Do you regularly run out of time or wonder where the hours have gone?

Andy Boothman has been running his design and branding business Busy as AB for over 25 years. He has managed many hundreds of clients, teams of freelancers and in-house teams all while enjoying a busy family life, enjoying live music gigs, outdoor pursuits and, four years ago, launching DressCode Shirts, a business that required him to learn many new skills and manage production schedules, ethical manufacturing processes, wearable tech, e-commerce and much more.

To keep all these balls in the air, deliver great work and still enjoy life requires great organisational skills so we asked Andy to share his top tips for getting organised.

During the Q&A we quoted Douglas Adams:

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

This was misheard by Anne-Marie Miller and resulted in this doodle which has been added to the many works she has produced to illustrate things said at our meetings!

Doodle by Anne-Marie Miller


Here are Andy’s tips:

  • Play to your strengths, don’t try to do everything yourself and outsource as much as possible of things that are routine or boring.
  • Speed is important but don’t set unrealistic deadlines. Often we put pressure on ourselves when it doesn’t matter to the client. As you get better at something you may get faster but that doesn’t mean you should charge less. The value to the client is what’s important.
  • Tracking systems help in lots of ways:  check actual time v estimated time, check billing. check who does what and who gets paid what, check time spent waiting for clients to do things.
  • Doing work on paper can be simpler and easier than using digital tools, especially if the digital tools are shared with a team.
  • Planning:
    i) use Friday afternoons to plan for the following week while work is fresh in your head, Checking what work has been done gives you a sense of achievement and clears your head for the weekend. Starting fresh every Monday with a plan already made is a big advantage.
    ii) plan each meeting and leave time between meetings to review, reflect and prepare for the next one. NEVER jump from one meeting to another without a break, you won’t be focused and everything will take longer.
    iii) plan your own business development every week or you’ll miss opportunities.
  • Set firm boundaries and manage clients expectations. Have clear working hours and channels of communication. Do not answer queries outside of these. One demanding client can ruin your relationship with others and clients know when they’re being bumped because someone else is shouting louder so make sure you treat everybody, including yourself and your family, fairly.
  • Recognise when you’re not being productive and don’t flog a dead horse. Stop and do something different, take a walk, go for a run, play a game, read, doodle, bake, anything that takes your mind of the work. When you come back to it you’ll be much more productive.
  • Protect your personal time. We all work for ourselves because it gives us more freedom to do the things we really love so build these things into your schedule and stick to them. They’re the most important of all.

Recording of Andy delivering his tips:

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