If you’ve been a freelancer for a decent amount of time, then you probably know the stress (and exhilaration) that can come with juggling many projects at once. After all, you’re the one in control of how much work you take on, and it can be hard to say no to jobs that pay your bills. Sometimes though, you might end up saying ‘yes’ to too many jobs and find yourself either pulling all-nighters to get them over the line, delivering at a lower quality standard, or missing deadlines. None of these outcomes is desirable.
When I started out, I didn’t have a method for keeping track of my projects. My files were all over the place – I had scripts, checklists, budgets and planning sheets stored haphazardly in Google Docs and Word Docs on my computer. I wrote down the deadlines I had in the next week, but beyond that it was anyone’s guess. To be honest, this actually worked fine. That is, until I started working on more than 2 projects at the same time.
I started wasting sooo much time just figuring out what the most important thing to to tackle next would be – should I write the script for next week’s shoot? Or edit a video due sometime later this week? I wanted to keep getting more jobs, more clients, improve my skills and make more money. This wasn’t going to happen if I had to devote more and more time just to figuring out what I needed to do. I had to find a better way.
For me to scale my freelancing business, I needed a system that would:
– Be easy to maintain
– Allow me to see what’s upcoming on all my projects at once
– Track progress on each project
– Help me prioritise what to work on
– Alleviate repetitive tasks that were done for every project
– Allow me to forecast the work on my plate ahead of time
That’s when I stumbled on the wonderful app, Notion. At first I thought it was a just great note-taking app which would easily replace OneNote. I found that it met all the needs that I stated above, and was capable of so much more.
Now it runs my entire life. That’s not an exaggeration. I keep track of all my goals, notes, habits, journalling, knowledge and more in there. But that’s an explanation for another post.
Today I’ll break down step by step, how I use Notion to manage my video projects. I’ll assume that you already have basic knowledge about how Notion works, what databases are, how to make database relations, filtering etc. I also use it to stay on top of my social media content and personal content too.
1. The Projects Database
Let’s start with the Projects database. Each new project gets its own entry in this database. This is where I capture my projects, no matter what type they are. I use different emoji to denote what type of project it is.
2. The Project Template
I’ve set up a template for client videos that that has different areas . This guides me through the production process from start to finish. Every time I start a new project, it generates the checklist for me and I go through and start checking them off as the project progresses.
3. Recording Milestones
Within every project template, there is a view of another database called All Tasks. This Tasks database also serves as high level to-do list. I usually use this only to enter project milestone dates, like “pre-production”, “filming” and “editing 1st draft”. I don’t go too granular on this, because things get start looking messy real quick. I enter these in at the start of the project if possible, so that I can keep as much visibility over my schedule as I can.
4. Dashboard View
Each project has a status field, which can be used to create filtered views. I also add another status field called Next Action where I can type what needs to happen next, which could be anything from “sending an invoice” or “waiting on client”. This filtered view allows me to be greeted with a dashboard where I’m greeted with my active projects and their next actions.
5. Timeline View
This is one of the coolest parts. It’s is a Timeline view of the Tasks database, which pulls together all the milestones that were recorded in your projects. You can forecast when your busy periods will be and know when you’ll have to start saying no to things. I consult with this when I want to know if I have the bandwidth to take on new work.
6. Handling Revisions
These are added into the Task database under the Project it belongs to. I usually include a Rough Cut with 2 revisions as a standard on my projects, so these are added in at the start. Sometimes, the client will need more revisions (which I kindly ask them for payment on), and these will be added as yet another milestone.
Putting it all together.
Here’s what my project management process looks like today:
- I open my Notion in the morning and instantly see my Dashboard, which shows me what active projects I have and what to do next for each of them
- A quick review tells whether I’m currently waiting on something from the client (in which case I can follow up if needed)
- By looking at the Timeline View, I get a wider view of how my schedule looks for the next few weeks. I can see if there are things that need to be tackled first because other tasks depend on them
- My Task database allows me to rearrange items to prioritise what needs to be worked on next
- Whenever a client wants to bring me on for a new video, I just create a new page in the Projects database. My template guides me through what needs to happen to bring it to life.
- All of this takes just 10 minutes in the morning and gives me total clarity over what needs to be worked on and in what order of priority. After that I can get to work doing the next task, then the next, and so on.
Taken together, it all works to meet the needs of the checklist I laid out at the start.
Over the years, I’ve built my Projects database to handle a lot more – social media posts, photography projects, personal projects, blog posts (like the one you’re reading now) and anything else really. You can modify and add to your template as your needs grow, and it will apply to all future projects you make.
If you’re interested in any the of the templates I’ve shown or talked about here, feel free to drop me a message using the contact form on my website and I’ll send it over.