1. Create folder structure that follows a logical hierarchy.
Because I mostly work on brand developments, the structure of my folders is pretty complicated. By keeping everything in a logical hierarchy, I never (well, almost never) lose track of files. For example, I’ll organize files by client, then by project type, then by the elements within each project.
2. Have a "style tile" for each brand you work with.
Some brands have extensive style guides, but not all of that information is necessary for everyday use. Other brands don’t have a style guide at all.
To make my life easier, I create a “style tile” for each brand I work with. I usually do this in an Illustrator file, where I compile all the elements that I might need when working on a project for a particular brand: logo, colour palette, character style, etc.
If it’s a long term client, I even sync their colour palette in my Adobe Library for easy reference.
3. Include dates in file names.
To avoid confusion and give myself the ability to go back to previous file versions, I include dates in all my file names. This is also really helpful for when a lot of people are involved in one project because I can easily follow changes.
4. Use coda.io for research and project management.
I’ve found it’s the best place for keeping links, embedding files, creating tables and everything else that I need to manage my projects.
5. Have personal Trello board with all to do's.
My Trello is organized by: Upcoming projects | Things To Do | Doing | Waiting for feedback | Done
I separate cards in my “Done” list with empty cards so I can see how productive a particular week was.
Trello also allows you to sync your emails so that you can forward incoming emails with project information straight to Trello.
6. Use checklists to track your deliverables.
If a project is massive, I use checklists to track different items and specs that I’m responsible for. This prevents me from forgetting certain items and helps me manage timelines.
7. Have a folder for incoming and outgoing files that you exchange with your team.
8. Back up your files regularly.
I like to package finalized files and share a copy on company drive, just in case anything happens to my computer or I want to work from home. If you’re freelancing, I recommend backing your files up on a separate hard drive.