part 2 – Time Management

Oh and my favourite Krispy Kreme has to be Maple flavour…

The first part of this series is: How I organize myself in my Craft Business: Part 1 – Paper work.

I think one of the trickier things about running your own business is finding a working balance for your time because there’s never enough of the stuff!! Because a lot of you work from home you are saving loads of time (and money) not having to commute to work, but working from home and being your own boss can have the effect of making you far more lax with ourselves than say a grouchy boss or floor manager would be. So it’s up to us to enforce a bit of discipline and management upon ourselves. Doing this will increase business efficiency, give us focus, and free up time for ourselves and our families – blimey! it sounds really quite good doesn’t it?

Various Craft Business Tasks

  • Marketing – Social media on the web, contributing to forums, blogging, creating promo stationary, newsletters, and submitting to sites/magazines/blogs.
  • Inventory – designing inventory, building up stock levels, obtaining supplies to build inventory, processing inventory for your shop (photography, uploading to site etc. etc)
  • Customer Care – answering enquiries, emails, phone calls, letters, etc.
  • Admin – paperwork and accounting
  • Selling/processing Inventory – packing orders, selling through craft fairs/parties/shops

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In an ideal word we would all have paid help to assist us with these different tasks, but as a majority of us are one man bands we have find ways to effectively divide up our day/week/month to get these jobs done. This is how I try (my darndest) to manage my days/weeks/months:

A typical U-Handbag Day:

  • AM (8-9.30) – BIG mug of coffee, computer on, check emails and flag the most urgent ones (my inbox has fangs and I can only cope with so many a day, but I do try my very best). I answer the most urgent emails and make To Do lists from those emails as appropriate.
  • AM (9.30 – 11) – Process any new stock or put new deliveries into my shop. Taking photos, photo editing, pricing up items and creating product descriptions for new items. Unpacking deliveries for the shop and adding them to stock inventory. Have a bit of a fight crushing all the boxes in the yard…
  • AM (11- 12.30) – print out invoices from shop orders and pack orders.
  • PM (12.30 – 1.30) blogging and social media. I try to blog most days (I know I haven’t been doing so on this blog so here are my wrists…). I blog because I love it, it’s a great marketing tool, and to be honest I do feel a bit lonely for crafty company at times. Once you start blogging and social media it is something that should be maintained on a regular basis for it to be effective.
  • PM (1.45 -2.15) – Lunch – usually a bowl of soup and a crappy afternoon soap
  • PM (2.30 – 3) – Check inventory stock levels and create supplies orders if necessary. Order supplies if necessary
  • PM (3 – 4) – Another hour of answering emails.
  • PM – (4 -5) – Print out invoices from shop orders and pack orders (if there are anymore) and take orders to post office to catch last post
  • PM (5.30 – 6) – Tea and cake and admin (what joy!)
  • PM (6 – 6.15) – another tea and housekeeping; tidy up office and store room, check that we are OK for stationary and packing materials.

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A typical U-Handbag week; in a week I would have hoped to have achieved:

  • 6 blog posts between my 2 blogs (yes, I know, I know, I promise I will be here more often)
  • To have selected around 8 items in the shop to be on special offer for the week
  • Posted and packed all customer orders on the same business day. We pride ourselves on doing this :)
  • Research and development for at least 5 future project ideas: for items to sell in the shop, for future blog posts, for future bag designs for magazine submission, for future bag designs to model new product in shop. It doesn’t matter if most of these ideas don’t see the light of day; I just try to think of new ideas to focus myself and to try to better understand my market, and I like doing it!
  • At least 3/4 of my inbox dealt with (in varying amounts). It never is 100% empty (waaah!) I have given up stressing out over that.

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A typical U-Handbag month; in a month I would have hoped to have achieved:

  • Stocked 4 -8 new and different product lines in the shop
  • Submitted a bag design and tutorial to the magazine I write for
  • All month-end supplier invoices paid
  • Items which are not selling so well, or end of line items, or 2nd quality items moved to the Clearance section of my shop
  • More work on my Research and Development

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My Time Management Top Tips:

  • Try to drink the best quality tea and coffee you can afford and then drink less – all that time spent making and drinking tea and then you end up eating more Krispy Kreme donuts…baaad!
  • Try to attend to one task at a time until the task is finished. You’ll be more thorough, focused, and make less mistakes. Didn’t a wise beardy old man once say “the man that chases two rabbits won’t catch one”?
  • Try to group similar tasks and then try to attend to them in a day or parts of a day. For example you could have a admin (urgh!) and a housekeeping day, or a stock take and supplies ordering day, or a marketing, blogging, and social media day etc. etc. etc.
  • Try to set up an ACHIEVABLE to do lists or a daily/weekly schedule and tick off the tasks as they get done. If you are a nice boss you can treat yourself to a tasty Maple Krispy Kreme when you complete your tasks. Do this even if you think there is very little to do otherwise there is a good chance that even your few jobs won’t get done because you have ended mooching about on the internet (yes, am guilty!)
  • Try to set yourself reasonable time limits for your tasks and stick to them. This will help you stay focused on your task until completion (and hopefully prevent you from mooching on the internet….).
  • Try to impose working hours on yourself. I find this one very tricky because I LOVE my job. When your working day (or working time slot) is over, then it’s over. Try hard not to sneak back to your computer, or make a little something, or do some R & D for your business. Working out of hours may seem largely harmless, but it’s not very good for you in the long-run. You need to treat yourself, have time with your family and friends, and get some rest. Doing this will make you and all around you happier and you will find it easier to stay fresh and focused when you are working :)

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We should all be at it! Saving time is soooo important. Great Scott! Even Doc is doing his bit!