Staying on Task, Accomplishing Goals

As a freelancer, my daily schedule has a lot of flexibility built into it. I think of myself as an “on-call” designer. It’s certainly an advantage for clients who need after-hours work to meet deadlines, and it allows me to take breaks in the middle of the day for family responsibilities. Working flexible hours has its perks, but some days feel like I’m being pulled in a million directions. Staying organized is a key skill for keeping up with clients’ demands.

I use two organizational tools: my email inbox and my daily project list. Each day, I make a list of the “must-do” items for that day. I prioritize all requests by first-come, first-serve, and by urgency. I try to handle quick revisions earlier in the day, to give clients time for same-day approval. For incoming requests, I add them to the day’s list only if they’re urgent, or if the client is ready for print files. Otherwise, I flag them for the next day. If I’m in the midst of an urgent project, I do not answer my phone. Ignoring communication is difficult, but necessary for staying on task.

Some days work out more smoothly than others, but I always make a point to finish my daily list before calling it a night. With this method, I can usually keep my turnaround time at 1-2 business days. Plus, anytime I’m pulled away and come back to my desk, I can easily focus on what’s next.