Winter break is a good time to organise your professional (and sometimes personal) life, which is why I always spend a couple of days at the end of December going through materials accumulated over the year, archiving completed work, organising notes, cataloguing documents, closings lists and preparing to start a new chapter from January.
Yesterday, my computer hard drive crashed without warning, and while a backup was overdue for a couple of days, I lost no data. Moreover, I was able to continue my work as usual from other devices while the laptop was in repair, and had everything set up back in place in less than an hour after collecting the machine in the evening.
Only a year ago, a similar incident would do a serious damage to my practice and take me at least a week to get back on track.
So what has changed?
I learned few lessons and developed a strategy that allows me to ensure I always know where every document is and can access it from multiple devices, both at my desk and while traveling, without spending hours backing up backups, living between shelves of hard drives or spending a fortune on costly online storage. It’s not 100% secure, but I prefer to travel light, so here is a brief overview of my workflow:
A lot has been said about the importance of data backup, but I will readily admit I don’t follow the three place backup rule. I have two hard drives and call them work-in-progress and archive. Coming back from a shoot, I created a new Lightroom catalogue on a work-in-progress portable disk and import the photographs. After going through the full edit and deleting anything I don’t plan to use, I back up the whole catalogue to a special folder on my archive hard drive. I use the original catalogue to select and edit images, organising them into folders and adding labels depending on a project and store it there for three months. After that, I delete everything that didn’t make it to the final edit and save the final copy to both work-in-progress and archive catalogues (replacing the initial copy). After three years, I delete it from the work-in-progress catalogue. In theory, I should then back it up elsewhere, but I never feel worried enough about the work that old to do so.
Small note, I keep another hard drive back at home in Latvia and back up all new work on it every time I visit my family.
What about the documents, random pictures, notes and thoughts? Sure, I use three apps to capture and store all of them:
A relatively recent discovery, the free app proved to be an incredibly useful tool for organising my work. I have a separate notebook for each project, plus one for project ideas, saving every bit of research, references and notes there. It automatically synchronises my library across all of my devices, which means I can access it from my studio, on location, during a meeting or while traveling.
The social bookmarking website allows me to save any pages with a click of a button, divide them into separate lists, add notes and tags and, should I choose to, share them with others. I use it to save websites I want to re-visit later, as well as collect interesting resources on different topics (web documentaries, exhibitions and so on). An option to highlight parts of text with different colours makes it ideal for saving interesting facts and quotes from long articles.
I’m obsessed with lists, and this app allows me to keep track of things I need to get done. Apart from the obvious weekly/monthly planners, I make separate lists for things like exhibitions to visit and even articles to publish on the blog. The options to star certain tasks, set a due date and reminders makes it easy to ensure things get done on time.
This is my workflow in a nutshell. It’s not perfect, but it suits my needs for the time being.
Hope you found this article useful, and I wish I could it back in time for my year-younger self to read.
* the cover photo has no connection to the article, but it’s another bit of wisdom I’m happy to share with you today!