Have you ever searched your computer for a script, sound file, note, invoice or anything else specific to a project and frustratedly came up empty handed?
I found an easy way to keep track of the pieces. Here’s how.
Tried and Tested
Before accepting gigs and working with clients, I knew I wanted an easy way to track everything for a given project. My first thought was using system folders on my computer and filling them with all the parts associated with a project.
After a few test runs with pseudo clients and projects, I quickly concluded the system folders method was not the way to go. It was cumbersome and found myself drilling through folder after folder looking for what I wanted. It was a huge time suck.
Eureka, a Winner!
Other methods I tried were just as worthless. A huge spreadsheet, document files, an expansive database. Nothing was working and it all was so meh.
And then I discovered what I was looking for. I found using a project number as the base helped to keep everything in order. Simple.
How it Works
Once I’ve received the nod a client wants me to work with them, I assign a number to all the project pieces going forward. Which, by no coincidence, the project number is also the next sequential invoice number in my accounting software.
Email, contracts, scripts, notes, sessions and anything else associated with a particular project receives this number from this point on.
As an example, typically the first thing I send after the client has agreed to book me, is my Project Confirmation for them to review and approve. The title of the Project Confirmation and email subject line looks like this:
[PR1600] QuickStop Messenger — Project Confirmation – CONFIDENTIAL
To break it down:
- [PR1600] – This is the invoice number used on everything associated with the QuickStop Messenger project.
- QuickStop Messenger – The name or title of the project, typically taken from the script title.
- Project Confirmation – This refers to the item I’m sending or in other cases, the primary purpose of the e-mail.
- CONFIDENTIAL – (optional) A one-word callout detail about the item.
Now that I have a project number, I apply it to everything to keep the work organized. Here are a few ways I put it to good use.
[PR1600] QuickStop Messenger — Voiceover script – approved
Once I receive a client’s script, I rename it to something that makes sense to me, using my numbering system.
[PR1600] QuickStop Messenger — Script Questions
There are times when clients are available only by e-mail. When I have script questions, this is the subject I’ll use for the email.
[PR1600] QuickStop Messenger — Ready for download
When I’ve finished the session and uploaded it to the server, I send my client a quick e-mail with the download link and password.
Some Other Uses
- [PR1600] QuickStop Messenger — Invoice
- [PR1600] QuickStop Messenger — Payment received
- [PR1600] QuickStop Messenger — Anything else?
What I’ve Found
Since the number is consistent across the project, it gives me a failsafe way to locate related parts and reduces search time. Using Spotlight, a system-wide search on my Mac, I can instantly find what I’m looking for just by searching for the project number. An equally useful system-wide seek method is also available on Windows machines.
As an added benefit, this also helps clients in the same way. All of our correspondence will most likely be in their inbox. So all they’ll have to do is search for the project number.
It takes some time getting in the habit of using a project number, but the ease of finding what I’m looking for is a sweet return.
What is your ‘can’t live without’ method of tracking projects? I’d like to hear about it and maybe work it into my process. Leave your comments in the section below and happy tracking!
© 2016 J. Christopher Dunn