After what seems like a very long time, it is good to be back to doing some drawing again. It hasn’t been that I haven’t had ideas, but more because there just seems like so many other things get in the way. I look back on my own productivity and wonder if I should be more disciplined in what I am doing. Sometimes I think that is the answer, but then there are other times when I know that the other stuff that I do is necessary also to keep things running smoothly and everyone happy. It is hard to draw clear lines sometimes.
I suppose that it is one of those things where I just need to do my best and see where it brings me. But then when writing that down and really thinking about it, it makes me wonder if that isn’t the root of the problem after all. Or is there really a ‘problem?’ After all – how much production is ‘enough’ and how much is overload?
I wonder sometimes how I feel that I am not doing enough when I know I spend most of my time working in some shape or form. Besides what everyone sees up front, there are all the little personal jobs and things that I do every day that steal the hours away. I don’t show everything here because many of the things I do are insignificant in themselves or a small part of a bigger process and not worth mentioning. But when I think about them honestly, they do take up time and that is where many of the hours slip away to. So I suppose they aren’t insignificant at all.
I find I spend a lot of time on my mail. It does take a notable amount of my time during an average day. I don’t mind that because I do like to get to know people and help them, but I sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed and there are many days that I don’t finish mail until noon. And I never really finish, it seems. There is always more there to keep me busy if I wait long enough.
While we were gone those couple of days, I did not have access to a computer from the time I left on Tuesday morning until the time we returned late Wednesday evening. Part of me was anxious about that. I felt as if my lifeline to part of my world had been cut off. With all that was going on around me though, I found that I didn’t think much of it most of the time. I survived and the world survived fine without me.
There was one point on Wednesday when we were checking out of the hotel and while standing at the desk, I noticed that there was a computer in the lobby for email and such for the guests to use. I will admit, I almost went to it and checked on things, but there was a man using it and although I was flirting with the idea of waiting for him to finish so I could check things out, I overcame the urge and did not. After all, this was to be a real break.
It made me think though.
Dennis had said something to me a few weeks ago when I was feeling overwhelmed about not having to answer the emails the second that they come into the inbox. It was one of those things that should be quite obvious, but for some reason wasn’t (to me at least.) I believe that I have my mind trained to answer emails within three seconds of receiving them no matter what I am doing at the time. I do think this stems from those days when my business was not very successful and communication with customers were few and far between. To be honest with you, at that time I had nothing better to do then jump on the emails and answer them as soon as they arrived. Thus the probable cause of the ‘limited’ success (I am being generous to myself using that term.)
As I began to rebuild my business, I associated success with the number of emails and questions that I received and even though I receive far more today than I did back then, I still pride myself on returning answers to them in seconds, not hours or even minutes. I know that can be good from a customer’s point of view, but as I continue to grow my business it is getting harder and harder to keep up. Something has got to give.
Is there a ‘grey area’ that I can find in this situation that will work? I hope so. I am open to suggestions from my other friends who have their own businesses and have come across this situation. I need to think it through and come up with something that will work for everyone.
I very much enjoy talking to people and helping them too. Many of my customers also become my friends as we talk and communicate on a regular basis. I don’t want to lose those friendships, but I also realize that there are only so many hours in a day and if I continue to grow at the rate that I want to, it will be impossible for me to keep up with correspondence in this manner. I think I have to think a bit more and separate the social aspect of my communications from my professional aspects. After all, if I worked in an office, I would certainly have to limit how much social visiting I would do. How else would I be productive?
I feel as if I am rambling on a bit here today and I do apologize for that. It has just occurred to me how much of some of my days are spent on this and not working on my designs. I don’t like the anxious feeling that I have when I want to get these projects on paper and make them a reality and sometimes it seems that I just can’t manage the time to do so. I am just looking at what needs to be adjusted in order for me to feel a bit more productive.
I think I am going to try some new approaches to things in the next couple of days and see how it goes. I am at the point where I have a lot of drawing ahead of me and I want to accomplish it before I lose the inspiration. I am going to try not to allow myself get side tracked so easily and stay focused on the task at hand. Maybe a designated time for correspondence and so forth would work better than randomly weaving it into my daily routine. I will still fill orders immediately, but the general questions and things that need my attention would probably do OK if I waited a couple of hours and did them all at once. When I was gone for two days, no one perished and no one was even upset that it took a bit longer for me to answer. The world still turned. Perhaps I do this to myself. (Ya think?)
So I am off to draw.
I am working on a set of ornaments that are so far coming out very nicely. I don’t know if I will be able to finish drawing them up today, but we will see how far I can get if I truly focus and stay on task. I have a long list of things that I want to work on and have ready for this year, and the only way I am going to be able to get them done is to be a bit more disciplined. I have to start somewhere.
You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside. The enemy of the ‘best’ is often the ‘good.’ ~Stephen Covey
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"