Organization for Creative Entrepreneurs

09-Oct-2014

I think artists are typically pegged as being eccentric, messy, and unorganized when it comes to their space, their creative process, and how they do their work. But when it comes to creative entrepreneurs who have turned their passion into profit, organization is essential – in fact some of us pride ourselves on how organized we are.

Kathleen here. I spent last week in Palm Springs at Designer VACA with a hundred designers who are not only creative, but super organized – so much so, I started to think my own perceived organizational skills maybe aren’t as fine tuned as they could be after all! As a small team working together here at Braid, our methods for staying on top of everything (some automated, some more old-school, like good ‘ol post-its) have served us well up until now – enough that people often ask how we manage it all. So today I want to share how we stay organized, plus some new tools, tricks, and tips I’ve learned about, but haven’t yet tried, that could help us (and perhaps you, too) get even more streamlined in our daily grind. 

ORGANIZING EMAIL
Here at Braid Creative we use Gmail. There is a lot of functionality built in like folder, labels, and tasks – plus extras in Google Labs like canned responses and multiple inboxes. 

At Designer VACA Jessica Hische gave us her secret to maintaining a zero inbox and that is to 1) download all your emails and respond to them offline. That way you can’t get sucked down an internet rabbit hole while answering emails. And 2) Stop using “unread” emails as a to-do list (guilty here) and instead read the email, respond appropriately, and add any actions required to your actual to-do list. 

PROJECT MANAGEMENT
We use a combination of Google Docs, Google Calendar, and our magical chalkboard wall to keep track of our clients, project workflow, and to-dos. It’s a system that works for us but I wonder if we couldn’t automate it a bit with some project management tools. Here are a few that were recommended to me by other designers: 
Asana 
Basecamp 
Solo 
17Hats 
Evernote 

TASKS, TO-DOS and TIMETRACKING
Admittedly, I’m still a fan of a post-it note stuck to my desktop to keep track of my to-dos but because we’re a team of four and growing every day it’s best if we can all see each other’s tasks. Also, we bill per project and not hourly (read Breaking the Time Barrier if you want more info on that) so we don’t typically keep track of our time – but now I’m seeing how measuring how we spend our days could be good for redefining our roles and distributing our to-dos. So here are a few apps for keeping track of tasks, to-dos, and time. 
Trello
TeuxDeux
Solo
RescueTime 
Self Control (just in case you need help from distractions)  

CALENDARS and SCHEDULING 
Here at Braid we have no less than two or three meetings a day – and with clients from all over the world we’re juggling a lot of time zones. My calendar looks a bit like a jigsaw puzzle at times and I think it’s the place where I could use the most automation. Here are a few apps for that: 
Calendly 
TimeTrade 

ORGANIZING FILES AND STORAGE 
Cloud storage is where it’s at – but our designer Kristin always says if it’s not backed up three times it’s not backed up. So be sure to invest in a good external hard drive and back that shit up! Here are some cloud options: 
DropBox 
Box 
Google Drive / Docs (apparently you can use it just like DropBox!) 
Amazon S3

JUST ONE NOTEBOOK
Okay – so if you’re like me and still like to put pen to paper a good way to stay organized is by keeping everything in one notebook. I actually observed my friend, illustrator and designer Becky Murphy using just one notebook for sketches, lists, and note-taking. (Meanwhile, I was scribbling ideas on the hotel notepad, a random moleskin, and with the notes app on my phone.)  

VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS
The biggest tip I learned for getting organized is to hire someone else to do it for you. It’s great to have organizational systems and administrative processes in place so you can easily hand off tasks to a virtual assistant, but if organization isn’t your thing a virtual assistants can help put those systems in place for you. It’s good to know exactly what tasks you want a virtual assistant to help you with – whether it’s bookkeeping, managing your email, calendar, web maintenance, or even managing your social media and marketing. My new friend Kyla Roma recommends Virtual Miss Friday. 

What are your favorite ways to stay organized? Let us know on Facebook! 

Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.

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