A Crafter's Life

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Crafters (re-post)

Recently, a dear friend of mine was telling me about a really cool Stephen Covey themed workshop she attended at work.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, was definitely one of my most seminal/life-changing reads;  and one of my most precious books. At a previous job I led a series of workshops for the leadership team (in my former life as a manager) on the 7 Habits and at one point I was fairly “Seven Habits” obsessed.

I am re-posting my crafting inspired take on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People post, from July 2015, for you today because this recent conversation and stirring of memories of this beloved book.

Do you have a favorite inspirational book of all time? A book whose message you have woven into the core of who you are as a person?

I do – Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you have not read this book, I highly recommend that you do.

Recently revisiting this book got me thinking: “how would the habits discussed in this book apply to creativity, making handmade crafts, and creating a collection of art quilts?” Can I apply Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to the work I do on my tierneycreates business: striving to make a catalogue of handmade items infused with smiles to offer to my Etsy shop customers; and to working towards my dream of becoming a professional artist (The Wardrobe Meets the Wall)?

I came up with The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Crafters, based on Covey’s 7 Habits. If you have read Covey’s spectacular book then you know the background on each habit listed. If you have not read the book, read it, it is a life changer!


  1. Be Proactive: Those projects will not just start or finish themselves, Tierney! This habit reminds me that if I want to move forward with my goals, I have to get off the couch (and stay away from those highly addictive iPad games) and start working on projects and actions to achieve my goals.
  2. Begin with the End in Mind: This habit helps me when working on an art quilt. When I get to the point when my intuitive and free-form design appears to have gone awry, I step back and think: “What do I want this piece to be? What do I want it to truly express and represent?” Taking a step back and thinking about what I want the end (the completed piece) to accomplish helps me refocus.
  3. Put First Things First: I use this habit when deciding on what priorities of projects to work on. It is very attractive and fun to work on another set of log jam blocks (read about my addiction to “log jam” blocks on my post “Log Jamming”: The Sequel) but it does not move me towards my goal of becoming a professional artist. What I need to put first is working on a new art quilt to build my catalogue of art quilts. This habit is also important when there are times I need to step away from the sewing machine and focus my attending on spend time hanging out with my husband and dogs.
  4. Think Win-Win: This has been a helpful habit on rare Etsy shop issues. Recently a customer mistakingly ordered the wrong fabric for a quilt project she was trying to complete. I did not carry in my Etsy shop the hard to find exact color she needed, only a similar color. I offered to accept a return on the fabric and I spent a bit of time researching for her where she could find the hard to find color in rare fabric line. She decided to keep the fabric she ordered by mistake and she used the links I sent her to work on locating the rare fabric for her quilt.
  5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood: The meaning of this habit is actually much deeper then how I am about to apply it to crafting: Sometimes you have to step back, slow down and try to understand why something is not working on a piece in progress. I get so focused on trying to complete something it is as if I am trying to force a square peg into a round hole. If I take a step back and try to understand what is really going on with the piece then I can come to solution. This habit is also an invaluable habit when working with other quilters on projects and working with my Etsy customers.
  6. Synergize: This habit comes into play when I am working with my collaborative partner, Betty Anne, on The Wardrobe Meets the Wall art quilts. When I am designing and piecing a new art quilt I think about the blank space and design elements that will suit her creative long-arm quilting. We discuss her plan for overall quilting design on my art quilts and I trust her intuition in what will work on the piece.
  7. Sharpen the Saw: I am an experienced quilter but I need to continue to take quilting classes and workshops to learn new techniques and refine existing ones. I also need to continue to network with other quilters and crafters, both those doing traditional quilts and those doing art quilts and experimental art quilting techniques. Inspiration does not come to me in a vacuum.
photo credit: Wikipedia


I first read this book in the late 1990s after attending a work related inservice in which the presenter briefly reviewed and discussed The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. After reading The 7 Habits, in addition to gaining an incredible new perspective on life, relationships, what is important in life, etc., I also gained a life long friendship.

I finished this book in the early days of amazon.com and was inspired to write my first amazon.com book review, on this book. I was contacted via e-mail by someone in Denmark who read my review and was looking for someone to discuss the book. Our book discussion via e-mail turned into a life long friendship with a trip to Denmark to meet and then years of trips across continents to get together and hang out.

18-19 years later, we are still close friends. My friend had the opportunity to meet Dr. Steven Covey in Denmark prior to Dr. Covey’s death in 2012, and got me an autographed copy of the book that I will cherish always.

7 thoughts on “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Crafters (re-post)”

    1. Oh yes! I love this prayer!

      Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
      Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
      Where there is injury, pardon;
      Where there is doubt, faith;
      Where there is despair, hope;
      Where there is darkness, light;
      Where there is sadness, joy.

      O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
      To be consoled as to console,
      To be understood as to understand,
      To be loved as to love;
      For it is in giving that we receive;
      It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
      It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

      Singer Sarah Mclachlan recorded a song version of this prayer (you can get it on iTunes) I always have on my iPhone, here is video for the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ


  1. You digested the habits well as it relates to art/quilting/craft. For #5, sometimes the problem is technical issues — why doesn’t it FIT???? and sometimes, more often for those of us who design for ourselves, is about design — why doesn’t it WORK?!?!? Stepping back and looking again, or again and again and again, can lead to the answer. Forcing it almost never does. (Thinking of a quilt I made. It turned out fine, but I was sick of it and wanted to finish. Coulda been better if I’d taken my time…)

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