O is for Organization

Illustration by Ramiro Roman

Illustration by Ramiro Roman

Organization is important.

Very important.

To be a successful freelancer, you’ll need to:

  1. Organize your time.
  2. Organize your office/work space.
  3. Organize your files.

Organizing your time (planning your work days/nights) will allow you to meet deadlines more efficiently.

Organizing your office/work space will ensure that you don’t go insane attempting to run a business in filth. (Successful businesses generally aren’t run from within a pile of clutter).

Organizing your files will enable you to easily keep track of clients, tax information, articles, blog posts, guest posts, interviews, and any other work you do–and have ever done.

See what I mean? VERY important!

Now, I can’t tell you exactly how to organize your business. (Organization takes on different forms for everyone). But I can show you what I do. Hopefully it’ll be helpful!

Without further ado…

A Day in the Life: How Lauren Tharp Stays Organized

Office/Work Space Organization…

Here’s a photo of my office:

OrganizedDesk

As you can see, my office is small and tidy. Most of the time, those pens are inside my desk. And the pieces of paper on the desk and the printer aren’t there. The picture above? That’s a MESSY day for me.

I keep my office/work space very organized. It’s pretty much just a matter of putting things away immediately after I use them.

The way I organize my time is a bit more complex.

Time Management…

How I Spend the Year:

OrganizedYear

Each January, I lay out my goals for the entire year on my large bulletin board. This board includes:

  • My overallbusiness plan for the year.
  • My yearly expenses. (Mainly, the bills that come only once a year–like renewing Sucuri or my website’s domain name).
  • My top ten traffic sources from the year before.
  • The blog posts I intend to write that year.

I also put some fun trinkets on this board. Things that inspire me, or motivate me to keep going, even when times are tough.

How I Spend the Month:

OrganizedMonth

Each month I write down my main goals for the overall month. It ends up looking something like this:

  • In the upper left corner, I write down any interviews I need to conduct. (Usually for my “People I Know” series).
  • In the middle left, I write down any guest posts I’m writing, or interviews whereI’m the interviewee.
  • The bottom left is the corner where Ramiro doodles. (In the month above, he drew himself, Robert the cat, and me asleep).
  • The main part of the board is where I write my overall goals for the month. Most of the goals are project-related, but I also try to remind myself to have fun. Because I’m not the best at remembering to relax–I have to remind myself.
  • In the remaining space, I remind myself whenmy next newsletter goes out.

How I Spend My Days:

OrganizedDay

I’m a big fan of using a dayplanner. Can’t beat the classics!

My dayplanner is organized a bit like this:

  • The top slot is the most important task of the day. (Or the one I’m most afraid I’ll forget. Depends on my mood).
  • The left half of the planner is for business-related activities: Articles that need to be written, networking that needs to be done, invoices that need to be sent out, and so on.
  • The right half is for personal tasks: Chores that need to be done, errands that need to be run, food that needs to be eaten, and whatever else needs to get done that day that I’m afraid I’ll forget if I don’t write it down. (Yes, sometimes I get so wrapped up in my work that I forget to do things like take out the trash or, um, eat).

And then there are the things that I want to do–that have a deadline–that don’t really need to be done.

Or the stuff that just doesn’t fit anywhere else.

Random/Temporary Things I Spend My Time On:

OrganizedTemporarily

These are just random notes I stick up on the wall in front of me. Like upcoming writing contests.

File Organization…

On the Desktop.

Here’s what my computer desktop looks like:

OrganizedDesktop

Like my office desk, my computer desktop is very tidy.

Pretty much everything is contained in my “BUSINESS” folder.

When I’m working on a particular project, I temporarily remove that project’s folder from the ultimate “BUSINESS” folder and keep it on the desktop for easy access until the project is completed.

Inside the BUSINESS Folder:

BusinessFolder

Inside my main “BUSINESS” folder, I have everything having to do with my business saved…

  • Author Website= Stuff for net – My YA author website.
  • Blog Posts= Every blog post I’ve ever written for LittleZotz Writing. Guest posts I’ve written for other websites. Interviews I’ve conducted and given. (Each of those categories has its own folder within the overall folder!)
  • Books I Wrote= Pretty self-explanatory, I think.
  • Clients= You’ll see more of this one below.
  • Newsletters= Newsletters I’ve written for LittleZotz Writing, newsletters I’ve written for LaurenTharp.net, and any templates I’ve made for said newsletters.
  • ReviewHat= Everything having to do with com – Articles written by me, articles written by the other reviewers, pictures, whatever.
  • Taxes 2013= Again. Self-explanatory.
  • Website Stuff= All my back-up files and whatnot for littlezotz.com (where you are right now!).
  • Stuff that I use oftenthat didn’t fit into a particular folder = Promo pictures of yours truly & my writing contract. Stuff like that.

Inside the Clients Folder:

Clients'

Okay… You can’t really see much. I have to respect my clients’ privacy. So anyone who hasn’t given me the “okay” to state publicly that I’ve worked for them had to be censored. I was actually going to show a larger photo, but I realized that most of it was blacked out, so I cropped it. (Sorry!).

Most of my work is ghostwriting and a big part of that is, er, not saying who I’ve worked for.

The main thing to take note of is this: EVERY client I’ve ever had–even if I’ve only done one project for them–gets their own folder.

This is a technique that I highly recommend.

You never know when a former client is going to call you up and ask for you to resend some work you did for them a long time ago. Or when you’ll have to pull out an old contract to see what the terms really were. Or when you’ll need to gather up some portfolio pieces of your best work to impress your next big client.

Plus, it’s just nice to have everything in its proper place. It’s never any fun scrambling through thousands of documents trying to find exactly what you were looking for.

Real Life Folders:

OrganizedFiles

In addition to the files I have on my computer, I also print out hard copies and keep them in my file cabinet.

I don’t print out everything at this stage (though someday I’d like to), but I try to at LEAST print out the contracts I’ve drawn up with each client.
And, just like on my computer, each of my clients has their own file in my “real life” file cabinet as well. (Which is why, for privacy reasons, I can only show you the tiniest peek inside).

I also keep hard copies of all of my tax information in there as well.

Get Yourself Organized!

Like I said at the beginning of this post: I can’t tell you exactly how to organize your business.

This is what I do. And it works for me.
Find out what works for you!

Posted in Freelance Writer's ABCs

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