toughboss1Here is the deal.  I really should fire my employee and here is why…

She comes to work late and leaves early.

She takes personal calls while at work (she doesn’t even get off when I come in the room!).

She calls off for reasons like taking a walk with a friend, lunch invites, school parties, and even a great sale at target.

She checks facebook, instagram, and email every half hour (or more).  

She takes regular breaks to get drinks of water and ends up chatting up the babysitter about her grandchildren for like 20 minutes.

Her work space is a total mess (usually).

She does not accomplish important business tasks I give her like getting her photos edited and blog post written and instead sews her adorable 2 year old a new dress.

She watches English period piece mini series on her ipad during work hours.

She is terribly indecisive about fabric purchases and waits until the last minute to get important sewing projects done.

She even uses old needles and dull scissors because she is too lazy to go get new ones even when I have set aside money for her to order them.

She has the GALL to complain about wanting a raise…

Maybe I am too tough of a boss?  Is it too much to ask this woman to shape up and do her best?  I know she can do it!  She is smart and motivated!  She has been with me since the beginning and she works really hard when she is under pressure.  She has made such cute and successful sewing patterns in the past but what am I supposed to do with her now?

It’s true, I cannot fire her.  But she does need a reality check about her work performance.  Did you guess who the employee is?   Yes- the employee is ME and I am sick and tired of my poor work ethic lately!


Recently I laughed with a friend about getting my annual job review back when I worked in the city many years ago.  I remember being surprised by criticism that I was too tough on workers that I was in charge of during large projects.  Me?  Too hard on people?  I just expected them to work hard and get their jobs done!  Maybe my expectations were too high?

It did get me thinking about my current job performance and how that tough boss would treat me.  How did I get to be such a slacker?  If you are the sole worker in a handmade business, have you ever tried to give yourself an honest job review?  BE TOUGH.  Are you really using your precious work time efficiently?

Here is how I have gotten better…

I try really hard to be ready for work as soon as my sitter gets to my house. 

I turn off my email, facebook & instagram during work time.  Unless using them to promote my handmade biz of course!  

I listen to classical music (or nothing) and no more watching shows (even if downtown abbey  or the good wife is calling my name with a new episode) or listening to podcasts/ audio books.  Even regular music is distracting to me so I have switched to classical which I find really good for work.

I don’t take phone calls or send texts that are more than very quick scheduling things.

I schedule all friend and school stuff  on my non work days.

I make a list of what I want to accomplish that day and give myself rewards for getting that hard stuff done. Rewards are checking instagram or going upstairs to chat for FIVE minutes with my beloved babysitter.  She is on board now with my tenuous work situation and makes me go back to my studio ASAP!

I did tell my tough boss to chill out about the messy work space and give me a break about indecisive fabric choices.  I am doing the best I can!  AND, I told her that I work best under pressure so if it seems to her that I am waiting until the last minute, that is simply how the best creative me reveals herself.  She still wants me to work on those, but understands they are not such a quick fix.

Here is a check list for you from one tough handmade boss to another…


I actually printed mine out and it is hanging by my desk to remind myself not to be such a slacker.  It’s pretty ugly too, so the sooner these good habits (40 days makes a habit!) take hold, the sooner I can take that ugly piece of paper off my pretty studio wall!  Here is the PDF so you can enjoy the ugliness too…

So, what do you think?  Do you have something to add to the tough handmade boss checklist?  How could you be a better employee for yourself?  How would you want an employee to act if you could hire one?  I would love to hear what you think!


Virginia Lindsay — Gingercake Patterns and Design

Virginia Lindsay designs sewing patterns for Gingercake Patterns and Design. She loves the to sew practical, fun, and stylish things! Several of her patterns have been published by Simplcity and she has also written 2 books. Sewing to Sell and Fabric Stash Cuties:  Pretty Little Birds.

8 comments on “Are you ready to be a tough boss + a good employee?”

  1. Wow, this one hit home….have you been peeking through my window?? I have come to the same realization this week. I would never tolerate this kind of slacking from any other employee, so why do I allow myself to do it? I like your reward idea, I’ll try that. Work needs to get done FIRST, then I’m allowed to play! Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

    • haha- yes Tes! I know 🙁 Honestly I am still working on being better after writing that. It is a process. Good luck- it’s important to be realistic with ourselves!

      • Thanks Virginia. This checklist is going on my desktop. The first small change I’m going to make is to get rid of distractions and schedule my breaks. Looking at this checklist regularly should help to keep myself in check and moving forward with all the changes I need to make. Thanks again.

  2. I loved reading this. I have thought about it actually – I may be too hard on myself. I am the “b…” boss and me as a worker can say that she denies me time with my friends and family and makes me work constantly.

    I feel that when I work for myself then my responsibility is even higher then it would be with “normal” job. Do you feel that?

    I have serious trouble with working time…

    • I sometimes wish I could be harder on myself, Mari. But thinking about the other side- being TOO hard on yourself gives some good perspective too. Finding balance is what it is all about, right?

  3. This article really hit home (in a light-hearted, fun way) as I have begun to really slack off and waste time lately and (handmade) work is not getting done in a timely manner. And being grandmother-age, I don’t even have the excuse of children at home to distract me! Just this lazy streak that has occurred lately ~ maybe Spring Fever? 🙂 Anyway, thanks for this cute way of reminding me to ‘get back to my schedule!’.

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