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Getting Organized

Last year, I was part of a Q&A panel for the Afterhours poster event in Austin, TX. In addition to questions about design and content, I was asked about my goals and what I wanted to improve on in 2017. I responded by simply saying, "business." While that's a broad term, what I meant was that I wanted to get better at all the other aspects of running a design business apart from actually designing. There's SO much more to running a design business than design. I found that I was spending a lot of time on tasks like sorting through emails, files, references, and images which meant less time spent on designing.

So, one of my specific goals for 2017 was to get more organized so I could continue to enjoy the creative process and work with my clients, yet feel comfortable that the business side of the company was helping me, rather than causing stress. At Steve Wolf Designs, we are always looking for new ways to develop better processes for organizing project files and images, creating to do lists, resources, etc. My wife, Danielle, who is also one of our project managers has been using Evernote for a couple of years, and last year she upgraded to Evernote Premium. She loved how it was helping us stay organized as a family and encouraged me to check it out for the business. She finally got me on board and I can safely say it's been a game-changer in keeping our business organized. Let me explain.

Before Evernote (and before I met my wife, the queen of organization), I was a sticky note fiend. Anything worth remembering was jotted down on a sticky note, or in a random notebook that just happened to be in the same room. As you can imagine, when there are multiple projects happening, the sticky notes and notebooks don't exactly always prove efficient (i.e. sticky note clutter/cluttered desk).

Evernote allows you to store all your notes, photos of your post-it notes, images, and thoughts into virtual notebooks that you can easily search within. So, I’ve started taking pictures of my post-it notes and storing them in my “Inbox” notebook that I’ll review everyday. What I’d like to do is just get in the habit of storing my to-dos directly into Evernote but I’m still working on that habit.

As designers, it's important that we are collectors of design. I try to find inspiration in the everyday things. I find myself taking photos whenever I'm out somewhere. One of my favorite ways to find inspiration is to visit antique stores. This is fun for me because I also love to travel, so whether I'm visiting my family in Nebraska or taking a quick weekend get-away, I can usually find a fun shop to pop into. Before Evernote, I'd just keep the photos in my camera roll among family photos and pictures of my dinner. Then, I’d download them into a folder on my desktop containing thousands of images. I realize now that this is not the most efficient way to store these. Sometimes I’m scrolling through hundreds of images, just looking for one style. Now, that I'm using Evernote, I’m able to take photos from either my phone or computer and organize them with tags for easy access. Another awesome feature is that it syncs with all my devices (i.e. iMAC, iPhone, Macbook) which means I can access them anywhere—online or offline.

The majority of communication I have with my clients is through email. So, you can imagine that there are a lot of emails we have to keep track of. One of the things we’ve started using is the e-mail feature where you can directly send emails into an Evernote notebook. So, when a client sends me a creative brief for a project, I can easily email it directly into a notebook related to that client instead of having to go through a messy email chain to find it when I’m ready to reference it.

Ultimately, developing a complete digital system where we could organize everything related to the business was a big goal for us this year and I feel that we’re on the right track. Using Evernote as a hub for information has been really helpful. In addition to keeping our business organized, another perk we’ve found is that Evernote is perfect for helping us organize and share travel plans and ideas through the sharing notes and notebooks feature. My desk, phone, and computer are now a little less cluttered and my mind is also at peace knowing that everything is more organized.

This post was created in partnership with Evernote. All opinions are my own.

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