[click_to_tweet tweet=”The BEST organisational tools I have found as a freelance writer and work-at-home-mum are childcare and my hubby! #freelancewriter #wahm #family #workingparent” quote=”Hands down the BEST organisational tools I have found as a freelance writer and work-at-home-mum are childcare and my hubby!”] Those child free hours are incredibly valuable and important. Strictly speaking they are not tools….but they are most definitely needed!
All jokes aside, the following is a list of the tools and processes I have found have helped keep me organized, productive and on track in business and in life.
* I am NOT an affiliate of any of the tools I discuss here, they are simply the tools I use and hope that they can help you too.
I use this for my blog and client work.
Many people swear by online content planners such as Trello and Asana. I have tried them, and I always return to paper and pen planners. Not everyone will be the same, but I find that by writing it down it helps keep things straight in my head and it is easier to get everything out of my head and onto a list.
I took a leaf from Kara at BohoBerry to develop a content calendar on paper and keep it in my blog planner folder with a checklist for each blog. Once again, I use colour coding to distinguish between my blog, weekly newsletter and client work. I also set a due date of ONE WEEK before it is actually due, and stick to it. This ensures that if something unexpected crops up (illness, computer crash or the apocalypse) that I have the work, or the majority of it, completed.
Social Sharing Calendar.
For this one I use excel.
I used the free social media content calendar template from Hootsuite and changed it to suit my needs.
Truth be told, social media sharing is where I fell down a lot. I would get all inspired and post heaps, and then go silent for ages. This is no way to build up authenticity and a strong audience engagement.
My apologies to my long-term readers out there!
My goal is to improve in this area, hence the social media content planner and scheduling!
I found this free template has been AMAZING to keep me on track and planning social media.
The good old paper diary.
I recently started bullet journaling. I initially tried the regular notebook style, but I found I really did not like that. So I moved to a Filofax and am so far really enjoying it. I love the freedom of creating my own monthly, weekly or daily spreads to suit what work I have on, no to mention it is really helping me keep on top of housework, healthy habits and budgeting!
I write out a time plan using batching and a to-do list the night before. When I get up in the morning I glance at it and then get stuck straight into it.
My diary is a combination of EVERYTHING I need to do on that day. Business. Nursing. Chores. Appointments. I know many people say not to have several different planners, but I have found that is the best method for me. So I have my monthly content and social media planners, as well as separate to-do lists for business, blog and home. I then combine it all into my Filofax diary each week so I know exactly what I have to do each day.
It may sound confusing, but it really isn’t. It is simply a matter of using batching, prioritizing and just getting it done!
Batching for time management.
I have dedicated a whole post to batching as it is such a great tool.
I cannot speak highly enough of this method of time management. It has streamlined my freelance work, my business website and blog as well as home life. I am super productive, tick so many more things off my to-do list and feel in control of my time and projects.
Planning toddler activities that require little to no supervision.
Again, not exactly a “tool”, but ensuring I have a planned activity for my 3-year-old during my youngest naps has been a god send. My youngest may only nap an hour. So I want to ensure I use that time efficiently.
To do that, when I am planning out our week on a Sunday I have a list of toddler friendly activities that require little to no adult intervention. I try to be flexible with what I set up and when. I mean, I may have planned a play dough activity for Monday morning but Lachie refuses to play with it. So I need another activity up my sleeve to keep him happy and occupied if I want to get any work done.
Pinterest, Google, and “The Busy Toddler” books by Trish Kuffner are amazing. You can find so many great ideas there. I have also been blessed with a toddler who is happy to entertain himself (mostly) with out the need for me to be constantly engaging him.
In good weather he can play in the sandpit in the backyard and I can sit out there with my computer. He is happy with his diggers, buckets and spades.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”You cannot beat play dough to keep toddlers amused for hours! Time to get some work done! #freelancewriter #wahm #keepthetoddlerbusy #workingfromhome #playdoughforthewin” quote=”In bad weather you cannot beat play dough or stickers! They can keep him amused for hours.”]
I do have to be careful with stickers at the moment as my almost one-year-old daughter puts everything into her mouth, and they can be a choking hazard.
A great invoicing program.
I use Rounded – an Australian invoicing system aimed at freelancers and sole traders.
It is simple to use and has a beautiful interface. Not to mention great customer service! All big ticks in my books.
This has really helped me keep on top of my finances. You can keep track of expenses and income in the one place. You can even set it up so that it sends a friendly reminder to clients for overdue invoices!
It is super easy to generate a financial year statement for tax time. This is a huge bonus, as the last thing you want to be doing at such a busy time of the year is fiddling around trying to figure out your income and expenses for the tax man!
Seriously. Templates are the bomb!
They are not only a great organizational tool, but they save you so much time! I have templates for everything.
- Cold pitching
- Weekly email
- Sharing schedule
- Graphics (blog post, Pinterest, Facebook posts)
- Creative Brief
- Letter of Agreement
- Writing Contract
They can take some time to set up, but once you have they really do help you stay organized and save time.
I am a huge fan of spreadsheets. I use them to track pitches and publications, projects, my novel writing, social media sharing (what blogs I have shared and where), finances, website traffic. The list could go on.
Do you use spreadsheets? I recommend them as a way of keeping your work and processes organized in one place.
I have folders in folders in folders on my desktop.
That sounds messy and disorganized, but it isn’t! And don’t forget there is a search function on most computers to quickly and easily find what you are looking for.
As an example, this is how I organise my blog posts for my freelance website.
I have one main folder labeled “Write Freelancer For You”.
In this folder I have one master list of all my blogs.
Then I have sub folders – “For Editing”, “Scheduled” and “Published”.
Each blog post has it’s own folder which contains any relevant research, the actual written blog post, and all the graphics I have created for that post. As the blog post moves through the different stages of drafting, editing, scheduling and being published I move it to the relevant sub folder.
Does that make sense? It is similar to using something online like Trello or Asana.
I use the same method for client work, pitching articles to magazines and online sites and novels.
How do you keep your freelance work organized? Have you found a tool that you simply cannot live without? I would love to hear about it!