Keeping yourself organized is vital to maintain an optimized workflow and best meet your clients' needs. But it's easy to fall into bad habits without a plan and preparation. Here are five steps you can take now to help streamline your working process so you can focus on creating content that thrills clients.
Maintain a Calendar
Keeping track of appointments and deadlines is vital for writers. An online calendar program can be ideal for this, as it is accessible from anywhere, can be synced to your phone and devices, easily edited and color-coded for further organization. With your days laid out in front of you, it can be easier to block off free days when you need them and regulate your workflow to ensure there are fewer spikes and dry spells. Keeping a constant eye on deadlines also helps you to make sure that things are done in time and without rushing and causing quality to suffer.
Make Use of Lists
Whether you use a physical notebook or a note-taking program on your computer, creating lists can help you to think through the steps of your projects, keep track of your progress, and stave off procrastination. By breaking tasks into specific steps, you'll not only prevent feeling intimidated by larger tasks and procrastinating, but it gives you the chance to take a moment to mentally craft a strategy for projects. Keeping track of what you've accomplished on the list can also help you stay on course to hit deadlines and notice when you're spending too much time on certain steps. Crossing items off the list and being able to visualize what you've already done also can be motivating.
Prioritize the Time-Sensitive Tasks
It can be all too easy to shrug off projects until the last minute, however, working under pressure can cause the end product to suffer. Organizing your projects by order of priority is a vital skill in order to continually meet deadlines without feeling the stressful crunch. This becomes even more important when you're working on several articles and projects simultaneously, and need to juggle your time carefully to bring high quality results on each. It can also be tempting to start out your day with checking email, social networks and various blogs and websites, but these can become time vacuums. Identifying the day's priorities can prevent you from falling down the Internet rabbit hole when you have pressing work.
Create a System for Basic Emails, Forms and Invoices
How much time do you spend each day creating invoices and writing basic emails that seem like you've written them dozens of times before? Organize and streamline this menial but necessary process as much as possible to save yourself time. Craft simple boilerplate examples for basic emails and invoices and organize them in your computer, ready to be copied and pasted into an email and quickly adjusted for each client.
Keep Your Work Space Clean
A clean work space lets you flow efficiently through your tasks. Take the time to create a space for your work that contains everything that you need to complete your tasks and designate a place for each of your tools. If you know where everything you need is, and keep it within reach, this prevents your work flow from being interrupted, and procrastination from setting in. Do this for your physical work space, as well as your work computer. A clean desktop with folders clearly labeled and organized will help you keep your focus on the task at hand.
Organization is a habit that can take some work to get into, but once you get established in it, it allows you to do your best work without getting dragged down in petty details. By making a few adjustments now, you'll optimize your efforts in a way that will pay off for years down the road.