January 31, 2011
Managing two businesses and multiple projects is craziness. I decided after nesting my way through every room and eventually my office, I’d nest my iMac too. I’m a very visual person, so many of the ways I keep myself organized have to do with appearance and aesthetic. For instance, if my white desk is perfectly cleaned off, I just feel better – like I am more organized. Here are a few ways I keep my computer organized – perhaps one or all of them will be helpful to you too. I’ve included pricing for each part below… so this cleanup could cost you $2,000… but it could easily cost you $0 as well!
PART 1A: INVEST IN A SOLID COMPUTER ($2,000) | Let’s start with the basics: your computer itself. In my humble opinion, the most important investment you can make in your business, as a creative person, is in your computer – be it a laptop, an iPad or a desktop. Before you buy a fancy printer, a new desk or even an iPhone to manage your business – invest in a computer that works for you. Personally, I’m a Mac snob through and through. The only investment my husband and I made in my business when I got started was in my computer. And the business eventually reimbursed us for that expense. I use a
- 27″ iMac (ps: I buy all my Apple products refurbished. They come with the same warranty as a brand new one and are restored to brand new factory specs. I save about 25-30% that way!)
- Wireless keyboard + mouse
- Adobe Creative Cloud
- Microsoft Outlook for Mac 2011 (Outlook is wonderful, much better than Entourage or Mac Mail).
- Accessories that came later: MacBook Air and an iPhone to all sync with the iMac. Great set up.
- PART 1B: ORGANIZE WHAT YOU HAVE ($0) | Perhaps you’re not in a position to make that kind of investment? That’s ok! In the meantime, get organized with what you have.
- PART 2: WALLPAPER ($0) | Is your wallpaper something really busy? That “busy-ness” may be distracting you – and stealing your attention… and you might not even know it! Opt for a clean pattern in a light color or just a solid color. Mine is a solid dusty blue. The icons and folders stand out on top of it rather than competing with it.
- PART 3: SCREENSAVER ($0) | Is your screensaver set to turn on every thirty seconds? Imagine how much time you’re wasting shifting your mouse or hitting your space bar to turn that off. This repetition is wasting your time and distracting you. Change that. I don’t have a screensaver for that reason.
- PART 4: DESKTOP/APPLICATIONS ($0) | Is your desktop littered with icons? Does your application tray (on a Mac) have fifty icons in it? Visually, that’s a huge distraction. Remove the icons you don’t use on a DAILY basis from your icon tray or desktop. I have 15 applications in my tray – everything else is in the Applications folder inside Finder.
- PART 5: DESKTOP/FOLDERS ($0 – $6) | How many folders and/or files are on your desktop? At any given point during the day, I’ll have 10-20 files saved to my desktop. BUT, at the end of the day (or as I go) I try to make sure these go to the right place (most of the time that’s to the TRASH). When saving files, take the extra time to save them to the proper folders. It’ll save you a sorting headache at the end of the day. One of the best apps I’ve found in the new Mac App Store is the Colored Folder Creator. Color coding my businesses/projects helps me visualize how much is on my plate at any given time, as well as how many open projects I have. Each of my businesses gets its own color and main folder, open projects for that business go below the main folder. I have a personal folder too. When a project is finished, old proofs/etc get deleted from it and the folder gets filed under “CLIENTS” in the appropriate main folder. That way, I always know what needs my attention and what has been completed.
- PART 6: COLOR CODING ICAL ($0) | I also color coded my calendars in iCal to match the colors of the respective businesses/projects to keep the visual organization consistent (and my brain on track)
PART 7: FOLDER HIERARCHY ($0) | Do you have a giant pile of files inside your “business file”? Are your personal and business files mixed together? Mixing files, to me, is like mixing money. Just don’t do it. It’ll only end up in one big confusing headache. For each of my businesses, I have pretty much the same file set up.
- Business: All the “fun” stuff – my Quickbooks file, branded pieces (notecard files, business card files, etc), taxes.
- Clients: Archived client folders.
- Info PDFs: Here I house any FAQ or process type documents. For instance – letterpress ink color options, general business collateral pricing, custom wedding suite process, contracts, etc.
- Ideas: If I see an image that inspires me – or something I might want to look into one day, I’ll file it here.
- Images: Any images of my work go here.
- Logo Files: I’m always in need of my logo files, so I save them all here.
- Web: Inside this folder are subfolders for Website, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.
- PART 8: BACKUP ($300) | This is really important. When your entire business is housed in a computer, you MUST make this investment to prevent losing everything. Many people use “clouds” or online hosted backups to house files… me, I use the Apple Time Capsule. It’s set to backup my entire computer every 15 minutes. Priceless.
This is how I keep myself organized – how do you do it? Any tips you’d like to share? Next up… organizing email. My email is my “to-do today” list. If it’s not in my inbox, I’ll forget to do it!