Managing a problem employee (me. It's me)

Mon, 25 Mar 2019

As you may have guessed from my all-over-the-map projects, I have a little trouble staying on task. This is fine for hobbies (if I don’t mind having at least three storage tubs full of UFOs) but I need to be a little more efficient if I’m going to do this as a business. So I spent today moving a little more slowly, and practicing good habits.

First, I started logging my work day. (Work hours, really; there aren’t always too many of them.) I had decided yesterday that today would be a day to sew five owlbear dice bags for the shop, mostly to see how long they take. I’m reasonably sure I can’t sew them in any amount of time that makes it worth my time but again, practicing good habits.

Inkstitch has an option to print a stitch chart: a page showing the design in either diagram or “realistic” form, and then a page or more stepping through each thread color. It gives you the option of entering instructions for each step, so that’s what I did. I’ll start including these in future embroidery patterns (this one is a Sew Desu Ne? pattern, not mine, despite the logo).

Part of having ADHD means I easily forget things like changing the bobbin thread color, so the second snap tab sample I made had black bobbin thread for the whole project and not just for the final assembly. Not a crisis, but I have a box of 144 white bobbins and only one black bobbin. The barn owl version of the dice bag has a little white fringe around its facial disk because I forgot to trim the applique between sewing it down and satin-stitching it. So that one doesn’t pass QA either.

Hence, the checklist. Physically checking things off helps, because “oh I will remember just this once” is a thing that bites me every time. I have some 8.5×11 document frames, so I’ll dig one of those out and use a grease pencil or dry-erase marker to check off my steps as I go. Mass production is probably not going to be a large part of the business but making samples is, and also if I come back to the owlbear in the future I don’t have to re-learn all the things I figured out this time.

The habits are extending to other things as well: a personal rule to never remove the guard on the rotary cutter until I have the anti-cut glove on (still got all my fingertips! 🖐️), to enter my receipts into GnuCash right away instead of letting them pile up, and to fold and put away my fabric when I’m done with it. (All the minky is back on the new minky shelf so far.)

All of which is to say: adult ADHD is a real thing, and I spent the first several decades of my life convinced if I just tried hard enough I would be organized like “normal” people. It’s a trap, and there is no shame in acknowledging that I’ll always need tools to keep me on track. And that the tool that works today won’t necessarily always work — my brain loves novelty. I change systems often, but the important thing is taking the time to make sure I have a system.

Having a support network helps, too. The Silver Seams forum is still around (though currently un-linked-to) and I will happily set up a private(ish) area in it if anybody wants to form a mutual cheerleading/accountability group.

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