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Tracking time when crafting for sale

 
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I'm curious how much time each step of each project takes me.  If I'm crafting items for sale, which I am, then I want to know where I can focus my energy to improve efficiency.  

The nature of my work is scattered and long term.  There's often a lot of waiting between stages.  Flax seed I plant one year, might not become yarn until the following summer and cloth until winter.  That's two years.  But I want to calculate the actual time I spend working on the project.  Not the total time it takes.  I'm not actively working on the flax while it's growing.  But do I spend 20 min or 2 hours actually tending the flax during the growing season?  This I want to know.  Same for other things I make.

I've tried keeping notes, but this isn't something that agrees with me.

What other ways are there to track time on projects?  
 
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I try this too, but run into the same problem because sometimes I go play in the garden and don't really try to tend it, but darn that weed just slipped into my fingers and out of the ground! Then there's the happy accidents of I didn't intend to gather wood for a decoration, but it was so perfect and so I pull it from the firewood pile. Did that count as firewood time or craft time? Then there's the my friend stopped by, I gave them some snap peas. Two weeks later they gave me a kid free date. Do I count that as a sale? Certainly the exchange can be put in monetary value, but should it be?

I'm kinda thinking that the system needs to be more general than the hour by hour you'd do in a 9-5er. Like this: over the year, I grew and processed about this much stuff. I got this much stuff. I spent about this much time this year to get that. Then you can do those calculations of value versus hours with greater accuracy.

For example, if your sitting on the porch, spinning yarn and watching to make sure the bunnies don't eat your carrots while also watching some kids play and getting your vitamin D naturally and maybe even meditating, your dollar per hour gain per bunny watching might be like $3 value, but the kids watching is more like $15 value, vitamin D less than $0.50, and spinning maybe $1. So your total value of that hour was about $18/hr, but if you just count spinning you'd get only $1, which is inaccurate.
 
r ranson
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Amit Enventres wrote:

I'm kinda thinking that the system needs to be more general than the hour by hour you'd do in a 9-5er. Like this: over the year, I grew and processed about this much stuff. I got this much stuff. I spent about this much time this year to get that. Then you can do those calculations of value versus hours with greater accuracy.



I'm thinking this way too.  That's why I usually price by quantity made than time took to make it.  Like carrots sold by the pound, yarn sold by the yard.  Stuff like that.

Right now the demand is higher than I can produce.  Until I can get some more spinners trained up for production work, I need to get my own speed up.  Which tasks are taking longer than they need to?  If I can find this out, then I can focus my attention on improving these tasks and/or get new equipment.

I'm also curious if I'm faster than I was a few years back when I first calculated my hourly cost.  
 
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I made and sold wire wrap jewelry, chaine maille jewelry, and things like hand made stained glass kaleidoscopes for a lot of years. A large number of things, especially kaleidoscopes, were 'bread and butter' or I made a lot to fill the display. Sometimes it might take a year or so to get to the stuff from a large base run so. I would take a recipe card and jot down start and stop times for all the time I put in on that batch through the base run (say 100 at a time, for kaleidoscopes, about 85% of the work was the same so I would put in the time to run 100 at once. This saved on setup of equipment and jigs time.) Then as I finished each one I could note the time for just that part and take the previous lot information (sorted to how much time and how much the supplies were, hard and consumables, and add the overhead for the entire batch, then break it down to how much 'per unit') and work the final net cost.

Even if you do a process and it's a year later before the next bit is done, you can still use the card method. If 100 pounds of X becomes 65 pounds of Y, you still have the breakdown of what all the materials X cost, and the consumables used to process X, plus your time, plus your overhead, and reduced to a per pound cost for Y. Then you use Y to make 8000 yards of Z, you can document the costs for Y to become Z, and figure a new net. Then figure your selling price and what profit there will be.

The recipe card method has been working for me for about 30 years. I do take pictures of the cards and turn them into digital storage that way, but.

Also try to utilize 'zero time'. this is time you are doing something else. Like fairly engaged in TV or computer, or sitting in a doctor's office waiting for an appointment or for someone to finish an appointment, etc. Really tedious things like foiling small stained glass pieces or chaining beads on wire, I did a lot of that while reclaiming zero time. It's surprising how that can add up.

One other trap is 'replacement cost'. I did a lot of work when silver was $5-7 an ounce. It's not that now. I had to reprice to replacement cost. This meant looking up current prices and refiguring with the help of those cards, what went into a piece. Then retagging. Good luck on your math.
 
r ranson
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I found the stopwatch function on my gadget and started timing my current speed at spinning yarn.

It would be so much easier if there was an app for this.  If I stop the spinning stage to wind the yarn into a skein, then I have to jot down the time, reset the stopwatch, then jot down that time, reset it, start spinning, jot down that time, do some math - not easy as my calculator is base 10, and time is base 60.  Which probably no one gets what I'm talking about but that's fine.  Basically, it means this is very difficult for my brain.

Is there an app that would track each stage of production separately.  


I could name the project: Light Grey Wool Yarn For Weaving
With tasks: Washing wool, pickign wool, carding wool, spinning, skeining, washing, blocking, counting yardage, labelling...

Each task would have its own stopwatch, the total would show under the project title.
The project would also have a space for material costs

Then I can calculate out how much it made with different ways to measure it.  So maybe yards, skeins, oz... stuff like that.


The app would ideally have the ability to list several projects at one time.  Maybe a free version with a limit of 5 projects and 10 tasks per project and adverts.  A $4 version with unlimited projects, no ads...
 
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Maybe https://letsfreckle.com/ would do it? I can't tell if there's an app version, or if it only runs in a browser. I haven't used it, I just follow the newsletter of the gal who wrote it, Amy Hoy.
 
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I just set up a live form on google sheets to record time spent doing various jobs, you can create as many options as you want and attach a duration to them and it's all logged on a spreadsheet. You can then filter the data for total time spent doing "x" or whatever.  The form is saved on my phone so I can enter data whenever and wherever.

We have just started to use this to track spending also.
 
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