Tuesday, 05 April 2011 20:25

How I organize my "work stuff" - a guide, of sorts...

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I've had some requests for me to put together some sort of a "guide" to show how I organize all of my "work stuff" on the computer - client files and folders, notes, leads, invoices, to-do's, bills, etc... this is one writing assignment that I put off for a while.  Luckily, clients are keeping us busy.  The other issue is the non-disclosure agreements I've signed, so I'm not able to include screenshots or provide helpful examples of my actual data.  Moving on...

Overview of hardware & software:

'09 MacBook Pro, 17"
iPhone 3gs
(iCal, Address Book, Mail - these all synced via USB)

I keep my accounting isolated from my phone, because I've found that some clients have special requests for how to address invoices for USPS, so I don't want it to sync.


Automatic hourly, daily, and weekly backups via WiFi & Time Capsule. This backs up ALL of my files, including iPhone backups, quickbooks data, and the main "work" folder.

Internal Data Management

Custom interface / open source backend (database of clients, leads, billing cycles, etc)

For the first 8+ years of operation, this "database" existed of a bunch of Excel spreadsheets.  Recently, I started building this into the "Client Login" on my site, which gives me better flexibility for searching and sorting, expansion, and easy "export to excel" features for when I do mailings and the like.

Looking at my old excel file, these were the column headings:

  • Company (Who am I building the site for?  e.g. ABC Company)
  • Contact (Who did I send the proposal to?  Directly to the company?  An agency?)
  • Date Sent
  • Last Follow Up (Date)
  • Amount ($$$)
  • Notes (Who referred this client? Or if the lead came from a particular marketing campaign, which one?)

Files & Folders:

I keep one main "Work" folder on my local drive.  I've found that having a separate "account" on the computer is too much work to make a separate one for my "personal" stuff, and one for "work," so this "Work" folder just sits under my "user" folder:


If you're on a PC:
/documents and settings/Nate/My Documents/Work

Or wherever it makes sense for you.

Then, from here, I break down into a bunch of main folders:

  • Clients (each client gets a separate folder.  this also applies to Mail, where each client also has their own folder.)
  • Internal (my company stuff here)
  • Proposals (new leads go here. logic: if you haven't given me money yet, you're not in the "clients" folder)
  • Reference (industry resources, script libraries, open source platforms, etc)

Now looking directly at one of my client's folders... this is broken down into the same type of sub-folder structure for consistency:

  • Archive (anything I won't need again goes here - old proposals, outdated site content, PDF copies of paid invoices, etc)
  • Artwork (Photoshop files, Illustrator, and any other high-resolution artwork goes here)
  • Backups (I keep at least one backup copy of every client's site on file - just in case)
  • Drafts (Rough drafts, wireframes, and any pre-design concept files go here)
  • Copy (Site content - usually in Word format - from the client)
  • Notes.txt (a plain text file containing a journal of client activity, notes, account information, reference links, etc)
  • Photos (any photos the client / photographer sends)

So an example client's "Photos" folder would be here:


On my calendar (iCal), I have these categories:

  • Clients (meeting reminders, etc)
  • Internal (reminders for company / marketing events)
  • Leads (reminders for meetings with prospective clients)
  • Accounting (monthly invoicing, quarterly tax reminders)
  • Personal (anything not work-related)


I sync my notes over Gmail / IMAP between my iPhone and laptop:

  • Hot list - my main to do list, client tasks, proposals to write, calls to return
  • Internal - marketing and internal company notes. (This is where I'm writing this post's rough draft.)
  • Taxes - financial notes


I can't have any messages in my inbox; this is probably some form of OCD. My inbox is for messages I haven't read yet. If I've already read it, it gets stored in the respective client folder. And if I need to respond to it, I flag it and use a smart mailbox to show me all of the flagged messages at once. Then I go through them in a first in - first out order. On a normal day, I spend a few hours going through my email / support tickets, then I work on my hot list and internal note / task lists.

Please use the "comments" box below if you want me to expand on any points, or if you have any time-saving suggestions.

Read 12678 times Last modified on Tuesday, 05 April 2011 21:56
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