The state of New York expects an economic boost from the creative industries this year. Mississippi has declared a year-long celebration of its creative sector. Meanwhile, media outlets from the US to Western Uganda are turning to creative types.
The feeling in the air in the world right now is that it is a great time to be a creative type and that perhaps we are on the cusp of a sort of digital age renaissance.
We’ll speculate on that no further while reiterating that all signs point to “yes” for the creative economy going forward. Even as creative types embrace for a coming influx of work opportunities and invoices, the problem that has plagued the creative-rather-than-organized mind since the dawn of time still persists.
Creative types tend to not like to get all stuffy with business. Creative types like to focus on their respective crafts and not get slowed down by things like document management, recordkeeping, and accounting.
To help you keep your mind on your creative output and not your organizational shortcomings, we’ve got some advice.
Here’s the short version of document management tactics for the creative economy.
1. What you need
The first thing you need to know is what documents you actually need and where to find them.
Here are a few templates that come in particularly handy in the creative economy:
- Business Plan Template
- Startup Business Plan Template
- Financial Funding Template
- Design Invoice Template
- Grant Proposal Template
- Design Proposal Template
- Website Design Proposal Template
- Graphic Design Proposal Template
2. Forget the filing cabinet
Let’s face it: paper costs money and filing cabinets take up a lot of space.
The computing cloud is your friend now more than ever, in the creative economy. Cloud-based document management tools allow you to create, send, track, and electronically sign documents, without ever printing them out.
Cloud-based storage platforms like Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and SkyDrive become your virtual filing cabinet, making it easy to access your documents from an Internet connection anywhere in the world.
3. Make documents fit your flow
Steven Kotler has written an awesome book called The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance. The book talks about “flow” — the psychological state that performance athletes enter when they break world records. This is the same state that innovative musicians enter when they create timeless songs, and writers enter when they pen stream of consciousness masterpieces, and — well, you get the picture.
Creative types live for the flow state. But wrestling with document management can really stifle your creativity, so it’s helpful to structure your document management workflow in a way that is advantageous to your flow.
Kotler has written about how you can “hack” flow, and his book is full of info on how to do it, but we have a tip to help you do just that:
Limit when you look at documents. Set a specific time for dealing with documents, and leave them alone as much as you can at other times. Are you a graphic designer who finds something deflating about looking at an invoice? Do you tend to not feel like creating graphics on Thursday morning? Boom! That’s your day for invoicing.
Make documents fit your flow by allocating specific time for managing them. This will allow you to stay focused on your creative work, without interruption by the deflating banality of document management.
4. What’s in a name?
Sometimes, the best advice is the simplest advice.
Our final tip for efficient document management in the creative economy is really simple:
Give all your documents the right name.
Since you are working in the digital realm, give your documents names that follow logic. Try the following convention:
031714 Acme Company Design Proposal
031814 Smith Industries Revision
031814 Personal Budget
031914 Mission Statement Draft 2
Your operating system is smart enough to go ahead and order numbers accordingly, so it’s a good idea to always start with a date for a file name.
Choosing the right name for your documents and folders makes it possible to deal with them at the designated time, leaving you free to focus on creativity.
As always, though, find what works for you and stick with it. The same idea applies to folders, too. The more organized your document management is, the less you have to deal with it. For a creative person like you, that’s what’s important!
Feel free to be creative!
Creative types thrive in low-stress working environments. That is what has driven many to create their own “work environment.” If that sounds like you, do yourself a favor. Take the pain out of document management by following our tips.
Documents are easier than ever to manage in the cloud computing age. By putting some thought into how documents fit your flow and using the latest online tools to help you do so, you can forget about document management and focus on thriving in the creative economy.
How do you do documents? What’s your “flow” like? We’d love to hear from you in the comment space below.