“The only difference between a mob and a trained army is organization.” –Calvin Coolidge
A friend once said told me about her mantra to make choices that would be “kind to her future self.” When taking off your jacket, for example, you can hang the jacket on the hanger in the closet, or on the hook by the door. You can also just throw that jacket over the arm of the chair as you walk into your home, or set it down across the kitchen table. You can wear it up to your bedroom and crumple it onto the chair there, or hang it up in your bedroom closet. Which decision is kind to your future self? Placing your jacket where you know to look for it when you need it next: that’s kind to your future self. It may take five seconds more energy now—from your present self—but it will potentially save many minutes of wandering around the house asking aloud, “Has anyone seen my jacket?” as everyone in your family is becomes more and more annoyed with how late we’ll all be because Mom can’t find her daggum jacket. (Perhaps this scenario has happened before… with jacket, keys, sunglasses, regular glasses, a purse, diaper bag? Maybe it’s just an example: you decide.)
Creative people are often stereotyped as disorganized, harried, and discombobulated. I wish that I could defy the stereotype, but unfortunately, I elevate it. I don’t like to be surrounded by chaos, and I actually love when everything is clean and peaceful and beautiful. I’m visual and I care about aesthetics. I’m just not kind to my future self, and things can get out of control quickly. And within just a day or so, even putting the clothes away is no longer a one-basket job, but now a three-basket job and I begin to feel overwhelmed.
At home, I can get away with this. It’s not like we live in a pigsty; it’s just not as organized and tidy as I’d like, and it’s my own fault. But translate this character flaw to work and it’s an entirely different matter. Clients depend on me. Organization of proofs, time-frames, delivery dates, checklists… these things are crucial to timely deliveries and happy customers. Organization is actually critical for business success.
This past year at the studio, we’ve implemented a few wonderful tools that help us all stay more organized and on-track together as a team. We’re working on a Training Manual. We’ve started using Adobe Sign for all proof approval contracts. We’re trying to clean up our Dropbox. But my favorite is Basecamp, a project management online software. While each project used to feel like herding cats, now the entire project scope from start to finished is filled with checklists, due dates, people held accountable, job tracking, and even file organization. It really has been a game-changer for our entire staff. So, I’m growing. Baby steps.
We’re getting ready to move our studio again, sort of quickly. As I look around my desk area and bookshelves, I’m already starting to feel the dread. The temptation for me is always going to take the easy, kind-to-present-self way: literally throw everything into one big box, label it, “Sarah’s desk” and tape it up. Out of sight, out of mind! But how will my future self feel later this summer when she’s trying to get her new studio set up and she’s opening up disorganized piles of junk thrown into boxes any old way? I’ll tell you: Future Sarah is gonna be overwhelmed and stressed and she’s gonna cry a lot. I don’t want that for her.
Instead, I’m planning to actually make decisions as I go: do I really need this book of paper samples from 2004? No? Then it doesn’t come with me. Hopefully, when all of our construction and build-out is finished later this summer, Future Sarah will open up a few clearly labeled, simply organized boxes and get her desk set up with a smile on her face.
PS- We’re moving to 5605 Kingston Pike right around the corner in Bearden. We’ll be nestled in between Grow Salon and Firestone Tires. Please come pop in to our much bigger space once it’s finished later this summer… you can watch the presses in action through windows, just like the taffy-makers in Gatlinburg! In the meantime, find us online and at the Market Square Saturday Farmer’s markets, Talahi Plant Sale (this Saturday at Lakeshore!), and Retropolitan Craft Fair.