“Should you make that project?” is another post in the Studio Habits series.

If your project list is anything like mine, it’s crowded with ideas and plans for new and unfinished projects. I often say I could go a couple of years without a new idea and still not run out of things to work on!

When faced with such a smorgasbord of choices, how do you choose what to tackle?

This is a list of the questions I ask myself whenever I start a new project, and usually my answers give me clarity about my choices:

Is it a clear YES? Am I passionate about it, or is it something that must be done to meet a promised obligation? If it isn’t a clear YES, it’s often a NO that we just haven’t come to terms with!

Can I finish the project by the deadline in a way that makes me proud of my work? This is a big point to consider if you’re trying to build a reputation for your work, and this is where tracking your time helps you make these decisions.

Can I finish the project by the deadline without being super-stressed out about it? There’s enough stress in our lives without adding more!

If I work on this project, what might I be missing out on? Is there another project that will make me feel more fulfilled? Is there something else I would rather do or learn?

Is it the best use of my time right now? Will working on this be sweeter if I get other obligations done first?

Am I working on it because I already have invested time and money into it? Sometimes, we throw more time and resources at something because we think that honors our initial investment; it’s called sunk cost bias. But if you stop to ask yourself “Would I buy this fabric again and use it for this pattern again” and the answer is NO, then abandoning the project might be the wisest use of your time and money.

Will making this project affect my important relationships? Will I be cheating myself of time with my favorite people? Time with good people is so very precious.

Can I hire out or delegate any portion of the project? The actual quilting has always been my least favorite part of the process, so I began hiring that out to two wonderful long-arm artists a couple of years ago. Yes, it took a shift in my budget, but I now have time to do more of my favorite parts (designing and sewing the tops) – and I no longer stress (or stall) when something needs to be quilted.

Can I change my process to make a step easier or more efficient? While I love to finish my bindings by hand, I’ve started finishing them by machine sometimes so that I have more time for other things. I also recently bought a new, faster machine!

Am I doing this because it’s popular? Good things are popular for a reason, and there is great camaraderie in being in a group or quilt-a-long, but do I really want the finished product more than I want to do something else?

Will it teach me something I want to know? I recently took a very cool curves class from Jen Carlton Bailly, and came away with a handful of blocks that begged to become something bigger. But what I wanted was the knowledge of how to sew curves, and I got that in class. So I put one block with the instructions in my reference binder, and donated the rest (and some supporting fabrics) to my guild’s charity sewing program. My cast-offs will be someone else’s treasure, and I don’t have this cluttering my to do list or taking time I would rather spend differently. I give you permission to do the same!

Remember, you probably got into your hobby or practice because it was fun. A few strategic decisions will help keep it that way!