Episode 10: Time Management Tips: An Interview with Lindsey Stephens from Poetry in Yarn

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Time Management Tips, an interview with Lindsey Stephens on the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show

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This Week’s Episode

In today’s episode, we talk all about time management. As creative business owners, we all struggle with time. Many of us “juggle a lot of balls” by balancing multiple revenue streams and roles in our business.

My guest on this episode is Lindsey Stephens, the owner of Poetry in Yarn. Lindsey juggles her roles as a crochet designer, tech editor, crochet and knitting teacher, and web designer for Poetry in Yarn with her part-time job as a math teacher at a Yeshiva elementary and middle school in Connecticut, and her responsibilities as a mother and a wife. Lindsey can be found online at the Poetry in Yarn website and on Facebook, Ravelry (as Leebah and on her designer page), Twitter, and YouTube. I previously interviewed her on the Underground Crafter blog here.

Lindsey’s Tips for Time Management

  1. Know how much time you have
  2. Know what you need to accomplish
  3. Know how much time each task takes
  4. Work with your habits, not against them
  5. Delegate (or partner) to get some of the work done by others

About Poetry in Yarn

Time Management Tips, an interview with Lindsey Stephens on the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show
Lindsey Stephens, owner of Poetry in Yarn.

Lindsey Stephens started her yarn-related business in 2009, when she began submitting designs to magazines. Her (mostly) crochet patterns have been published by Crochet 1-2-3, Crochet World, Knit 1-2-3, KnitCircus, and in Curvy Girl Crochet and Debbie Macomber: Blossom Street Collection Book 3. She recently published new shawl design with the Yarnover TruckFairy Ring Road, and held a trunk show as part of the Western Connecticut Yarn Crawl at New England Yarn & Spindle.

Shortly thereafter, she took the Designing for Print Publication course by Mary Beth Temple. She launched the Poetry in Yarn site in 2010, and began self-publishing her own patterns. She began accepting clients for crochet tech editing (including symbol chart creation) as well as web design services in 2011 or 2012. Her background includes a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and additional courses on garment grading.

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Her business has expanded primarily through word-of-mouth and by collaborating with a graphic designer for mutual referrals. She now provides tech editing services for publishers, and Fresh Designs Crochet: Toys, a booklet she tech edited, was recently released by Cooperative Press. As the other elements of her business have expanded, Lindsey has decreased her design submissions to external publishers.

In this interview, she shares her tips for time management, particularly when you are managing diversified tasks and multiple income streams.

1. Know how much time you have

Lindsey’s first suggestion is to be conservative in estimating the amount of time you have available. While you may seem to have a three hour time slot to devote to working on a particular project, in fact you may use part of that time period to eat, shower, commute, do household chores, etc. If you start by being clear about how much time is actually available for working, you will be more likely to properly schedule your duties.

Similarly, pad your internally imposed deadlines to account for possible emergencies or shifts in your schedule.

2. Know what you need to accomplish

Lindsey recommends tracking your tasks/duties externally, using a system that works well for you. She suggests that you should clear your brain space by relieving yourself of the responsibility of remembering all your tasks – by listing them, you can sharpen your focus on completing the tasks, rather than on remembering what the tasks are.

Lindsey forecasts her tasks and sets a preliminary schedule on Sunday. Lindsey uses a spiral notebook, but others may prefer electronic task management tools. She uses a large spiral notebook, so her list of tasks looks smaller, and recommends starting a new list periodically on a clean sheet of paper. This makes her list look more manageable and less intimidating, so it relieves stress while allowing her to see patterns in her schedule and decide what can be delegated.

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Lindsey also recommends being aware of your own rhythms. For example, communicating and sharing on social media comes naturally to her, so she doesn’t add it to her task list or schedule. However, if you are not as comfortable with social media, you may want to include it on your task list.

3. Know how much time each task takes

Lindsey recommends being realistic about what can be accomplished in a given timeframe. She uses a combination of tools to increase her understanding of how long specific tasks take to complete. Lindsey uses Toggl, a free time tracking software, when she’s working on computer-based tasks, like tech editing or blogging. When she’s designing or creating samples, she observes start and end times on a clock or by counting a number of television episodes she watched.

Lindsey notes that the more often you do something, the more realistic you can be about the amount of time required. (So if you are just launching your business, don’t worry! This will be easier to understand over time.)

4. Work with your habits, not against them

Once you have clarity on how much time you have, what you need to accomplish, and how much time each task takes, Lindsey recommends working with your own habits and preferences, and not against them. She was first introduced to this idea in Organizing from the Inside Out, Second Edition: The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your Life by Julie Morgenstern. Specifically, Lindsey suggests that you don’t adopt any “system” of time management, but rather use different time management tools that fit into your own lifestyle for maximum success.

5. Delegate (or partner) to get some of the work done by others

Consider what you can delegate or partner with others to do in order to maximize your time. Lindsey uses a contract crocheter, a part-time bookkeeper, and a virtual assistant that she met through word-of-mouth and social media. This allows you to expand the amount of work you can do within the limits of your available time.

You can find a growing set of links to time management resources on my Pinterest board!
Follow Creative Yarn Entrepreneur’s board Time Management on Pinterest.

What suggestions do you have for improving your time management? What challenges do you face in managing your time? Leave a comment below, Tweet me at @cyeshow, or leave a message at 646-713-8973. (You can call me for free through the Contact page.)

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