Organizational Tips for the Busy Designer

Some of you who pop in to read my blog upon occasion, may know I am undergoing an overhaul of my office. Suffice to say I needed to do some house cleaning. Heartbreaking to realize what you think you know to be true can turn out to be a fairy tale. You know the type with boogie men and wolves and noses growing long.

As the shock wears off, I am forging ahead with a new attitude about many things. More on this later. But for now, let’s talk organizational tips for busy folks.   It is an understatement that my industry requires seriously organized individuals. And it’s not always the strong suit of designer types. Honestly, at my deepest roots, I am super organized. No one believes it because I usually have more irons in the fire than an entire staff of say, an Architectural firm. (insert evil laugh)Busy woman

So, yes, harder to dig down to the roots when you have projects underway, social media to attend to, new buildings to build (more on THAT later too!) and a retail shop to  staff, run, and buy for as well. I have a habit of overloading my plate, platter.   I have a few tricks to help me manage the load and since one of my esteemed colleagues whipped out his phone to take notes on a recent trip, feel like they are worthwhile to share.

Code each subject line with the client name.

1. We use email a lot to communicate and have a written record of communication. When you have as many clients as we do, it is important to code each subject line with the client name. Then, if you have certain software or a Mac mail account, you can capture these emails into a smart mailbox. Easy. But it also helps you search in mail for a particular email if you need it.

Keep files synced on Dropbox or similar type of cloud service.

2. Keep files synced on Dropbox or similar type of cloud service. We love dropbox and  I go to any job site with just my phone and/or iPad and have latest drawings, specs, fabric scans, etc. at my finger tips. It comes in handy more than you know. AND if you follow number 5 below and get an iPhone with lots of storage, you can easily upload your pictures or your “photo reminders” to Dropbox file. It is so easy to do. Just remember to dump outdated info in Dropbox files and keep latest there – especially plans!

The consistency of the printed labels makes life easier.

3. Put away 2012 files, but put them someplace easily accessible. Anything earlier – put in storage. But make sure it is easily found. (One of the fun things just discovered: I have to look forward to is a sales tax audit and you will need old files) When you set up the new year, take the time to do professional labels with the year at the top. This little thing makes it so much easier to find with less stress. The consistency of the printed labels makes life easier and the bonus is that you will FEEL more organized as well.

File with most recent items on top.

4. When filing, file with most recent items on top. Sounds silly but helps again when you are on the run and looking for something and makes so much easier to file. Make it easy on yourself or your staff.

Put as much as possible on the computer.

5. If the paper in your life gets overwhelming, put as much as possible on the computer – but then make sure you organize it well there, too! And make sure you have a back up! I have a handy dandy tool called the “magic wand” and it is a hand held scanner – NOT what some of you dirty old birds may think. Office depot hand scanner: I use this to scan fabrics, stone, tile, etc. at a client’s home, scan paperwork I want to organize on my computer, and just about anything you can think of that you need to record but do not want to photograph. And fits in your bag!

Get an iPhone with the most amount of memory and take a photo of anything and everything.

5. Get an iPhone with the most amount of memory and take a photo of anything and everything. This helps me tremendously and I call it my “portable memory device”. It works great, but only if you sort your photos into albums so you do not have to go through 12,000 photos! But sometimes at end of day, I scan through them and “recall” what I need to know and then delete. Or, email it to a client, a staffer or a sub. Could not live without my iPhone!

Bonus: Lots of people know this, but I am shocked at how many do not. If you do have an iPhone, utilize the screenshot trick to save something on the screen you need. This is done, on the newest models, by holding down the volume up button and lock screen button (left and right sides of the phone) at the same time. Older models screenshot differently, due to the buttons being in different spots, but it is still the same concept. Works like a charm and is super useful. My all time fave aspect of my iPhone.

There you have 5 good ideas. What is your best single organizing tip? I can use all the help I can get!