Firstly, I recognize that this may be one of the most boring blog posts ever. I’m just REALLY excited about my new organization! Secondly, thanks for excusing the late publishing time. I spent approximately 75 minutes on the Marine Corps Marathon site at noon hitting “refresh” like a crazy person, trying to get my dad and I registered for this year. Good news: we’re in! Bad news: I may have lost three years off of my life due to stress induced by the MCM website crashing over and over again. Anyways- let’s get on with it!
There’s an internal war that wages within me: the desire to be organized, and the inability to get there/keep things in their place. I suppose it’s part of my ADHD, but despite the fact that disorganization gives me anxiety, I can NEVER seem to keep things in their place! I HAVE found in recent years, though, that the more rigid my system of organization, the more likely I am to follow-through. For example, it’s not enough to just say “I need to design John & Jenny’s album this week.” I’ve learned that I have to set aside a particular day, a particular TIME of day, in order to get it done. Something more like “I need to design John & Jenny’s album this week, so I’m going to do it on Tuesday morning after I post my blog.”
I had a sort-of-organized system for storing my client folders/contracts/essential paperwork, which means I had a system that was a terrible mess but I didn’t know how to make it better so I just… left things the way they were. And then I’d need to be able to find my tax ID number while on the phone with my bank and have NO IDEA where it was. I had a handful of Vera Bradley folders that I’d intended to store various paperwork in, but they were so hard to keep organized and I was constantly misplacing them. And then when it came to receipts storage? I just had a drawer in my old desk where I’d stuff all of my receipts, and then at year-end I’d tally them all up. Pretty soon even just opening that drawer gave me anxiety because of messy it was, and I decided that 2013 was going to be my year to get systems in place to help alleviate the frustration.
Here’s my old system: a portable file box and Vera Bradley folders. Not exactly professional.
I started looking for cute file cabinets and soon discovered that there aren’t many in existence. Most were either black or beige, and after two years in the corporate world staring at ugly metal filing cabinets, I wanted something that could COMPLEMENT what I already have in my office. I finally came across some less-corporate-looking filing cabinets at the Container Store, and after seeing they were on sale last weekend, I went out and bought one! The original price was $200, but the sale took them down to $130, and THEN I found an imperfect one with a slight ding on the top that had been reduced to $109. SCORE.
I know it’s probably weird to love a filing cabinet, but this thing is awesome. Something I’ve learned about myself over the past couple of years is that if it’s a task I don’t want to do, give myself attractive tools to get it done and it’s no longer such a chore! Case in point: I have strict Monday-Friday work hours- unless I’m shooting a wedding, I don’t work on Saturdays. But I was so excited about this filing cabinet when I got it home last Saturday that I spent two hours in my office rearranging and transferring all of my files. I’m such a nerd!
This is the new set-up: I have all of my current/unresolved wedding clients in their own folder, all in the top drawer. This includes all of my 2013 couples whose weddings I’ve yet to shoot, and then any past clients who still have outstanding album orders and such. I color code them based on year- all of my 2013 clients are in gray folders, and my unresolved 2012 clients are in pink. Rather than buying a new set of folders for 2014, I’ll recycle the pink ones so that I can continue to keep separate years in separately-colored folders.
Once a couple’s wedding folder is resolved (if they haven’t ordered an album, that means delivering their PASS gallery, and if they have ordered an album, it’s once I’ve sent their book in the mail), I use a binder clip to group together EVERything from their folder: their contract, any notes, check scans, etc. Then I take the paperwork to the lower drawer and store it in my “Completed clients” folder for whichever year the wedding took place. I have separate folders for completed weddings and completed portrait sessions, just to make it a little easier to find things.
In the same drawer as my archived/completed clients, I also store important documents: each year’s tax return/filing paperwork gets its own folder, each year’s receipts get their own folder. This is also the drawer where I store important business-related paperwork- things like my LLC certificate, my tax ID number, business checkbooks, etc. Notice that the tax folders are red: it’s because red is the color of anger, and I hate taxes.
Rather than throwing out the old portable filing box, I now use it to organize my negatives! This way I don’t have to go searching through unmarked boxes if I want to find negatives for last year- praise the LORD. That was becoming exhausting!
I still need to figure out a better way to store my receipts until I categorize them each month- any tips from you all? I’d love to hear how you handle that side of things!