a collaboration by EPA freelancers
After a little break, we’re back! We asked several associate members of the Evangelical Press Association, some of whom are on our team of blog contributors, to share their best tips for successful freelancing. We got such great responses, we’re sharing the wealth in two separate posts. Here’s the first part, which is all about getting organized.
How do you keep track of deadlines and juggle multiple projects at the same time?
Randy Petersen: I have a calendar on my wall for deadlines and meetings. And I make a list every morning of my work for that day. I try to break big deadlines into shorter ones (e.g. one-third of the project by April 1.)
Ann-Margret Hovsepian: I use a large hard-bound spiral agenda (sorry, that’s Canadian for “planner”) with two-page monthly and weekly spreads and write down every deadline and task, adding sticky-notes in bright colors for anything I want to make sure I don’t forget. I’ve also been using Google Calendar to immediately block in appointments and meetings. I like that I can quickly access it on my phone to make sure I don’t double-book, and that I can use different colors for different types of commitments (e.g. red for professional meetings, dark blue for medical appointments, etc.)
Stephen Clark: There are three things I’ve used for years to manage my work:
1. Simple wall calendars. I always have two hanging side by side show the current month and the next month.
2. A small notebook. I make lists, write down ideas, take notes at meetings, and basically keep everything in the notebooks.
3. Technology. I use Google Calendar on the phone to manage deadlines and stay in synch with other devices.
How do you organize your ideas (and material) for future projects?
Stephen Clark: I always carry 3 x 5 cards to jot notes and collect them to scan later. Using the The Journal by DavidRM Software, I create tabs and files and add notes from time to time on various topics, and even paste in URLs to articles and other sources. And there’s always tabbed manila files neatly labelled and stored away in a file cabinet. I have sometimes maintained several files, each on a different topic, to collect clippings and notes on specific topics to pull from later. I’ve also kept one folder just for stuff that I found interesting. When I needed a fresh idea, I’d pull out this folder and just browse through it.
Ann-Margret Hovsepian: I used Evernote for a while and it’s got great features for organizing notes and saving online information (whether it’s an entire web page or just the bit you’ve highlighted on that page), with the ability to use keyword tags and much more. . . but I eventually felt overwhelmed by the task of creating folders and coming up with keywords and keeping everything organized, not to mention remembering to refer back to my notes. I find it much easier to keep a basket with colorful labeled file folders next to my desk and throwing bits of paper in there that I don’t have to hunt around for when I need them. (I’m intrigued by Stephen’s suggestion, though, and will be checking it out!)
How do you deal with information overload / digital clutter?
Randy Petersen: In research, I try not to find more than I need.When beginning a project, I may do a lot of background reading to learn about the subject. From that, I’ll develop my structure for the piece. Then I’ll have a sense of how many quotes I might need, and I find them. There’s considerable flexibility in this. Sometimes I find a quote that’s so good, it forces me to change my outline.
Stephen Clark: Ignore it. It will always be there. I use what I need and walk away from the rest. If it’s something on the internet, I can Google it later if I need it. If I can’t find a specific article or other piece of information I once read, I can always find newer resources that serve just as well. Even on my PC, it’s easy to search on files using remembered keywords and phrases. I’ll squirrel stuff away in various folders and then ignore it until I need it.
Watch for Part 2 on November 15. We’ll be telling you about our favourite tools and resources, as well as our best tips for freelancing.