Organizing You Part I.
February 4, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I can’t be the only one that feels that organizing one’s daily life is the hardest part. Ever since I can remember I’ve been a huge fan of organizing. I love to organize files, drawers, cupboards, thoughts, you name it, I’m there. When I was five, I would organize my toys. When I was eight, I would organize the pantry. When I was eleven, I would organize my dad’s work-related receipts. And by the time I got to college, I had organizing down pat. I could organize my homework, classes, work, and social life like no tomorrow.
Some don’t share the same zest with organizing as I do. I think I could even be a professional Organizer if I really wanted to. Definitely after I organized my ex-bosses 1700 square foot office that hadn’t been touched since 1996. It took me three weeks (whilst answering phones, putting clients’ individual taxes together, and doing other administrative tasks). But I did it. I think that’s what draws me to consulting, I feel like I’m helping people organize their lives.
That being said, I’ve noticed over the years, creative people often have the hardest time organizing themselves. Figuring out how to get your schedule organized and which project is the most pertinent will really help you see and track your progress (for lack of a better word). That’s Part I. Part II will go over how to estimate how long a project will take you and when you can expect to be completed. If you want to get organized to the max, be sure to come back and read Part II.
This post is obviously all relative to where you’re currently at. Some of you are trying to figure out what you want to do creatively, while others have been doing what they love for a while now and just need some organization. Trust me, we all do. The first groundwork that you’ll want to lay is your daily schedule, even if it be loose at best. I helped Trever with his when he stopped working a 9-5 back in October. He kept saying, “I can’t figure out how to get all this stuff done. I wish I had a schedule!” (If you need a more personal approach, contact me regarding one-on-one consulting at email@example.com!)
It’s fairly simple. Here’s an example of a full-time creative freelance work day:
9:00am Wake-up, eat brekky, and walk the dog
10:30am Do social networking/blogging
Noon Eat lunch/Make phone calls
2:00pm Do administrative/marketing tasks
4:00pm Run errands
6:00pm Eat dinner/network/schmooze
8:00pmish till midnight etc. Start creating!!!
It may seem silly, but breaking up your day so simplistically and even setting alarms so you don’t forget what comes next (like eating!) can help you simplify and really see where you’re going. It’ll also help you actually get things done. Because if you’re not setting out time to eat, market yourself, be with other humans, and create, something is going to falter and take the brunt of it all. Never a good thing.
If you’re still working that nine to five (whatever your hours may be), the best way to chip away at your creative process is to make time for it. Whether it’s two hours every night or on the weekends, do it! You’ll only work on it if you actually commit to putting it on your schedule. Once you do this, you can use a system of trial and error to figure out when the best time for you is. The above schedule is obviously for that artsy night owl. But you might write your best works in the am. Whatever it is, figure it out and schedule it in. Even if it amounts to getting used to living off of less sleep, the results from the creative output are tenfold in satisfaction.
If you are client-less at the moment (and not for long), you should seek out projects and goals that will help you get started and use the same client-importance timeline below as if those projects were paying clients (money should never be the #1 deciding factor).
When I ask a fellow artist how they decide what project they put the most work into or what they usually finish first, their response is usually whichever pays the most. In our social networking world though, that’s not what will help you to get your name out there. And your name is what you want to develop (whether it’s a pen name, your original name, your website, or anything else you go by). Even if you finish a few awesome projects and they take you forever, yet you don’t have a blog, a book, a website, or anything else to draw in your target market (the specific market segment, separated by age, geography, industry, gender, socio-economic status and so on, whomever you market your work to), no one will know who you are and your reputation will not be being built.
Let’s pretend that you have four clients to do work for. Organizing each client/project will be the most important factor in what you start with. Although the following list of bullet points is inconclusive and albeit relative, take time to figure out what is important to you. This is roughly what I go by:
• Who hired you first. The client that asked for a project to be completed should be the first to be completed, no matter who they are and regardless of pay.
• Who needs it first. If you have some clients who are more flexible on time, complete the projects that have the closest deadline.
• Who is communicating. Some clients have a more difficult time expressing their creative wants and needs. That’s normal. It’s important for you to have a list of questions to ask that will help you get started on their project, but if you get stuck and they’re not communicating, contact them every 48-72 hours and move immediately to the next project until they reply.
• Who can get you ahead. This should be the fourth thing on your list, not the first. If they hired you at the same time, need it at the same time, and are all communicating, choose the project that will stretch you and grow your rep.
And that’s the short list, but it will help you to get started towards some type of organization of your current projects. To run your business well, you have to be able to give your clients an estimate of how long it will take you to create what they need. Knowing how quickly you work is pertinent.
Also, communicating with your client how much time needs to be taken for their project is primary. You must send them a guesstimate of your date and time of completion as well as an estimated invoice for your work. Without this, you and your client are working blindly together. You don’t want either of you to be surprised by the outcome. These few steps will help you get more organized and use your creativity even more for your own profit, but if you don’t know how long it actually takes you be sure to read Part II for some simple tips.
(This post is part of Monday Madness: Creative Consulting Tips and Tricks of the Trade. Sign up for the RSS feed to never miss a post!)