Organize Your Studio

Whether you’re compulsively neat or habitually sloppy, organize things so you can find projects, phone numbers and records when you need to. Everybody has a way of keeping tabs on their responsibilities, and your method of organization will be unique to the way you work. Nevertheless, here are some tools for a basic organizational system that works for most creative professionals.

  • Job jackets. When you start a project, it’s a good idea to create a job jacket. The job jacket will hold everything you need for the project-slides, photos, visual resources, notes from client meetings, correspondence, contact information, disks-as well as any information pertinent to the billing of the job. A large envelope will probably work better than a small manila file jacket because it can hold many types of job materials. Keep job jackets for current projects in a place where they’re easily accessible. When the project is done, store its job jacket in a flat file alphabetically by project. That way, you can easily find and retrieve information and resources after the job is completed.
  • Calendars and day planners. Use a calendar or day planner, or both, to keep track of appointments and deadlines. A day planner that you can take with you to client appointments allows you to refer to your schedule as you line up future meetings. When you return to your studio, transfer these appointments to a wall or desk calendar. A desk calendar gives you plenty of room to write in a day’s activities, while a wall calendar allows you to see an entire month at a glance. If you use a wall calendar, purchase one that has plenty of room to write on each date.
  • Paper files. You’ll need, in addition to job jackets, a filing system to maintain contracts, purchase orders, invoices and other paperwork. The simplest way to do this is to use a vertical file cabinet and labeled hanging file folders.
  • Bins. Develop a system for dealing with incoming mail and paperwork that you may not have time to get to right away. Prioritize your mail with a basket or bin for urgent matters and another one for correspondence that you can get to later. Place another bin on your file cabinet for records that need to be filed. You may want to use other bins in your studio for administrative tasks that you can’t get to right away.
  • Address file. An address or business card file is a great way to keep and find phone numbers and addresses; organize this information alphabetically. You may want two: one dedicated to vendors and professional service providers and the other to clients.