12 New Chapters, 365 New Chances

Artists Blog, My Arty Crafty Life, productivity journal -

12 New Chapters, 365 New Chances

The New Year brings us 12 new chapters and 365 new chances, just got to decide what to do with them!!!

Last year I tried an idea from another artist to organise and make my artistic life more productive and hopefully achieve more and grow my business. This came in the form of a ‘Productivity Journal’. The artist I took the idea from just did a black and white pen drawn pages of lists, boxes, charts and info gathering pages to help organise her art business and make her more organised and encourage her to be more productive with her artwork. This I decided might be something I could use to help me in the same way, all be it more colourful and attractive, as I need it to be pretty as well as functional.

My first attempt at a ‘Productivity Journal’ was based on the same format as the artist had used for hers. This was great for getting me started and gave me the groundwork to see how and if this journal would be of any use to me and if it was a worthwhile thing to do. Her format was good but not all her things worked for me and I expanded and formulated the journal over the year into one that was perfect for my business and the way I worked so that this years journal is specifically designed for my artistic needs.

My journal starts with an Index Page which is fairly self explanatory.

The next couple of pages are a calendar that I can circle the dates that I have events, classes, demonstrations and anything else taking place and can see them at a glance.
The next set of pages are formatted into a tab page system (3 sets of 4 tabs - one tab for each month of the year). This I use to keep track of the commissions I have for each month. My commissions range from art work, craft items, jewellery, personalised cards and weddings, each type of commission will take me different time scales and I can allocate my time accordingly to the type of work and helps me manage my diary and my work schedule.
Another set of tabs are for Events and a tab for each type of event - one offs, outside classes and demonstrations, exhibitions of artwork, online events and stalls at crafts fairs. This enables me to see at a quick glance where I am and what I’m doing and what events I could expand on. The events are expanded on in more detail further into the journal and this section is just for quick reference.
There are two types of classes I do which are outside classes at places like nursing homes, hobby clubs and others social clubs and then there are my private lessons. These have their own sections which I expand on the where, when and who and contact details. These pages already have information in them and so I cannot show you those pages due to the confidentiality of the information they contain.
This page is a similar lay out to the class pages, this one is for the craft fairs and is more condensed than the class pages and I need more room for information and therefore covers more pages, but you can get a general idea of the format from this page.
There is then a series of pages for cataloguing my art and craft work. This is my own work and not the commission work I do. I aim to complete at least 50 new pieces of artwork, 30 craft items, 150 handmade cards, 50 digital art pieces and 40 Christmas craft items in a year on top of the commission work I have. This series of pages just helps me keep a track of the artwork and craft work I am producing and my overall productivity. If I’m lagging behind on my targets I can see it quite easily and this chart system can work as a kick up the backside if I’m not producing enough and can also work as a pat on the back if I’m on schedule and meeting my targets.
Another series of tab pages helps me keep track of where and what artwork I am selling. I sell my work on a series of platforms - My own website, Etsy, NuMonday, Mademe and also Redbubble. Lots of selling platforms and therefore easy to forget what artwork you have put on what website, this is just a simple easy grid that means I can see where everything is and what sites might need more input.
There is also a page at the back of the tab pages that charts sales from the various platforms and the productivity of each platform so I can gauge if these websites are working for me or if I need to look at making changes.
As I also run an Art and Craft supply business which has a physical shop and an online shop, I have a section which looks at the productivity of this as well as the artwork I produce. This is a simple chart of total sales between the two (shop and website) in both a years month by month and a weekly breakdown. After 23 years I know when the retail side of the my business has its slumps and highs and can gauge at a glance if they are performing as expected or if I need to do more to push sales and widen my online presents.

The next lot of pages are specifically for the management and promotion of the aforementioned website which needs constant maintenance, updates and improvement and takes a lot of time. These pages are checklists of jobs that need doing regularly and keeps track of the jobs that have been done as well as the promotional stuff too such as the newsletter that goes out to my customers who have an account on my website and have indicated that would like to receive our newsletter.

A section on the website is dedicated to the second hand craft item market and I offer a service where I will take in and sell your second hand items for a commission fee. This is a very popular section of the website and requires a lot of maintenance and work and so I have a series of pages that are designed especially for that task and helps me keep track of what work needs to be done, has been done, what has sold and that service uses are paid for the items of theirs that have been sold. This is the only page I can show you but gives you an idea.
These next three sets of pages are for some of my promotional items such as Facebook, instagram, Facebook live, videos on YouTube and also my Blog. All things that I need to keep track of and make sure I am maintaining good presence on and around. This as you can tell if you look at the sporadic schedule of my pervious blog posts has become very important tool for me to maintain my much needed social media and other online platform presence and again there are so many places I need to be present on and doing things for that I need a series of charts, forms and places to make sure I am covering all of them evenly and regularly, which with everything else I am doing is yet another time consuming set of tasks that I need to be able to make sure I am doing as best I can to help keep and maintain my online presence.  
The last page I am going to show you is for my physical shop. One of the time consuming tasks for this is the window display which I change four times a year and did find last year that the section in the journal allocated to designing, collating material and tasks and even simply listing what goes in and in what order was actually quite valuable and extremely helpful. I have been putting window display together for 23 years and have shockingly never actually drawn out and designed the displays so thoroughly before and have found it to be a far less stressful and chaotic with having this dedicated space in my journal for that specific task. Previous years I will have completed a display to realise I have missed out things that I had thought of or just gathered items of a theme in the hopes that I could just throw them in the window and it would look okay. This section in the journal has been a revelation.
As you might gather, there are a lot more sections in the journal than I have shown you, but as I have said, I have spent the whole of last year formulating the journal into a format specifically for my needs and I last years journal definitely helped me be more productive and organised than I have ever been. I am hoping that with this new improved and dedicated ‘Productivity Journal’ I can take myself and my business on to be more productive and successful than ever. It may only be a book with scribbled charts, checklists and plans and I was sceptical as to how much of a helpful tool it would be for my business, but I can honestly say I will most definitely keep a ‘Productivity Journal’ for every year I am in business from now on and know it will help me get through all the tasks that need to be done, format a time schedule to accommodate all my work and reduce some of my stress. It has shown me how disorganised I was before and I know there have been times in the past when I felt that I was drowning in all the work I needed to do and there was no possible way I could ever get it all done without help, but this journal has changed all that and I really can do it all and have more productive business for it too.
I hope this is helpful for you as a guide to putting together your own ‘Productivity Journal’. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a journal for a business, it could be a journal to help organise your family life, work and home balance or just organise your time better to help you be a happier and healthier you.

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