ECT TV Episode 79: Planning Your Creative Projects for the New Year

Welcome to a new episode of ECT TV!

In Emerging Creatively Tutorials I show you jewelry making techniques and give you creativity tips.

Happy New Year!

I hope you’re off to a great start to the New Year!  Whether this is the first episode you’re watching or you’ve been watching from the beginning, I want to say thank you for all your support!

Today I’ll give you a step-by-step process to plan your creative projects for the year that will help you sort out from the many possibilities, schedule it in and then finally I’ll give you a bonus tip that will make you super effective during your creative time.

Watch the video:

Prefer to read?  Here’s the information from the video:

As I start a new year I love planning and thinking about how I want to feel and I love setting goals.  As part of that, I think about what creative projects I’m planning for the year.

Going back, the last few months of 2016 I got very overwhelmed with the amount of things I wanted to do.  I had a lot of trouble making decisions and so I ended up not making any decisions and, thus, I didn’t really work on many creative projects.

This year I decided to take the decision making out of the picture altogether.  I made a plan and a schedule. I don’t have to make any decisions because they have already been made.

I started this process a few weeks ago and the results have been amazing.  I’m going to walk you through all the steps.  Once you go through these steps it’s a lot easier to get to the fun creating part!

Step #1

What do you want to work on this year?

Make a whole big list and don’t edit it yet.  Just let yourself brainstorm everything.

This can, of course, also include projects that you’d like to complete from last year that you’re still working on plus anything new you’d like to do or to learn.

Step #2

How much time do you have to devote to your creative activities?

When can you schedule them in?

For me, this means I work on my creative hobbies in the evenings after dinner.

Maybe you have kids and your only free time is after they’re tucked in bed.  Or perhaps you have time first thing in the morning.

When do you realistically have time and how much time do you have?

Step #3

Now we’ll narrow down the list of creative projects from Step #1 into a list that you actually have time for.

I always have about a thousand projects that I want to do, but when I compare that long list to the time I have I know it’s not even possible.

So I have to choose what’s most important to me.

Decide on the top few projects that you can realistically work on.  If they’re long term/large projects you may only be able to choose a few.  Choose as many as you have time to work on.

You don’t have to get rid of the rest of the list.  Keep it for the future.  This is just what we’re focusing on right now.

{For me:  I have decided to work on 3 scrapbooking projects and 1 art journal project.  I didn’t consider jewelry making in my list because it’s a given that I work on daily because it’s my job to teach jewelry making and I work on it during the day.

There are many other projects that I want to work on and I kept them in a list.  If I have time, I may work on them, but they’re not my focus.}

Step #4

Make a concrete schedule for those creative projects within the schedule that you made in Step #2.

{For me:  I’ll be working most evenings on my creative projects.  I have taken my 3 scrapbooking projects and choose which specific days I’ll work on those projects.  I have a couple of open days that I can choose to work more on those projects or work on another creative project or do something else altogether.}

Now that you have made a schedule, you don’t have to make decisions on what to work on when.  You simply work on whatever creative project you chose at the time you chose.  It just simplifies everything.

Step #5

To maximize your creative time, get your supplies together and organized for each creative project.

Organizing your supplies is great, of course, because you can find everything.  But there’s a bonus of finding things you forgot about or misplaced, letting things go that you just don’t use and thus giving you more breathing room and finding renewed inspiration!

Bonus Tip:

Make kits of the exact supplies you’ll use for each project and place in a box or basket.  Then when it’s the allotted time for that specific project, just grab the basket and get to work!

What if you want freedom, not rules?

Me, too!  I love creative projects because I can express myself and not do what other people think I should.  I don’t like being put in a box and I’m a free spirit at heart.

However, I also get overwhelmed and stuck when I have to make a lot of decisions.  Making these decisions ahead of time is actually really freeing.  I started this process a few weeks ago and I have to say it’s been amazing.  I’m working on creative projects so much more.

And having said all of this, nothing is set in stone.  You made the schedule, you can change it.  You can add things to your list, take them off or switch things for a little while.

I want to help you to be able to express yourself more freely, not tie you down!

I hope this helps you get creative this year!

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Choose your Adventure

Special Announcements about ECT TV:

  • ECT TV comes out every other week.  I’ll be alternating a jewelry making technique video with creative tips and hints videos (like this very episode!)
  • Also previously I had been sharing PDFs of each episode freely with step-by-step photo/written instructions to my newsletter subscribers since the very beginning of the series and it’s extremely time consuming.  The PDFs will no longer be available for free, but you’ll still get all the same content in the videos!
  • The PDFs for the jewelry making tutorials will be available for a small, affordable fee and the PDFs for the older episodes will be available soon as well.

Again, the videos will remain free and you can get notified of new episodes by signing up for my newsletter above.

Also – there will be a new blogpost here on my website each Wednesday.  On the weeks for ECT TV, you’ll find the video and show notes from the episode.  On the other weeks I’ll have posts about creativity and jewelry making.

Want to see my progress in all of my creative projects this year?  I’ll be sharing photos on Instagram and Facebook, so be sure to follow me on either (or both) of those places.

How Music Inspires Creativity [Part 1: Creativity Booster]

How Music Inspires Creativity

This is Part 1 of a 3 Part series to give you a bit of insight into how Rediscover Your Creativity & Make Jewelry eCourse works.

In the actual eCourse, you get all three parts in one week and you get many more projects, but for this I’ll be sharing a new part each week.  (These prompts are not from the eCourse itself, but it will give you an idea of what it’s like.)

Today is the creativity booster.

Part 2 will be jewelry skills lessons (coming out December 21, 2016.)

Part 3 will be a jewelry project (coming out December 28, 2016.)

Music as a Creativity Booster

Music as a creativity booster

Have you ever noticed that when a song you love comes on you feel more joy and energetic?

Well, music does more than just lifts your mood, it also can help with focus and boost your brain waves to increase your creativity.

There was a study in 1996 that proved when participants listened to Mozart, creativity soared.

Even if you don’t particularly like Mozart or classical music, music can really enhance your creative time. 

  • If you listen to music that is nostalgic it can take you back to memories that you may have forgotten.  You can use those memories as creative inspiration.
  • It can mark the start of your creative activity almost like a ritual.  You put on the music and then you get started.  You’re more focused on the activity.  Even if the music itself doesn’t work as inspiration, the act of putting on the music can inspire creativity.

Today’s Creativity Booster Activity:

Listen to some music and sketch while you do so.

I highly recommend listening to Mozart, but if you don’t enjoy classical music I suggest that you find some music that you love.  Maybe choose something from your younger years or if you need some holiday cheer, maybe choose some holiday music.

Then get out a sketchpad and see what happens.

In my case, I decided beforehand to sketch some jewelry pieces and that is exactly what I did.  However, you don’t have to sketch jewelry.  Something else may come up that you want to sketch.  This exercise is more about getting the creative juices flowing in general than about actually sketching jewelry.

Here’s a video about music and creativity and me sketching:

Sketching Jewelry Designs

Some special notes for sketching jewelry:

  • If you are new to jewelry making, it could be difficult for you to sketch jewelry because you don’t know a lot of techniques yet.  BUT… that could also be liberating because you can just sketch anything that comes to mind without thinking of how you’ll make it.  You can figure out the “how” later.  Just get your ideas down now.
  • If you think you cannot draw, it is okay!  I can’t draw either and I sketch jewelry all the time.  Simply draw it out as best you can and then make notes so you remember what you were trying to convey.  Label “chain” or “beads” or whatever you need to label to remember.
  • No one ever has to see your sketches.  I’m sharing my sketches to hopefully inspire you to be brave and give it a try.  (I do share my sketches in Inspired eCourse to inspire you to design your own jewelry and to show you my process.  But otherwise I don’t share my sketches with anyone.)
  • You might not make jewelry that looks like your drawing.  It’s a starting point.  You may discover what you envisioned is not going to work or you may come up with something you like even more.  You could abandon the idea altogether for something else entirely.  You have the idea in your sketchbook, so you’re not going to forget it.  You can come back to it anytime.

Now, get to it!  Find some music and get sketching!

If you want a new creativity booster, jewelry skills lessons and jewelry projects each week for 6 weeks, sign up for Rediscover Your Creativity & Make Jewelry.

It starts on January 2, 2017 and is a beautiful way to start the new year.

There are 21 jewelry projects in this eCourse and who knows how many you’ll be inspired to design yourself once you get the creativity boosters as inspiration and the jewelry skills lessons.

Learn more here:  Rediscover Your Creativity

Rediscover Your Creativity & Make Jewelry


How to Be Creative Even When You’re Busy [7 Actionable Tips]

7 Tips for Being Creative when Busy

A lot of us are really busy.  Maybe you have a job, kids, dinner to make, laundry to fold, friends to meet, meetings to attend or any number of other things.

It can be difficult to carve out time for making jewelry (or whatever other art you want to make.)

I find this especially true during the holiday season.  Our schedules get changed and we have parties to attend or family to visit.

Even if you had jewelry making in your normal daily routine, it can be difficult when that normal daily routine gets changed.

Here are some ways to make sure that you are getting your creative time even when you’re busy:

1.  Schedule it in.

I know this seems pretty obvious, but recently I was trying to figure out how to actually finish a year long project I’m working on (and got behind on.) I scheduled it and now I’m making progress again!

For my project, I decided to dedicate Sunday evenings to it.  I was trying to make it so complicated thinking I should work on it every day for a little bit, but then I was finding it difficult to find the time each day.

So I chose a few hours just one day per week.

I went from trying to work on it every single day and not actually doing that to working on it a few hours each week and actually making some progress.

2.  Gather your supplies in one place.

If you have to dig out everything from here and there every time you want to make some jewelry, it can be a barrier.

Instead keep your most used tools and supplies easily accessible.

If you have a dedicated studio or room to work in, then you can keep everything out and ready to go.

If not, keep your most used items together in one place.  For example, if you work on the kitchen table and have to put things away when it’s dinnertime, then maybe find a box or basket to keep items in so you can easily move things.

If you’re taking Wire Wrapping for Beginners eCourse, your most used tools will be wire cutters, chain nose pliers and round nose pliers.  You might want to keep your 20 gauge, half-hard, round wire handy as well.

I know you probably have more supplies than can fit in a basket, so thinking about what you want to work on in your next jewelry making session ahead of time can be helpful.  You can pull out those supplies ahead of time.

3.  Plan your creativity.

Decide what you’re going to work on in your next jewelry making session before you actually sit down to work.

When I had a full-time job, I would think about it, dream about it and even write it down on a little sticky note or piece of paper during the day so I knew when I got home what I would be doing.

Now making jewelry is my job, but I still plan it out or else I just waste time.

4.  Have separate times for planning and for doing.

This goes along with the previous tip.  Instead of getting to the worktable and then deciding what to do, plan that out ahead of time so you can just sit down and work.

Use sketchbook or some kind of idea journal to write down and draw out ideas in.  That’s your planning and thinking time.

Then when it’s time to make you have the ideas to turn to and you don’t waste time sitting there and thinking about what to do.

This is something I teach in Rediscover Your Creativity & Make Jewelry eCourse.  I love having a jewelry idea sketchbook so I never run out of ideas.

5.  Routine helps with creativity.

I have been reading that over and over again and I didn’t want to believe it.  I dislike schedules and routine.  I want to be spontaneous and just go with the flow.

But the truth is when you show up day after day and do the work, creativity happens.

Create a routine for your creative endeavors and stick with it.  The example I mentioned in #1 above, I am doing once a week.  I make jewelry every day.  Find a routine that works for you.

6.  Keep it simple.

Something simple completed is better than a big, complex thing not completed.

You may have dreams of making a complex set of jewelry that includes earrings, bracelet, necklace and a ring.  Thinking of it as a whole complete set can feel overwhelming.

Instead, break it down into smaller chunks.  Today I’ll make the earrings.  Tomorrow I’ll make the ring.  Maybe break down the necklace and bracelet projects into even smaller chunks depending on your design.  (For example, if you need to make some different components, work on those components one day and put everything together the next.)

7. Take it easy on yourself.

If you get busy with other stuff, don’t beat yourself up about not getting jewelry made or whatever your creative project is.  When you have time you’ll get at it again.

I hope that you can schedule in time to make jewelry or do whatever creative endeavor you’re planning even though the holidays!

Another way to keep up your creative practice even when you’re busy is to take an eCourse.  It will inspire you and you’ll be excited to get to it every day!

Wire Wrapping for Beginners

Learn to make beautiful, sturdy, professional level wire wrapped jewelry!

I show you how, step-by-step, in Wire Wrapping for Beginners eCourse!

Learn all the components and techniques you need to make earrings, bracelets, charm bracelets, necklaces and rings!

Plus be inspired to express your own creativity, going beyond just following step-by-step tutorials, but infusing your own style into the pieces.  Learn more here.

Gratitude and Creativity [Plus starting a gratitude journal & 30 day challenge]


Gratitude has a measurable positive effect on your happiness.

It allows you to appreciate what you have instead of thinking that some new thing – maybe even something outside of your reach – will make you happier.

And positive emotions have been shown to enhance creativity.

Positive feelings can lead to:

  • trying new things
  • play
  • exploring

All of these are things that also encourage creativity.

I have had a practice of writing three things I’m grateful for every morning in my journal and it’s been a wonderful way to start my day on a positive note.

It’s easy to get into the day-to-day of life and become immune to all the wonderful things about it.  Actually writing down what you’re grateful for makes it concrete and helps you remember that you have so very much to be thankful for.


Starting a gratitude journal

This doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy.  You can simply use a journal you have already and document what you’re grateful for each day.

If you already write in a journal, simply add what you’re grateful for.

If you don’t already have a journal, any notebook or journal will do.  You may want to choose a new, pretty journal, but you don’t have to.


I found this beautiful journal and it’s what I write in every day.  Each day I start by writing a positive quote.  Then I write out all of my feelings and emotions.  I end my daily writing with three things I’m grateful for.

[I purchased this journal from Back Home Again in Lititz, PA.  They have a great variety of different journals and lots of other fun stuff.]


When to write

I like writing in the morning to start my day on a positive note.

I also love the idea of writing one or more things you’re grateful for at the end of the day.  You can think about your day and choose a few things and write them down.

I think the important thing is to just get started.

30 Days of Gratitude

You can use gratitude to feel more positive leading to creativity.  And you can also be creative with your gratitude!

I’ve been planning to do a month long gratitude album.

Each day I’ll take a photo of something I’m grateful for and then I’ll also create an album page each day in the month of November.

I’m choosing November because it’s the month of the US Thanksgiving, but if you’re reading this in the future, don’t feel like you have to start in any particular month or at even at the beginning of a month.  Just start today.

For my project I’m creating a 6 x 8 Project Life type album.  Each page has two 4 x 6 pockets.  In one pocket I’ll place the photo from the day.  In the other pocket I’ll create a card (or a small scrapbook layout or collage) and write what I’m grateful for.

I plan to share my photo each day in November on Instagram (follow me @KimberlieKohler) to see what I’m grateful for! And I encourage you to share what you’re grateful for there, too.  Use this hashtag so we can find each other:  #ectgratitudechallenge

(ECT=Emerging Creatively Tutorials, just so you know.  🙂 )


I gathered up a basket of goodies for my 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge so everything is together to make it easier to complete each day.

I encourage you to start a daily gratitude practice in a way that works for you.

Remember, you don’t have to do what I’m doing this month to get started.  You can:

  • Use any journal you’re already using and just add gratitude to it; or
  • Get a pretty journal just to use for your gratitude journal; or
  • Grab any notebook you have.

I like to write three things, but you can start with just one.

And I think it’s fine if sometimes you’re grateful for the same thing as previous days.  I have a pretty routine life so that happens for me quite often.  However, this month I’m going to try to find something different and specific each day, no matter how small it seems.

How are you planning to start your gratitude journal?


Do you already have a gratitude practice?

Let me know in the comments below. 


Why isn’t it as easy as it looks?

Why isn't it as easy as it looks?

This comes up from time to time especially in the jewelry making eCourses that I run.

You make everything look so easy, but it’s not as easy as it looks.

So you watch me make the project, but when you make the project it’s not as easy for you.

This comes up a lot with Pinterest as well.  You see an amazing craft project (or recipe or home decor or whatever you’re looking at) and when you try it yourself, it’s a failure. (Or you think it’s a failure.)

So if you’re feeling discouraged that what you’re making doesn’t look like what other people are sharing, I hope this post will encourage you to keep going!

So if it seems like people sharing tutorials on the internet (including me) are doing things so easily and you can’t quite get the project perfect

there are many reasons for this:

  1. This is what I have found to be the #1 thing:  You are holding yourself to a much higher standard than you are holding the teacher.  I have seen my students cut down their own work and it’s beautiful, creative work!  Sometimes they’ll tell me, “It doesn’t look exactly like yours.”  It’s not supposed to!  It’s your work.  So cut yourself some slack!
  2. I have made these projects before – sometimes many times before I actually show you how to make them.  I’ve worked out the kinks already.  This is likely the very first time you’re making it.  You expect it to be perfect the very first time.  It very likely won’t turn out amazing the first time you do anything.  (There are, of course, exceptions.)
  3. One thing I try to instill in my students is encouragement to customize and try their own thing using my instructions as a guideline.  That means that when you go off the beaten path, things may not work out perfectly the first time you try it.  In fact, it probably won’t.  Don’t get discouraged or give up.  It’s all part of the process.
  4. When people (including me) make mistakes when they’re filming a video or shooting photos of a tutorial, they edit them out.  Usually (as I said in #2) I have already worked out all the kinks.  Sometimes things go wrong anyway.  It’s part of making things.  I don’t want to waste your time with my mistakes, so I mostly edit them out unless I think it’s a chance to teach.  So just because you don’t see me make mistakes in a video, it doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes.
  5. I have been making jewelry, working with wire and jewelry materials and tools for quite a long time.  A lot of what I do is just ingrained into my hands.  It’s muscle memory.  The only way to get better at making jewelry is to keep making jewelry and practicing.

There is no failure.

The most important thing I want you to remember is this:  there is no failure.  If you’re trying, you’re learning and that’s part of the process.


Give yourself some slack.

Give yourself some slack.  Give yourself time and space to practice and make mistakes and learn from them. 

Interestingly, a lot of my “mistakes” have turned into beautiful pieces of jewelry or my biggest triumphs.  If I would make everything perfect every time, I wouldn’t learn as much or grow.

This article I wrote about the 4 Phases of Developing Your Creativity may also help you along your path.  In that post you’ll also find a very inspiring video with Ira Glass talking about what nobody tells beginners about art.  It’s so encouraging especially if you’re feeling frustrated with your creative development.

If you’re looking to learn some solid basic skills that you can put into use and start practicing right away, I encourage you to sign up for my completely free Intro to Wire Wrapping eCourse!

You’ll learn the basics and even start making wire jewelry projects.

Intro to Wire Wrapping

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