BEYOND THE 9 TO 5
A series for creatives who work a full-time job but are passionate about growing their side hustles.
Hey friends! The second post of the Beyond the 9 to 5 series, is all about systems. Here's a roundup of apps and programs I use to organize my workflow to manage projects and communication with a full-time job. To recap the first post, I talked about how important it is to take care of your body and mind to keep your energy flowing post the long workday, so you can push your side hustle in the evening.
Now, we'll dive into practical systems to help you stay committed to all your projects even when it feels overwhelming. I may sound like a broken record with some of this information but systems are so important in order to set yourself up for success. I am also a BIG advocate of working full-time for as long as you can to save up funds and gain knowledge that will give you a great upper hand when you officially make the transition to freelance full-time.
Project Management - Keep All of Your Work in One Place
My main goal when working on side projects is making sure that everything is organized in one place. Visually you know how much you have going on at once and if it looks like your timeline & deadlines will interfere with your full-time job, then it's time to reevaluate how many projects your taking on - or if it's time to make the shift!
I HIGHLY recommend Asana. First, I love the interface, second, you can create a project for each of your clients, business segments or design items, then create separate to-do's for what you need to complete within those projects. Monitor your timeline and upload any files you need to reference.
If you're a to-do list maven, Trello's platform is great for simple lists with notes and deadlines. It's drag and drop interface and to-do like list format are perfect to keep each project in line.
I use Evernote strictly for project notes and random information I need to put together before it all goes into Asana. When on client calls, project kick off meetings or just brainstorming this is a place to keep everything organized in respective notebooks.
Communication Systems - Set your boundaries
I always made sure my clients know that I had another job upfront. Decide what time you have during the day to dedicate to quick email or message responds and what the best way of communication is for each of those projects (mine is lunch time, a 3pm check in and then after 5pm). Here's my personal structure: First, email me anything you might need with as many deets as possible. Slack if you just need to run ideas by each other (create your own team and invite your client!), and text if any needs are urgent and can't wait.
Email → Slack → Text
Inspiration & Planning - Creating A Consistent Style
The first step of any project is crafting a vision. What does your client (or you if it's personal) like/dislike and how can you keep this consistent throughout everything that's created. Here are my favorite places to do so.
Easily drag and drop all items here to visualize what is similar about each piece. Share links with anyone working on the project and make notes where needed.
Since most of us are on Pinterest already, the obvious place for image inspiration is within your boards. Create a secret board and invite whoever you'd like to collaborate with.
For social media, we basically HAVE to plan ahead and craft that story from the get-go in order to stay on top of posting with the busy schedules. Both of these apps are great for that and especially if you're a social media manager these tools are life-changing.
Time Tracking and Invoicing - Keep Track of Your Time & Money
Before projects begin, it's time to send your invoice. To save $, create an invoice on your own or use Freshbooks Free Invoice Template and save as a PDF. Then, request payment through PayPal or Google Wallet. To be transparent, I occasionally use Venmo but realized since I used it for a lot of personal items too, it's hard to keep track when I use Quickbooks to separate personal/business expenses.
Free tool! Because we love that word and it's just a simple way to keep track of how long you dedicate to each project. Tedious, yes, but important and will only set you up for success when working on putting accurate rates on your services. P.S. It integrates with Asana just sayin'!
Friends and Family option only, plz! Although creating invoices in Paypal are super easy and clean, sending one to clients incurs fees. Bummer.
Although this is more of a financial tool, I finally invested in Quickbooks for the Self-Employed and am SO glad I did. It's enabled me to label what my business expenses are, how much freelance income I'm getting each month and really helped me evaluate it next to my job.
If you want a better breakdown of all these systems, check out this PDF from my digital resource library.
Learn more and download below!
Whew. Another intense roundup but I hope it was helpful for finding some tools that are right for your side hustle.