How to stay organised as a self-employed creative - PART TWO (Love Mondays Hate Fridays)

PART TWO (Love Mondays Hate Fridays)

I got some lovely feedback on Part one which I put out on Sunday, which was encouraging, Putting yourself out there on the internet is always a bit nerve wracking. Hopefully this will provide a bit more reading about how to stay focused day to day when working from home.  

 

The Work Day

When Monday comes around it can be a bit daunting to look at everything you need to achieve that week, and instead of speeding on with it as we probably should, sometimes the default state is to stick your head in the sand and try and ignore it. A great way is to size it down into manageable chunks, be it a general list, or just focusing on one task only for a few hours. 

 


Splitting up your work day 

If you work at a computer, or one space all day, really try and give yourself regular breaks and get a change of scenery. It can be hard if you're in the middle of something, but make sure at some point you get up, stretch your legs and look at something other than the screen in front of you. Best thing is a quick walk in the park, bit of yoga, even just reading a book for 30 minutes will guarantee that when you go back to your desk you'll feel more productive.

It also means you've had time away from your particular project, which can be great. Sometimes when I've been editing for hours, I come back after a break and reel in horror at what I thought looked okay before hand. I get so engrossed I sometimes get sucked in and forget to take a step back and look at my work with fresh eyes.

Breaks mean... rewards or SNACKS

If you're anything like me, my go-to break place is the kitchen which generally means snacking. Not only can it act as a break from the screen, but as a reward. Did you get that really tricky task out of the way in the morning? Have a biscuit! Go on, have two. A reward can be 30 minutes of tv, a phone call with a friend, anything that really makes you motivated to finish something difficult. 

Routine

Whilst working from home, having a routine can be kind of tricky. Flexibility is one of the reasons it's so desirable to be self-employed, although that can mean without any structure you become lax and less productive. Having a base, something to loosely stick to, is a great way of avoiding that.

One thing I read in Manage your day-to-day (below) was about training your mind to say OKAY IT'S WORK TIME. Be that playing a certain song before you start work, wearing a certain item of clothing, doing 10 minutes mediation - anything that gets your head in the game and ready to work. 

If your most productive time is 7-8am then make sure you get up early enough to utilise that, even if it means going to bed a bit earlier. If you work hardest and best at 3am, then get up as late as you like, just make sure you're using the time well. 

My routine mostly consists of getting up at the same time every day, even though some days are busier than others, doing some stretches, eating breakfast and then heading to the studio. I often listen to the same artist whilst I'm binding for a few days/week to help keep my mind from wandering too much. One thing I really tried to do was to turn my phone off, I am awful for getting distracted by social media and texting whilst I need to focus. Still working on that one, when I've managed it I work SO much faster, but my will power has waned. Another way is turning off the internet if you're not using it for a task, to prevent temptation to CMD + T.... 

 


Stationary

Stationary is god's gift to all of mankind. If I had a notebook for every minute I spent in Paperchase... oh wait I do. Wall calendars, high lighters, cool paper clips - all of these things can help you stay organised and make sure you remember things you might be likely to forget. Spend a bit of time researching to see what will work for you, I absolutely love Veronica Dearly's yearly calendars  and wall planners (pictured below).

I use highlighters for colour coding what's essential/important/desirable on my list to make sure I do the essentials first before allowing myself to veg out to an episode of House of Cards. 

Akin to motivating yourself to go the gym (will those fancy £90 nike trainers really make you more likely to go?) don't invest in an expensive bit of kit, or lots of relatively expensive bits, if you know deep down it's not going to help with your work flow. (It probably just looks pretty).  Make sure when you're investing in something, it helps organise your life and you will actually USE it. 


'Research '

Ah this old chestnut. A bit like at school, when the teacher said  "Ok today's lesson I want you to do some RESEARCH.." and everyone rejoiced as that basically meant an hour surfing the internet and bringing up a relevant tab anytime said teacher walked by (showing my youth here).  Not much changes when you're self employed except now you have to try and discipline yourself to stay off Facebook and stay on track.

It's easy to tell yourself you're doing research whilst spending 3 hours reading wedding blogs, but make sure you're actually getting something out of it. It's all very well looking at pretty photography and suppliers for hours on end, but use it constructively. What do you find captivating about a particular shoot? What inspires you and how can you feed that into your work? Can you network with these suppliers? Can you submit some of your own work to this blog? Add some of these thoughts to your ideas pad and eventually your to-do lists, to make sure this 'internet surfing' time is productive.

BOOKS

I saw a post by Rock N Roll Bride about this a few weeks back and wanted to add my own thoughts. These are three books I've read recently about business.

Sophie Amouruso (CEO and founder of Nasty Gal) -  #Girl Boss

if you can get over the fact that #GirlBoss is used every damn page then this book is a pretty inspiring read. The fact that Amouruso literally built her (now) online clothing empire from her own room, with clothes salvaged from vintage shops, is pretty impressive. It's a great read for someone needing a confidence push into thinking "Hey, maybe I can do this"

99U - Manage your day-to-day: Build your routine and sharpen your creative Mind

I'm still working my way through this one, but it;s a great book to delve in and out of. A lot of what I've written above is taken out of this book, about how to manage your day and assess when you're most productive. It's not just aimed at people who run their own businesses but people who want to make more time in their day to day life for creative projects, whilst keeping a day job. It's written by a collecting called 99U which as a company provide "insights on productivity, organisation, and leadership to help creatives people push ideas forward."

Cath Kidston - Coming up Roses

Safe to say it's a much easier read than some of the others! More of a bed-time inspiration book I think. It's a great look at Cath's life and how she grew her business, but is more of a biography than a book that gives helpful hints to readers. Tt's a story of someone who build their now hugely successful business for nothing, which is always very inspiring,  and would be a great read for people who have a great idea or entrepreneurial passion and just need that little push of confidence into thinking it's possible.