Time un-management

October starts the mad dash to the end of the year. For those of us in the business of making physical things for sale, so begins the marathon season of craft fairs, ramped-up marketing, 24-hour online selling and the retail frenzy of Christmas. It’s an important time of year—when a year can turn from loss to profit—but it’s also an exhausting one when the joy of creating and making is overshadowed by the reality of selling.

I’m not a good saleswoman. When UPPERCASE was a physical store from 2005-2009, I’d just let people wander in and do their thing. I’m not one to initiate small talk or sales talk, preferring to let the products sell themselves on their own merits. Sure, I’d be pleasant and answer questions and have conversations, but it was always an effort on my part. It felt unnatural to me, as nice as a customer was. When I closed my retail shop at the end of 2009, it was a relief. Not just from the financial strain of carrying the cost inventory and paying the magazine’s print bills, but that I could turn “off” for a while. I took a year of maternity leave before I returned to the shop and opened the doors, but this time solely as a publishing office.

That year at home with my new baby and running my magazine was one of tremendous growth. Maternity leave was profitable, even with shouldering the cost of rent on a space that I didn’t use for those months working from my basement with my baby at my side. It was proof that an online business of selling magazines, subscriptions and books could be viable enough to support my family. I’m so grateful that, a few years on, this remains true. 

My intent is always for the magazine to stand on its own merits and not need me to “sell” it overtly. Sure, I have to ask for subscriptions and support here in the newsletter and on social media—it’s vital to do so—but really I want the magazine to sell itself. Right now, Issue 23 is being packed up and prepped for shipping today, all set for its October 1 release. I hope you’ll see for yourself how lovely it is.

I’m looking ahead to 2015 and issue 24, to be released in January. I’ll have to have content finished up next month for design in November, printing in December. This will mark 6 full years of UPPERCASE magazine. If my time developing UPPERCASE magazine were a college education, I’d have a Master’s degree by now! 

I’m often asked how I get so much done in a day, as a one-person magazine company. Honestly, it depends on the day and where we are in the magazine’s cycle. My day is always a juggle of what is imperative and what I want to be doing, with the must-do always winning out. What I have learned, though, is that time cannot be controlled. It is basically unmanageable. Time is disobedient—it won’t stay put when you ask. So the way around this is that you have to be everything that time is not: you have to have discipline and set deadlines. You have to control how much time you spend on a task. You have to create a checklist of goals and dates. You have to stay strong in the current lest you be swept away.

Musing on the number 24 and the passage of time, I’m curious about your 24-hour day. What do you have to do in order to make time for being creative? What’s your day like? Submit your day in creativity here.


This message was originally published in my weekly e-newsletter—view the full graphical and extended version here. To receive the newsletter every Tuesday, sign up and I'll send you a free download of the UPPERCASE Surface Pattern Design Guide. Oh, and if you're brand new to the newsletter, there's a welcome discount code for you, too. Thanks!