I've been asked a lot lately how I get everything done. The short answer is: I'm not sure. In college I would arrive to class in the morning - all bright-eyed and bushy tailed with my complete project in hand while my classmates would still be mocking up their boards with bloodshot eyes. I've always had this knack for getting things done on time without compromising food or sleep.
I think a lot of my efficiency comes in the way I To-Do. Here I'm going to focus on how I get things done in my freelance life. It looks something like this:
THE BIG PICTURE
I keep track of all my projects (a title and short description) on my chalkboard wall. This allows me to peek up from my computer and see what projects I have in the mix at any given time. I have a system where I put a little 'o' next to projects that need to be designed. I put a little 'x' next to projects that have been designed but need approval or to be finalized and sent to print. I cross through projects that have been sent to print but have not yet been delivered to the client.
THE ACTIONABLE TASKS
On busy days I will utilize my teux-deux list - and on really really busy days I resort to a good old fashioned pen and paper to-do list - there's something magical about a physical to-do list that helps me get things done.
So my actionable tasks list might look like this:
If my to-do list item takes longer than an hour (or has a lot of components) I will bust it up into smaller actionable tasks that take :15 - :30 minutes to complete. This keeps me from getting overwhelmed or distracted.
I usually don't have very specific deadlines but when I do I will include my to-do list on my calendar. When I worked at an agency I used a paper calendar so I could show my creative director or AE my work flow. Now that I'm only managing my own time I use my Google Calendar to keep track of appointments, lunch dates and deadlines.
OTHER TO-DO TIPS / TRICKS:
• When I sign on with a new client I give myself 2 weeks to think (and think only) about their project. This is the marinating stage. By the time I hit the sketchbook or computer I'm ripe with ideas I want to execute. This keeps me from wasting time staring at a blank screen.
• I am most creative in the mornings. Because I know this I use the mornings to do my most creative work - like blogging and designing.
• I hit a slump in the afternoon - so I use this time to run errands, work on billing, estimating, and answering emails. Or I'll use this time to refine my work from the morning - to hammer out the details that don't require a lot of creative energy.
• I allow for downtime. If I go at it for a full 8 hours a day I will burn out. I give myself wiggle room to do things like check out my favorite blogs or have a non-business-related coffee with a client.
• I make time for things that are important to me - like my daily work out and lunch.
• Once I'm tapped, I'm tapped. I recognize this and move on.
So, let's here it - what are ways you stay efficient? Any tips on how you manage to get it all done?
I'm going to continue to expand on this new "matters" series. I'm an open book, so let me know if there are any other topics or specifics you'd like me to dive into. Help me figure out what to talk about next!
• Money Matters
• Skin Matters
• Make-up Matters
J & K started this blog project to document the remodel of their 1929 historical home in the heart of Oklahoma City. It has now turned into a documentation of life, food, fashion, freelance, inspiration, design, adventures and details around the J & K house.
Kathleen works as an award-winning brand consultant and designer specializing in small business branding at Braid Creative & Consulting. Jeremy is a software engineer and is the left-brain to Kathleen’s right.
You can contact Kathleen at
jeremyandkathleen (at) gmail (dot) com.
All photos and graphics by Kathleen unless otherwise stated. Feel free to use them with permission or credit.
Anatomy of an Outfit
Sometimes I like to get dressed and take pictures of myself. For all of my outfit posts click here.
Freelance Matters: A series about how I tackle freelance issues such as estimating, billing, to-do lists and how to fire a client.
Trekking to Everest
In October 2010 Jeremy and I trekked through the Himalayas to Mt. Everest Base Camp. It completely changed my life. Read about the entire adventure, day-by-day, here.
Braid is a creative & consulting business I own with my sister. We do branding and business visioning for creative entrepreneurs. On the Braid blog I share branding adventures, how-to articles and advice on the creative process. If you need a little brand therapy of your own visit Braid or subscribe to the Braid blog RSS feed here.
What We Eat
We like to eat really good food - at least 3 times a day. Sometimes I blog about it - click here for recipes and yummy ideas.
J & K: Blog Archive
- ► 2012 (182)
- Anatomy of an Outfit: Rule Breaker
- Stationery (Not Stationary)
- Yellow Cashew Curry with Potatoes
- Then and Now
- Anatomy of an Outfit: Animal
- An Organized Kitchen
- Freelance: Taking a Break
- Pretty from the Lizrary
- Anatomy of an Outfit: The Pajama Alternative
- Lost in the Weeds
- On Becoming Landlords
- Clean Energy
- Anatomy of an Outfit: Sparkle
- Call Me
- Help Japan
- It's a Small World
- Anatomy of an Outfit: Between Seasons
- Green Protein Bowl
- Anatomy of an Outfit: Sheer Style
- Boots I have Known
- A Very Local Omelet
- Anatomy of an Outfit: The Smile
- Tax Time
- TO-DO | Matters
- Anatomy of an Outfit: Running an Errand
- Identity: Pip & Estella
- Anatomy of an Outfit: A Little Bit Rock and Roll
- Honeysuckle and Gray Wedding Invitations
- Girl Crush: Lady Gaga
- 9 Months Freelance
- ▼ March (31)
- ► 2010 (387)
- ► 2009 (406)
- Eva Black | Spaces
- Emma Dime
- Life as an Artistpreneur
- Jane Reaction
- Ink & Letters
- Meg Biram | The Edit
- Sarah Von Bargen's Small Biz Blog
- Design Crush
- The Equals Record
- Emmarie Designs
- Rory Gordon
- Yellow Brick Home
- The Creatives Project
- Silly Grrl
- Photographers Skeen
- The Clothes Make the Girl
- Bringing Design Home
- Pip & Estella
- A Practical Wedding
- Kind of a Sideshow
- Sandra Juto
- Old Sweet Song
- Rambling Renovators
- Brooklyn Bride
- Design Crush
- Experiment in Poverty
- The Jealous Curator
- Making it Lovely
- Dressing on the Side
- The Oklahoman
- Young House Love
- Oh So Beautiful Paper
- A Cup of Jo
- Brooklyn Limestone
- Glamour Weddings