Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Organization Tips


One of the most frequent questions that I get is how I keep everything in my life organized. I have always considered myself to be an organized person, but I had to step up my game in a whole new way when I started freelancing a couple years ago. I love being my own boss and having a lot of projects going at once. However, it also takes a lot of discipline and daily effort to keep it all going. I don't have any magic answers, but there are a number of things that have worked really well for me that I'm going to discuss today.

Daily To Do Check List
I have a daily check list of work related things to do each day from reading blogs to working on at least one HubPages article. I have one list for weekdays and one (considerably shorter) list for weekends. Recently I've also designated a few tasks for specific days of the week (i.e. Monday, Wednesday, Friday). I don't have a specific order for completing them. It largely depends on my schedule for a given day. I also find that I do better if I mix up my routine frequently and don't stay too regimented.

Weekly Task List
Under my to do checklists for the week, I have space for keeping track of freelance writing work, Etsy treasuries, and additional reminders for myself (which can be everything from scheduling blog sponsor promos to picking up cat food at the vet). Lately I've also found it helpful to leave a blank page on the backside of each week list for further freelance organization. When I have a huge work list, particularly large quantities of short assignments (i.e. 40 product descriptions, each 250-300 words), a quarter of a page just doesn't cut it.

Blog Calendar
If you blog more than 2 or 3 times per week and don't already have a blog calendar, I highly recommend starting one. Free printable monthly calendars are readily available online. Typically I print out a new calendar a week or so before a new month starts and outline 80-90% of my content before the first day of the month. Of course none of this content is set in stone, and I do change a few things throughout the month. Having a rough outline in advance is still a huge help.

Lately I leave a blank page after my calendar page for keeping track of my color combination inspiration suggestions and general brainstorming for the next month. Paper is really cheap. There is no reason to cram all of those lists into the calendar margins.

Outlining



Sometimes I get large batches of freelance assignments on specific topics (i.e. 10 landing pages for a car dealership), and I find it helpful to create a handwritten outline that I can refer to throughout the assignment. Of course you can type your outline, but I don't like having one more tab to click over to when I already have three or four windows and documents open. I also like to outline the majority of my HubPages articles before I start the writing process.

Brainstorming
I stress the importance of brainstorming all the time. I keep lists of ideas for blog posts, HubPages articles, jewelry pieces, and photography shoots. It is important to keep in mind that you don't have to use all of your ideas. Believe me, I definitely don't. Writing down the possibilities as they come to you is a great way to keep the creative process flowing.

A few general tips
  • Keep your lists organized. Some of you may remember that one of my 2012 goals was to organize my lists. I used to keep the vast majority of all of the above lists in a single notebook, and it got cluttered really quickly. I completely changed that in 2012 and have stuck with it. It's made a huge difference for finding what I need when I need it.
  • Find a system that works for you. I love writing by hand and enjoy having these lists and notes in spiral notebooks. There are numerous options for list making and calendars both on and off the computer. There is no one system that works for everyone. Figure out what works for you so you can stick with it.
  • Don't be afraid to make changes. Even the best system is not going to work forever. I have tweaked the format for my daily to do list and weekly task lists a number of times over the past two years. There are things that I used to keep detailed notes of offline, such as Etsy listing information, that I have since streamlined in some sort of digital form.
  • Don't beat yourself up over things that don't happen. Do I accomplish every daily to do list every single day? Absolutely not. Does this mean that I've failed? No. Sometimes I get a huge batch of freelance work all at once and have to let other things slide like HubPages writing. Sometimes I'm really busy with non-work commitments and have to double up a couple days worth of work. As long as I'm getting through the majority of the tasks every week, I don't sweat it.
If you're looking for even more information on this topic, I wrote an article about time management on HubPages a while back.
How do you stay organized? Share your input!

10 comments:

  1. I'm a compulsive list writer. I'll even add something I've done to my list, just so I can have the joy of crossing it off. But my lists are often longer than my days.

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  2. Great post for keeping up with everything! I am obsessed with lists too. It ensures I follow through with each task on time. I use a whiteboard in my home office so tasks are sort of in my face and can't be ignored. :)

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  3. I absolutely LOVE making lists, not that I always actually use them all the time, but I'm definitely a list-maker. =0)

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  4. I love lists, but yours look far more organized than mine. I usually write them in Crayola marker and post them on the wall so I can't miss them. During the school semester I print a weekly schedule, too. You have a lot of different stuff to organize! Great advice - keeping everything in order is so important when you have to keep track of work and non-work.

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  5. I have lots of lists depending on things like long term stuff to get done or stuff that needs to be done soon. There are several things that have been on the long term list for years like painting the inside of the garage! Lists help reduce my stress but sometimes the amount of things on it overwhelms me. I need to find a better system I guess so thanks for your tips Rose!

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  6. ive just began trying to get more organized with everything lately. i try not to have too many lists because i feel overwhelmed. thanks for sharing!

    <3 from your newest GFC & bloglovin follwer at http://juliaspuellaaeterna.blogspot.com/

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  7. I'm a list-maker and calendar-keeper, too. We have a main calendar in the kitchen where we keep track of family events, birthdays, when my husband travels for work, etc. Then I have a notebook that I use as a rotating to-do list and blog schedule. Whenever I fill a page up, I just flip it over and start again. There's a master list of blog topics toward the front, and whenever I get busy I make up a mini calendar for myself wherever I am in the book. Right now I'm working 3 weeks out, which is unusual for me but is making my life easier. :-)

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  8. These are such great tips! I like the idea of printing a separate calendar for blog posts. I keep a list of these, but I like the idea of scheduling specific days.
    I'm great at keeping lists, but keeping them organized is where I fall short!

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  9. Thank you for sharing these great tips with us! I also keep a couple of lists. I keep a daily list, "this week" list, and a "goals" list. Lists do help. I do blog at least 3 times a week and I like your idea of printing out a calendar page to organize them. I'll be using that one for sure!

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  10. Since I have enlarged my work load with the wholesale business, I have begun to make more lists too. I am not as organized as you are, but I am finding that writing an idea just on a sheet of handy paper, will not do, as I lose them. I little spiral notebook at the left of my computer is sufficient to jot down notes. I have added a little divider tab in the last week, for shows coming up. That helps. Anyway, thanks for all the tips here! Wonderful!

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