Thursday, April 24, 2008

How Much Time ...

Susan Sheehan of Flaming Hot! asks how much time the business end takes us versus how much time creating material. In my case, and in many others, one has to add time on a full-time job.

What do I do on the business end? Display, record keeping and promotional activities are the main categories here. I have to take and edit pictures; I need to maintain good inventory and sales records, and I need to promote via networking sites, image galleries, and blogs on the Net, and also promote in brick and mortar venues. In addition I need to work full-time and find creation time ... but I also need to carve out time that is neither work nor production, in order to recharge.

How much time? In some ways, it is hard to know. Liz Davenport, in Order from Chaos, suggest that there is only now. (However, there's also "pending"). I practice that--I say practice, because I fall flat now and then. Okay, a lot. I take photos. If I can, I edit them then. If not, I edit them as I post on ETSY. As I post, I enter each set or focal into my Open Office Spreadsheet (a work in progress, but I am happy to share it!). It automates some of the repetitive entries and allows me to generate an invoice without retyping data or much cut and paste, and I will be happy to share the basic template. Increasingly, though, I think a relational database will further simplify data records. Whatever way works, it only functions as a time saver if I enter data as I list it on the website or on ETSY, and at point of sale. Five minutes versus hours at monthly tax-time is a major time savings!

Promotional activities go in "Pending," and I schedule time for them. Mostly; I'm squeezing this into cleaning up time! Blogs and Flicker can "fit into" my work day, but that means that they are not consistent. My best success is to post on Flickr and this blog as I list items -- as part of record keeping -- and to update other galleries, such as Bead artists.orgT and Talent DatabaseT, once every two weeks or so. I leave cards at places I visit regularly. I am still working out that rhythm. It still adds hours ... ten minutes and five minutes and half an hour add up!

Part of the reason for "doing it now" in five to ten minute bursts is my full-time job. I teach history to adult students returning to school, taking night classes. The up-side to my job is that it is flexible. Currently, for example, I am sitting in my office, ready to register my advisees for their fall classes. Business has been steady enough that reading something and making notes on it is really not an option, but posting a fast blog post, editing FLICKR titles, and the like -- things I can pick up and put down in five minutes -- are possible. I can also work much of the week and Saturday and take off a Thursday to torch without interruptions, or arrange my schedule in other ways. The downside to my job is that flexibility has limits. Class time, committee work, faculty meetings, and office hours are not flexible, and if I am teaching a new class or writing an article preparation will take priority over everything.

Overall, the time I spend fluctuates. I try to regularize and almost automate most tasks -- this blog appears on my website, which means that new listings show up there regularly, too. But my "behind the scenes work" is like the rest of my life: in seasons. Some things are daily, or as daily as I can make them: ETSY listings and sales records. Some things are monthly: secondary web posts, brick-and-mortar card refreshing vists. Some things take precedence at some times of the year. ANd doing things as they arise is the key to my sanity. So far. Ask me tomorrow and my system may be different, because my rhythm will have changed.

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