I’ve been meaning to do an organisation post for a while now, but the truth is that my methods of keeping organised change month-by-month. I might discover a new app, or change how I do something, so it’s a pretty fluid process. ‘How to Stay Organised’ is probably going to be an ongoing thing, and I’ll keep you updated on when I discover a new way of keeping my shit together.
I function so much better when things are in order. That goes for home life as well as work life. I get a sick satisfaction from having all my dry goods organised in Kilner jars with Martha Stewart labels, I could while away the hours cataloguing all our paperbacks, and the sound of a dymo printer is like music to my ears. I’m type A and proud!
I wasn’t always this way, I used to revel living in ‘artistic chaos’, and parts of my life still resemble that (don’t look in my desk drawer…jesus). This year, though, I decided it was time to take charge! I’m overhauling, decluttering and organising every aspect of my life. And boy, it feels good.
Today I’m going to focus on how I stay organised with work tasks, and let you know some ways I use several free (or low cost) services to keep things flowin’ smoothly. I’ll be following some of these up with more in-depth posts, but for now I just want to give an overview.
I use Evernote every day for note keeping and idea dumping. Until recently I also used it to keep track of client projects. The beauty of Evernote is that you can use it across various devices and have them sync up. I can take notes when I’m out and about on my iPhone, and they’ll sync right back up to my Macbook when I get home.
- I have several notebooks pertaining to different areas of my life, ie. ‘Finest Imaginary’ where I can keep notes on that side of my business and ‘Kim Lawler Creative’ where I can keep notes on that.
- If I’m taking an online course, I’ll set up a notebook dedicated solely to it, where I can keep course notes and links.
- When I was using it for client projects, I’d have three notebooks – Active, Complete, Upcoming – and a note for each project. It’d be a great place for dumping sections of emails, keeping information that I needed to reference quickly, and keeping an eye on what projects I was actually working on at the time.
There’s probably so much more I could also be doing with Evernote, but for now it serves as a great place for me to dump ideas and make on the fly lists.
Me and lists are like that (I’m doing that crossing my fingers like we’re best pals thing). I couldn’t work without a daily to do list, how can anyone?!
“Let’s make a list!” is my go-to first action whenever anything comes up. “Wanna go to Ikea?”, “SURE! Let’s make a list!”.
Teux Deux is my digital list saviour. I’ve used a variety of list making apps: wunderlist, remember the milk, astrid, but Teux Deux has been the one I’ve stuck with. The beauty is in its simplicity.
- It syncs across devices, so I can keep my Ikea shopping list on there!
- I’ve created several repeating to dos to keep me on track. Each day I need to print invoices, package items, and print postage – those are repeated automatically without me having to re-add them. Every Monday I need to remember to install updates, restart my Macbook (without it being on my to do list it probably wouldn’t get done until it freaked out and crashed), and do my book keeping.
- I add to dos as they happen. I might have told a client that I’ll have their contract over to them on Friday, so I add it as a to do for the upcoming Friday. When it rolls around, it’s already there on my to do list. It makes it so much easier to keep track!
- Along with daily to dos, I have a few other random to do lists on there. These include ‘Stuff to do some day’ and ‘Stuff we need for the house’. I can drag entries from any list into any other, so if I decide I’m going to do one of the ‘Some day’ items this week, I can drag it onto a day. Neato!
I’ve only just started using Basecamp again, I’ve been looking for a project management software for the past year or so that fulfils all my objectives. I’d used it in the past but thought the price was a little high, however, after failing to find something that worked as well I decided to go back to old faithful Basecamp.
Everything else was either too complicated (Podio), came with hidden costs (Siasto), or was just not quite there with client access (Wunderlist).
- Each project I’m working on has its own project space in Basecamp.
- My clients can be added to the project (at no extra cost), and I can hide things from them that I want to keep just for my own information (they don’t need to see a bunch of development to dos).
- We can share files, documents and comments on there. It’s removed the need for a lot of emails!
- I can see instantly which projects are active, and can archive projects that are either complete or on the back burner.
It’s not cheap, at $20 a month for the basic package, but it’s not gonna break the bank either. I’ve been using the free trial for the past few months and it’s working out well! This is one I’ll keep you updated on, though.
Not much to be said about Dropbox that hasn’t already been said. It makes sharing larger files a breeze. It lets my accountant keep me in the loop with all the HMRC stuff that we have to look over. And it means I can store a bunch of stuff that I’d like to access via the app on my iPhone/iPad.
- I use dropbox to create a sharing folder for me and my clients. It’s a great place for them to share image assets with me.
- I store all my book keeping receipt scans on there.
- I back-up all my iPhone photos on there.
Again, I’m sure there’s more I could be doing with Dropbox (what do you use it for?), but it’s already helped hugely with file sharing between me and my clients.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about Google Calendar or Drive, but they play a huge part in my organisation. Here’re just some of the ways I use them both:
- Google Drive can sync with Basecamp, so clients can share documents with me from their Drive on there. It’s making the cross-program (I’m on a Mac, lots of my clients are on PCs) issues of the past quickly become irrelevant.
- I’ve been drafting a few of my upcoming worksheets in Google Drive, it means I can access them easily from where ever I am – and even work on them via my iPad.
- Adam and I share Google Calendars so we know when either of us has something booked. We’ve also got a calendar with our monthly home related bill schedule.
- I share spreadsheets with my accountant via Google Drive, so he can make amendments easily and I can see where he’s changed something.
I think that’s enough for Part 1, and I hope it’s given you some ideas on organisation. I’ve still got lots of talk about, and I’m sure I’ll be going into more depth on some of the things I’ve mentioned above!
Now, over to you, what applications, website or other methods (old school pen and paper?) do you use to keep organised?