Why I Make Tablecloths in My Down Time

One of the biggest challenges of being an entrepreneur is to have consistent work coming in every month. Some months might be great and some months might not be so good in terms of the amount of incoming work. When you’re in busy season, you have to manage your work and triage it to get everything done on time. On the other hand when you know it’s not your busiest month, you have to work hard to create more work.

In my recent downtime, I made tablecloths. Many of them. It was commissioned by one company I work with. I pressed the fabric hem and sewed straight lines over and over again. It is not sexy nor Instagram worthy but I take on work like this for several reasons.

One is to keep the client happy and build a trusting relationship. They might not give you the work you absolutely love at all times, but work is work. When you are starting up, you cannot be too picky.

Two, it was surprisingly relaxing to do this simple task. It was a good break from creative work. It felt similar to knitting, where you repeat the simple pattern over and over again. Knit, purl, knit purl….

Lastly, it helps me keep going with my business. The money I earned from making tablecloths can be put elsewhere to grow my actual business. So regardless of its sexiness, I take on work like this sometimes to have healthy finance for my business.

P.S. Other small business tips here and here.

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“Don’t Count on Motivation; Count on Discipline.”

thoughs-on-tim-ferris-show Several typhoons have hit Japan this past month. It has been raining non-stop. Although I long for a dry sunny days to be out and about, when it rains like this I try to take the opportunity to stay in, sew and listen to podcasts. Today I listened to an interesting episode of the Tim Ferris show.

It features Jocko Willink (@jockowillink) who co-founded Echelon Front, a leadership and management consulting company After retiring from the 20 year service in the US Navy.

It’s a long episode (an hour and a half), and I did not really care for his very military-ish view of the world (the U.S. so generously fixed Japan after the World War II by dropping atomic bombs! And America helped Vietnam! And Afghanistan! He might be right who knows, but nonetheless it’s hard to swallow). Nonetheless, there were some good parts. If you are interested in what I thought was the best part, listen from minute 43 about “being creative” and minute 55 on “motivation and discipline.”

“Don’t count on motivation; count on discipline.” – Jocko Willink

All of us have suffered from lack of motivation in some way or other. I’ve read in some craft blogs about how to stay motivated. There are many times after putting the kids to bed I just want to crash on the couch and watch movies mindlessly rather than sewing.

Willink says motivation is unreliable when it comes to accomplishing goals. It’s about discipline. Make yourself do it. Don’t wait for motivation to come.

His statement blew me away. It was liberating to know that I don’t have to wait for the motivation fairy to arrive and swing her magic wand; rather I just have to do it whether I feel like it or not if I really want to be good at something.

It reminded me of the Michaelangelo  exhibition I went to a few months ago. Along with his paintings, the museum exhibited some of his drafts and sketches. It said they found thousands of rough drafts. If it takes Michaelangelo thousands of rough drafts to paint well, I’m sure it takes thousands of hours of sewing for me to be good at this sewing thing.

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Time Saving Tips for Blogging and Social Media Posts

It is hard to balance the time you spend on blogging and keeping up with social media while keeping a small business going. Since opening my Etsy shop in 2008, I’ve tried, failed and revised the ways to be productive so as not to drive myself insane with multiple tasks. Although I enjoy writing blog posts, it is my goal to get it done in a minimal amount of time. This way I can focus on designing, sewing, improving my skills and marketing the shop.
Through out the revising process, I have learnt some more efficient ways to handle things and wanted to share them with you. I am always refining the these process so I can be more efficient. If you have any tips, please comment below!

Do One Thing at a Time
This might sound obvious, but you will be surprised how often you are trying to multi-task (in an inefficient manner). For instance, I try not to touch my phone while I am doing something on my computer, whether it is responding to emails from customers, editing photos or writing an invoice. I try my best to focus on one thing and get it done quickly rather than trying to do more than one thing at a time.

Use a Timer
I’ve have learned over time that I get more things done if I know I have the limited time, as opposed to having a lot of time. So I keep a timer at hand and do things within a set time. You will be surprised how much you can do in 10 minutes.
Schedule Social Media Posts ahead of Time
I schedule a weeks worth of instagram posts using Latergram, and do the same for Facebook Page. Latergram will allow you to schedule up to 25 posts per month. You can upgrade your account to schedule more. I like Latergram since it lets you post from your computer. I hate sending myself photos I took with DSLR, open and save in my phone and finally to post on instagram. It adds so many more steps to the posting process. Using Latergram, you can schedule posts at the same time you write a blog post instead of going on your instagram app on the phone later on. It also helps you have a consistent posts. You don’t want to see a person or company posts 10 pictures at the same time to spam your feed or on the other hand, see no updates at all. You will need to download the Latergram app, since Instagram does not allow you to post automatically. Latergram will send you a reminder when your scheduled time comes to post it. I actually think this is good since it forces you to review your posts for any spelling mistakes or add hash tags before publishing the post.
Write a Blog Post While You are Still Motivated
In the past, I would often take pictures of my creation or behind-the-scene of photoshoot, never to post them to the blog. I spent time on styling the photos, taking pictures and editing them but by the time I sit down and write about those pictures, I’ve lost interest. It is such a waist! I should have rather not spent taking pictures at all if I am not going to see it through to the finish.
I find the best time for writing a blog post is when I am motivated. Whenever some ideas strike or I am excited to have made a new piece of clothes, I jot down my thoughts quickly and send it to myself, so later I can edit it and schedule a post. chie sig2
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