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How To Create An “External Brain” That Helps You Finish Projects On Time Every Time | The Infinite Clients Series

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Today, let's chat about a struggle that hits home for a lot of us creatives… We kind of have a bad rep for getting projects across the finish line on time without dropping the ball.
 
You know the drill – underestimating how long things will take, forgetting those tiny yet crucial details, and then, bam, you've dropped the ball… Again.
 
Then we get those fun 3 AM panic attacks about that thing you forgot to send off to your client. Yep, been there, done that.
 
Here's why we kinda suck at this:
 
Trying to store every single tiny little project detail, deadline, and step in your head is a surefire recipe for disaster. There's just no way for our brains to keep track of this.
 
It's a common trap, thinking you can wing it because you've done similar projects before.
 
“I've got this,” you say… Until you don't.
 
But what if you didn't have to rely on your beautiful creative scatterbrain to keep everything straight?
 
Enter the concept of an “external brain.”
 
This isn't sci-fi; it's about using tools and systems outside your head to keep track of all the moving parts of your projects.
 
Your “external brain” never forgets, always keeps you on track, and is the difference between a smooth project delivery and a midnight meltdown.
 
Switching to an “external brain” means you can focus on what you do best – being creative – without the added stress of remembering every little detail.
 
So, if you're nodding along, thinking, “Yep, that's me,” it's time to make a change.
 
Listen to this week's episode of the 6 Figure Creative Podcast to dive into the world of project management tools and find your perfect match. Your brain (and your clients) will thank you.
 
In this episode you’ll discover:
  • How to make sure you hit your deadlines without stretching yourself thin
  • Creating your project checklist
  • Checklists vs SOPs
  • Handling client revision requests
  • The different types of project structures
  • Why templates will make your life easier
  • Using project management for data tracking
  • Brainstorming your tasks to create your delivery lists

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[00:00:00] Brian: Hello and welcome to the six Figure Creative Podcast. I'm your host, Brian Hood. If this is your first time listening to the show, first of all, hi. Hey. Hello. Welcome. So glad to have you here. This podcast is for you if you are a creative freelancer who offers creative services and you wanna make money, more money from those creative services without selling your soul, without absolutely and utterly throwing your life away.

[00:00:18] Brian: The podcast for you, from our returning listeners. Glad to have you back. We are gonna continue the series we had last week, but before we continue. PSA. Tomorrow is Valentine's day. I believe that this episode should come out on the 13th, if I'm correct. This is the day before Valentine's day. If you haven't done something for your boo, gotten something scheduled for your boo Booked, a date night, gotten, I don't know, a little trinket, whatever.

[00:00:38] Brian: If you haven't flowers, do something for your boo. That's, my PSA today. If you're like on a podcast walk this morning, it hasn't crossed your mind. Now it has, and now you gotta do something.

[00:00:47] Brian: Although it may be too late by now, who knows?

[00:00:50] Brian: so that is my one warning to you. Do something. All right, so let's get into the series or the, topic of today's episode.

[00:00:55] Brian: We're continuing the Infinite Client Series. Again, if this is your first episode or you're new to this [00:01:00] series, this series is, trying to answer the question, if you had to create a business and a service and a fulfillment process that was so good. So magical so, Remarkable that every single client you worked with referred at least one more client to you. what would that look like? And we've already talked through a bunch of things like onboarding, the client agreement, communication, all these things are really important. But today's episode is for all my creatives out there that suck at delivering projects on time.

[00:01:28] Brian: They suck it estimating project length or how long something will take or when things will be sent. And you suck at remembering every single little detail for a project. Thus you drop the ball all the time. and if you're always feeling like you just are forgetting something, If that's you, this episode is for you today. Many freelancers mess things up because we try to remember everything up here in this brain, this incredibly complex, yet somehow stupid thing between our ears called our brain. The thing that somehow Remembers a song that I heard when I was a child that I'll start whistling when I'm making coffee in the morning for no [00:02:00] reason whatsoever that my wife says, what the hell?

[00:02:02] Brian: And I'm like, what the hell? Why is that still up there? But it doesn't remember to send a major deliverable to a client by the end of the day. it's a remarkable and utterly

[00:02:12] Brian: Baffling thing to me, how stupid our brains can be sometimes. And so when we try to remember, keep everything up here

[00:02:17] Brian: and or we also just wing it on every single project. It's like, oh, I do rough of the same thing every time. I know roughly how long it takes. I know I won't forget these things 'cause it's the same steps in every project that I do. This is how we get to that sad, pathetic wasteland of drop balls. Waking up in a cold panic, sweat at 3:00 AM because we know we forgot to send that thing to the client at the end of the day.

[00:02:39] Brian: Or some other important step that you forgot to do. Guilty myself here. you're perpetually delivering things late, you're just basically running around like a chicken with your head cut off, and because of that, you're stress all the time. That's what happens when we try to keep these things up in our brains, right?

[00:02:53] Brian: because there's no real possible way that we can keep track of complex projects or overlapping [00:03:00] deliverables, or some of us juggle multiple clients at the same time. There's no way we can effectively keep that in our brains and not mess it up sometimes.

[00:03:06] Brian: There are too many variables for us to keep track of in our head, and there's no way for us to even remotely estimate how long or when we'll deliver something three weeks from now if we don't know every single step from now to then, and how long each step should take and where we're at in that process.

[00:03:21] Brian: if that is you, if you're down in your head saying, Brian, this sucks. I hate being like this. Fix me. I'm gonna do my best this episode. because it's time to create an external brain. if you're like me and you got a stupid thing between your two ears, that's like really dumb and bad at remembering things it's better memory, important things.

[00:03:36] Brian: It's really good at remembering pointless But if your brains like mind is bad at remembering things, it's time to create an external brain, aka a project management system because this external brain takes everything that's up here. But you can remember right now if you just were to sit down and think through every little step in a project, you can remember it now.

[00:03:52] Brian: You just don't remember when it comes time to do the thing on time, every time without dropping the ball. Because project management remembers for you. It [00:04:00] stores information for you so that you can access that information whenever you need it. It estimates timelines for you, at least the good ones do, and it juggles all of these things for you.

[00:04:10] Brian: So the only thing you need to work on or focus on is your next step. What is do today? That's it. and even my dumb brain can remember to check my project management inbox each day to see what tasks are due today.

[00:04:20] Brian: And I typically don't forget to do them. I drop balls way less often.

[00:04:23] Brian: and if you set this up for yourself and you do it right, and you do it well, you can deliver projects on time without forgetting without clients getting anxious and angry and going through that hate cycle that can happen, and I. a side benefit is you can do it without overbooking yourself or overwhelming yourself.

[00:04:39] Brian: I plan to talk about overbooking yourself in a future episode because that, kind of goes in line with this, but it's a separate thing all together. But project management can assist so that you know if you're overbooking yourself.

[00:04:49] Brian: that is the topic of today, long rambling intro to show you how important this topic is. But it's also a hell of a topic to cover. So I'm gonna do as best justice as I can,[00:05:00] knowing that most of our listeners for this show don't watch on YouTube to see the video of my beautiful face in my, House of Hood coffee shirt that my wife made me for my for Christmas along with a bunch of other merchandise for a fake coffee company that doesn't really exist.

[00:05:11] Brian: I just roast my own beans for fun with the caveat that I'm never allowed to monetize it. So if you ever become a good friend of mine, maybe I'll make you a bag of coffee at some time in the future. With all my branding and my nice little stamped stuff and my sealed bags

[00:05:24] Brian: that I essentially make one batch at a time. But anyways, people aren't watching this for the most part. What, besides my YouTube viewer shout out to you. love you. So if you're listening, I'm trying to do my best to describe these things to you. To be honest with you, to do a deep dive and to do this really justice.

[00:05:38] Brian: It probably makes more sense to do some sort of live workshop, but I'm gonna do my best here. And then if you don't feel like I covered it in a way that makes sense for your brain, just send me some sort of communication, reply to an email. Send me a DM on, Instagram email podcasts at Sixfigurecreative.com. Whatever you wanna do, just communicate in some way that says Brian, love the project management episode. Still need more. I need a live [00:06:00] workshop. Just say that if I get enough of those I'll, I'll actually do something about it. So when it comes to project management, we're not gonna talk about tools yet.

[00:06:06] Brian: We're gonna start with what I feel like is the best place to start for project management. And that is brain dumping. Every single deliverable that you would do for a client. This list might be massive. It might take you forever depending on your service, or it might be pretty quick.

[00:06:21] Brian: So you're going to, preferably an outline form or in a spreadsheet somewhere. list out anything that needs to be done for a project that matches one of these two criteria. you're gonna list it out on a spreadsheet or a, Google Doc or Evernote file, or a notion file or whatever you like to use.

[00:06:35] Brian: Criteria number one is it takes more than five to 10 minutes.

[00:06:37] Brian: If it takes more than five to 10 minutes, it's worth listing out on its own individual step or criteria. Number two is it's something that needs to be remembered. And the reason I give this distinction is some tasks that just get done automatically. You don't have to list out every single little step. This is not an SOP or standard operating procedure. It's not the TOTS method that we talked about back in episode.

[00:06:55] Brian: 245. I'm looking up this episode in our spreadsheet this must have been the day I discovered [00:07:00] AI episode 2 45 with the most AI podcast title of all time, Unleash Your Freelance, Superpowers Colon Revolutionize, your Creative Business. The Totts Playbook method. A better title for that is how to get outta your brain into an SOP, a Checklist of things, a playbook, a recipe, so that other people can do it for you.

[00:07:18] Brian: That's basically the, the gist of that episode, episode 2 45. This is not that. We're not creating an SOP here. We're creating a project list, a deliverable list, anything that's, again, more than five to 10 minutes of work or needs to be remembered.

[00:07:28] Brian: but going back to this, not all steps need to be remembered. For example, if you have a task in your checklist here called send file to client to send a file to the client, you would likely need to export the file from your, whatever you use.

[00:07:40] Brian: In my world, it's a DAW, a digital audio workstation. Upload the file to some sort of file sharing thing. Generate a link for that file, send it to the client in an email with following a specific template, and then hit send. those are the specific steps. That's what you would cover in an SOP, in a project management checklist.

[00:07:56] Brian: You don't need every step, it's just send the file to the client. That's just one step, [00:08:00] and that probably takes about five minutes, 10 minutes, depending on what you're doing or, or how complex the exporting process is.

[00:08:05] Brian: So that's about how granular we're gonna be. It's not a step-by-step checklist of every tiny little detail. It is simply a list of all the things we need to do, where, if we follow from top to bottom, this list that we just generated, we can do a project.

[00:08:18] Brian: I realize that not every project is very linear and some projects can look wildly different if you are on that spectrum where you're closer to the bespoke end of the spectrum instead of the very productized end of the spectrum. I'll talk about your types of projects later throughout this episode so don't feel like I'm leaving you out here.

[00:08:33] Brian: There's definitely a way to do project management, and as a matter of fact, you probably need it more than anyone else, just being honest,

[00:08:38] Brian: but you're gonna list out all the steps.

[00:08:40] Brian: then you're going to create time estimates for these steps. Now a perfect tool for you to have right now is our pricing calculator. it's a similar thing. You list out all your deliverables for a client or all the things you do for a client, and you want to estimate the amount of time it takes to do those things so that you're making sure you are Compensating yourself correctly and fairly.

[00:08:56] Brian: or at least it's a starting point for pricing. I like value-based pricing more than just like [00:09:00] trading dollars for hours. But it's a good starting place either way. Our pricing calculator is a spreadsheet built out to already do the math and add up these things for you. So it's likely a good place for you to just start listing out all your deliverables.

[00:09:10] Brian: So you could take this bullet point list that you had and put it in there, or you can just brainstorm in that. But if you don't have our pricing calculator, just go to sixfigurecreative.com slash pricing that'll get you that. But as you're going through this list of all the things you do for a client and when you feel like you've completed it.

[00:09:24] Brian: Look it over from top to bottom, you are God looking down on your creation. This mighty thing that you are so proud of that is so utterly flawed, but it's better than nothing.

[00:09:33] Brian: And think through and determine where the logical kind of checkpoints in this process where you should be checking in with the client to give them updates. Or sending something to your client for review. We talked last week about communication guidelines and how often and when, and getting feedback early and often from clients.

[00:09:50] Brian: Go back to that last week's episode. If you need more on that, But frequency wins and over communication wins. So getting feedback from your clients frequently, you will have a faster, smoother, better [00:10:00] project doing that and regularly communicating to your client any sort of updates, especially for you asynchronous freelancers out there.

[00:10:05] Brian: In my world, music production world, if you're in the studio with a client, obviously you're communicating every day throughout the day, so that's overkill. But it doesn't hurt to have these checkpoints to then get feedback from your client in the studio. So no. So no matter where you are, frequency wins and over communication wins with your clients. And the goal here is to list out the places that you would ask for feedback or send an update to the client. So that they don't get antsy and then anxious and then angry, and then they don't refer clients to you, That's the whole goal here is make it such a good experience for your client that they can't help but spread the gospel of your wonderful service and bring you more money without selling yourself.

[00:10:41] Brian: this is a quick little section of the podcast, but this is the biggest part. of the biggest parts of setting up a great project management system is understanding all the steps involved with a client,

[00:10:50] Brian: so quick on my end, really time-consuming on your end and then estimating times and stuff. But you also, kinda a side note to that is you wanna determine where do you store any sort of client [00:11:00] feedback, because you don't wanna just leave it in an email or a text or a DM on social media when they send you feedback to something.

[00:11:05] Brian: Determine where you wanna keep this. Do you keep it in a Google Doc? Do you keep it in an Evernote file or notion notion's great for a lot of these sorts of things. Or my favorite is if you keep feedback things inside of your project management tool. We'll talk about tools in a second, but project management or collaboration tools, those specialty collaboration tools I talked about last week are great places to store that feedback so that you can always refer back to it.

[00:11:25] Brian: Because here's one secret about revisions. We're not gonna get into revisions today. We'll have a whole episode on this,

[00:11:30] Brian: I believe. But the thing about revisions is at a certain point, clients will start asking for feedback that contradicts their previous feedback requests. and these example for our music producers out there. And you can relate. If you're not a music producer, you can probably still follow this sort of like example, maybe version one. The client sends you a bunch of revisions, which is always the case, and one of those revisions is to

[00:11:49] Brian: turn up the guitars. That's fine. Turn up the guitars next round of revisions, the vocalist complaining because you can no longer hear his voice. Okay, let's turn up the vocals a little bit. The next round of revisions, the drummer is complaining 'cause you can't hear the snare [00:12:00] drum. So what do we do? We have to now communicate to our clients based on previous feedback that we have stored and we looked in there, Hey guys, you asked me to do this, then you asked me to do this, and now we are here.

[00:12:09] Brian: The drummer is complaining. Let's maybe get on the call over communication's. Great. Or let's. Go back to square one on what I think my ears as the professional here should be as far as Balances, and let's start from scratch again with this specific thing, because we're just going to keep fighting each other if every person's getting what they want.

[00:12:25] Brian: again, you wanna keep track of feedback and or revisions in one place that you can always refer back to.

[00:12:30] Brian: The reason I bring this up now, even though it's just more around like feedback or revisions, is that in a project management system, One of the important elements of project management is keeping track of information because part of project management is the tasks and the information involved.

[00:12:44] Brian: There's also files, there's also other things that you wanna keep track of and knowing where that's going to go and how it's gonna be accessed and reference to and cross-reference is an important part of this. Again, I'm not gonna get super nerdy in this. That's for maybe a deeper workshop later on if you want that, but that's why I'm bringing this up here.

[00:12:58] Brian: So now let's talk [00:13:00] through common types of freelancers and how your list and projects might run to just give my thoughts on this. 'cause this is where things get.

[00:13:07] Brian: Complicated, depending on how complicated your service is. The easiest type of freelancer to create a project management system for is what I call the assembly line. If you look at our services as freelancers, as a spectrum that I referred to earlier, you have on one end of the spectrum is the hyper productized service where every single project looks exactly the same.

[00:13:26] Brian: There are very little to no variations,

[00:13:28] Brian: and it's just. Put the inputs in one end and you get the outputs in the other end.

[00:13:32] Brian: On the other end of that spectrum is the hyper bespoke freelance service where every single project looks different. No two projects look alike, and there are tons of variations as to what it could be. Those are the two extreme ends of the ex spectrum. Most freelancers are not on either end, but you're somewhere in the middle, but you swing one side or the other.

[00:13:51] Brian: You're either more productized or you're more bespoke. My assembly line freelancers out there, you are very much more productized and this gets way easier for you because you essentially [00:14:00] know here are all the steps through the assembly line. Get from point A to point B.

[00:14:04] Brian: There's not a lot more to do here. That's pretty simple.

[00:14:05] Brian: So for a lot of you, you can simply create a list of steps that are in checklist style that are just their checked off is done, and they may have due dates. We'll talk more about this later on, but they may have due dates. But for the most part, you have a template you load up for every client, and that's that super simple.

[00:14:19] Brian: I think you understand this. But then we get one step a little more complicated. That's what I call the project grid. This is kind of where I was in the music production world. When I'd have a band come in the studio, things would be slightly different for each client, but it's all in all pretty much a product.

[00:14:31] Brian: I service is on that side of things, not so much on this bespoke side. However, it might be an assembly line where we take a song from, we need to go scratch tracks and guitars and record drums, and then we do bass guitars or guitars based depending on the band. And then we do vocals, and then we do any other production elements, and then we do mixing and then mastering, and then they're done.

[00:14:49] Brian: Right? It's pretty much an assembly line. However, there are multiple deliverables within one project, so we would have, up to 10, 12, 15 songs for an extreme example of a client in [00:15:00] the studio. And that's where it makes sense to have kind of a project grid, if you think about it, like a big tic-tac-toe where you have.

[00:15:06] Brian: A massive grid. And on one side we would have every single deliverable song, one song, two song, three song, four, song five, and on the tops we would have every single step to do for those songs. Scratch guitars, drums, bass, guitar one, guitar two, lead guitar, vocal additional production, mixing, mastering, editing, whatever.

[00:15:25] Brian: And you can see as we go through the project, we're essentially checking off each step in the assembly line for each single deliverable. and you end up with, and this is before I was sophisticated and knew about project management tools and honestly the project management tools that were out there were kind of do-do. We would literally just have a big whiteboard with a big grid on it and we would just X out things as we did them. And that's how we did it for years. You can take that same concept and bring it to modern project management tools, but that's just a different way of thinking through a similar concept to the assembly line versus the project grid.

[00:15:53] Brian: Those are two kind of similar but distinct things. The third. Kind of project management framework to think through. there's more than this probably, [00:16:00] but these are the ones I came out with today, is what I call the big ass bespoke projects. This is for all you out there that are like, my projects can vary from client to client.

[00:16:07] Brian: There's different things we might, might or might not do. Everything looks slightly different and it can be various levels of bespoke-ness. It can be like everything is a hundred percent custom, or everything is custom with a bunch of add-ons and bolt-ons and variables based on the client. the best I can say for you is create a list in modules or add-ons or bolt-ons, whatever you wanna call it, where it's in modules, where it's here's a box that each client would need the whole box if they need it at all. and maybe within each box is some smaller bolt-ons or add-ons within the box.

[00:16:36] Brian: But if you think through it modularly like that, you can essentially use. Your project management system to put together the custom project for the client. This goes for pricing as well. If you use the pricing spreadsheet, people always have questions for what if I, every project looks different. You essentially literally create Modules of the different deliverables that a client might need.

[00:16:54] Brian: For example, in clients by design or client Acquisition coaching program, we have a client who makes websites for [00:17:00] manufacturing companies, and every manufacturing company is different as far as what they manufacture, how they manufacture, what their needs are for a website, or not they need to tie it into their.

[00:17:09] Brian: API or other complex things. And so when coming up with pricing for that and then project management for that, you have to think through this in a modular fashion. with every client I've ever worked with. Here are the modules of what we might do together.

[00:17:21] Brian: The design overall. Each individual page that we might create is a module so we can, we know that if they need 16 pages created, it's generally gonna be about this price to tie into an API is an additional add-on or bolt-on that's this much, and it's these steps involved. Thinking through it modularly like that allows you to quickly come up with a price for your clients and then a project for your clients inside of your project management solution because you can create templates for anything.

[00:17:45] Brian: That's the whole goal of a project management system is you create the assets one time. like coming up with a quote or a proposal. You're putting together these blocks of prices together to come up with the outcome that you want.

[00:17:55] Brian: So those are kind of the three ways to think through this process of how do we list out the [00:18:00] steps and how might we organize those?

[00:18:02] Brian: Now let's talk about choosing your project management software. This is the fun part, is the complicated part, but I'm gonna start first by recommending what to look for in any sort of project management software. And then I'll give you my very biased opinions or options for you to look through.

[00:18:15] Brian: Whatever you do make your own decisions, do your own research. I'm not here to tell you what to do, I'm just tell you what I like. So first of all, what do you look for in a project management software that's out there? A few things. You have to have in my opinion, templates so that you can, again, create a list of things and then save it so you can deploy it later on, so that when I have a band that comes in the studio for every single song that I produce, or every single song that I mix, I can just literally load up a template and it has all my steps in there.

[00:18:39] Brian: Deadlines are another hugely important part of a good project management system. Every task should have a deadline. ideally they're dynamically created. Meaning when I create a project from this template and I select the start date for that project, it automatically updates all future due dates based on the start date for that project.

[00:18:55] Brian: Wonderful feature. Many project managers have this, some don't, but it's good to have. [00:19:00] That way you can create the time estimates and all your due dates considering day zero of the project or day one of the project. And it will automatically update the future dates. this is amazing for no matter what you do, but mostly for my assembly line freelancers out there. That's the best one. Another one is a task inbox feature you wanna look for. Because project management is more than just the clients you're working with.

[00:19:19] Brian: You can use and should use project management for everything in your business. Anything that has this, a task that you need to remember to do could be to pay your taxes, your quarterly estimated tax payments. It could be to.

[00:19:30] Brian: pay a freelancer Anything that is just like a task you need to do when working on your business or in your business, besides the actual projects should be in your, project management system.

[00:19:39] Brian: So this feature, this inbox feature or task inbox feature is important for everybody because it's just, you look at one place, it's your task inbox, and it pulls in any tasks due today, any tasks that are past due and all of your upcoming tasks for the next few days.

[00:19:51] Brian: So you can always have, you just have one place to go every day and just focus what's on my list today. That's all I gotta look at. It's wonderful. So if you're juggling multiple projects at the same time, [00:20:00] or you're just the type of person where you. Maybe working on one project at a time, but you have other irons in the fire.

[00:20:04] Brian: Other tasks to do in your business, a project inbox is a feature that you'll want. Next is time estimates slash time tracking. This is for my data junkies out there. I'm a data junkie. I wanna be able to know if I put all these tasks in the list and I estimate the times, A, Is the timeframe that I've assigned for this project reasonable given the estimated times at?

[00:20:22] Brian: That's a big part of essentially making sure you never overwork yourself and B. If you're tracking time, so when I'm doing this task, I have a timer running, preferably for that specific task in the project management software. If I have a timer running, how close to the estimated time did I actually get?

[00:20:38] Brian: Am I under? Am I over? Am I right at it? Am I perpetually over for all projects? Am I perpetually under for all projects? Do I need to update the time estimates? This stuff gets really fun, to me, like a data junkie for a bunch of reasons. The first is being able to properly estimate how long a project will take from start to finish. if you want to be so incredibly impressive to your clients, give them deadlines and expectations and [00:21:00] when they can expect to hear from you and do things and you nail every single one of those deadlines, that is a wonderful thing and you can get there if you were properly estimating.

[00:21:07] Brian: But the second thing is client ROI. You're tracking time for your, clients overall 'cause. project system I use, it'll actually roll up all those estimated times into a project, total estimate, and then all of the actuals by task. It'll roll it up into the entire project total, and I can see how many hours did I expect to work on this client?

[00:21:25] Brian: How many did I actually work on this client? I can do some fun little math and see what's my actual earnings per hour. Earnings per hour is something you should absolutely keep track of as a freelancer because that's something that should always be going up if you're getting more and more efficient.

[00:21:37] Brian: If you're getting better and better at what you do. If clients are referring others to you and you're getting booked solids, you have to raise your rates because of dynamic pricing, because of supply and demand. Then that earnings per hour should always be going up, but you never know if you're not tracking it.

[00:21:50] Brian: So project estimated times are awesome for this sort of thing because that's how real businesses are run, you think at big businesses, they don't understand, how long an employee will take to do something and what the [00:22:00] ROI on the employee is and how much they're paying them. They know all these things and so can you.

[00:22:04] Brian: And then the final thing, and there's, a bunch more to this, but this is like the final like big thing to think through or look at is custom fields. All of us are unique little snowflakes. We really are. We have the ways we do things, things.

[00:22:15] Brian: We keep track of things the way we want to show up a certain way. Custom fields are a way to do a lot of these things.

[00:22:20] Brian: So being able to create custom fields is important for use. Not all project management softwares have a way to do this. So those are some of the things to look for in project management software. What about options to choose from? Again, this is where I'm very biased. The first option I have on here, and the one that I recommend most is clickup.

[00:22:34] Brian: We're not sponsored by them. We're not affiliated by them. I do think I have a coupon code, which may be an affiliate thing. I've never gotten a dime from them, but if you sign up from this, maybe I will. I don't know. It'll be a tiny amount. 'cause it's click up so cheap. It's like maybe 12 bucks a month and you get like 20% off with this coupon.

[00:22:49] Brian: So the coupon, is this more than passion you sign up for? Click up and use that? that may or may not be coupon. I don't know. I don't think I've shared this on the podcast before. Why do I only click up? We've used it for the last two years.[00:23:00] I use it every day

[00:23:01] Brian: and it does everything I just said in there.

[00:23:02] Brian: And it does way more than that as well. There's so much customization you can do automate things. Like for example,

[00:23:08] Brian: when you close a client in your CRM and you have a zap going to load up a template and click up, you can preload all of these steps for a client to do and have it update the due dates and everything. Automatically pretty cool. When you check something's done, you can have it load another template or the next step, or maybe if you have certain add-ons you've added, you can have automation set up to only bolt on those specific steps depending on what the client chose.

[00:23:31] Brian: Again, you can get really complicated with the stuff and unless you're like a tech nerd like me where you love messing around with automations and all the features, maybe ignore this stuff. And honestly, if you are that type of person, be careful because you can spend all your time creating the perfect.

[00:23:44] Brian: Solution for a problem you don't have, which is many freelancers out there, especially my audio nerds out there, my engineer brains. So Clickups, my number one choice. Asana is my number two. It's very similar. My wife uses it, she loves it. It's very similar to click up from a scene in her messing around with it.

[00:23:58] Brian: It's to me probably [00:24:00] very close together as far as one or the other. So if you have experience Asana, don't jump ship to click up just because Brian says to do it. Just use Asana if you like it. Another one is Trello. This one I have used before. Very simple, but there are features and some you can build some really complicated stuff in there if you want.

[00:24:13] Brian: It has probably most of the things that I mentioned here, but it's another one worth mentioning. And then another one that's very popular is Basecamp. This one's a little more believe client collaboration focused. Basecamp was an agency before they created Basecamp, the project management software.

[00:24:27] Brian: So it's created with agencies in mind. So if you're a freelancer, you are. A few employees away from being an agency, so that might be something worth exploring if you are looking for something a little more collaborative, focused. I don't use it. I've played around with it.

[00:24:39] Brian: It didn't fit my needs, but I'm not saying that it's bad because plenty of people use it, love it, and swear by it.

[00:24:43] Brian: now.

[00:24:43] Brian: Let's talk about what to understand if you're using ClickUp or maybe Asana, I think this follows this, but I don't think Trello or Basecamp follows this kind of hierarchy, understanding the project hierarchy from top to bottom, if you understand how to organize folders within subfolders and then files within those folders, kind of understand how these things work.

[00:24:59] Brian: I'm gonna show [00:25:00] you on my screen, if you're on YouTube, if you're on. Audio, I'm sorry, but I'll explain it the best I can. Click up has a hierarchy, they go by this, it's spaces. Then folders, then lists, then tasks, then they have sub tasks. Sub Sub tasks. You can go as deep as you want with sub tasks, and then they have something called checklists.

[00:25:14] Brian: I'll show you all these on YouTube right now if you're watching.

[00:25:16] Brian: But it's important to know how these work so you can determine what your specific workflow is.

[00:25:20] Brian: On the left side, these are all my spaces. I have a space for personal stuff, business stuff, six-figure creative file paths. My other business documents, a content playground, which I'm gonna show you now for things like this where I'm doing videos, I'm not showing you my own actual tasks. So that is what's called a space.

[00:25:34] Brian: in, generally, you would have a space for any major thing, like again, personal, a specific business, et cetera. Within the spaces, they have things called lists. And lists are where you can have all the different tasks. So I could have a task list for all of my content. I could have a task list for, all of my clients, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:25:54] Brian: And then if you want a group lists together, they have things called folders. And within folders you can contain as many lists as you want. So that's [00:26:00] kind of the, the organization. Within a list, you have the actual tasks, and there are stages right here. you're looking on here, this is like an onboarding checklist for onboarding, pre-production, completed, whatever.

[00:26:11] Brian: It's kinda like a mini project management task list. within each of these, there are subtasks. If you look down here, here's all of the subtasks for this specific client. To look at details, there are all the custom fields for this specific client.

[00:26:22] Brian: Their email address, their website, the project costs, the amount paid, the payment status, whether it's partially paid, unpaid, or paid in full. The link to their client onboarding questionnaire that you might wanna reference, their remaining balance, which is automatically updated based on what they've paid so far.

[00:26:35] Brian: then the project stage onboarding production, post-production approval completed. Again, all this is customizable for your needs. The reason I talk about this and show this if you're on YouTube is because every business is going to be different. In this example that I'm showing you now.

[00:26:48] Brian: I put all clients into one task list and each client is represented by a task and all the things for that client are shown in subtasks, all the to-dos for that client. and this can work really well[00:27:00]

[00:27:00] Brian: for certain workflows and not for others. For really complicated with a lot of moving parts and a lot of things to share and do and keep track of. You might want to. Create a list for each client. So if I go back to the hierarchy here and show that there is a list creating new lists, I'll just create a new list here.

[00:27:16] Brian: And this would be client A. And within that I would create tasks and statuses and a whole bunch of stuff. Again, I'm gonna stop screen-sharing, 'cause this gets overwhelming very quickly. And if you're not watching right now, this is not very fun. you essentially have this entire list playground for that one client.

[00:27:31] Brian: Again, if you really want some sort of deep dive in this stuff, hit me up. I know this makes more sense for like a live workshop and just talking through with more visuals and things, but if project management is something that you know you need to take care of now creating that external brain so that all of it lives in the computer.

[00:27:45] Brian: It's all in the clouds. I don't have to think about it. it'll present itself in my inbox. you can actually even sync your calendar, by the way, so it'll show up on your calendar as well. If you're a big calendar junkie like me, it'll present itself when it's time. don't have to think about it.

[00:27:56] Brian: I don't have to stress about it. I don't have to worry about it. It's just [00:28:00] there when I need it, and I'll know when it's here if you want. That sort of thing. This is an important step for you in your freelance journey especially if you're trying to get the infinite clients cheat code. the first step of this, again, going back to everything, is just brainstorming all of the tasks in your like assembly line or in your modular delivery.

[00:28:16] Brian: That's the first step. And if you want the pricing spreadsheet, it's not really for this, but it's honestly should be doing both. But it's a good, it's a good place to store those tasks, to estimate things that you can then bring into a project management later. If you want that, just go to SixFigureCreative.com slash pricing and that'll help with the first step of this.

[00:28:32] Brian: If you do something cool, if you set up a cool project management system, attack me somewhere. just do something. I wanna see it. I wanna actually see people doing things that I talk about in this podcast because there's a lot of people, I'm one of 'em, I'm guilty of it sometimes. I just like to know these things.

[00:28:44] Brian: I don't wanna do anything about it and sometimes you're not even ready for it. So it's just like nice to know these things so that I just know they're there in my brain if I ever need them. I'm like the just in case entrepreneur. Sometimes it's better to be the just in time entrepreneur like, hey. I'm dropping the ball lately. I kind of suck at this. I was the person nodding my head at the beginning of the episode when Brian was talking [00:29:00] about all my creatives who suck at delivering on time, estimating project length, remembering every little detail, you're dropping the ball.

[00:29:05] Brian: If you're not in your head, this baby is a just-in-time moment for you. But if that's not an issue for you, if you're still delivering well every time and you're not dropping the ball, maybe there's time best spent somewhere else. It's only food for thought there. So that's all I have for you this week.

[00:29:17] Brian: Next week if all things are go into plan. It should be my first interview I've done in over a year. We went all twenty-twenty-three without doing a single interview, which is crazy ' cause we pivoted to six figure creative just to start doing more interviews. So we have an actual guest coming on as a repeat guest.

[00:29:29] Brian: I won't mention the name. It'll be here. You'll see it next week if it, happens, but it's supposed to happen this afternoon. So it's the first time I've gotten two episodes done in the day, which I'm excited about. Get ahead on the podcast. Thank you so much for listening to the show. Until next time, goodbye.

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