I am an A&S junkie here in the SCA. I always have projects and crafty things that I do for others and myself and as with many people who do A&S and crafty things in the SCA I find that my projects sometimes overwhelm and take up a great deal of my time. Deadlines loom and more people come to you wanting more.
I have burnt out for months on end, I have stressed over deadlines and done many overnights to get projects done. Staying up all night the day before (heck sometimes a few days before and up to) an event to get a project done and then deliver it and be exhausted and grumpy at an event and not even enjoy it. I have learned (sort of) from my past mistakes and this list may help you out and explain what I go through when I take on new projects and work through ones I already have.
So here are my big suggestions to start taking back control of your projects and also help you help yourself not to become too overwhelmed.
MAKE A LIST - that's right. I did it, I keep it updated and cross off things as they get done. At one point my list had over 50 items on it. It took a year to slowly get them done and start reducing the list I had. I now try to keep it down to about 10-12 things at a time. If my list is booked, then I won't take on anything else until I cross something off the list.
GET A PLANNER - I keep a planner, not only to mark my events and meetings. But each week I pencil in what projects I am working on each day. I also mark down due dates for projects and ship dates if they have to be mailed out and contact information in case I have additional questions. I pencil in the projects, because life happens and sometimes I don't get done what I plan so I sometimes (often) have to erase and reschedule everything as I go. Plus this way you can schedule your projects based on deadlines and remember to alternate projects by day sometimes. This helps keeps things interesting and you don't get bored with your own stuff.
KNOW YOUR LIMITS/SKILLS - after you have been crafting/A&Sing for a while you figure out how long it takes you to do certain projects. I usually plan the time for a project and add 20-30% for life flexibility in there. If it is a new skill I am working on I give it double the time I estimate cause I might mess it up or not be as fast as I think I am (again happens often) and need to make sure I have time to finish it.
GET A NOTEBOOK - when ever I have ideas for projects I will obsess about them until I start them. Until I learned that sometimes just jotting them down helps a lot too. It lets me let go and move onto something else and then I can go back and review what projects I was thinking about when I have more time available. It also saved me from having all these started projects around the house that just were never going to be done.
LEARN TO SAY NO - it is one of the hardest things to do. You have to say no to keep your sanity and your stress level down. Explain that you have a lot on your plate right then, that until you finish one of the projects due, you can not take on another one. Now, you can also look at your list and see what is due when and fit something in, but don't double book, and don't try to squeeze something in unrealistically.
DON'T FORGET YOU - yup it happens to the best of us. We do all these projects for others and forget about ourselves. "Wow you do this beautiful embroidery, but your clothes look like something from the scrap heap." Yeah, so make sure you put time in to allow yourself to reflect your skills.
TAKE BREAKS - burn out sucks. It really does, and again it happens to the best of us. Sometimes it lasts a few days or weeks. Sometimes people burn themselves out entirely. Remember you do this for fun and because you enjoy it. Schedule in breaks between projects so you have time to rest and recoup and you will enjoy the next project even more when you pick it up. I also have a mundane boyfriend who does not do SCA at all and had no interest in it. So I must also always remember to schedule no project time and days with him as well. I works out well when I let him know my plans and he really appreciates it when we go do things and I am not thinking about SCA or projects I have do.
Now it might see like more work to do this, but the planning and such takes less than 10 minutes a week. And it saves so much stressing and trying to remember in your head. Once it is down on paper, you will relax and move to other things. I think in a way these things have saved my sanity and my SCA life. This also gives a little insight into my logic so when you refer back to it you might have an idea of where I am coming from as I ramble. (Oh wait, I already am).
Heather Rose MacGordon
East Kingdom, Barony of Concordia of the Snows, Family Feckin
EK Scribe, Order of the Maunche