How to make time to craft (even though you may not think you have it!)

The House That Lars Built for Mixbook travel bookOne of the main comments we receive anytime we put a project out into Internetland is…”wish I had time to make this” or “ain’t nobody got time for that!” or “I’ll never have time for that”. Listen, we get it. We’re all strapped for time.

We all know that if you’re trying to make something happen, you’ll figure out a way to prioritize it. Even then, sometimes what you really want still doesn’t happen. Right? Figuring out how to make things happen is a lesson in creative problem solving. It’s one of my favorite things to think about and try and figure out, though I’m not A+ at it—time efficiency is my love language, but I’m still working on getting really good at it.

Of course, there are times and season for making things happen. For example, since having Jasper my “down time” is now filled with much more cleaning and picking up than previously, thus, my carved out time for making is less. So is my energy. Perhaps you’ve noticed the same times and seasons in your life?

Identifying how you spend your time

I like to group my time in sections. First, I round up all the areas of my life that require my time. Mine are as follows:

  • personal
    • working out (cough, cough)
    • reading (cough, cough)
  • church and church calling (I have an assignment at church that requires me to be in charge of all the music for my congregation)
  • social
    • friend responsibilities
    • event planning (e.g.: my sister’s upcoming baby shower)
    • visiting
    • spending time with friends
  • mother responsibilities
    • Jasper’s childcare
    • spending time with him
    • researching issues
    • doctor visits
    • driving
  • wife responsibilities
    • errands
    • support
    • maintenance
  • immediate family responsibilities
    • outings
    • time home from work
    • meals
    • before bedtime and before work time
  • family responsibilities
    • helping out family members
    • spending time with family members whether in person or on the phone
  • household responsibilities
    • finances
    • cleaning
    • maintenance
  • work
    • the majority of my day. Since it’s contained it’s easier to dedicate in one chunk of time.
    • networking
      • meetings
  • And because we’re being real, social media
    • most of it’s for work but it all kind of blends together, no? Ugh.
  • creative outlet
    • creative projects

Yikes. Just typing all this out makes me tired, yet also helpful in realizing that life is busier than I realized and I need to get things in control!

When do I get things done?

Now that I have my duties identified, I like to group things by days and times of day or function. Here’s how that works right now (subject to change)

  • church calling > all work done on Sunday ideally or after Jasper goes down for bed
  • social > mostly done after work hours or weekends. A rare occasion will I do a lunch (but I find that my time paying a babysitter is better used so I can complete my work during the day and not have to bring it home)
  • mother responsibilities > primarily when I’m with Jasper before and after work, but he’s my main priority so all the time he needs!
  • wife responsibilities > ditto to above.
    • Oftentimes we’ll spend time together once Jasper is down and then have some alone time to work on our own stuff.
  • immediate family responsibilities > ditto to above.
  • family responsibilities > ditto to above if there’s an emergency, otherwise it’s mostly when Jasper goes down or when we spend time together outside of work.
  • household responsibilities > before or after work
  • work > work hours and then if I need to work outside of work hours, I try and do it when Jasper is down.
    • TMI–sometimes I used my bathroom time to answer comments on Instagram. So gross. Thank goodness you can’t catch those germs.
  • creative outlet > when Jasper goes down at night during the week. In the past I’ve been known to stay up too late because I want to get more stuff done, but then I pay for it the next time. I have up to 4 hours depending on how much I want to punish myself the next day.

My creative outlet time right now

In full transparency, I haven’t made a personal project since this summer when I attempted to make myself a dress. Well, I had bought 3 dress patterns and 3 dress fabrics to make said dresses, but I got all the way through one and it came out…WONKY. I got help, from a couple of people and that didn’t do trick so the one dress remains in my bedroom with the pattern pieces scattered and no finished dress in sight. Sigh. And now because I’m in more of a creative director role here at Lars, I don’t make much at work though I’m heavily involved with what everything looks like as I work with our designer, Sammy on our projects.

Last Christmas I took the week off between Christmas and New Year’s and I was STOKED to get some projects done. I ended up working more on the nativity puppets and tell you what, they are BEDAZZLED! Stay tuned for an update on those in a few weeks. 

Learning time management from the master

As I’ve been thinking about how to create time to focus on crafting during my designated creative outlet time, I couldn’t help but think of my friend, Claudine Bigelow. She’s a full-time viola professor at Brigham Young University and SOMEHOW she’s the most prolific quilt maker and knitter I’ve seen. She knows how to use her free time well! I’ve been a big admirer of hers since we met a few years ago. I’ve been so curious about it for awhile and she was kind enough to answer some questions. Here are her tips. They’re so good.

Make a physical space for your work.

A few years ago we moved into a new home, and it was the first time I had a dedicated space for craft.  It made a huge difference in my life because I had a place for my work.  When I ran out of time, I could leave it on the table, close the door, and come back to it.  The convenience of this was a game changer for my productivity.  It helped me to be organized, and I was motivated to get back to things.
Know what gets you inspired and do it.
For me this includes visits to museums, my local shops.  I am affiliated with a university library because for my job.  I use lots of print books for inspiration that I get from all over the world.

Get your ideas down.

I keep a journal of my original ideas.  I don’t always get to these ideas right away, but I have returned to them and improved them with time.  Keep a mood board on your wall or on Pinterest

Do it.

Sometimes when I am in the mood for crafting, I look at Ravelry or Instagram or I go shopping for supplies.  But I really have more than enough projects waiting for me at home already.  I have to put the phone down and stop shopping.  I’ll have to remind myself all of the time: if you are longing to craft, don’t look at crafters with wishful thinking.  Just do it!

Pick projects that are transportable and take them everywhere just in case.

I am a knitter, quilter, doodler, drawer, painter, and I like taking photos too!  I always have something with me.  I knit in meetings, doodle at the doctor’s office and stitch on trips and at movies.  I have many scarves that were made exclusively from sitting through lectures and meetings.

Have a rotation of projects that you can do with your eyes closed, and some that are more intricate.

Take the ones with you that best fit the circumstances.  Keep the intricate ones for your quiet moments.

Meet with other creatives who are like you.

It may mean a play date for kids with friend who shares your passion for knitting, or invite a friend to see a quilt show.  Sharing ideas is motivating.  Being around people who value what you do helps you pull your mojo together for finding the time.

Be a finisher.

When you have space for your things, you can set them out and look at them together.  Sometimes it is motivating to organize them by how much time it will take to complete them and see what has only a little bit left to do.  Pick the ones that are close to the finish line.  It’s motivating to me to see what I am close to polishing off.

Create a schedule for crafting that works for you.

There is a lot of truth to the adage that we do different things in different seasons.  I had less time for crafting projects that were my first choice when my kids were very young.   But I mitigated that by crafting some of the things they enjoyed doing (cardboard houses anyone?).  When there is not much time, then fit in what you can.  It might mean a quilt retreat once a year, a knit night once a month, or maker’s Friday once a week.  Pick what is realistic, fulfills some of your longing for craft and don’t feel guilt.  Just do what you can and makes you happy.
Isn’t her advice so great?! It makes me want to take up knitting (even though I know I don’t have the patience for it!). I’d LOVE to hear how you fit in all your creative outlet time into your busy schedules! Dish! 


  1. I moved last weekend and my creative projects have been put on hold a bit. With all the packing and now unpacking, I knew it would be a while before I could get back to my sewing. At the beginning of October, I planned out a knitting project that I could transport and that hand a simple repeating pattern. It is so great to be able to take it out when I have a free moment to complete a row or two.


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