How I stay organised in my creative business
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When it comes to running a small creative business, there's a lot to think about and keep on top of, especially if you're a one-woman show and working from home. Since starting my business I've streamlined some of my processes and found ways to stay organised in all areas of what I do. Here's a few of my tips to keep everything running smoothly.
A few months ago I singed up for Dubsado, initially because I was looking for something to help me send contracts to new clients. Since using the programme I've discovered so many benefits, and now couldn't run my business without it. Dubsado not only allows me to send contracts to my clients to sign, but also to keep all our communications in one place, send invoices (and get paid), and add questionnaires to my projects. I also love the finances feature, which allows me to easily input all of my income and expenses, and provides reports on my profit, projected income, and where its all coming from.
A Client Schedule
Earlier this year I sat down and worked out how many clients I could work with at once, how long each project takes, and how often I have room to take on a new client. I then created a calendar (just using Numbers on my mac) with a space for each of those project slots, and I fill them in with a colour and the name of each project as they get booked, so I can see at glance how many projects I have going on, and what slots I still have available. This has been so useful in avoiding over-booking clients, and means I can have a clearer idea of my income too as I can stick to a regular number of bookings per month.
A paper diary
I still love a good old-fashioned paper diary to keep myself on schedule. I've tried using digital versions on my phone but I just don't stick to it the same way. I'm also a sucker for new stationery so I'll buy a new diary every chance I get (which means I just purchased a new 18-19 academic diary. Hello shiny clean pages!)
I use these for making notes of each day's to-do lists, e-mails I need to send, things I need to buy etc.
My favourite trick with a paper diary is keeping track of follow-ups. So every time I respond to an enquiry, I'll make a note for a week later to follow-up if I haven't heard anything back. This means I can keep track of who I've heard back from, make sure I don't forget anyone, and also make sure I don't send more than one follow-up e-mail to each client.
This is advice I've heard from a lot of small business owners, and something I've been working on a lot more lately. I try to set aside chunks of time to work on a particular task in one go, rather than trying to do everything at once (multi-tasking isn't all its cracked up to be)
So this means I'll set aside a couple of hours per week to work on my social media posts and schedule Pinterest posts in Tailwind. And I'll spend a day every couple of weeks creating content for the blog. And of course once a month there's the dreaded afternoon of paperwork and finances.
Batching my tasks like this means that the rest of my time can be purely dedicated to client work, meaning I can give my full attention to what I'm creating.
A file system
One of the easiest ways for things to get out of control is an unorganised desktop and a jumble of files in various folders named "drive-download-20180627T165259Z-001". This is an area I've always been pretty good at, as I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I like things to be neat and organised. I have a folder on my desktop named "Bea & Bloom" which contains more folders such as "Blog", "Client Work", "Quotes" etc. which all contain further folders for each blog post, client name or quotes category. Sometimes this means there's quite a long route to get to the folder I need, but I do always know where everything is and can easily locate what I'm looking for.
I run a Time Capsule on my mac, which backs up all of my work every hour, and I do additional back-ups every month or so. I also copy all the particularly important folders over to Google Drive just to be extra safe, and to allow me to access those files from anywhere if I'm not on my main computer.
At the end of each work day I make sure everything is where it should be, so the next morning I can start the work day with a clean slate and not have to tidy up from the day before.
Separating "life admin"
When working from home its really easy to get distracted by all of the house-hold tasks that need doing (hello huge pile of ironing), so I try and keep these separate from the work day. I get up in the morning and get all of the essentials done before I start work. If there's washing to do, I'll put it on first thing in the morning, put it in the dryer at lunch, and put it away in the evening, so it never clashes with the hours I've dedicated to working. Making sure I have a set schedule for when house-hold tasks are done ensures I don't get distracted by them when I should be focused on client work.
I still have a few things to figure out but I'm definitely getting there on the organisation side of things. The main thing is to stick to a schedule and a plan that works for you, and if things are starting to get in a jumble, slow down and figure things out before taking anything else on.
How do you stay organised in your business?
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