Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Time Management - Working in Batches, Small Runs, and one at a time

Most of you know that your business runs more efficiently when you work in batches. By focusing on one or a few tasks you can reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a project since you are not wasting time looking for tools, switching areas, cleaning off work spaces in order to make room for a different task. You also may save money by preventing the wasting of glues, paints, paper, and inks. However, you do need to know your limits before going assembly line crazy!

This is especially important when you are building up stock for a show or busy season. You don't want the show to come along and have a bunch of half-finished product, and you also don't want your holiday rush to hit and not have time to finish products. So know how long it takes you to make items by working on them one at a time, and also how quickly you can make items in batches.

If you only make one type of item, then get real and know exactly how many items you can make in a 1 week time frame. Remember, that photographing them, listing them for sale, and preparing them to be shipped is also part of this time!

If you make several types of items try to find efficiencies between those items. Perhaps you use the same tool in both items - so try to coordinate your time so that you are using that tool for both types of items at one time. You may also find that you can prep items for multiple items at the same time that are made from the same materials.

You may also try to make your work space more efficient. You may set up stations for doing certain tasks - have all of your supplies and tools stored that you use for each task and store them at that station. If you only have limited space try to arrange your tools and supplies in the order that you use them.

Discovering your limits is very important, and can also be very helpful when pricing your items too. The best way to test your limits is to have an idea of how many items that you think that you would be able to make in 1 week, or 2 weeks and then do it. However, not only do you need to make the items, you also need to photograph them, list them for sale, and package them up. It is only when you pretend that you are selling that many items that you actually know how many you can sell in a given period of time.

Be mindful of how many of a particular item that you sell also. You need to spend more time making the things that you sell regularly, but don't forget that a small amount of stock of the items you don't frequently sell could be the reason that you don't frequently sell them!

Next week I will be talking about setting up your schedule.


  1. This is a great post for me. I tend to overlook the time that each of my earring takes to upload in etsy. Now, I think I should make several of the same kind so that if they are sold elsewhere I can replenish them and save the time for picture taking , writing up and up loading

    I'll use your organizing tactics for better time and business management. Thank you. Dita

  2. Amazing post! I do work in batches (specially for a craft fair) and I also do single items (when I have custom orders) I have found my system and start for the most complicated thing.... cut all the dolls bodies.... stitch all the hairs and faces.... then dress them and so on.... I really save time this way, I guess it depends on your craft.... I do need to manage my time though I spend way too much time in the internet and the photo process for all my items is also time consuming... I wish I could fix all my photos in photoshop in batches too! not one at the time... Thanks for the info!