How to Plan and Organise Your Craft Projects (and actually finish them) | S2E11

In this episode, I’m talking all about how I plan and organise my craft/cross stitch projects and actually finish them … well usually anyway.

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I love to plan things, but I’m usually not too good at the execution. I’m such a procrastinator and leave things until very last minute, or sometimes just don’t do them at all. Unless I’m doing something for someone else – I rarely let them down, I just always let myself down. 

The Four Tendencies

And then a few months ago, thanks to podcasts, I discovered the Four Tendencies. If you haven’t heard of them I’ll give you a quick overview.

So Gretchen Rubin wrote The Happiness Project* and while writing she discovered that she could categorise people into Four Tendencies, based on how they followed outer and inner expectations. 

There’s an Upholder who has no problem following expectations they set for themselves or others set for them. Gretchen is an upholder.

Then there are Questioners who will follow outer or inner expectations as long as they have researched the reasons why they need to follow them. For example, if someone tells them to turn vegan, a questioner will ask why they should do that and make a decision based on their research.

The third are Rebels who basically do whatever they want. My husband is a rebel and I can not make him do anything he doesn’t want to do (despite trying for the last 9 years). 

And last are Obligers who are the most common, and I’m an Obliger. So we have no trouble doing things other people ask up to do, but we’re not so good as doing things for ourselves.

For example, before I had kids there’s no way I would have had the will power to give up dairy. However, breastfeeding babies who are allergic to dairy meant I had to either give up dairy or give up breastfeeding. I chose to give up dairy for them and stuck to it. Even though they were newborn and couldn’t directly ask me to give dairy up, I knew it was the best thing for them, so did it.

So how does this relate to planning?

I think it’s really important to know how you react to expectations. If you’re a rebel, you probably hate planning and this episode may not be for you. The very act of writing down which project you will do each month will probably make you not want to do it.

For Obligers, if you tell yourself you’re going to work on 10 projects next year, you need someone to help you stick to it.

You can take a quiz on Gretchen’s website to help you determine which tendency you fall into.

So Gretchen says Obligers need outer accountability to stick to doing something. Someone who will make you do it. I struggled with this at first, but I found a solution without even realising it. This year (2018) I decided to make a new animal cross stitch kit every month and announced this on my social media, podcast etc. This acted as my accountability. I’m sure I wouldn’t have got any messages if I didn’t launch an animal kit one month, but I didn’t want to take that risk. And so every month I’ve stuck to it and released one. This month is a sleepy unicorn for those of you who are wondering.

The same with the podcast. All of you listeners expect an episode every month so I always make sure I do it. Sometimes I’m recording the night before, but I’ve managed to get it out all year.  With that on the mind, let’s got on to how to plan your projects!

Planning And Organising Your Craft Projects

Before I had my Cross Stitch Project Planner I had a notebook for ideas, a sketchbook for designs and a graph paper pad for turning them into patterns. It was not a great system, and it’s the reason I designed the planner sheets which you can download for free by here. The sheets definitely helped, but my ideas were still everywhere. Cue, my project planner idea.

So I’m literally going to go through the planner and show you how each section can help you plan a whole year of projects. You don’t need the planner to use this method though, you can still do this in a regular one.

The first few pages of the planner are goal lists for each month, but I don’t recommend starting here; start at the mind mapping pages. These are made for you to get messy, brain dump ideas etc.

Then have a look through and try to separate them into groups for each month. You may think to put Christmas projects straight in the December list, but have a think how long it will take you and maybe move it to October or November. If you’re a business you may want to start your Christmas projects as early as June.

Once you have a few in each monthly list, head over to the monthly pages. Here you can write the list again as well as any other notes you want to take any big ideas you might have.

If you need a place to find patterns for your ideas, I have recommended patterns and kits on every podcast episode, right at the end. I also have loads of ideas on Pinterest. You can use the note-taking space to fill with places to find patterns.

Then you need to decide (if you haven’t already) if you will be designing it or you are going to buy the pattern. If your designing it there are pages in the planner for sketches and blank grids for creating patterns. 

When you have your pattern, go to the breakdown pages and start planning the individual projects. For each one you can write down everything about the pattern/project; how big it will be, what fabric to stitch it on, the colours of thread you will need, and there is a shopping list space at the bottom in case there are things you need that aren’t already in your stash. 

Then break down the pattern; decide when you will start and finish it, break it up into parts to stitch. If you want to keep track of how long it is taking you, there is space to jot down that too. 

How to Follow Through on Your Plans

OK, so planing is definitely the fun part for me. The hard part is following through on those plans. I’ve already told you one way I follow through; by using outer accountability. But there are other ways too. 

I’ve mentioned this before, but I always have 2 projects on the go; a big one and a little one. I love stitching a big one and taking my time with it, but I do get a little impatient sometimes. That’s why I love smaller projects that give you that satisfaction you get finishing a handmade project. I have loads of small kits available if you would like a smaller project to work on. 

Stitch-a-longs (SALs), or joining a community is a good way to make sure you finish a project. Seeing everyone else’s progress with a SAL really makes you want to stitch as well, and of course, show off your progress!

Communities are a good way to show off too. I don’t see anything wrong with showing off your work, and encourage all of you in my Facebook group to show me! If you’re not in my Facebook group, I highly recommend joining. There are over 500 1500 members now, and there are such a variety of people in there. And there is the cross stitch community on Reddit.

Another way to ensure you finish your project is to only stitch projects you love. If you’re not enjoying a project, I give you permission to put it away and start another.

I used to feel like sure a failure if I didn’t finish a hoop, but now I allow myself to step away from it and know it’s still there if I want to pick it up again in the future.

Some of you (I’m talking to you upholders) will have no problem setting your project goals and smashing them next year. Others may find it a little harder, but I hope this episode has inspired you to go get planning and hopefully given you some ideas on how you can follow through with those plans.

If you would like some outer accountability, why not join one of my SALs? There is still time to join in my Christmas one, were only a few weeks in, or if you would rather wait until next year I have 3 planned! I won’t talk too much about them now, but I will update you next year with all the details.

I can’t believe this is the last episode of 2018. It has been a crazy year for my business and I feel like I’ve been slowly changing direction throughout the year. I’m not quite sure where I’m heading yet though. 

So next year!! I won’t talk too much about the plans for the podcast because I may change my mind (I do that a lot), but at the minute I’m being drawn towards sharing some resources I’ve used throughout the past 3-4 years to help hone my creativity and the lessons I’ve learnt from them. The things that help get me out of creative ruts and give me motivation and inspiration. Of course, cross stitch will still be the main theme though.

The Kit of The Month

This month I’m of course recommending my ‘Tis The Season Cross Stitch Kits. This is the kit we are stitching for the SAL, but if you would like to buy it to just stitch yourself over the Christmas season, rather than joining in the SAL, it is available for pre-order now. It’s a 7 inch hoop kit and comes in 3 colour palettes and the design is filled with all things Christmas such as snowflakes, a candy cane, a bell, a present etc. I say this about a lot of my kits, but this one is truly my absolute favourites. I can’t wait to hang it up in a couple of weeks. 

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