We are freelancers, entrepreneurs, designers, writers, and creators. It’s a given that organization, time management, and prioritization are difficult for us. With all the type-B personalities running around the office, it’s really a miracle anything gets done sometimes. But we are committed to bringing quality product to our clients in a timely manner.

So how do we do it?

We’ve learned a number of organizational and planning techniques over the years and have implemented them to make our workflow more effective. We haven’t practiced them to perfection, but they make our days go much, much smoother. Here are a few habits that have helped us live fuller lives and beat deadlines:

  • Lists. All the lists. Lists everywhere. Walk into our office and you’ll see lists on white-boards, lists on paper, lists on hands, and in notebooks. We write everything down ad-nauseum. The paper keeps track of the tasks so our brains don’t have to.
  • Planners and calendars. Maybe this sounds basic, but choosing a planner and a calendar is no simple task. It’s important to find a planner that flows with the way your brain does. Are you task oriented? Goal oriented? There are a multitude of planners to choose from and picking the right one can save your bacon. In the way of calendars, our team has settled on Google’s version. It makes communication and scheduling between team members incredibly simple.
  • Team meetings. If you have one or more employee, a weekly or bi-monthly meeting can help connect people and keep them on the same page. It’s a good time for updates, goal orientation, and ideas. If you don’t have employees, it’s still not a bad idea to host a one-person meeting. Grab a cup of coffee and have a sit to think over your goals, new ideas, and how to implement them.
  • File tabs and digital folders. Ok, so we could use a little work in this area. But creating folders with descriptive titles to organize our workflow and graphics can keep us from going crazy. Nothing is more agitating than not being able to find that document we typed up yesterday. With paper files, labels are even more important – they don’t come with a “search” tab!
  • Limits. This is perhaps the most important of all. We set limits on our work so that it doesn’t control our personal lives. The email we received Sunday afternoon can wait until Monday. The graphics can wait until after the coffee break. We believe protecting our personal time gives us increased energy and greater focus to produce a better product. No one wants their graphic designer on burnout. We love our work and we want it to stay that way.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be. We didn’t learn to implement all of these things at once either. Instead, start by incorporating one or two and adapt them according to what works best for you. If it stresses you out more than it helps, stop. It’s accomplishing the opposite of what it needs to. Find a system that helps you stay on track and steal back the minutes where you should be having fun.