Time management / by Lana Grant

Let’s talk about how we manage our workload, especially in a crunch time, when it sometimes seems that it is impossible to achieve the goal. Experienced technical designers are used to the pressure and know how to manage their time, but I think this is a good topic for those who are new in the field.

           Recently, I received so many samples to fit that -- even with all of my years of experience -- it was challenging to figure it out how to fit all of them and then make the comments without staying too late. So, I want to share with you how I managed to do it and see if anyone has a better idea or plan.

          First of all, I made a list: I think putting everything on paper is very helpful and keeps things in perspective. It gives you a visual on what you have to do and then it makes it easier to understand how much time it will take.

          On my list, I put all the samples I received today and which needed to be fit the next day. Next, to every sample, I put the time it takes to measure the samples, on average approximately 10 minutes per garment.

          Then I listed all the samples that already being fitted and were waiting for fit comments, also with the time for every comment, which would be about 45 min each. This time frame only includes the basic fit comment, not involving more complicated styles with pattern corrections necessary. [If you need to make some pattern work you will give yourself some extra time.]

          The next step was to include the actual fitting time and additional time I needed to answer my emails. The list and the time calculation gave me 12 hours of work, which I needed to complete in normal working hours, or such was my hope. I knew that I couldn’t get help from my team members; they were busy as well, so how should I manage this workload? The solution was simply to prioritize the work and see what I must to do today -- and what can be done the next day.

          So, how do you prioritize the workload? First, I suggest, look at the delivery time; place those samples on the list first. After the delivery is surveyed in writing, look at the garment class, for example, if the product is sweaters, they need to go first, because sweaters always take more time for sampling. By prioritizing my fit samples using this method, I knew what I had to do today and what could be done the next day.

          Answering email is the most important task of the day; so don’t forget to put that on the list first. After prioritizing my workload this way, I had to stay late anyway!  But it took a lot of stress off of my shoulders, and I finished everything in a timely matter. Please share your ideas and experience on how you manage your workload.