Whilst getting my bullet journal set up for December, I posted on Instagram a tool that I shared with Knitsonik – aka Felicity (Felix) Ford – late last year. This tool is called the Task Table, and it has helped me immensely these past few months. If you get to the end of the day wondering where your time has gone and feeling a bit defeated, I hope this helps you too. The original post generated far more interest than I’d ever have guessed, so this two-part blog post is partly an insight into my professional practice, and partly a means of showing other creators solidarity and support by way of a time and task management method. I wear many hats: I teach pattern cutting and construction, design knitwear, write and blog, and each hat requires a lot of creative energy. I also know that many people reading this blog will be in a similar boat, or at least have several avenues of interest.
My newsletter readers, as well as my community on Instagram, already know how much bullet journaling has changed my life for the better. Although I’d heard good things about bullet journals, it wasn’t until my head was turned in the direction of Knitsonik’s bullet journaling course for creatives that I really found a way into the system. I’m the kind of person who operates according to instinct and momentum: everything gets done well and on time, but not always systematically or in a way that prioritises my wellbeing. I know that in some ways, I’ll never change – if an idea comes to me, I will stop whatever I’m doing and find a way to record it or work with it for as long as I need to – but I also know that I need a framework that accommodates this creative process whilst providing structure and routine. The Knitsonik course helped me to identify where I could huff and puff without blowing the house down, and seven months later things are strong and gaining strength. This is not a sponsored post or any kind of advertising, but the task table is dedicated to Knitsonik.
This post also presumes that the reader has some understanding of bullet journaling, or if not, sees the merit of making lists and keeping a diary. What I now do is an interactive form of record keeping and task management that provides daily support; so even if you don’t have a bullet journal, I hope this will be useful to you.
I now categorise my tasks in a way that accommodates planning and to-do lists (what I intend to do that day) and rapid logging (what I actually do that day). The grid axis below of planned/unplanned and active/reactive is an overview of how I do it.
Things that I plan to do, and can do under my own steam, are written in black ink. Nobody else in involved. This is active (my initiative) and planned (intentional).
Things that I plan to do, but also need input or a response from someone else, are written in purple ink. This is reactive (dependent on others’ initiative) and planned (intentional).
Things that I did not plan to do, but ended up doing because it made sense or I had a gap of time, are written in blue ink. This is active (my initiative), but unplanned (unintentional).
Finally, brown ink is for the surprises! These are the things that you did not plan to do and require you to respond to others’ initiative, so they are reactive (dependent on other’s initiative) and unplanned (unintentional).
Below is an example of how I use the colours in my bullet journal:
If you are a knit or crochet designer, work from home, and/or have multiple income streams, it’s important to see where your time is going. Part of the inspiration for the task table was my From Needle to Needle series, particularly my posts on the economies of knitting pattern production and working towards a caring economy of knitting. If you’re a creator, you’re the person responsible for creating an ecosystem that allows others to thrive. Without designers, there would be no industry: no work for tech editors, no patterns for knitting up yarn, and a lot of knitters who’d like to knit but don’t have many options for projects. Designers – creators – are the trees that provide oxygen for so many others to breathe, and it’s important that they’re supported as well as possible. I’ve already written about pattern pricing and labour value on a community level, but designers need to advocate for themselves in a way that supports their existence as well as their businesses.
In other words: You cannot pour from an empty cup, and you should always secure your own life jacket before producing work and helping others. This is your root system.
You can also use the task table as a diagnostic tool for your current routine. If you feel that you aren’t coping well, or want to find space for new interests, this can help. I mentioned that I wear many hats, but if you’re a knit or crochet designer, the other parts of the job – for example project management, pattern production, book-keeping, marketing – will also take up a lot of your time. Here, it’s important to distinguish between routine work that requires steady input, project work that has pinch points, and the fun creative work that keeps the ideas flowing. In the next post, I’ll share how to use the Task Table as a diagnostic tool; I didn’t realise it at the time, but this is what I was doing when I was getting used to bullet journaling. Part 2 of the Task Table will be posted on Wednesday 9th February, so if you enjoyed reading Part 1, I hope to see you then. 😊
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