By Marc Woodland on November 24, 2020

Creatives: my top three tips for being more productive

Back in 2013, I set up my first agency.

Over the years, as the business has grown and we’ve taken on more types of work and clients, making the most of talented creatives time has become increasingly important

Marketing, as well as other creative disciplines, has the tendency to be the type of work that can contract or expand depending on the time you have for a particular project. The problem with this is that if you’re not focussing on how you are organising your or your team’s time, the scope of a task can spiral out of control and you can quickly find yourself behind on work and overwhelmed.

In no way have I cracked the code of striking the perfect balance between productivity and creative freedom, but I have picked up some tips along the way that helps creatives to keep on track with their often busy schedules.

Here are my top three I would recommend:


#1 Limit distractions and notifications


I put this as numero uno as I believe this is the biggest killer of productivity in the modern workplace.

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At any one time, we usually have four or five devices showing us notifications to distract us from the task at hand. Whether it’s a Slack chat, emails piling up, or your mobile phone telling you someone has liked a picture of the cake you baked after being inspired by the latest episode of bake-off.

recent study found that the average person receives 63.5 notifications on their mobile phone alone per day!

Another study found that if you get interrupted it takes on average 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back into work mode. Meaning, being distracted only a few times per day means that you lose an hour of productivity.

Now, we can’t completely avoid emails, work chats, or Instagram but we can avoid them distracting us when we’re trying to get something done.

The solution… turn off the notifications

Tell the work chat you’re offline to get some deep work done and only call me if you need me. Close the email tab and put your phone in airplane mode. 

It’s important that your team feel comfortable that they can do this and they don’t need to ‘always be on’ to answer the next question that’s fired across. We all live in a distracted society so can relate when someone says… “I just need to go deep to get things done”.


#2 Have meeting free days


Over 27% of workers say meetings are the largest contributor to inefficiency and lack of productivity.

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In a recent LinkedIn poll I conducted on my profile, 60% of respondents said that their meetings were sporadic throughout the week and only 15% said that they batch meetings together.

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The average person spends 12 hours preparing for and attending meetings each week. Seeing as various studies have found that we’re productive for an average of 12.5 hours per week… the other half-hour must be spent producing some killer work!

I’ve often found that having meetings is inevitable. It’s good to catch-up with people face-to-face (via Zoom mainly) and talk through a project or problem. However, make sure that your workers (and yourself) have meeting-free days so that they have the focused time they need to get stuff done and produce their best work.


#3 Plan your week and your time


I like to view myself as a productive person. I tend to get a lot done and I believe that some of this is down to how I organise and plan my work.

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I’ve always used a task management tool to help me with this. Currently, it’s Asana and previously it was Nozbe. However, there are thousands out there that can fit the bill.

How I do it is I add everything I need to do into my task management tool, I assign the day it needs to be done, and how long I should spend on it. An important point is to make sure you also add the meetings you have and set the time as 1.5x the meeting time (they always run over and you’ll probably need to grab a coffee before you begin).

This then gives me a view of how much work I have on each day of the week. Usually, this throws up the challenge that you have far too much on, on a particular day. Rather than that stressing me out and never being on top of everything, you then need to make the decision to delete, delegate, or move. It’s best to be realistic with what you can actually get done, so you can make sure everything that you do is done well.

Here’s how my week looked like in Asana this week before I organised it...

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Here’s how it looked halfway through the same week...

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Not perfect (we’re being honest with each other here) but still better than if I didn’t spend time organising my schedule.

Not only is this good for my mental wellbeing (not feeling overwhelmed with work) but it also means I’m honest with myself and others about what can realistically get done, and where I can or can’t add extra tasks.

When thinking about your capacity each day, know that you’re not going to be productive every second and avoid not leaving an ounce of wiggle room. This is setting yourself up to fail. I tend to max at 6 hours of scheduled work per day, which is a balance of pushing myself but being realistic as to what I can get done.

There are more ways that I try and keep myself and creatives productive and producing their best work, which I’ll share in a future article on the topic. In the meantime, what are your top tips for maximising your and your colleague’s time? Send me a message on LinkedIn.

Guide: How to adopt ABM

Image credit: Adobe Stock By Kovalenko I.

Published by Marc Woodland November 24, 2020