In this post guest contributor Lisa Donnelly is sharing some super practical tips for helping us all break down unfinished projects into simple, do-able and achievable tasks. She also has a free printable Weekly Planner to help you get them all organized and checked off your list! Lisa shares her quilting adventures and ideas, as well as her beautiful quilts (including the one below) on her site Wild Plum Lane. I’m so excited to have her here and for this really helpful post!
Hello! I’m Lisa from Wild Plum Lane, and I’m so excited to join you here on Amy’s blog to talk about your Works In Progress (WIPs) and offer some tips on getting focused to help you finish them. Read on for some fresh ideas, as well as a free Quilter’s Weekly Planner to help you organize your daily to-dos and get your quilts ready for some serious snuggle-time!
THE QUILTER’S WEEKLY PLANNER
The middle of the year always seems like a good time to revisit the goals and plans for quilt projects that you made back in January. It’s time to check in, re-assess how things are going, and adjust strategies based on all the things life has thrown at you in the past six months…which is usually not at all what you expected back at the turn of the new year! If you’re anything like me, you’re now looking at the calendar, thinking about all the quilts you still want to make, and wondering how it’s all going to get done.
So much quilting to do, so little time!
We all have so much going on. We are caregivers, have jobs, have households to run (with all the inherent cleaning, cooking, laundry and errands), and want to fit in some self-care like exercise, meditation, or painting our nails, too. And…somehow in between everything else we have to sleep!
To help you navigate through it all, today I want to share with you a free printable that will help you organize your weeks to get more quilting done.
How to Use the Quilter’s Weekly planner
Let’s talk a little bit about how to use this resource!
1 At the beginning of the week, determine your top 3 quilting goals for the week. (I like to do this on Monday morning, others like starting this process on the preceding weekend. You do you!). Ask yourself: What three tasks, if completed, would help you feel like you’ve really accomplished something this week? Write them down in the “Top 3 Goals” section of the planning sheet.
2. Next, in the daily boxes, be sure to include any family activities, vacations, personal priorities, or appointments. This step will help you visualize how much time you’ll have available to devote to your quilting.
3. Then, break your top 3 goals down into smaller tasks to create a manageable set of to-dos that will help you get your quilt projects done. Be sure to take into account those items from #2 that will need your time and attention, too.
4. As you write out your weekly goals and daily tasks, notice if there is anything you need to research or purchase to enable you to complete them.
Need a longarm quilter or a specific pantograph? Write that down in the “To Research” section.
Running out of your favorite thread? Put that on the “To Purchase” list.
While these may seem like small things, they just might be what’s holding you up on one of your projects! Remove those barriers to entry so you can focus and start right in when you have time.
Side note: I speak from experience on this! I once had a block on a sampler quilt that required applique. I’d never done it before and was seriously intimidated. The block sat languishing for at least 6 months while I waited for inspiration to magically strike…but (surprise, surprise!) it never did.
What I really needed was to type “how to applique” into my search engine. I know what you’re thinking here: So. Simple. After watching a few online videos and reading a couple tutorials, I knocked that block out in a matter of days and was on to the next one. A little bit of research can work wonders to get you started!
5. As you use the planner through the week, your progress will probably spark some thoughts on what you want to work on the following week. Make note of those items in the “Next Week Look Ahead” section to revisit when you begin planning for that week. This helps you head into the new week with a clear plan of action.
CREATING DAILY TASKS WITH THE QUILTER’S WEEKLY PLANNER
And now for the most helpful tip (drumroll, please!): Make the daily tasks as easy as possible to complete. Seriously. For example, instead of writing “finish quilt binding” as one of your daily tasks, make that a weekly goal and break it down into even smaller daily tasks such as:
- Cut binding strips
- Piece binding strips
- Press binding strips in half lengthwise
- Attach binding to quilt
- Finish binding by hand or machine
“Finish quilt binding” can be too vague to give you a tangible place to start. However, “cut binding strips” provides very clear direction. Then, since each task is a simple step to complete, momentum begins to build and soon you’re crossing items off left and right. Before long you have a finished quilt in your hands!
HOW THE QUILTER’S WEEKLY PLANNER WORKS WITH OTHER PLANNERS
If you already use a planner, that’s awesome. Me too! This sheet acts as a supplement to your regular system to help you focus specifically on your quilting and sewing goals.
This is also a great resource to pair with the 2022 Quilting Organizer PDF Pack from Maker Valley that Amy shared in her newsletter a few weeks ago. Fill out the “WIPs to finish in 2022” sheet with all your projects, and then use the Quilter’s Weekly Planner to divide those projects into tangible daily tasks and maintain balance while making consistent progress.
I’ve heard several people say this (or something similar), but it bears repeating: Doing just one small thing each day makes a huge difference in moving you toward your goals!
WHY USE THE QUILTER’S WEEKLY PLANNER?
Why is this so important to me? Well, I have at least 20 WIPs in my quilt studio (the actual number will remain a mystery because I get scared and stop counting at twenty!). I’m a mom of 3 wonderful kids (ages 8, 7, and 3), and I work full time as a landscape architect designing parks and playgrounds.
Having my Quilter’s Weekly Planner filled out for the week gives me clear direction on what to do first so I don’t wonder where to start during those precious few minutes I get to spend at my sewing machine! Crossing off my to-dos when they are complete also helps me know that I’m making progress, even on days when that progress feels frustratingly slow. I hope this system will work for you, too!
LET’S FINISH THOSE QUILT WIPS!
Finally, if you’re wondering how to stay accountable and keep working toward your goals, have no fear!
I will soon be launching the beta version of The WIP Lounge, a community of creative quilters coming together to cheer each other on as we finish our quilt projects.
Not only that, but there will also be fun prizes and incentives for finishing up your WIPs so you can move on to your next fun quilty project completely carefree! Learn more at The WIP Lounge on Wild Plum Lane.
Thank you so much to Amy for having me, and I hope the Quilter’s Weekly Planner will help you start finishing up your WIPs! I’d love to see your finished quilts and pictures of your planner in action. Share them with me over on Instagram @wildplumlane.quilts and know that I’ll be cheering you along every step of the way!