Day 29 - Getting Organized
Welcome to Day #29 of the 31 Days to Better Branding series! To learn more about this series, click here to find links to the other days so you'll be able to follow along or catch up if you happen to miss anything. I am by no means an expert but after hearing a lot of the same questions, I figured others could benefit from a few lessons in branding. Hopefully it will give you a place to begin or even just a few tips to improve your business and bring you more clients. Feel free to add in your thoughts and what has worked for you in the comments!
Yesterday I listed out my work/life schedule on an average weekday for those of you who were curious about how I balance family and running a business. Today I wanted to get to some of those more detailed questions about my workflow and give you some tips on staying organized! We're talking brain organization today! It is something I've had to gradually get better with because when my mind is disorganized I can't get anything done in a short amount of time. (And these days my work is always done in short amounts of time!)
Sometimes the hardest part for can be knowing where to start. Especially when I'm not quite in "work mode" but I find a surprise window of work time. I can waste a lot of time trying to figure out what project needs priority. So to help me with this, I set up a workflow to give me somewhere to begin and just jump in. One example is assigning an area to focus on for each day of the week - Monday & Wednesdays are for blogging and website updates, Tuesdays & Thursdays I design & post products, Fridays I do planning & business details. My basic workflow keeps me focused and helps me organize my time to ensure every area is covered.
I love shortcuts. It's crazy when you calculate up how much time gets wasted on doing the same things over and over. For example, I was finding that 80% of my emails were answering the same 5 questions. So I saved a copy of my answers for my most frequently asked questions and now I just copy and paste and add in any extra details. Some other examples... I keep templates of my blog collages so that I can just drag and drop in new images when creating a curated post... I keep order information and links in one place so I don't have to track them down every time I send out an order... I keep button tabs at the top of my browser of all my most visited websites so I don't have to type in the url every time... I use Photoshop actions to make the size and look of my images uniform. Having these shortcuts make it possible for me to do things in half the time without thinking about them too much.
I am a certified notebook junkie and use 4 of them for work: I keep a sales notebook (tracking my income, expenses, and budgeting), a blog notebook (for outlines & post ideas), a design sketchbook (layouts and product ideas), and a more general business notebook (for jotting down random business goals or to-dos). If I happen to think of an idea when I can't physically work, I just quick jot it down on a list so I remember it when I have time. Creative inspiration almost always hits when I'm in the middle of kids' playtime, cooking, or getting ready for the day. So having lists helps me keep track of my projects and put work down when I need to.
Creatives have it rough when it comes to scheduling out work because it's hard to think up fresh ideas when you're tired or pressed for time. When I know I need to work but I'm just not feeling creative, I have set go-to places for quick inspiration. My pinterest boards are life-savers for me since I can quickly see things that inspire me or find links to things I've saved before. I also use the Pulse app on my ipad as a reader for all of my favorite blogs. That way I can quickly see all of the new content in one spot and get motivated by all of the creative people I follow. When all else fails, sometimes it helps me to just get off the computer and into my stack of magazines or to put music on while I sketch in my notebook. Having these inspiration sources in place keep me from wanting to give up and go take a nap haha.
I hope these tips gave you some ideas for your own organization and workflow! What do you do to keep your brain from getting scrambled during a busy workday? Share your secrets!