One of the things that I learned from my business coach, Elizabeth Barbour, is the difference between working “in” your business and working “on” your business. For me this means the difference between working in my studio, making my handmade pottery versus doing all the things that I don’t care for very much. These tasks can include bookkeeping, running business errands, returning emails, updating my e-commerce website, networking, re-arranging the showroom etc. These are not things that are fun for me and they’re usually not things that I consider to be at the top of my skillset. But, they have to get done if I’m going to move forward in my business and be successful.
Honestly, I’d much rather just be in my studio all of the time. Especially during a month like this one where electrical issues, backordered glazes and a broken down kiln have all got me feeling like I’m incredibly behind during this holiday season of production. So, how am I staying on track by getting the work done “on” my business today? Here are some things that are working for me.
1. I scheduled an appointment for someone to get my gas fireplace working and the appointment was “anytime between 8-noon”. This allows me to stay at home and get all of my computer work done without feeling as if it’s an unproductive morning out of the studio. After the maintenance guy showed up at 8:15 and finished in five minutes I already had Plan B in place so I wouldn’t just throw aside my computer work and head to the studio.
2. Plan B: When I woke up this morning, I put on good clothes instead of studio clothes. The shirt I’m wearing is new and I don’t want to ruin it quite yet with red stains of earthenware so since I’m wearing nice clothes, I’ll resist the urge to head to the studio.
3. Have a source of accountability. I told a collaborator that I would be working on some promotions for an upcoming event and since I thrive on outside accountability, I don’t want to let her down.
4. Create a space that you don’t want to leave. Now that the fireplace is up and running, I’m definitely sitting next to it and I’ve lit a candle that smells of the holidays so I’m pretty cozy while I’m working. And yes, now is the perfect time to pull out that handmade mug and put a kettle on! Turn this into a little quiet time with a cup of hot tea.
5. Give yourself permission. Instead of allowing myself to freak out about the broken kiln issue and what that might mean, I’m focusing on the moment and getting stuff done that is within my control. So, it’s possible that I might not be able to continue my production cycle but what about the inventory that I already have? If I don’t ever take the time to update the web shop or promote my in-store events, it’s just going to sit there so why not take this time to slow down and take a look at my online presence and fix what I can.
6. Time blocking. I love to work in chunks of time that are usually divided up into before lunch and after lunch. I’m very food motivated. Ha. So, if I’m being honest, I’m going to try really hard to get all of the “on” the business stuff done in the morning, eat that leftover bratwurst from last night, change into studio clothes, deposit a couple of checks (yay) and then head over to the studio for the afternoon. I know that if I had done things the other way around and gone into the studio this morning, I’d have stayed all day and none of the important things would’ve gotten finished.
And look at this...I even had time to write a little.