Beginning Freelancers: Multitasking, File Organization and Time Savers

Posted April 22, 2021 by Jonathan Galbreath

I remember the first, and the second time, I became a freelancer. A pretty easy career shift (all you have to do is say it to yourself). As a post-grad with an expensive, irrelevant-to-the-industry college education, I knew very little about anything. I was just a creative kid who believed I could go as good as or better than anyone else.

Before my first venture, I did have prior Michigan Avenue, multi-national ad agency experience under my belt. But, every day at that job felt like the nervousness of your first upside-down margarita.

So, Monday morning as I pressed the button on my emerald green G3 iMac, I felt a great sense of pride and empowerment (mostly the Apple chime). I was ready to do it my way (which of course is the best way). After a pot of coffee, some iTunes organizing and some quick riffs on the dreadnought, I decided to start my week long creative self-promotion frenzy. After I was self-fulfilled, I emailed a few folks with my new vanity email to tell them about my pending design-icon persona.

After a few weeks, I was able to shake out some work: a website, a logo and some single-page sale sheets. A 13″ CRT monitor (think old 4:3 TV format) was not a lot of space to manage or imagine much. But, sitting here with 3 screen and enough RAM and processor speed to make my first computer feel like a Yugo — I still have some of the same issues. 

Here are a few tips to make your digital creative environment more pleasant. 

PREFACE: I only speak Apple/MAC. It’s all I’ve know since 1986 — decipher at will.


Hot Corners: A somewhat buried option in the Mac OS. You can find it under System Preferences > Mission Control, in the bottom left-hand corner (Straight-up Mission Control is worthless, IMHO). I use this to quickly view and switch between open application windows and also view and open files on my desktop.

Utilizing an Old Computer: As our computers get older and outdated, it doesn’t mean they are useless. I use my old G5 “Trash Can” to export RAW Files to JPGs. I use it to download and upload large files so it doesn’t tie up my design apps. I also store my music on it and use it as a “juke box” (I hope you know what that is …).

Multiple Screens: I have a MacBook Pro that can run three monitors … so why not? But honestly, two has been most efficient for me. Design on one screen … palettes, email, calendars, Giphy on the other.


This is paramount to your long term happiness. If you don’t have a method, here is how I do it. It’s great for keeping clients separate, keeping years of work separate for archiving purposes (I keep five years of files on my computer for each client at all times),  and, it’s great for reoccurring jobs and job types separated should you need to reference them with a client.


Quick Commands: I’m talking Adobe, Apple, Google … whatever. They make a $50 an hour freelancer into a $150 a hour freelancer: You become three times more efficient. I’d rather pay a freelancer (whom I trust) $150 an hour to get it three times faster. Make sense?

Cloud-Based Solutions: I’m creating, delegating, and managing work on my desktop, my old desktop and on a phone daily. Anything you can do to have passwords and files mirrored from one device to another saves hours a week.

Local IP Address(es): Cloud drives are for collaboration and mirroring of devices, but if I’m transfer 40 Gigabytes multiple times a week as a one-time shot … ???
A. I don’t want that taking of drive space that I pay for.
B. I’d rather not have that transfer crush all the other things I need to accomplish. 

My old computer has a local IP address and a directory structure to “immediately” post files for download to clients. Ask you preferred internet service provider to help you. It can be a headache to set up, but once it’s done, you will do dances.

There are so many fun things to write about as a designer. These are some things that make the technical side flow better, so I can stay right brained as much as possible!


Let us know your pursuits. We’ll find the best way to get you there.