As a designer, I can wear many hats for each project. I have to manage timelines, approvals, vendors, billing and keeping the client happy all while being a creative rock star. Keeping track of all of the pieces of the puzzle can get confusing through emails and phone calls. I am notorious for having sticky notes everywhere. They are on my laptop, my desk, my counter, my car dashboard…. I am desperate to get all my to do’s and thoughts in one place. I already have so many tools to manage a project from start to finish, I was hesitant to add another tool to my arsenal but I knew it was time to get organized.
I decided to put to use project management for my graduate courses to start. While researching online Project management tools, I quickly realized how this can keep me organized in all aspects of my life. As a working mom and a student, I juggle several things daily that at any moment can come crashing down if one thing is missed. My research brought me to Trello which is a free online Project Management tool. With Trello you can set due dates, add members to the project, upload files and most important to me was create checklist. The checklist can be marked as completed as you go through them to stay on task and meet timelines.
Impress your clients
Document each step of the approval process in an easy to follow check list that outlines where you are in the project. Your clients will be able to see exactly where the project is and have access to files along the way. For example, if they want to review the first draft of a logo that was sent, instead of searching through emails they can download the file straight from the tool. They can make comments as well as give approvals to proceed to the next step. All communications and files are in one easy place to refer back to. 5 reasons why all freelancers should use a project management tool
You can easily include other members of your creative team such as writers, photographers or even legal. This platform gives everyone involved access to the communications and files so it’s easy to refer back to each stage and comments can be added where needed instead of within 20 email deep chain. As you hit a milestone you can check it off and the client is aware of what is next. This will come across as very professional and will keep you organized eliminating a lot of the stress of back and forth.
Stay on target
Since I am using this for my graduate course this term, I have set it up to hold all the assignments I have completed as well as the readings for each week. This way I can refer back to a previous week quickly and can easily see what is coming up. This helps me manage not only my time but lets me think ahead to the next step. I can see when each assignment is due as well as refer back to the readings and research for each week. 10 Reasons why Project Management matters
When using this tool for client work, the to do list will keep myself and the client informed on what has been completed and when the next milestone is due. Each to do will have a checklist to keep everyone involved on target to hit the next deadline. This can include logo design approvals, printer proofs and once completed, invoices can be uploaded. I find as a designer; a lot of time can be spent in back and forth in email communications. This type of tool will give the client access to see where we are in the project as well as keep me on task. I tend to fall into a design and lose track of time so this will keep me honest.
Doodles and sticky notes have been my project management tool for years and I am ready to admit defeat. Project management tools will not only keep me organized in my graduate work but help me bring my professional life to the next level. I intend to use this tool for personal, student and professional organization to help keep me on task and relieve the stress on my shoulders. Knowing where a project is and what’s next will ease the anxiety of feeling overwhelmed. After researching and setting up my own project management for my graduate studies this term, I feel ready to take on the world more organized and less stressed!