Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rolling along

Things are moving along here at the studio. It's a gorgeous, sunny day - which we haven't had for a week. It almost felt like someone turned the summer switch off. It's clearly changing seasons on us rapidly, but we've got at least a little smidge left to squeeze out of the tube.

Lots of stuff that was just at a standstill has been making small but steady progress this week. It finally came down to the wire. With my vacation looming and just a couple days on the other side before the fair starts and the mailing gets let loose, there needed to be things in place. And I am getting there. It's a method of working backward.

A huge part of this business is the deadlines - shows, mailings, orders - and in order to accomplish them, I have to work backwards in time. The soap takes a very minimum of 4 wks to cure before it can be shared with the world. So it's important that I have a production schedule in place that has enough of everything made far enough in advance that it's all ready to go when the time arrives. The other things all have timing issues too - either labels, time it takes for packaging pieces to be ordered and arrive, bottling, and a myriad of other concerns. It all has to be thought out in advance, scheduled and the steps accomplished, managed, kept track of. One small thing can throw the whole works out of whack. So I'm trying not to miss anything.

It's usually the stuff that I don't have control of that do me in. The bags I need for some sachets are out of stock until next week. I'll have to figure that one out. Or something gets delivered to the wrong address. Or it arrives in the wrong size or wrong quantity. If I have extra time built in, that's great. If not, then we go to Plan B - winging it, which may very well happen.

So I'm zipping through my lists and lists, double checking everything, trying not to spend too much time looking outside at the flowers and sunshine that are having so much fun without me. I've got next week to play - stay focused.

(insert about 20 minutes of lost time here)

Oops, already screwed that up. Just as I started typing this morning, I remembered I had recently read a magazine article about just this very thing. And I even made a note to myself to explain it in the blog, because it's so crucial to how this whole thing works for me, and if I didn't utilize this principle constantly I would never have made it anywhere. I like to think I'm pretty good at it - it was supremely useful in all my other jobs too - executive assistant jobs, catering jobs, event planning jobs - it all ties together. So after rooting around my desk pile to find the note, which of course didn't include the issue, I then had to root around my whole pile of magazines looking for that particular page and article. And then when I finally found it, the article really was about a whole lot of other extraneous crap, but that specific paragraph must have struck a chord. Sigh. Anyway - those of us who maybe over-do the multi-tasking thing tend to think we can get a whole lot more done in the time allotted than is humanly possible. In order to keep ourselves in line and on track, the process of working backwards from anything, writing it down, with time elements(!), and then working forward again from the first step with the appropriate amount of time scheduled in . . . well, it's a useful thing. The end. Try it.