Tips for Simplifying Your Business for a New Year / PART 1

It’s officially 2016, and we've enjoyed some 'quiet time' around these parts while everyone else is still on a break. We've taken some time to get sorted and start the new year in a more organised (and calm) mindset.

I don't know about you, but sitting at the computer after a break is a nerve-racking experience.

What have I missed? What do I have do action? OMG I have 2,473 emails to read.

The same goes for accumulated blog posts, an overflowing downloads folder and the desktop wasteland where things were flung in festive fury before shutting up shop for the holiday season.

Things accumulate and we can become digital hoarders without even realising. And it can be a bit stressful.

We're sharing our top tips for welcoming the new year and entering into work mode with clarity and plenty of space for the good stuff that's yet to come. Today is Part 1 - there'll be 3 posts in the series to follow. All posts are full of meaty goodness (hence we've spread them over 3 so you can easily digest it all!) and have tried + tested ideas to make your life easier in 2016.

1. Phone

This is a nice, easy starting point.

Create folders for similar apps

To be honest, I've always had a little OCD situation where I just like to have 1 page to deal with on my phone. But really, creating folders on the iPhone screen makes life so much simpler. Mine are:

'Default Apps' for anything I use once in a while, or any pesky apps that Apple won't let you delete, i.e. the watch app.

'Social' for Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook messenger, Viber etc.

'Health' for anything health + fitness related.

'Entertainment' for things like TV guide app, music, Podcasts.

'Photography' for camera and photos, plus any photo editing apps.

'Out + About' for maps, Uber, Zomato etc.

'Shopping' for eBay, shopping list app. I have previously had apps like Asos and Groupon in there but I found them a) tempting to buy things on a whim, and b) space wasters (my phone is 16GB and always seems to be telling me its full!)

'Finance' for banking apps.

'Productivity' for apps like calculator, notes, QR code reader.

'Business' contains Dropbox, Evernote, GMail, Google Docs etc.

The apps I haven't included in folders are ones that I use a lot, like the weather, clock, Chrome and Sunrise Calendar - there is such as thing as being too organised and it's just easier to let them float. Plus, by making room with the folders there's no issue with space limitation.

Delete anything you don't use or apps that take up space

Every once in a while I go on a download spree (I hope I'm not alone) and get apps I haven't had before. More often than not, I'll use them for a while and forget about them. You know what that means... DELETE!

I recently also had a case of full-space syndrome and deleted my VSCO app that I used for editing photos for Instagram. I got rid of it because I figured I could do the same job with the Rookie Cam app, which I use to add borders to my photos.

Download photos to computer and delete from phone

I'm a Mac user and every time I plug my phone into my computer, the Photos app launches. Initially, when I started doing this it drove me crazy but I've learned to embrace it. I don't do it daily, but perhaps once a week I'll go in and download all of the photos I've snapped on my phone. I always make sure to check the box in the right-hand corner to 'delete after import' so they're not on my phone any more.

Photos app | Top 10 Tips for Simplifying Your Business for a New Year | Georgie McKenzie Graphic Design

I have folders within the Photos app to sort into, some generic and others specific - like 'Phone Photos' or 'Jordan's Engagement Party.'


2. Filing

Consistency

In the past I've been less diligent with filing but from learning the hard way, we've implemented a few rules that have our system more organised. This allows us to find things quicker and have all of the relevant things in 1 place.

I'll go deeper into our filing system in an upcoming post, but the overarching rule is to be consistent with everything. We split the system into a business section and a projects section.

Business contains anything non-client related, ie website files, financial bits, internal documents etc. Within the Projects folder we have a folder that is copied + pasted for each new client, and within that folder there are subfolders with labels like 'Business' / 'Design' / 'Delivery' so that everything has a home, and is a layout that we're constantly familiar with.

By doing this, the system is the same for every client so there shouldn't be any confusion with where things are saved or where they can be found. This can be applied to any device really - external hard drives, USB sticks or even just your generic computer filing system. It may seem boring or time-consuming to set up but I can guarantee that it will save you time tenfold in the future.

Dropbox Sync

I use Dropbox to back up all of our work and to make my workplace movable. Because my laptop has considerably less space than my desktop computer, I can't have everything synced. Dropbox have a really handy feature that allows you to specify what you files you need synced with your computer.

If you visit the Dropbox settings on your computer, you'll be able to choose which files you need downloaded, and avoid filling up with unnecessary files.

And if you've missed anything, you can always visit the Dropbox website to download directly.

Backup and Archive

Aside from Dropbox, we also have 2 hard drives for backups. Yep, I know thats a lot - but they also hold things like movies and stock images as well as design work (which take up lots of space). Every month we'll do a full backup of the system to the hard drives, on top of the regular time machine backups.

On a more manageable level, we have an Archive folder within the Projects folder mentioned above, which allows us to remove complete jobs out of the main folder. This just helps make it simpler and less intimidating when looking for something.

Another tidbit of advice is to use characters such as _ - / [ to organise filenames or subfolders. For example, the Archive folder actually appears as _ARCHIVE so that it always sits at the top of the Projects folder. I do this for things that are used over and over - especially helpful for things like templates.

CREATE A NEW FOLDER FOR SCREENSHOTS

I just discovered this awesome trick to automatically file your screenshots in a folder and not willy nilly on your desktop. Genius!

Again, I'm using a Mac so I'm sharing here what I know. Firstly, I created a folder on my desktop called Screenshots. Next, open Terminal app (I just searched for it to make it easier), and typed this:

defaults write com.apple.screencapture location/Users/georgiemckenzie/Desktop/Screenshots

If you copy the below into a word doc and paste

defaults write com.apple.screencapture location + followed by the location of the file.

To find the location correctly, select the folder you're after, then command+i to get the info, and you can copy + paste from there.

'FILE' FOLDER

Another little hack I came up with is to create a folder on the desktop called File. This isn't rocket science at all but just helps clear things away until you have time to sort them. I do admin on Wednesdays so I usually take 10mins or so to do it then.


3. Online

BOOKMARKED + SAVED STUFF

I am pretty good (or pretty bad) at collecting 'stuff' online. Articles, images, beautiful sites etc. And how often do I look at them? Rarely. It's hard to avoid accumulating things when we spend so much time online! But it's worthwhile going through these collections to get rid of the clutter and remove the guilt for not giving them the attention we had once envisaged.

SEPARATE WORK FROM PERSONAL

I have an ongoing to-do list and until recently, it included everything that I wanted to get done, e.g. buy new runners, plan social media calendar, buy Eva's birthday present, send receipts to bookkeeper. It was huge, intimidating and so unmanageable. And because of that, I didn't want to look at it and I forgot about these things I needed to do.

I strongly recommend separating business from personal, and even include sub-folders within each of those categories, i.e. under business you could have things like social media, financial, shopping list, someday project ideas, etc.

KEEP YOUR HIGHLIGHT REEL HIGHLIGHTY

Take a few minutes to flick through your social media accounts and make sure they're still representing you the way you want and with relevance. For example, are there any ugly Instagram shots you could delete? Are there posts on Facebook that advertise a limited-time offer thats now expired?

ONLY KEEP THE GOOD STUFF

If you're following blogs of people who may be a teensy bit annoying, or others that are way too wordy for you to ever read, unsubscribe. Fill your bucket with the good stuff. Time is precious, don't waste it on things that aren't feeding you what you want.


Stay tuned for Parts 2 + 3 over the next week!

- Georgie

 

How-ToGeorgie McKenzieTools