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uDo you have an organization strategy?

I was recently leafing through an old business magazine from the early 2000s, and I came across an article on organization skills. Specifically, organization skills to help you regain control over your schedule, your environment and your life. Although this article wasn’t about design, I found a lot of what it said still applies to today’s businesses and us as designers.

Here's my spin on the article with some of my knowledge to bring you four basic organization principles to help you as a designer.

Clear out the clutter

In today's society, it's not uncommon to feel overloaded. We deal with too much stuff. Too many obligations, too many tools and resources, too much information. Clearing out the clutter means doing away with anything that is unnecessary. Clutter takes up time, space, energy and money. 

Make yourself a plan to clear out as much clutter from these areas as you can. Tackle them one at a time and free yourself.

A place for everything 

The number one reason for clutter is not having a set place for stuff. In order to be organized, you need to have a system in place to organize your things. That may be hanging file folders in a drawer, a file cabinet or even a cardboard storage box. 

It also means having an organization strategy for your client files and folders on your computer. Whatever it is, having a clearly designated area for your “stuff” will make it more likely that your “stuff” will end up where it belongs. And when stuff is where it belongs, it will make it much easier and faster to find it in the future. That’s the time-saving part of an organization strategy.

Develop systems

I talked about organizing your “stuff” but what about your time? You can go about your daily activities in one of two ways. You can either do things randomly, meaning you have to figure out how to do things each and every time you do them. Or, you can work systematically, where you have a set way of doing those things each time you need to do them. 

Systems can apply to any activity you do, from designing logos or websites, to invoicing clients, to collecting your tax information at the end of the year. When you have systems in place, you end up spending less energy figuring out how to do things. Instead, it becomes automatic.

I have a system I follow for building websites. It’s a step by step list of everything I need to do in order to set things up to get started, such as installing WordPress and plugins. Laying out the structure of the website. Figuring out the content of each page, putting those pages together, and finally testing the site to make sure everything is hunky dory. 

When you have systems in place, you can spend your time and effort focused on completing the task instead of figuring out how to do the task. Which in turn allows you to finish it much more quickly.

Review and revise your systems

Having systems in place is wonderful. They definitely help you become more organized. Providing they are still effective.

If you are using the same organization systems you put in place 5 years ago there’s a good chance they are not as effective as they were and they could actually be impeding you. 

Don’t fall in the rut of doing things only out of habit just because it’s how you’ve been doing them for so long. Every once in a while you should ask yourself these three questions about your familiar routines.

1) Does it even need to be done? Don’t let “busywork” dictate your time just because it’s a habit.

2) Is this something that needs to be done by you? Can it be delegated?

3) Is this the most efficient way to do this? Is there an easier or quicker way? 

Get your life in order and you’ll not only be happier, but you’ll be more productive. And if you’re more productive, there’s a good chance your business will grow.

Develop good organization strategies.

What's your organization strategy?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Antonio

Hi Mark, I’m studying graphic and web design. I’m from Spain and I start to listen your podcast for homework. After so many years in the business, what advice would you give to someone who is just starting in the industry?

To find out what I told Antonio you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week Securitycheckli.st

Securitycheckli.st is an open source checklist of resources designed to improve your online privacy and security. Check things off to keep track as you go.

It covers interesting things such as how to encrypt your text messages — reviewing your social media privacy settings — reviewing permissions such as location services and even your camera setting.

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Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

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