We all need "creatives" in our professional life. You know them. These are the "artistic" folks who help you put together marketing campaigns or who might even be described as "influencers." They're imaginative and they come up with original ideas that help to separate a successful campaign from those that don't measure up.

Stereotypically, they're a little long on creativity and short on organization though. You can hope they're on the verge of breaking their stereotypes and will soon start scheduling their creativity. Or, you can acknowledge that's probably a pipe dream, and start to put a little structure in place.

Even the most independent of entrepreneurs will have to work with creatives eventually. Love them or hate them, their ideas and approaches to challenges are valuable. The trick is to get what you need on deadline. To keep all the creatives in your work life on track, try these organizational tools and trackers.

1. CoSchedule

Departments must stay in sync. CoSchedule, a popular marketing calendar tool, helps do that, turning chaos into order. I know some publishers that use this platform to keep all their writers organized and on the same page. The tool includes analytics, production schedules, and features for bringing on new clients easily. It also streamlines workflows, including editorial scheduling issues.

2. Microsoft To-Do

Creatives may not naturally gravitate towards it, but even a small level of organization can be an absolute lifesaver. To-Do, a new task management app from the creators of Wunderlist, is trying to provide it. Not only can creative workers and supervisors create lists of tasks that require completion -- along with reminders and due dates -- but the app also integrates with the Office 365 suite.

3. Toggl

Raise your hand if you love to pore over time sheets. Nobody? No problem. Toggl makes tracking and pricing creative work easier. By using Toggl, your team can finally answer the looming question of how much time is actually spent on a project. "I haven't seen [an app] yet that tries to quantify this mythical 'work/life balance equation,'" said Evren Ozkaya, founder and CEO of Supply Chain Wizard. "Toggl helped me collect the data for a good start."

4. Mixmax

If you're using Gmail in your business, Mixmax can be a life preserver. This free app not only helps you track who's reading and responding to your emails, but it also allows for one-click scheduling of appointments and meetings, keeping you on task and preventing overbooking.

5. InVision

Many folks who want to put a little organization into their workflow have discovered InVision, an app-based tool that makes it simpler and more convenient to capture feedback from people working on a task. Project management and prototype development often require the feedback of multiple individuals and departments within an organization. Without a centralized place to communicate, designers may be forced to keep track of email threads and attachments to track changes - and that gets cumbersome. InVision allows creative teams to collaborate more effectively by streamlining these feedback loops to keep production moving forward.

6. Basecamp

Basecamp has been credited a lot over the years for delivering sanity to online workplace conversations. It's not exactly new to the organization scene, but not only can Basecamp's software be customized to your personal needs, but it also allows everyone to converse in an uncluttered environment. Share docs, power through tasks, and maintain peace and tranquility in the most hectic marketing environment.

7. Remember The Milk

Although it's geared more for home life (hence its name), Remember The Milk is applicable to the workplace, too. As soon as you have a "to do," jot it down in Remember The Milk. The app can sync with your calendars, allowing you to get to tasks later without fear you'll forget them. Convince your creatives to use it, and their lucrative ideas will never again slip into the sands of their memories while they're looking for a pen and notepad.

8. Google Calendar

When all else fails, turn to Google. For solo creatives or smaller organizations, using Google Calendar is a necessity. They can see everyone's schedules at once in real time and invite teammates to join meetings or accomplish tasks.

Julia Hartz, CEO of Eventbrite, embraces the simple calendar as a vital tool for managing her days. "I live by my Google calendar; it's a compass for navigating my days. Productivity starts with staying organized, and calendaring my day enables me to create a structure that empowers me to get things done."

Will the stereotypes around creatives ever become antiquated? Probably not. Some people will always have a knack for creativity but then bristle at being shackled by deliverables or schedules. Regardless, use tools like these to harness the value of your creatives while letting them to do what they do best. They will feel less tethered and more in control, and you'll be less stressed about them.

Published on: Jun 28, 2017