Category: productivity

chalkboards and clothespins for a productive year

chalkboard : ann wood

chalkboard : ann wood

Did you know,  the larger a list is – scale-wise not length-wise – the more fun it is to check stuff off?  I think so anyways. I love a list and at times when there’s a lot to move forward simultaneously  (not my best thing) I put it all on poster board in sharpie and find that it helps me stay on task, helps me do the right stuff and follow through.  I’ve wanted a chalkboard for this purpose for ages and finally made one for myself last weekend.

getting things done

I painted a lovely old frame black and the chalkboard part was easy – it’s chalkboard contact paper on foam core. And I love it (PS- I’m not being compensated  in any way for this – just sharing because I think it’s useful). I found it online and I was willing to give it a shot – to the tune of about 20 bucks – but  wasn’t feeling super optimistic about  it. I grew up in the 70’s and contact paper was a frequent and largely unsatisfactory design solution.  This stuff is great though – it doesn’t look or feel plasticy and cleans easily with a damp cloth.  They also sent a marker you can use – It’s a little harder to clean off but looks good.

I’m pleased with my chalkboards and pleased with the effect the presence of the big list has on my fidgety brain. I’m determined to have a record breaking year in terms of productivity, I’m always busy but I spin my wheels a lot.

clothespin label

Another time waster/ procrstinatey activity for me is looking for stuff. I have all my fabrics and other supplies and projects in file boxes and spent time recently labeling everything accurately. I’ve been using the same boxes for 5 or 6 years and clip clothespins are perfect for labeling since projects and materials change often.

I’m tackling the computer next, it’s a mess.

What keeps you focused and on task? What de-rails you?

the box method

*This post contains an affiliate link – meaning I get a small commission if you purchase through the link.

The part where you have to start…

If you’ve been visiting here for a while (thank you) you know I’m a big fan of Twyla Tharp’s book *The Creative Habit – particularly the box method. I’m overwhelmed with projects right now and that makes me a little frantic and anxious. Anxiety makes it hard to focus which produces more anxiety etc. etc.

“Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity” – T. S. Elliot


I’ve never been good at moving multiple things forward and the boxes help immensely with that – they contain the projects in more than a physical way. This past Saturday I devoted an hour to gathering and boxing.

antique japanese fabric scraps

edwardian fabric scraps

owl sewing pattern - wool scrap owl


I chose a collection of Japanese textiles (courtesy of Sri)  for toadstools, owls and hummingbirds and antique garment fragments in shades  of black for 2 dastardly owls.

The search focuses me and spending time ironing ( which I secretly love) starts to slow my brain down.

fabric mushrooms

little mushroom sewing pattern


As I make my little piles, put them in their boxes and write the project name on the tag I feel forward progress,  ideas that were vague start to solidify, panic recedes and I feel better and clearer about the coming too busy week – enthusiastic even.

Go put some stuff in a box!

Do you get my free weekly-ish newsletter? There are tips and tricks, ideas, stuff to try, all the latest news and blogposts and extra stuff, just for subscribers, delivered mostly on Friday. Pretty much.