How to Stay Organized as a Creative Team Leader

Below are some of the most important tasks I do, to stay ahead of the many things I need to accomplish each day. Without clutter and disorganization, I'm able to focus on what I really love, which is creating beautiful design work.

Make a to-do list for myself, the night before

Working in a fast-paced agency means that things are constantly changing and on the move. Not only am I responsible for hands on concepts and mockups, but I'm also in charge of reviewing work before it hits the higher-ups as well as delegating out projects as they come down the line. There's no way I would be able to stay on top of everything unless I create a solid to-do list each night, to help set up the following day. I make sure to include due dates and priority, so I know what must absolutely get done that day, and what can wait. I also am sure to return any emails with questions to me, as soon as possible, so I can cross them off my list and I'm not bottle-necking any project.

Keep dynamic lists that everyone on the team can update

I prefer Google Docs. We have one for all of our projects and it includes columns for client name, project name, owner and due dates, both internal and external. I make sure the team as well as myself keep it updated, pretty much by the hour. That way, at any point and time, any one of us can check the google doc to know the status of any of our projects. 

Set small milestones on larger projects

Large projects with many moving parts can seem daunting, but setting multiple due dates within the project timeline can help keep everyone focused, less-stressed and on track. Break up the project into smaller, more do-able tasks and set deadlines that are reasonable, and the team AND client will both remain happy.

Don't be afraid of the phone.

Check-in calls are extremely helpful, especially when some team members are offsite. Not everyone checks email in real-time, so follow up calls to pulse-check are a good idea to help get inside the heads of your team members to make sure everything is going smoothly and no one has hit any hurdles. 

Keep a calendar and set reminders

Pretty self-explanatory. My calendar is my bible (after the Google Doc project list, that is!) I am sure to add due dates, launch dates, client event dates and the like, so that I have a visual reminder of what is coming up each week. I also try to set reminders a few days in advance of big events, so that I can keep their deliverables top-of-mind.

Use a file-naming system

One of the best ways to keep creative files organized and keep ahead of version control is to create and use a file-naming system. More importantly, it's imperative that the entire team also uses this system. For example, our team utilizes a common Dropbox and since our files are named so well, anyone on the team can go to the Dropbox and find any files they might need, whenever the need it. We're also sure to archive old, non-working files so that only the most recent are visible, saving time from sorting through tons of revisions in the working files.

File emails

All of my emails are separated by sender or client. This way, I can easily run a search to find references to what I'm looking for, immediately. I also never delete emails - I can't tell you how many times I'll need to go back to an old email with a file or attachment and either use it or reference it for something else.