Are you ready for me to waffle on about how we struggle to keep our days organised & structured? What we've found works for us, and what doesn't work? There's no real secret that life is a million miles an hour, and it's absolutely no different in the studio. There are never enough hours in the day - I'm sure you can relate?!
As Mams, we juggle it all, as so many of us do. There's just the two of us, with my eldest daughter working weekends and school holidays. This means we do absolutely everything - we do the social media, the planning, the scheduling, the calendar. We do the accounting, the receipt keeping, the book keeping, the email marketing. We do the cleaning, the stock taking, the ordering and the restocking of shelves. We make and pack your orders for posting, we drop them to our local post office. The commissions and casts? Yep, that's us too! You'll often find us sat at home late at night responding to messages & emails. We put the kiln on multiple times a week. We organise, make coffee, research, glaze, paint, clean, plan, and I could go on, and on, and on... our opening times may seem limited, because they are! We couldn't physically open more and get everything done that we need to do. So we open as much as we can, while juggling it all.
So now you may ask... Why? Because we absolutely love what we do and want you to have not only the best experience when you visit us - but also, and maybe more importantly, we want you to treasure the pieces you take away with you forever. Whether that be a tub of sparkly slime, or some stunning framed 3D casts. Your experience on the day, and every day after your visit as you look at your finished item(s), means the world to us.
And what we've come to realise over the last... my goodness... 7 years (!!) - is that if we do everything ourselves, we maintain the small family business ethos. We can offer you a personal experience, you know us & we know you. And that makes it special, we think, don't you?
So we continue to juggle it all, and do our best to stay organised - which isn't always easy! Especially when you throw in the reality of curve balls - supplier delays, illness, school events and a whole host of other possibilities that often interrupt our busy schedules. Supplier stock has never been the same since covid, and we often struggle to get hold of stock. Orders are often delayed. It can be so frustrating, but maybe one day the world will catch up. We hope so.
Ultimately, we always get there, and these are just a couple of the things we've found that work for us and help us to stay on track. Do you do any of these, in your every day life or in business? 1. Start the day with a to-do list. Funnily enough, this has become so common place in the studio, Bethy now asks me 'What am I doing today?' because she knows i'll already have the full day mapped out as soon as we step through the studio door! This really makes me laugh. My busy brain helps in this respect. It's a gamechanger, I find, to have a plan to stick to. It doesn't matter if you don't get it all done. I try to prioritise the things we can only do in the studio, and we'll take some tasks with us to complete at home during the evenings.
2. Stick to your lane.
Over the years, we've identified our strengths and have slowly slid into our own lanes with the studio. I do social media, website, calendar, planning, glazing & the kiln. Bethaney does the more hands on things - commissions, painting, casts, imprints, outprints. We share ordering, restocking, stock taking, shopping, book keeping, messages & emails and many more. It really works, and this helps to keep our days structured. Each of us knows what we need to do, and what, from the to-do list, is for us to complete.
3. Plan & schedule as far in advance as possible.
When we first started our booking system, we'd release a few weeks worth of bookings at a time. Now, we release a few months. It helps to plan events and sessions (and personal appointments!), lets our customers plan their visits or parties, and keeps the studio running smoothly. Sometimes stuff crops up, and we can edit/reschedule. Social media posts are all schedules at least a week in advance, sometimes two. This keeps us fresh in your minds, keeps you updated with what we're up to, and takes a bit of the daily pressure away from me, trying to think of what to post each day!
4. Prioritise. Everything is dated in our studio. Commissions, casts, imprints, outprints, painted pottery... everything has the date recorded. All timescales are approximate, but we always do our very best to stay within them and often get things finished early. This is always our aim. If we stick to the dates, we can see what needs doing every day & do our best to stay ahead, prioritising the things that need finishing the soonest!
5. Be available & have information available. We can't possibly always be available to talk to, whether that be by phone, message or email. We NEED to have down time. Introducing the booking system and website containing as much information as possible, means that no matter the time of day - maybe even during those 2am night feeds! - any of our customers can book on to a workshop, secure their table for painting, or find info on collections, right on our website, even if we're not available there and then to speak to. The more information available, the easier it is for you and the easier it is for us. It definitely takes some pressure off all round!
So... those are 5 things we do in the studio to try and keep our days structured, achieving as much as possible with the hours that we have. Do you have any tips or tricks on how you keep your busy lives organised? Please do let us know! P.S - clearly, blogging hasn't been a priority as it's taken 5 months to do a second post... sorry!