How to Stay Organized with the Tools of Your Craft

While freelance writing is my main job, I also do some part-time work as a freelance photographer. Working from home and living in a tight space gets a bit hectic when I have cameras, bags, chargers, tripods, SD cards, DVD’s, hard drives, and more.

Some equipment is tiny (the SD cards for instance) and can get lost easily. Some of these items belong to specific equipment and cannot be separated from this set. “Okay, so this charger is for this camera…and this cable goes to that hard drive…”

A lot of freelancers I know (especially other photographers) get so passionate and involved in their work, that organizing their equipment is the last thing on their mind.

But, the thing is…if we don’t organize ourselves as freelancers, we can never get on to the next assignment without having a sizable mess of stuff follow us. And that sure isn’t professional, is it?

Whether you’re a writer, designer, or developer, here are some tips on keeping your equipment organized and ready for the next project.

Put Things Back

After every photography project I do (and after downloading all the photos to my computer), I get all my gear ready as if I’m shooting the next day. That means charging all batteries and putting everything back in my camera bags.

It’s crucial that every piece of equipment has its place. It makes things easy to access and you always know where to look when you need something.

It’s crucial that every piece of equipment has its place. It makes things easy to access and you always know where to look when you need something. If I let a day go by after a shoot without getting all my equipment ready for another day, then everything ends up spread out on the kitchen table.

If you’re a writer and have just finished a website content writing project, go through all your documents, rough drafts…even handwritten notes… and put them all in one place. You should even re-title documents too if they aren’t already properly named for the project they pertain to. Usually the random naming of files happens when one has a spark of inspiration, opens a blank page, and then forgets to properly title it.

Finding documents that aren’t structurally named can be a pain to find later on. Come up with a method for naming documents and then put them all in a client or other project-based folder.

In doing this, your files are manageable and become an uncomplicated archive for you to refer to at any time.

Give Paper a Space

If there’s one thing that can get all those papers that are spread across your desk neatly in one place, it’s a file cabinet. Line a file cabinet with folders and label each of them. Perhaps devote each drawer to a specific purpose. For example, the top drawer of your file cabinet can be for client folders. Label each folder with the client’s name and put all copies of invoices, designs, notes, etc there.

One Project. One Spot. Simple.

If you have a lot of work to do and can’t organize important documents right away, then keep a box to put everything in to sort at a different time. A simple inbox on your desk can work well. A shoebox works perfect if you have quite a bit of paper to sort on a regular basis.

Just don’t allow too much time to go by or that pile of papers will grow fast. For this task, once a week should be suitable for organizing those loose papers. Consider setting aside a specific day each week for organizing.

Write It Down

You must already know to back everything up. But are you thinking about coming back to those things at a later time? If you’re not, then you probably should.

Keep track by writing down when you backed something up, what it was, what client it was for, and the exact title of the disk you made.

You will probably be required to go back into your documents or files at some time or another. I like to keep archives of all my photos so that way they can easily be found for printing or resizing purposes.

Even if you’ve copied things to a hard drive and burned them to a disk, how will you know what they contain, say, 5 or 10 years from now? Even if they have a written label, you can’t be sure of every document they contain unless you make a list.

Keep track by writing down when you backed something up, what it was, what client it was for, and the exact title of the disk you made. An Excel spreadsheet is an excellent tool for this, but any blank page will do. Just make sure it’s a document that you can keep adding to. Writing everything down will save you a lot of time when it comes to finding things in the future.

Tidying-Up Gets You Prepared

It’s so true that it’s the little things in life that count. The same goes for being a successful freelancer. It doesn’t take a lot of time to keep your things organized, as long as you do a little bit every day. Let too much time go on and you could be spending way too many hours cleaning up instead of finishing that assignment.

Do you have any practical tips for keeping the tools of your craft organized? Leave a comment or tip below.

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by terex.

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