This month has turned out to be just a wee bit more crazy than I had originally planned… how ’bout your month? Today I’ve got a recap of current projects and a rather lengthy overview of how I’m switching things up in June to better focus on my goals.
Me Made May
First up, a Me Made May recap…. except for a day in bed, struck down by a fell spring cold, I’ve kept on track with Me Made May. These days it’s not that hard. I wear clothes I make most days.
What I haven’t been as proficient in is taking photos. If you take a look at my recap-so-far picture above, you’ll see that there’s a lot of days with pictures of sick kitties and chicks. There was a whole week between May 12th and 17th where I didn’t take any photos at all. During that time I was mostly focused on caring for a very sick chick and then over the weekend our cat, Biscuit, ate a bit of steel wool and ended up needing emergency surgery.
Other than that, I’ve remembered during the Me Made Challenge that these months always end up reminding me that I get a little bored with my clothes when thinking of posting the pictures. It’s sort of funny because I don’t mind wearing basically the same thing every day, but I hate for my Instagram feed to have pictures of me wearing the same thing every day!! #vain
If you want to keep up with the rest of my Me Made posts, that’s all over on Instagram!
The Curvy Sewing Challenge
If ya’ll haven’t been following along with the Curvy Sewing Collective’s Mini Wardrobe then hop on over and catch up! It’s been super fun to be a part of it this month, although, like with Me Made May, I didn’t really think through how much time it would take, and then had free time seriously reduced with the sick menagerie. So far I’ve contributed…
How to Pick Your Wardrobe Capsule Palette
Using Layers and Sewing a Dress-Based Capsule
Upcycle Your Way to a Wardrobe Capsule
I originally had two more posts planned — the reveal and a pattern tracing/hacking how to, but since I’ve not actually sewed anything this month I’ve revised those plans a bit. I will be doing one more post suggesting commercial/indie patterns that would work well to recreate my styles which are mostly self-drafted.
What’s Next for the Snugbug blog
So… this crazy month has gotten Jeff and I talking about how I spend my time. I have a pretty packed schedule. In fact, as part of my month end book-keeping and invoicing of clients, I schedule chunks of time for various clients, our businesses, blogging, sewing and personal time for walking, meditating and going on date night. For anyone interested, I use Harvest (affiliate link – $10 off for me, $10 for you if you sign up) , a time tracking and invoicing app that I love.
Here’s what my ‘timecard’ looks like so far this month. I’ve been awful keeping my time logged, so the ‘spent’ hours aren’t really right, but two big things that jump out at me is that I’ve spent 20 hours on blogging and no hours on writing, and my ‘self’ project is mostly date nights with Jeff — fun, but not a lot of walking or meditating which is important to stay healthy!
I usually ‘budget’ project hours for the month to allow for 8 hours of sleep a day. I allow for fun, chores, and the like within the projects. I know that this type of tracking might make some of you feel crazy, but I love data and numbers and the tracking keeps me honest. I mean, I hate seeing in black and white that I spent six hours Facebooking and Pinteresting….
So things have to change!
How I Spend My Time
Here are the main areas where I spend my time:
This accounts for between 45-50 hours a week. A big chunk!
Northern Comfort B&B
Jeff and I split the tasks trying to work to our strengths. In general I take care of…
- Bookkeeping — I have a daily routine + all the Quick Books entry. In general this takes an hour a day — lots of days less, but a few days of the month include some reporting and planning.
- Web updates — I am our webmaster, so I look after all edits, new content, hosting, fixes, and the like. This usually doesn’t take all that long, but there are always a bunch of things I want to do and haven’t had time to do!
- Guest reservations and booking systems — I keep up with all of our guest reservations which are mostly made online. There’s a bit of bookkeeping to do in our online system (applying payments, setting up discounts, new events/extras) as well as keeping our outside platforms (Airbnb, booking.com, TripAdvisor) synced. There’s a program that will do that for me, but it’s $37 a month so I cancelled it during the slow season. I’ll likely reconnect soon in order to avoid any double bookings! I also manage the payments, answer the B&B phone (it’s forwarded to my cell phone) and make sure we check in with our incoming guests to know when they are arriving, have any allergies, etc.
- Blogging and newsletter- – I’ve stepped up to doing weekly posts which take an hour or two and the newsletter is monthly and takes a few hours.
- Social Media — I manage all my social media together, but as you might know, this can take a lot of time
- Marketing events, extras and more — like the website, this is another area where I always want to be doing more. From brainstorming and setting up new events, talking with partners for fun things to do on the farm, creating guest guides and handouts, deciding on print and digital advertising. There’s a lot of aspects to consider and since this is critical-to-do-but-no-deadline… it often gets put to the end of the list.
Three Snugbugs Textiles and Botanicals
Since Jeff and I are self-employed, our income comes from my clients, the B&B and the other projects that we’ve pulled together. Both Jeff and I love making things, but any of you makers know how hard it is to create and sell with enough profit to make a go of it. Nevertheless, here’s some of what I do with this!
- Botanicals — Jeff and my mom are the actual candle and soap makers, but I track inventory, cost, ordering, new formulations and colors as well as packaging and design. We had a nice bit of sales for Christmas, and are getting ready to get production back up for the busier summer season and to stock up for the holidays.
- Textiles — As some of you know, I have all the plans for 3 Snugbugs clothing and accessories. The business model for the clothing was always based on my sourcing the production rather quickly and focusing on marketing and design. Since moving to Minnesota, I haven’t had time to focus on this at all. We talk occasionally about how to or if we should refocus on this, but at the end of the day, not only is this a huge time commitment, but in Northern Minnesota we’re lacking the resources (materials and labor) as well as market to really focus on this. I do still think of making a few things on the accessory side — like fun egg gathering and vintage flair aprons — since we have the shop and that would be a good fit, but again. Making for profit is a difficult prospect, especially when the thing I need most is time!
- Vintage — we’ve really backed away from the retail/vintage side of the business to focus on the made items (textiles and botanicals) and Jeff is our head buyer for what we do get, so I basically just handle inventory and bookkeeping.
The Snugbug Blog & Sewing
- The blog (this blog!) & newsletter — this is currently my central blog for all things non-directly B&B related. Prior to moving up here, I had a website for my communications business with a content/blogging strategy focused on creative and indie business owners’ marketing needs, but since I mostly work with two clients these days, I consolidated everything under one website that’s under my name so this is where I blog about sewing, business, making, writing… not having enough time. I recently put a few Google ads back on the blog for a teeny bit of income generation from the website — it would be nice to get the hosting covered so the website pays for itself! I also spend a few hours a month preparing and sending a newsletter. I was only sending out one newsletter to B&B and Snugbug subscribers, but I get quite a few subscribers to the Snugbug and wasn’t sure they were that interested in B&B content and like-wise, a lot of our guests are interested in my ‘making’ content that I post here, but not all of them, so I really felt it was time to split the two newsletters.
- Sewing — I go through phases throughout the year where I want to sew more — usually in preparation for the seasons because I need clothes for the changing weather! As you know, this takes up HUGE amounts of time. The last few months I’ve logged 80 hours or more sewing. I simply don’t have enough time in my days for that!
Home and Self
While I don’t want to reduce my entire life to a timecard, it is really interesting to take a look at how much time we really need just for every day tasks!
- Cleaning and cooking — Jeff is our head housekeeper because he is the best husband in the world! He mainly looks after the B&B grounds, farmhouse and he’s the breakfast cook. So he looks after our private apartment too, something which I am incredibly grateful for! I will be taking over laundry duty from him now that the B&B is moving into its busy season, and I mostly plan our personal meals and cook more dinners. Jeff does a lot of our grocery shopping while I’m working during the day. Even though he does so much, if I get everything done that I’d like to get done, I need an hour or so a day. Lots of days we end up eating pizza because I don’t have that hour.
- Exercise — ideally, I like to go for an hour walk every day with Peppermint the basset hound.
- Meditation — I like to spend a 15-30 minutes meditating a day along with an hour or so once a week for some tarot reading and longer checkins.
- The Menagerie — The kitty and dog don’t really take up that much daily time, but it adds up. We always put off brushing both of them which we’d like to do more often. Biscuit needs his box cleaned (I’m in charge of daily cleaning, Jeff does the weekly change to new litter). So I need around 15-30 minutes a day for them. But…. now we have chicks. Right now, they are still in the brooder, so I take 15 minutes or so every day to change and clean their water and feed bowls. I also spend some time with them every day checking them out to make sure they’re growing well, not sick, and handling them so they grow into nice, people-loving chickens that won’t peck our guests. Like a lot of our other chores, we’ve split it so I’m in charge of the daily care and research when needed to figure out what to feed them and diagnose them if they are sick, while Jeff is focused on building their coop, run and will do the heavier chores. So the chicken time will probably go up to 30-45 minutes a day when they move outside and it won’t be a matter of just stepping from my office (where their brooder is) to the next door chicken to clean everything and get water.
If you add up just the daily things, that’s 2 or 3 hours. Then another 8 or 9 for client work, leaving four or so hours on the weekdays if I want to get eight hours of sleep. Add to that date nights and adventures, errands outside the house, hanging out with friends and family, sewing and reading…. I could easily fill my time with all of that. But I also have the Northern Comfort responsibilities and the time I spend on this blog.
And this doesn’t even leave me with any time for what I really want to be focusing on, which is writing and publishing fiction and maybe a bit of non-fiction as well!
It’s time to reprioritize.
The Plan This June
I’ve put together hours for my projects this June — here’s what I have.
Click on the image to get a read-only copy of the Google spreadsheet to play with if you’re a nerd like me!
This leaves 6.5 hours a day for sleeping and whatnot. I pretty consistently sleep six hours a night, so there’s a bit of pre-bed book reading time for me in that extra half hour.
Again! Let me reiterate — I am not insane. This plan is less about keeping to the hours EXACTLY and more about trying to figure out what I actually have time to do and reprioritize based on what’s important to me.
What I changed around for June…
Daily, Personal & Writing Time
- I allocated enough time to take care of showering and cooking. When I skimp here, we end up eating not healthy food and that affects everything.
- Menagerie – this budget is a bit high because next month our chicks are moving out on their own and we’ll be working on the coop and outdoor run for them. Plus, I’ll probably need some time to start our herb garden – plants are part of the menagerie too!
- Walks, mediation, friends and family – like cooking healthy, this is a place that can affect everything. If I don’t take care of myself I won’t thrive! I also threw in five hours for sewing for mending repairs and maybe a quick fun project to relax.
- Writing — I allocated two hours a day to focus and will be experimenting to figure out when the best time of the day is for me to write. I am a night owl, but seem to be more effective in the early morning. So I’ll test it!
The Snugbug Collective
This is all the work that I do for the B&B + 3 Snugbugs, including this blog. A lot of the tasks are based on historical times, with a few things bumped up a bit assuming we’ll have more guest activity. Some major changes from May include:
- Northern Comfort blog — I cut almost almost in half — I’ve been getting more efficient at getting the Northern Comfort blog posts done, so think that 2 hours per post will be enough.
- Social Media — this is a new category – I was trying to track my posting and responding time for the blogs and businesses by business, but I use Buffer to schedule a lot of things at once and my Instagram and Twitter accounts are for everything, so I scheduled social in one big bucket, about an hour a day.
- The Patty Brower blog — I had bumped up the hours for May pretty significantly due to the Me Made May and Curvy Sewing Collective projects. Even taking into account those projects winding up, the blog is still the first place I looked to free up some time for writing. It’s not just the blogging time, it’s the sewing time to have projects to blog about. In order to focus better on my writing and the B&B, I’m scaling back significantly, but I really love blogging and the community, so I’ll be trying out something in June that I’ve been thinking about doing for a few months — Weekly Facebook Live or Video posts. I’m attracted to the immediacy of video and think it might be fun! Plus if I use Facebook Live, there’s almost zero production time as I won’t be really editing the videos, although I will upload to my You Tube station. My thought is trying out FB Live for a month will let me stay involved with the blog and test out something new!
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