Don’t you feel a million times better when you’re organised? When you’re not awakened in the middle of the night with a sudden panic that you have 20 forgotten to-do list items to complete before the week is over? Or you don’t have to suddenly pull over your car to jot down the reminders in your head?
When things aren’t organised, it feels like you’re constantly playing catch-up. It feels like you’re trying to cross the finish line but things keep falling out of your pockets! We all probably have tools that we use to keep organised (and feel more sane when we use them!), but sometimes it just takes a reminder that you don’t want to run around like a chicken with its head cut off, that running a studio can be less stressful if things are a bit more neat and tidy in terms of organisation. To start the school year, we’re offering some tips for organisation for studio owners. Many of these ideas may not be new to you, but they do all work. Try them out and see!
#1. Organise your to-do list.
Yes, you have a to-do list to keep yourself organised. But is your list itself organised? Give each major project (such as Picture Day) its own list. And don’t reinvent the wheel! Reuse your lists from year to year. For the biggest tasks like planning the recital, make a separate list of tasks for each month from January to June. And be prepared in December to organize the lists and know what’s coming so that you can hit the ground running in January. Have another separate list for much smaller tasks that pop up throughout the week.
#2. Assign themes to the days of the week.
To find themes that work for you, try to track how you spend your time for one week. Then, organise the next week’s schedule by assigning similar types of tasks to the same days. Maybe you have an “errands and appointments” day, a few “teaching” days, an “office work” day, one “project” day and a “family” day. It is not physically possible to get everything done in one day, so you’ll feel better knowing you have a certain day dedicated to certain tasks.
#3. Prioritise difficult projects for days or times when you have the most mental energy.
You may be the type of person who does their best creative work in the morning, whether it’s figuring out the summer schedule or working on choreography. So do those things then (after coffee, of course!). This is an idea from Julie Morgenstern’s book, Never Check E-Mail In the Morning: And Other Unexpected Strategies for Making Your Work Life Work.
#4. If your to-do list is overwhelming you or if you are having trouble effectively communicating with your office staff, try an app.
You can sign up for something like Monday.com and use it both to keep yourself on track and to communicate tasks with the studio office staff. Then, communication about each task can be easy (and in one place). You can tell exactly where the studio is with each task, and everyone knows what to work on next. Monday.com is not free, but there are other systems that do not cost anything. Google Docs is a good way to share documents with the staff. You can also choose something with due dates and the ability to save the to-do lists for big projects for use the next year.
#5. Schedule a weekly time for your bigger projects.
As a studio owner, you will face huge projects each year – recital, picture day, schedule setting, staff meetings and payroll. Create a schedule with uninterrupted time each week to work on the big projects. And do this work in a place where you won’t be interrupted!
#6. Write down absolutely everything in one place.
Do you have little notes and Post-It reminders scattered around your house? Compile them all in one place. An online system is great. Get your organising app on your phone so you can easily add things on the go. Put a due date on everything. (And don’t panic – you can always change it!)
#7. Create a daily schedule.
Within your themed days, stick to a regular daily schedule. It creates some peace and can also help fight procrastination. For instance, on teaching days, maybe you set your alarm for the same time each day, have a morning routine, plan classes or choreograph, do a minimal amount of office work, and then head to the studio to teach. Maybe schedule something for you that you do at the same time on the same day – like go to the gym.
#8. Organise your money.
Set aside the same days each month when you will pay bills, go over your budget and handle your monthly financial tasks. Keep track each month of how much money is coming in and how much money is going out.
#9. Don’t forget to organise down time.
Especially when email and to-do lists and texts are constantly at our fingertips (literally) with our devices, it is crucial that you instill a time management system that gets things done but also protects you from burnout. Owning a studio is a lot of work. And yes, you need to keep organised there, but you also need to organise yourself into having a long career. Schedule things into your routine that you love, that feed your soul. Do you love going for walks, going to the movies, spending an hour at a museum, getting a massage? Schedule these things for yourself! Schedule total down time with your family; don’t let yourself be strapped to studio work every weekend. Make restorative time a priority.
#10. Studio software will make running your studio a lot easier.
You can’t do every single thing yourself. Invest in a software that will calculate tuition for you and collect it if you run autopay. Even just having parents able to register themselves with the software will save you hours of time.