As the ink dries on your New Year’s resolutions and you are finishing up the last of the bubbly, you may be noticing things around your office space may be a bit. . . er, chaotic? Supplies may still be strewn about your worktable as you have hurried through those sleepless nights rushing to finish your product orders before the shipping deadlines. You may have been elbows-deep in trying to take inventory before year end for accounting purposes. And what in the world ever happened to that last week between Christmas and New Years?
And I hear you over there. Promising you are set to be more organized in the new year. This is the last time you are going to run to the store at 9 pm to buy that color paint, only to come home and look for your brushes for the umpteenth time and find three tubes of the Exact. Same. Shade. (so this has happened before?)
It’s time to get organized. If you still aren’t convinced, there are seven strong reasons to revamp your approach to organization for both personal and business health.
1. Less stress
An organized space means less stress. Your art just isn’t all that relaxing if you’re spending all your time trying to find supplies and a clean space to work. Stress in your creative business may also be coming from making sure you aren’t misplacing orders and deadlines as they come to you from multiple sources whether Etsy, Homemade at Amazon, your independent website, Facebook, Instagram, text, and that lady you met at the juried show a few weeks ago who ran into you at Target the other day and asked you to make something up for her.
Better organization, knowing where you are with everything just makes life easier. Feeling proactive rather than reactionary will be life-changing.
2. Increase productivity
Designate a place for everything and keep everything in its place. If it makes sense for your business, keep an inventory list with you, perhaps on your phone in an app (my favorite app is Trello – more posts to come on that topic soon!). I love to knit, and I keep a tab on my needles to see which sizes I have in my stash so if I am out and about purchasing new yarn at my local shop, I can buy needles if needed as well. You will be more productive if you have all the items needed before you set out to work as you aren’t wasting time running back and forth to the store, or waiting for delivery of online supplies.
I like to keep on top of orders. You can set up an auto-responder in your messenger or email applications directing people to a particular form or website you would like orders funnelled to. Once the order confirmation comes into your email, you can set this up to forward into your Trello calendar (or other favorite work-flow planner) allowing you to visualize in real time what you have coming ahead. Centralizing your orders will give both you and your customer a realistic expectation of how your process is running and when the orders may be available to ship.
3. Improved health
Less stress leads to improved health We’ve all been educated on the negative physical effects of stress on your health: irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure, risk for diabetes, digestion issues, tightened muscles in your back and neck, risk for repetitive strain injuries, and a weakened immune response. Given this potential for harm, it makes sense to foster care for your body.
Being self-employed we need to be at our best to create our best work and support our livelihood and our families. Self-care doesn’t always mean taking time for luxurious bubble baths; it can also mean having a smooth flowing work environment and process which allows you to function and perform at your best. Take needed breaks when you feel it necessary, make sure your work table is at the proper height to avoid physical strain, prepare your space with ample lighting, and be organized and in control of your space.
4. It means you can take time off and be flexible
Be prepared for whatever life throws at you Some of us got into self-employment either due to physical health issues which made it difficult to work in traditional workplaces. Or perhaps we have family situations which necessitate us being more flexible in our schedule for appointments or caregiving. Or maybe you just love the idea of having a creative opportunity for employment. Whether it’s some of these or none of these, we need our work to be organized to handle those surprises life seems to throw at us every now and then. Sudden migraines, illness, natural disasters, loss. . . they can all throw us for a loop when they happen and we wonder how we will continue to process our orders and meet shipping deadlines when we are sleep-deprived and nursing a sick little one.
An organized environment can allow us to be ahead in our work process so a day or two away from our business won’t have snowballed effects. Taking time to systemize our workflow from order intake, customer service, production, packaging, and shipping can allow us to have someone step-in temporarily and help out with some portions our administrative tasks, or we can hire a virtual assistant to support us with on-boarding as simple as adding to a Trello board.
5. Creativity Bursts
Everyone knows the old stereotype of the messy artist who thrives on chaos and disorganization but in all truth we just don’t work in that way. Create the white-space needed to spark creativity In design we know the “white space” allows our eyes and mind to rest, focusing on the key image in place. Similarly, when we are struggling to find inspiration with fibers and ribbons and beads and paints and wood-working pieces strewn about, it can be daunting. We may be unsure how to allow our minds to rest and just let our imagination wander to find the innovation needed.
A clear workspace and work process will allow for that quiet time. We can journal, flip through a clip-book of ideas, have a dance party in your studio (without worrying about stepping on canvases!) – anything to get your juices flowing. Or, if you have some free time, take a walk or a break to let your mind feel free to wander. Look for color combinations, shapes, and patterns to inspire you. Or take a visit to an industry show and see what the newest trends are and what creative spins you might put on them.
6. Saving you time and money
Organization saves you time and money I’ve already touched on this above, but I will mention it here. Running to the store or waiting for new supplies to be delivered takes time out of your workflow. Buying sometimes doubles and triples of supplies when you can’t find the originals and need to replace them is not an ideal use of financial resources.
Be deliberate about creating a system of organization which makes sense to you and your business. Bins can be found anywhere from the Dollar Spot at Target to a more high-end shop like The Container Store. Keep an inventory of what you need for each project and a running list of your available materials. If you know you need 6mm safety eyes for those amigurumi unicorns and you have two pairs left, order more before running out and take a look at what you might order along with them. This may provide a discount through the seller (ten percent off a certain dollar order) or reduced shipping, plus you won’t run out when the order for a dozen birthday favors hits your inbox!
Also, be aware of what you have on hand and what you use for tax purposes. Supply costs should be incorporated into your item pricing and any leftover materials may be able to be written off during your annual reporting.
7. Confidence booster
Organization increases self-esteem Yes there is an adage that a messy space is the sign of a creative mind, but is it really true? One of the challenging points in transitioning from hobby crafter to professional artist is changing your mindset about your business. If you are finding you are lacking the support from a partner or family or friends, perhaps it is because you yourself aren’t treating your business like a business.
Being intentional about the work you’re doing, the supplies you need, shopping smartly for the best materials, pricing your work appropriately, providing accurate assessments on turn-around time and shipping, are all marks of a professional business person. Make the shift to a professional mindset and act accordingly.
Organization allows you more time to relax. Time freedom is a perk of being self-employed. Time with family, coffee dates with friends, long weekends away from your business just kicking back binging on Netflix without feeling guilty. However you choose to spend your time, you deserve to do it without the nagging sense of overwhelm and negative energy hanging over you.
You may be finding organization looks to you like an organized physical space, or you may find organization is more of an automation to your business allowing an assistant to support your marketing and customer service goals. Both can have tremendous value in allowing you to grow to the next level personally and professionally.
I have built my business on helping makers, creators, and artists create their masterpieces without stressing over the planning, responding, and organizing of business. You can find out more about my services here. I would love to set up a chat to see how I might support you in your creative journey.
Organization may require an investment of time, perhaps some supplies, and some effort in the beginning. But the results will trickle into all areas of your life from physical and mental health to a growth of your business. There are many ripple effects.
I would love to see some before and after photos of your own space as you have taken this challenge. Share the effects having a more peaceful environment has had on you and your business.