Productivity Tips: Grow Your Indie Business with Help from the Experts

Joshua Zerkel, Certified Professional Organizer
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Willo O’Brien of Stitch Labs recently teamed up with productivity and organization consultant Joshua Zerkel of Creative Solutions to present a series of webinars on productivity tips for crafters. Representatives of organizational and business app developers like Outright and Shoeboxed discussed how their applications can help crafters keep their contacts, receipts, and ideas organized and accessible. 

I signed up for the webinar series in an effort to get 2012 started on the right foot and enter the year with a clear plan for organization.  I found the webinars extremely informative and as a result I made a few key decisions about how I will be running my craft business from here on out.  In this first part of a three-part series on productivity tips for crafters, I talked with Joshua to learn what organizational systems he recommends for indie business owners.

Get Organized For Good: Tips from Expert Joshua Zerkel

Joshua Zerkel, Certified Professional Organizer and founder of Custom Living Solutions, San Francisco’s top-rated and award-winning productivity and organizing consulting firm, is the Bay Area’s own organizational guru. Josh is an expert at helping crafters, artists, indie business owners, and entrepreneurs organize, increase productivity, and further sales. He excels at offering reasonable and realistic productivity tips that his clients can use to help grow their businesses. Finally, a plan we can stick with! 

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Josh’s clients live by the rule that “No one size fits all, and that’s perfect.” He believes there is an organizational solution and a system out there for everyone, no matter your style or needs. Josh stresses that for an organizational method to stick, it is essential to get in touch with:

·      who you are as a person and as a business

·      what your goals are

·      what you want to achieve

The smartest way to start, he says is to take your best guess as to what will help your indie business most. Maybe it’s a system like Outright to help organize your expenses and income, or Shoeboxed to help manage business cards and receipts.

One Step at a Time

Josh suggests making one improvement at a time.  Choose one system and use it for a while to find out what works best for you.  Like any habit, Josh recommends you stick with it for a while.  If it still doesn’t work, ditch it and try another one.  The process is not magic, and hitting bumps and getting thrown off track is a natural part of the learning curve.  To get back on track, Josh says, it is essential to analyze:

·      what parts of the organizational system are working

·      what parts of the system are not working

·      what might be getting in the way personally and from a business standpoint

·      whether it is time to delegate

When starting on the road to organization, Josh encourages his clients to delegate at least one task.  He believes that any successful business is not run by one person doing everything herself. It is unrealistic to expect to be equally good at everything.  Choose a few key areas that you're passionate about and want to manage yourself. Tasks that you don't enjoy can go to someone else or be handled with a tool like Outright, Stitch, or Shoeboxed.

Top Tools for Productivity

Josh’s top recommended tool for creative businesses is the application Evernote, a catch-all for  business ideas and information. Evernote offers multiple ways to capture information.  You can create voice memos, take photos, and bookmark web pages, all from your mobile device or computer.  Evernote organizes and stores everything in one place.  Your ideas and information are accessible from anywhere and available to be shared with colleagues, customers,and business contacts. Josh believes getting your ideas organized is the first step to making them a reality, and Evernote is an indispensible tool to help.

While a lot of organizational applications are free, Josh recommends putting aside a part of your monthly budget to invest in organizational systems. Paying for a system places an increased value on it, and ensures that you will learn to make the most out of it. 

Check back next week for more productivity tips from Willo O’Brien of Stitch Labs.

Joshua Zerkel is a Certified Professional Organizer® and the founder of Custom Living Solutions, San Francisco’s top-rated and award-winning productivity and organizing consulting firm. Josh was also the 2008-2010 President of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers. Josh specializes in helping entrepreneurs and small businesses find easy ways to get control of their space, information, time, and technology so they can reduce stress and boost their productivity – and their profits. Josh works with clients in locations around the world both in-person and virtually. You can find Josh online at or follow him on Twitter: @JoshuaZerkel.

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Stephie Daniel

These are pretty good tips those are meant for the productivity to goes up in the approach for the business perspective. Literally when we are talking about the tools the one that has been given more importance in my business is the cloud based task management software from Replicon ( ) which is meant for a better organization of tasks with extreme level of productivity.

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