Friday, March 8, 2013

Keeping track of UFO's

Today I want to talk about UFO tracking, and how I do it, as I've had several questions on the subject.  If you don't want to read all the "gritty details" be sure to scroll down to the last paragraph.  That's where I talk about sharing my spreadsheet with anyone who would like it.

* * * First, however, I will mention that I took new pictures and exchanged them for the old ones in yesterday's post.  Better, but still not great.  It is currently very overcast and sprinkling here today.  Wouldn't you know it - we leave town to find some sun, and have come to a place where average yearly rainfall is 4" - it is sunny at home and raining here!  That gives me a little time to post today.   * * *

I've been tracking UFO's since 2003.  Before that I had no idea how many I had, nor how many quilts I had fabric, etc. for that I'd not started.  I knew things were getting out of control, and when part of my life is out of control I become very uneasy.  I'd been trying to finish things, but had no idea how I was doing.  So I created an Excel spreadsheet and started counting.  I kept refining the spreadsheet as I went along, adding more and more information, until it was just what I wanted.

I track project name, date started, stage the project is in, and date finished.  Information is entered VERY easily and quickly, so I takes very little time to keep it up to date.  At the end of the year, I use the tab at the bottom of the spreadsheet to create a copy - all in the same file.  I change the year date on the copy, then delete all the quilts that were finished the year before.  I love being able to see what I've accomplished since I started tracking.

I was right - in 2003 things were VERY out of hand.  I had WAY too many different quilts "in process".  Many were from my teaching days - creating samples (finished tops) and quilts in various stages of completion that were all demo pieces from the classes I'd taught.  The spreadsheet was simple then - only 4 columns.  I ended the year with 78.

2004 wasn't much better.  It ended with 76.  Some were new, some had been deleted.  Still too many.

2005 was better - I ended the year with 56.  Five completions and two new projects.  That was the year I decided I needed to do something fairly drastic.  I gave a bunch of tops away to charity.  I packaged other tops and block sets in zip-locks and sold them in the bazaar at our quilt show.  I felt much better that New Year's Eve.

I slipped back in 2006.  I finished just two projects and started six more!  Definitely not going in the right direction.  I must have given a few more away as I finished the year with 58.  By now the spreadsheet is 9 columns, as I figured a better way to track the stage of each project.

2007 I had 10 finishes, but started 6 more.  I gave one to charity.  I must have found more, however, because the number was now 65.  I was definitely going in the wrong direction!

2008 was my best year - the year I really got serious about the situation.  It was helped along immensely by the "ufo challenge" our guild held that year.   We all turned in a list of UFO's we wanted to finish during the year.  Each month we got one "ticket'' for each project finished.  If we didn't finish a project that month we had to give a fat quarter to the "kitty".  In January we started the "kitty" with one fat quarter "entry fee" from each person participating.  Only two people had time to take the challenge seriously - my friend Barb and me.  We had several finishes each month.  Everyone assumed the entire "fat quarter kitty" would be won by either Barb or me.  I had 28 finishes; I can't remember how many Barb had.  It was a perfect example of "it just takes one to win".  There were a total of 178 fat quarters, and a person who had finished only one UFO during the entire year won the lot LOL!  I didn't want to win, as I already had too much fabric.  I was thrilled for the person who won - a stay at home mom with two little girls, who had very little money to spend on fabric.

That was the year I decided some of my projects would never become quilts.  Most were exchange blocks that really didn't "go" together.  It occurred to me that year that nothing said they had to be quilts.  I made a bunch of seasonal pillows and wall hangings.  A perfect solution!  I started 2009 with 35 projects, of which only 10 weren't at the finished top stage.  Eight of those are the long-term projects you see on my sidebar.  The other two are now at the finished top stage.

It looks like this year better be the year of quilting and binding.  That's the only way I'm going to shrink that list.

I would be happy to share my spreadsheet with anyone who would like to use it.  I can email it to you with an attachment.  You can just delete my info and add in your own.  Either leave me a comment asking for it or send me an email.  Today we are where I can't seem to send emails - don't know why - so I'll send it as soon as I am able.  Just make sure if you want a copy that your email address either is showing on your Blogger profile or you put it in the comment or email.

15 comments:

the ark said...

Great idea! You would think since I am getting an IT degree and am a rabid "starter" of quilts (sadly, not much of a "finisher"), that I would have one of these handy-dandy spreadsheets myself! Alas and alack, I do not. Would you please send me one so that I can be as well-informed about my UFOs as you are?
Tricia triciasagen@netscape.net

Joanne said...

I'd love a copy of your spreadsheet -- I need something to motivate me -- I'm a little late to the party because I just became obsessed with sock knitting for the first time -- I know you know what that is like! But my quilting friends are insisting I can do both, so I feel the need to get organized and devise a plan! Glad to see you're back posting, btw -- missed you!
Joanne

Ann J said...

Would love a copy of the spread sheet Patti, anything that helps keep track is very welcome ! Great to see lots of posts from you again!

Ann J

Gayla May said...

I would love a copy of your spreadsheet. I think that's a great way to keep up with everything and also a nice way to look back at what you've accomplished!

betweens said...

Whew, looking at your history I know mine would not be much better, do I scare myself straight that is the question.
I am a bit nervous about the reality of it all but would like to see your spreadsheet if possible
Don`t expect an update next week but spring cleaning is coming....

Pam P said...

Hi Patti - I'd like a copy of your spreadsheet too! Although I am a little scared to fill it in - Lol! Thanks so much ~ I'm hoping this will help :)

pam.p@comcast.net

sewkalico said...

It was so interesting reading your ufos by the years. I'm in double figures but not high ones so hopefully I don't need your spread sheet yet lol

Sherri said...

I would definitely love a copy of your spreadsheet...and I loved reading about your process for tracking!

Virginia Boudwin said...

I would like a copy also. Please send it to

ginnyb1313@verizon.net

Thank you very much!

MJinMichigan said...

I'd love a copy of your spreadsheet. I'm about to move into a new sewing room and need to find a way to track my UFOs. I've been trying to finsih UFOs for the past year and made some progress but I think it would be helpful to have a way to list all of them and see what I have left to do on each one.

Joyce said...

I would love to see your UFO tracking spreadsheet. Thank you for your offer. joycee2561 at yahoo dot com

Pascale said...

I would like to be able to use a preadsheet to keep track of my uFOs, could you send me your copy. With many thanks.

~Kristie said...

I am interested too.... I have a spreadsheet for ALL of my projects (including kits and ones I am collecting fabrics for) but haven't used any dates. Would love to see yours :)

Sally said...

I would love to see your spreadsheet, as I'd like to see if it would work for me.

Susan said...

I enjoyed reading your post on dealing with UFO's and your spreadsheet idea. I would be interested in a copy.