I don’t know about you, but I have found us creative types tend to, as my father-in-law would say, ” Chase the Shiny Object.”  Our brains are so full of ideas and projects that we don’t even know where to start. I personally have this problem. Actually, most people I know have this problem to an extent, but for creative people or entrepreneurs this seems to be an especially prevalent issue.  Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with all of the exciting ideas in my head that instead of actually getting something done, I wear myself out and I just want to take a nap instead. Or watch puppy videos on YouTube (like this one).

The problem with this, though, is that functional businesses are not built on good intentions or shiny objects. They are built on dreams that turn into goals that turn into plans, and eventually come to fruition.  They are built on routine and organization and systems (all the stuff that is never any fun unless you love spreadsheets. And if you do love spreadsheets, I mean no offense. I would just personally rather stab myself in the foot than use Excel).

I have become pretty organized over the years, but only because I have to be. It’s the only way I can function and be professional, meet my deadlines, and juggle multiple projects at once. But there are lots of ways to stay organized and on task, so I figured I would share some of the things that have been working for me.

I am a big fan of boards. Chalkboards, white boards, cork boards, you name it. If it’s a board, I probably have it in my office. I like them for a bunch of reasons. I can add and subtract things easily to my schedule, I can cross things off, I can doodle on them (always an added bonus), but I also love that fact that I can scribble something down that just pops into my head, (since I only have a 20 second window before it flies away again), instead of writing it down on a scrap of paper or sending a text message to myself (I used to use post its for literally everything and then loose them when they stopped being sticky).

A photo of my actual white board. If I am currently doing a project for you, you are probably on it.

A photo of my actual white board. If I am currently doing a project for you, you are probably on it!

Another great system is the binder/ notebook system, or if you like unicorns and stickers, you can always bring back the Trapper Keeper. I use a binder with sleeves and each client or project has their own tab. I keep things like branding info for their company, preferences, website info, etc. It makes it so much easier to have it all in one place (again, as opposed to the “post-it system”).

Finally, I almost always have a notebook with me wherever I go. This way I can write down things I remember or ideas on the go. When I get back to my office, I add them to one of my boards or to my client books. I think the most helpful thing about this and the other tools I use is the fact that it gets it out of my head and onto a board/paper/book. It is much easier to relax and breath when your to do list is strategic and you have a plan. It is also helpful for me to have my plan for the next day written out the day before. It sets my intention for the next day.

Speaking of plans, this is my newest office addition. It is a daily reminder that dreams can become a part of an actual solid business plan, and it helps me on the days I feel discouraged. My mom gave it to me. Thanks, Mom. 🙂

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Do you have a different type of system that works for you or advice on how to stay organized and motivated? I would love to hear about it! Feel free to email me to comment.