Both my husband and I work at home, and pretty much make up our own schedule–which in the beginning was a beautiful and freeing thing. Little did I know how crucial it was to learn about myself and time management. We are both the sort who often come out on personality tests as extravagant starters, collectors and visionaries–i.e., classically inefficient people.
This past year I wanted to make some radical changes in my schedule, and as a writer I wanted to include more blogging (which I never really did in earnest before), both at this blog and others that I’ve started. I quizzed some of my business-owner or otherwise brilliant managerial friends to give me some clues on how they manage their days. Several of these people also work from home. I was very overwhelmed by the both the diversity and number of varying tasks they did daily, including communications (email and phone).
I like to work for very long, concentrated periods of time on one particular thing and am a horrible multi-tasker. I also like to work on things until I “feel” like I am done, not when the clock or other instructions say I’m done. (One case in point is that I even like to write longer blog entries, rather than lots of short ones, but I’m still learning my own best practices here.) I’ve often struggled with this hyper-intuitive and rather tunnel-vision way of working, especially when I was in professional environments. And so lately I’ve been thinking about how to make peace with this aspect of myself and create my own “efficiency model”!
In a recent post at Frabjous Couture, Marina mentioned the importance of “mise en place”, a chef term that means proper prep of both ingredients and tools, having them all ready and “in place” before cooking. I learned that skill well as a former restaurant cook way back in the day–it’s all about time management.
A little bell went off in my head about trying this approach in my sewing–and not just for an individual project, but doing it on a larger scale. What if I had multiple projects ready to go?
Instead of cutting one pattern, fitting, cutting fabric, and sewing, I could work on multiple patterns, get them all prepared and fitted, then move on to fabric cutting of all these patterns, etc. There is some geek in me that would like to sit down at my machine with five (or six or eight) very ready-to-go, neat piles of cut fabric and required notions.
Is that ambitious? Maybe. I’m not on a deadline, thank goodness.
I’d get to concentrate on one particular task for an extended period to time, then move on to the next. I learn much, much better this way. The problem with working on small little tidbits is that one never gets on a roll before moving on to a different type of task or way of thinking.
Clearly I won’t be able to show a finished garment for quite some time (I’m on a holiday in August), but there will be some test garments, and little stories about the projects in between. I’ve divided my work into seven different stages and will return here to post about them. So let the Project Mise en Place begin!
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