Last week I asked for topics regarding freelance writing that you would like me to address in a blog article. How to keep track of all your projects, deadlines and appointments was one of the topics requested.
Organization of all the to-do’s and their related timelines is a challenge for every freelance writer. The greater the variety in your project types, clients and project timelines, the greater the challenge. I wish I could provide a solution that would work for everyone, but those variables, combined with the organizational style of each individual makes that impossible. What I will do is share some of the tools I use to make sure my deadlines are always met, client guidelines are followed, emails are answered and billing is done.
Since my office is mostly digital and contained within my laptop, software programs are my main tools. My number one organizational tool is my computer’s calendar (which is also synced with my smartphone). I set reminders on my calendar for all my appointments and scheduled phone calls. Even items that might not have a specific time or date associated with it, such as touching base with a client I having heard from in awhile, will be scheduled with a date and/or time to remind me that it is on my to-do list. I may snooze these items until I’m ready to complete them, but I never dismiss a reminder until it is completed. I also have all my items, personal, work etc color coded as to per which ‘calendar’ it relates to, but generally keep all my calendars combined into one screen with only the colors designating the differences between the scheduled items.
My magazine articles usually have the longest timelines from assignment to deadline. These I will usually set up as To-do’s on my calendar with the due dates listed and the magazine it relates to. On my calendar, these show up as a list along the side of my calendar based on due date and priority. Deadlines for weekly projects are setup directly on my calendar. I consult it every morning and at the beginning of the week to get the priorities for week clear in my mind. When things get especially hectic and I have a lot of deadlines in one week, I will usually write out a list on paper with priorities to keep it in front on me and cross off things as they are completed.
Since I work with people in multiple time zones, I always put a note on the reminders for phone calls as to the related location to remind me of whether the person is an hour ahead, two hours behind or operating in the same time zone as me. I also have a clock app on my computer that has several different timezones displayed to help me when setting appointments with people on the East Coast versus the West Coast, etc.
I still need to stop and review what’s on my plate from time to time and map it out on paper. Other than that, my mind juggles things pretty well. If yours doesn’t, then you will need to rely more on making use of strong organizational tools and techniques.
What tools and techniques do use for keeping yourself organized and on top of your projects?
Please share them with the rest of us!