When it comes to being organized, I don’t think that you have to be that person: the one who has everything colour coded, alphabeticalized, ordered by size, by date, by weight. There are various ways to organize yourself and your work in a way that works for you. So, let me give you a few reasons to get your stuff together!
There are TWO main things you should organize:
1. Organize your project
Since a lot of projects today are performed on a computer, I’d advise you to do at least one thing: organize your folders and files for your project. The rest of the stuff on your computer, so long as you have space, doesn’t matter. But, organize the folders for the project you’re working on.
- Create a parent folder – so, “MY PROJECT” and then sub-folders for things like Media, Docs, Contracts, Recordings, etc.
- After each quarter or each year, dump them all into an Archive folder. It’s easier to look for stuff that way.
- Backup the Archive to an external drive.
- You can also do this on the cloud through various online apps. Google Docs and Google Drive work well for a lot of people.
- If you use cloud services, I’d advise you to keep a local copy of everything though. Why? Because if you don’t own it, you don’t have any control over what happens. Anything cloud-based could disappear tomorrow.
2. Organize your time
When you’re working on a new project, or a new job, you really have to start prioritizing your time on that project. Too many people “think” more than they “do”. It’s far too easy to get stuck in your head. You’ll have a thousand ideas but never have the time to implement or test each one.
Make the time. Schedule it in your calendar. Setup an alarm for it on your phone.
For example, on Monday, you might write a blog article. On Tuesday, you might work on your website. On Friday, you might leave yourself some time to experiment and play with a new idea.
Working without a schedule can be disastrous for a lot of people because leaving things too wide open will just make you suffer from ‘analysis paralysis’. There is such a thing as having too many choices, and too many things to do in one day. Break it down into little chunks.
Organizing your time also means tempering your expectations. It means having to have some patience while you figure out what works best.
Change it up as needed!
You should also give yourself a chance to change up your schedule. When I decided to work independently, I discovered my peak times were from 11am to 1pm, and then 6pm to 10pm. That’s when I work REALLY well. So, get to know yourself, and make some adjustments as time goes by. The 9 to 5 work world that we’re all used to isn’t optimized for YOUR productivity. So, make it a point to notice what times throughout the day work best for you.
Don’t waste your client’s time!
Prioritize your client’s time. Nothing is more frustrating as a client than dealing with a freelancer, an artist, or any provider who isn’t organized. You ask them for an important document, and they can’t find it. You want to buy a print of their work, and it takes them six weeks to get it printed. You book a meeting, and they show up 10min late.
Before you offer any service, you’ve gotta make sure that you know how to fulfill that service. That’s part of being organized! So:
- Show up on time.
- Deliver on time.
- Don’t make any promises you can’t fulfill.
How? By making sure that when you promise something to a client, you’re promising something that you know you can deliver on time. That’s part of knowing yourself, and your skills.
If you’re new to freelancing, you might even want to do a few test runs before dealing with clients. Imagine a few scenarios where a client needs something done, and then time yourself doing those things. That will set a good baseline for how much time it takes to create something you can deliver.
Your reputation matters.
I’m a strong believer in burning some bridges. You don’t need to please or impress absolutely everyone. But, when it comes to your clients, to your customers, to people who pay you their hard-earned money for your services or products, you better believe it: your reputation matters.
So, when someone asks: “why should I bother?”, the best answer I can give you is that how organized you are will determine the difference between being successful, and just winging it. It will determine your reputation. It’ll determine if you’re a pain to work with, and if you get repeat clients down the road.
Think about it: would you work with yourself? Would you be able to deliver on time? Would you be able to find your notes when you need them? Get organized, and you’ll see that everything will be easier.
One last thing: if your project is already a huge mess, then make it a point to organize it. Don’t try to do it all in one day. Pick a folder, pick a drawer, pick something, and work on it over a scheduled time each week. Next thing you know, you’ll have all your ducks in a row. It might also mean having to pause certain activities until you get that done.
But I promise you, once you’ve got things organized, you and your business will thrive a lot more. And, you’ll have more time for other things, too! Because nothing wastes more time than looking through a pile of documents or a disorganized folder. Value your time, and all of that will be in the past.