Organise Me: Wrap Up

December Wrap Up By Andrea McArthur

Coming full circle from where we started this year with Organise Me. In February I began by writing about the humble To Do List. Now in December after much research on the subject of organisation I have realised how pivotal a good To Do List is for your productivity. Writing yourself a To Do List is my number one piece of organisational advice.

Organise Me has followed alongside the mishaps of setting up a freelance business this year as I delved into the freelance world. I have hopefully shared some knowledge with posts such as Backing Up: Don't invite trouble in, It's Tax Time and  Email Inbox-ification to help other creative freelancers with their businesses.

Before I wrote Organise Me, I thought that people were either inherently organised or disorganised and that being disorganised was a trait hard to change. Being organised takes time but if you have the correct advice and put into practice those skills such as list writing you can conquer the disorganisation. I have only scratched the surface of the many techniques that professional organisers use to help clients. Previous posts about professional organiser Angela from Creating Order from Chaos and David Allen Become a Productivity Ninja share some of their professional organisation techniques.

I am leaving you with some wise words in which to wrap up Organise Me for the year. Designer and Art Director James Victore has his own You Tube channel where he imparts advice. One series that he films is Q+A Tuesdays, recently he posted an apt Q+A video On time management and organisation. James Victore shares my love of To Do Lists, he says "A good day starts the day before" by making a list for today (tomorrow), a list for the month and a list for the years goals. Other ways James Victore says to use time wisely is to stay focussed and ignore distractions as well as give up the control freak title and learn to delegate. Watch James Victore's Q+A Tuesday video here.

Hitting this busy time of year both in your personal and working life, remember to take care of yourself and don't 'burn out'. In order to stay organised and focussed through this time, make sure you get enough sleep, that you eat well and also exercise. Remember things will happen and somehow it all gets done!

 Andrea McArthur has a passion for all things visual and a soft spot for organisation. Type is her true love and goes weak at the knees over beautiful design. Andrea works as a freelance graphic designer in Brisbane by day and lectures in graphic design by night. You will find her sharing design related goodness via @andyjane_mc

Organise Me: Desk Space

Desk Space By Andrea McArthur

It seems we all need a little help when it comes to creating our perfect desk space. In order to create a functioning work space here are a few great tips from Renée Rogers and Jess Hyde to keep your desks looking as welcoming as theirs.

Tip #1: Keep your reference files at hands reach.

Renee Rogers Desk

Above: Renée's Desk

Renée Rogers is a Graphic Design Lecturer at Shillington College with a secret love of English Monarchy promotional ceramics. As a teacher Renée needs to be thoroughly organised to ensure her days are stress free and running smoothly. Her number one tip for being organised is to be prepared. All of Renée's past notes and timetables are filed close by her desk for easy reference between courses.

In the photo of Renée's desk it is set up in preparation for week one of her new course. Renee stays organised by having every lecture, day plan and brief printed and ready to deliver for the first week of class, hence the piles of paper. To do lists are also a must, but what Renee can't face is prepping for class without a cup of tea.

Tip #2: Clean up and finish your tasks, everything has a place.

Jess Hydes Desk

Above: Jess's Desk

Jess Hyde is a multi-talented Graphic Designer and Illustrator, she is the founder of stationery which began in 2007. Jess has recently given her studio a huge overhaul and it's looking like a comfortable and functioning work area.

We asked Jess what her secret is to staying organised in the office and her work life. It's so simple: "just 'clean up' before starting the next task," Jess says. "When I finish a task, be it packaging an order or designing a concept, I always do my filing and put away any active work in its job tray before moving on to the next task. It means that my space is neat and I clear my head before starting the next thing on the list."

Tip #3: Work with the correct tools around you.

Andrea McArthur's Desk

Above: Andy's Desk

Last week I purchased David Allen's book called Getting Things Done, The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. The book sounds great and it's sitting on my desk ready to be thumbed through. In the book David writes about setting up your workspace. In addition to a desktop work space the basic processing tools you will need are: 3 x paper-holding trays, ream of A4 paper, a pen, post-it notes, paper clips, binder clips, a stapler, sticky tape, rubber bands, a labeller, file folders, a calendar and a bin.

My tip to create a functioning working environment for yourself would be to bring some personality to your space, open a window and let some light in, or create an inspiration board with things to motivate you. Then with the right tools, stationery, desk space and ergonomic chair you'll love working at your desk.

 Andrea McArthur has a passion for all things visual and a soft spot for organisation. Type is her true love and goes weak at the knees over beautiful design. Andrea works as a freelance graphic designer in Brisbane by day and lectures in graphic design by night. You will find her sharing design related goodness via @andyjane_mc

Organise Me: It's Tax Time

By Andrea McArthur It's Tax Time

Tax time. Time to get serious. The count down to June 30 is on and we only have 5 days left. Now is definitely the time to start thing about your Tax. Below are some ideas to get you thinking about your Tax this year.

Organize Buy a filing system and commit to it, your filing system could be as simple as a physical accordion file or go digital with some financial software (there are many different programs on the market, just ask around and trial a few).

Decide your key spending categories, record your expenses and keep your receipts. You can even find software that will allow you to view your expenses as a colourful pie graph, how shocking. I have started organising myself for Tax time and I have decided on a few categories:

- Office expenses under $1000 - Office expenses over $1000 (which are deemed depreciating assets and can be depreciated over time, see below about the changing rules) - Client printing - Books - Professional memberships - Software - Stationery - Phone - Internet - Parking -Travel.

Here is the ATO Guide to claiming business deductions

Save Use a percentage savings model and stash some cash away for the Tax man. As a newbie freelancer my annual income is relatively unknown. Instead of continuing a back breaking savings plan or changing my name and going into hiding at Tax time I like to squirrel away some income as it comes in. I put away 30% of any freelance income into an online high rate savings account specially for Tax. This should cover my tax with deductions already considered. If you are registered for GST I am told that this percentage will be slightly higher approximately 35%.

Hire I am a professional in my field not a Tax accountant, I know this and that is why I believe that I should hire a professional in the field of Tax accountancy. I am two years new to Brisbane and so I am still growing my network of people. I am one of those that asks who your mechanic is and who you get your hair cut by. It's no different with accountants, I recently asked a good friend who has been freelancing for much longer than myself who she uses or recommends as a small business/self-employed specialist accountant.

I have a list of questions to ask when I see the said accountant, I have been putting off the visit because once I do I know I need to get real. Your accountant should ideally prepare your tax, give you some tips on your allowable deductions and help you prepare for the next financial year. In most cases, the savings the accountant will find for you will more than cover their fee, plus you can rest assured you haven't made any big mistakes.

Plan Eeik, yes we all need to think about where we have come from and where we would like to go in this freelancing world. Projected income is a tricky issue to tackle but setting yourself some financial goals for next year will help you feel more satisfied and motivated to network.

Try this form for setting next years financial goals:

Think about if you are going to register for GST in the next financial year if you haven't already. Currently you only need to register for GST if you earn more than $75,000. Apparently though if you’re not registered for GST you can still claim a tax deduction on the cost of goods and services (inclusive of GST), as long as they are essential to your business. For instance I purchased a new iMac this year and can claim the tax back on that.

Research Tax rules which effect Small Businesses in Australia are changing from 1 July 2012. There will be significant changes to business expenses over $1,000, business vehicle purchases, the entrepreneurs tax offset and Superannuation contributions for over 50's.

If you are thinking of making some last minute business purchases hold off making any purchases between the cost of $1,000 to $6,500 until next financial year for a 100% write off in 2012/13 tax year. If you earned less than $50,000 this year be sure to enquire about the 25% entrepreneurs tax offset which is available for it's last year.

See more details here:

My goal for the next financial year as a freelancer is to organise my financial life better in order to avoid the last minute "end of financial year" scramble. I am confident that this years trip to the accountant will be a positive exercise which will help me set myself up for the next financial year to come.

(Note: please double check all advice stated before acting.)

Andrea McArthur has a passion for all things visual and a soft spot for organisation. Type is her true love and goes weak at the knees over beautiful design. Andrea works as a freelance graphic designer in Brisbane by day and lectures in graphic design by night. You will find her sharing design related goodness via @andyjane_mc

Organise Me: Top 5 Productivity Tips

Top 5 productivity tips By Andrea McArthur

Productivity - noun 1. The state or quality of producing something. 2. The effectiveness of productive effort, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.

Like most creatives you are probably so busy that time passes you by and you wonder where all of your time went. Or you may find yourself constantly sacrificing your personal life in order to stay on top of your work commitments. At the same time you are probably questioning how others manage to stay productive, and why it looks so easy to those organised folk.

It turns out that setting goals, effective time management and discipline are key to giving yourself more quality time. Recently, I broke the silence and asked two busy creatives (who are as equally organised as they are busy) what their secret is to being and staying productive in their professional lives.

Meet the creatives: Jen Clark, Melbourne A design director and owner of Melbourne design studio Jen Clark Design, Jen Clark has over 15 years experience in all aspects of graphic design, specialising in branding and web design for new and existing businesses. @JenClarkDesign

Tanya Ruxton, Sydney A creative type with over 12yrs experience, working as the Head of Teaching, Shillington College, Australia. With a love for organisation, Tanya has run many creative side projects in her spare time, as well as her own graphic design business. @wearemessengers

Jen Clark and Tanya Ruxton

Several tips reappeared in Jen and Tanya's answers - these tips appear to be the most universally recognised and most commonly adopted between organised folk. Following are their combined all time top 5 tips for productivity.

1. To-do Lists Manage tasks by keeping and writing lists. Andy's tip: Complete basic tasks as they arise. Jen's tip: The best time to make a list is often when you have the least time to write one. Tan's tip: Write a new list every day or every second day to keep on track.

2. Schedule blocks of time Plan your day in "blocks" (much like Hugh Grant in "About a Boy"). Plan ahead whenever possible by mapping out project deadlines for the following weeks or months ahead. Andy's tip: Keep an up to date calendar. Jen's tip: Set mini-deadlines throughout the day. Tan's tip: Be committed and don't get distracted.

3. Working space Create a comfortable working environment that you enjoy being in and that inspires you. This includes getting dressed as if you were heading to the office if you work from home. Andy's tip: Ergonomics work. Jen's tip: Your space influences your work, it can invoke feelings of vitality, energy and motivation. Tan's tip: Be comfortable, invest in a good chair. Declutter - tidy desk, tidy day.

4. Be realistic Secretly thinking we are Superwoman and can do it all doesn't always work. When opportunities arise communicate your current commitments and capabilities to clients. This will ensure you are not overbooking yourself or feeling overstretched or compromised on time. Andy's tip: You can not always say yes. Jen's tip: Be honest. Tan's tip: Don't over promise. Get a freelancer to help out.

5. Take breaks: When you work solo it can be very easy to work right through the day and night. However by establishing a routine and taking breaks you'll be less likely to procrastinate and find you are more reinvigorated to continue. Seriously taking a break can refresh your mind, your soul and your eyes. Andy's tip: Routine - 10am coffee, 12.30 lunch, 3pm stretch. Jen's tip: Time away from the desk is important. Don't get caught up in the lure of the immediate. Tan's tip: Enjoy your lunch break.

A big thankyou to Jen and Tanya for their sharing their top productivity tips (there are more to come). Now that we have demystified some of those efficient working habits we are a step closer to becoming one of those elusive, productive, organised folk.

Andrea McArthur has a passion for all things visual and a soft spot for organisation. Type is her true love and goes weak at the knees over beautiful design. Andrea works as a freelance graphic designer in Brisbane by day and lectures in graphic design by night. You will find her sharing design related goodness via @andyjane_mc