Chaos and creation need not go hand in hand!

As someone whose previous career was in the design industry, I know how much of a challenge it can be for busy, creative people to get and stay organized. When you’re faced with meeting client deadlines and marketing yourself to find your next gig, it can seem like getting organized is just “one more thing” on the ever-growing to-do list. But taking the time to get organized can help you—and your business—in a variety of ways. Here are four tips for how to make it happen.

Set up systems so you can focus on what really matters—creating. Many creative professionals seem to worry that getting organized will stifle their creativity. In fact, what I’ve seen with my clients is that getting organized enhances creativity. Being organized lets you focus on what’s important—being imaginative and innovative—rather than spending time looking for important client files or remembering where you put your extra printer ink. Getting organized takes a little time and focus up front, but can save you lots of time and stress down the road.

Set aside some admin time. I know you’re busy with projects for your clients, but remember—taking care of the administrative end of your business, including managing paperwork, billing, and email, is critical to the success of any endeavor. Unfortunately, your admin and organizing-related work won’t do itself, so schedule time to work on your organizing projects. Build regular appointments into your calendar to address administrative tasks like billing and filing. One rule of thumb—it takes about 15–30 minutes each day to deal with that day’s worth of new paper.

Get creative with your organizing tools. As a creative professional, it can be disheartening to walk down an aisle of office supplies and see so many products that prioritize functionality at the expense of nice aesthetics. It doesn’t have to be this way! Use your creativity to customize your office supplies—either by decorating, painting, or using objects or storage containers in new and unexpected ways.

Give things a home. One of the most important concepts when you’re organizing is to recognize when your supplies, files, and other things don’t have assigned homes, they simply can’t be put away—they have no homes to go back to. They become clutter (or “homeless stuff,” as I like to think of them). Take the time to assign homes for each of the things that are around your design studio or office. That way, when it’s time to find things, it’s easy to do so—and it’s equally easy to put things away when you’re done with them.

Author's Bio: 

Joshua Zerkel, Productivity Strategist, is a Certified Professional Organizer® and CEO of Custom Living Solutions (http://www.customlivingsolutions.com), San Francisco’s premier productivity and organizing consulting firm. Josh helps entrepreneurs and small businesses find easy ways to get control of their clutter, space, information, time, and technology so they can reduce stress and boost their productivity – and their profits.