Happy Crafty New Year! It’s a new year and a great time to get a fresh start on our craft projects. If you are like me, there are so many things I’d like to make! There’s also a large pile of UFO’s (unfinished projects) in the corner of my craft room, too. This is not unusual for me, especially right after all the holiday gift crafting. UFO’s tend to pile up at towards the end of the year as I turn my attention to making Christmas gifts.
I’ve learned to not stress about UFO’s, but rather embrace them as part of crafting. I love a new project and I am really good at starting them. Finishing them is a different story. It’s taken some practice for me to learn how to finish them. These days I’m pretty good at finishing most of my projects. Here’s the tips and tricks I’ve learned that help me. I’ve included action steps if you want to follow along and work on your UFO’s, too.
Sort your projects.
I’ve found there are two types of projects in my stash:
- UFO’s – projects I have started but have not finished.
- New Projects – projects I have not started but have most of the supplies ready.
I divide my stash into these two types of projects and plan differently for each type. Just defining and sorting projects helps me know what I want to complete and gives me something tangible to plan around. To help me sort, I physically stack my UFO’s in one pile and my new projects in another.
- Sort your UFO’s into specific group.
- Sort your new projects into a specific group.
Discard or donate anything you don’t want to finish or make.
This is a really important step for me. For years I felt like I had to finish everything I started and if I didn’t, I felt guilty. My husband reminded me that sometimes a project’s only purpose is to teach us how to make something or teach us what we do not want to do. I like his rule of “If it’s not fun, I’m done,” when it comes to hobbies. This helped me let some projects go I really didn’t want to finish without the guilt.
- Sort out the projects you don’t want to do and find somewhere to donate them.
- Throw away any trash or unusable projects.
Make a list.
There’s something about seeing a list that’s really motivating for me. I like to add things to the list and better yet, check them off once they are done. I make two lists – one for my UFO’s and one for my new projects. I often list them side by side so I can look at what I want to accomplish as a whole. By adding projects to a list, I’m able to see at a glance what I what to accomplish. This helps me when planning time for my projects.
- Make a list of your UFO’s. You are welcome to use this Craft Project Worksheet if you’d like.
- Make a list of new projects, too.
Prioritizing projects help me figure out when to work on what project. Are there projects you are more interested in than others? Do you have a deadline for a certain project that may be a gift or something you need to use at a certain time? If so, consider bumping these to the top of the list. If there’s a good reason to complete something sooner, I prioritize that project and work on it first. If I have a long list of projects, I’ve often prioritized them as “A,” “B,” or “C” projects with “A” projects being the most pressing and “C” projects not a high priority. I’ll start with my “A” projects first and work my way down. I will prioritize both my UFO’s and new projects. Sometimes this means I’ll make a first and maybe second draft of my list before finalizing it.
- Prioritize your UFO’s by putting the ones that should be done sooner towards the top of your list.
- Prioritize your new project list this way, too.
Plan time to create.
Setting time aside for projects can be tough with all that our busy lives demands from us. Time can get away from me, so I make a point to schedule creative time to work on projects. Here’s a few things that have worked well for me:
Set a project day/evening in your calendar. This works really well if I want to bust through my project stash. I’ll make sure I have supplies beforehand, make meal plans for my family ahead of time (usually pizza, an easy crockpot meal, or delegate things to my husband or daughter), and then get busy making as much as I can. I try to set a project day aside each month. If time is short, then I plan an evening instead. If I am not able to schedule time, I don’t beat myself up either. I work with what time I have whenever possible.
Work on projects in small chunks. When time is tight, I’ll pick one project and work on a step or two at a time. If I can find 30 minutes or an hour here or there the time adds up and soon my project is almost done. This worked really well when my daughter was little. I would often craft for a bit right after she went to bed. As she got older, I would have project supplies on hand for her to make her own things while I crafted. Now I have much more crafting time on my hands as she is a teenager driving herself around. We still enjoy the occasional craft night together, which makes my heart happy!
Be flexible when working on projects. I tried finishing UFO’s before starting something new. Guess what happened? I didn’t get much of anything done. I could have been more disciplined, buckled down and cranked out the projects. But that defeats the purpose of creating for me. I look at my project lists as more of a guide helping me determine what I want to work on and when. I’m happy when I do get things done. But again, I don’t beat myself up for not getting things done.
- Book a day or evening in your calendar to work on your projects.
- Block out 30 minutes for at least a couple of times over the next week to work on a project in small chunks.
Be mindful of what you create.
I make a lot of things (usually over 150 projects a year) That’s what I like to do. If you know me well, you’ve likely gotten your fill of blankets, hats, scarves, bags, kitchen items, etc. I’ve made you through the years. I’ve done a lot of charity crafting, too, giving away blankets, hats, and scarves. Over time I realized I wasn’t enjoying being in “production” mode, making so much all the time. And honestly, there’s only so many scarves you can gift. I also found that some of the charities I donated goods to no longer accepted crochet and knit items, leaving me with several blankets and hats on hand with no use available. I realized I might even be creating a problem by creating more stuff that may not be used.
I took this all to heart and decided to be intentional about my crafting. This means I’ll make things that will be used or enjoyed. I’ve found new projects to make for new charities and I’ve ceased making so many projects for friends and family for a while unless it’s something they request.
One of the best projects I’m working on this year is crochet and knit blanket squares for Warm Up America, a nonprofit that encourages crocheters and knitters make things for donation. I joined others across the country in making 7”x9” rectangles that will be eventually made into blankets for donation by WUA Joiners (volunteers who specifically put the blankets together). I also participated in their Tiny Hats for Tiny Babies campaign this past year by making 65 crochet hats for preemies in Africa. I loved having such a great end use for the things I make and not the stress of figuring out what to do with these projects. This has allowed me to manage my UFO’s, my supply stash better and given me time to try new things and learn.
- Determine how your UFO’s and new projects will be used.
- Look for places you can donate to before you make a project you want to share with others.
Track your progress.
Seeing how much I get done is very motivating to me. That’s why I like to check things off my UFO and New Project List. I try to track all the projects I get done throughout the year. Not only is it motivating, but I also get good data and insight on the projects I’ve done. For example, some years I’ve crocheted more and others I’ve sewn more. Some years I’ve tried more new projects. It’s always fun to take a look at what I did and what I experienced.
I’m not too strict about tracking. I’m usually pretty good about tracking until the fall of each year. When things get busy with the holidays, I forget to track or don’t take the time. But I’m okay with that. It’s fun to review what I did track and enjoy making.
- Use the Craft Project Worksheet to track your projects this year or a notebook or planner of your choice.
Remember to make it fun!
Keep the rule “If it’s not fun, I’m done,” in mind. Projects should be fun. They should not be a chore. They should not make you feel guilty. Creating is exploring, not a linear process – at least not for me. I’ve learned to value the experience and the outcome, but not get hung up on “producing” things. I don’t feel obligated to finish something I don’t enjoy.
- Make sure you are enjoying the projects you are working on. If not, consider donating them or giving the supplies to someone else who may enjoy it.
I hope these ideas will help you organize and plan for your projects, both unfinished and new. Ideally, by doing a little planning you can enjoy your projects more and making creating a priority. I hope you have some fun projects planned! Feel free to reach out here to share what you are doing or in our Facebook group here.
I’ll leave you with a gift for the new year, the Craft Project Worksheet I’ve mentioned earlier. The worksheet has a page for you to list your UFO’s and new projects. There’s a checklist with the action steps from this article, too. Hopefully, this free downloadable will help you track your projects and plan your craft time. Here’s to a good new year with lots of good projects ahead!