How many of us as creatives excel at maintaining a clean and orderly home office? I mean, come on, we can't all be Katelyn James with her gorgeous and immaculate teal office. Case in point, my wife. While she is very stylish and did already have a much more established and successful photography business than my own, she did not have a working organization system. Luckily she is a woman, who once given a system to work within thrives in the new normal. Jennifer and I had to get a couple things in place in our home office to feel like we could even begin to thrive in our business. That's where I come in. I love systems, and love making systems that work.
This post may not be the most earth shattering of information, but without these things in place in our business workflow, my wife and I would be lost beyond hope! For us, these three simple things have helped us effectively keep track of our clients, and feel like we have an office that works for us.
First, we bought an expanding file. We happen to have the expandable file by Martha Stewart, that's sold at Staples. Not only is it functional; it's cute, and cute is important. We list two months on each tab and in the back have a few tabs for past contracts that have yet to be closed, extra blank contracts and publicity pieces. Every active contract we have will always be in this expanding file that conveniently lives on our office desk.
Once a contract is completed, it moves to our second key office piece — our file cabinet. I know, there's nothing sexy about a file cabinet, but when organized, it sure is helpful. For us, we've dedicated a whole drawer just for clients. We've created a hanging file for each letter of the alphabet, and each client gets their own file folder. There, we store everything from their wedding day timeline, vendor lists, contracts, and even programs and thank you cards.
Finally, and most helpful for us, is an easy to use file structure on our computer. We have a main file for our business that contains all of our active clients. Each client then has three folders — Communication, Design, and Photography. Within the Communication file, any and all electronic files of communication will be stored, like their “Permission to Print Images” letter and invoices. We love designing custom pieces for our clients (i.e. Save the Dates, Graduation Announcements, Birth Announcements, etc.). These projects populate the Design file. And lastly, the Photography file is obvious.
By effectively using and maintaining the order of these three not-so-interesting pieces, we manage a system that keeps my wife and me, and especially our clients, happy. While this may not be the most exciting or earth shattering bit of prose you read today, I hope it inspires you disorderly ones to clean up your act. After all, an organized office is a sexy office.
We would love to hear from you. What is your favorite organizational tool in the office?
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