Sunday, August 30, 2009

Where's My Calculator?

Over the years, I've written down just about every organizing tip I've ever found. I even studied to become a professional organizer in my spare time. And it's paid out 10 times over, though I mainly use it for my own personal needs. 'Where's the keys honey', I know the answer to that. 'Mum, I can't find my sticker'. I know the answer to that too. You ask me for something, anything at home and chances are, I'll know where it is. And that carries over to my desk too. If I don't find the time to file my invoices or put away cheque stubs, I will still know where they are and when they've been moved.

You don't have to be so overly conscious of everything in your home and desk, but as a freelancer, it's important to have your time and space organized. It's simple logic; the less time you spend trying to find a calculator or client invoice, the more time you have to write. And your organization has to cross physical boundaries to permeate your mental faculty as well. Jumbled thoughts are great when you have time and access to a computer or pen and paper to write them down; they are not so great when you are trying to meet deadlines and unable to concentrate.

Organizing yourself is much easier than you think. The key as always is to start small so as not to become overwhelmed by the chaos around you. I have on either side of my desk, a whiteboard and a pin-tack board. On the former, I write down my Statement Of Intent (how much I want to make for the month and how I need to make it) and my projects with their dollar figures besides them. This way, I see at a glance how many projects I've booked and how many more I need to.

On my left hand side, I print and tack out all the client briefs and project guidelines I need to follow. This makes for easy reading.

I also have a little folder with white cards in them. I use these to mark down project ideas and potential clients. You can have a number of these for different purposes. Or files with coloured tags to differentiate them also work well.

I tried having two schedule organizers; one for the family and one for work. But that didn't work well for me. So now I have one large one on my desk, which is divided into two halves each day. And I can see all my work deadlines and personal appointments at a glance.

And finally, it's also important to break up my day into portions, each of which has something specific for me to do. I write best in the mornings, so that's my 'writing time'. I also spend a part of my day hunting for jobs, updating blogs, writing my courses and coaching. And then there's marketing my work too. It all adds up to the limited time on hand. And so dividing it makes it more efficient a way to handle each individual tasks.

Reflect on your organizing habits. Do they align well with your work methods? Can you do anything to enhance your efficiency?

And write me what works well for you (and what doesn't).

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