I’ve been having a great week off the day job, doing just Libro work. I’d like to be able to do this all the time, but really late August / early September are my peak time during the year, with loads of Masters dissertations to proofread, all with similar due dates.
Although I’ve had a couple of longer jobs, and one big project from a repeat customer, it’s mainly been 2-4 hour jobs, and lots of them. Two problems – when to do the work, and how to know whether I can take on another piece of work from someone who just emailed me.
Ladies and gentlemen: I give you the Gant Chart.
I haven’t used anything fancy, just Excel. No project management software, although I’m sure you could use that if you want, and that’s where I got the idea from. But one of my rules is to keep it simple. A phone that phones, texts, and yes, now accesses my email. A computer and an email account. A spreadsheet with my accounts. And an easy gant chart.
So – dates across the top, one per column. Customers down the side. And you get to COLOUR IN SQUARES! Yes, it’s like O-level revision all over again – most of the time spent colouring in and underlining, some of it spent working.
When a customer books in, I colour in the squares for the days from when they intend to give me the document to when they need it back. In grey. It’s pending. It’s not here yet. But I can see what I’ve got hovering. The document comes in – and it gets coloured in red. Maybe the submission date gets moved, maybe the end date. Now I know what I have in hand – what I have to do. At this point, I shuffle all the rows round so the clients are in order by due date. This way, when I’ve got a lot of work in, I know what I need to do first.
Work done, I write DONE in the cells for the days on which I actually did the work, and colour it in yellow. Invoice submitted – orange. Invoice paid – green! And I leave it on there, to show me what I’ve been up to.
A hint: freeze the panes on your spreadsheet so you can see all the client names but move across the dates without losing them.
Along with email folders for all my current and completed customers, this has kept me organised over the past few weeks. I hope it’s helped some readers with some ideas. Maybe you’d like to tell me your favourite organisation tip?
August 26, 2010 at 6:37 pm
I wondered what a gant chart was when you mentioned it on FB the other day. It sounds a really great tool and is one I may adopt once I’ve got the assignment dates and things for AA100. At the moment, I’m working with a whiteboard divided into ‘Important & Urgent’, ‘Important’, ‘Urgent’ and ‘Not Impotant or Urgent’ and lists of tasks. It’s working well and having it on the wall means I can’t hide from it!
August 26, 2010 at 7:07 pm
That’s a good idea – I don’t have room for one in this room (sloping ceilings and lots of shelves!) but I do have the clients in a list too…