Creative types are often typecast. Think of a graphic designer, and one might picture an individual staring wistfully out of the window, ‘thinking big’ about how they can apply their creative genius to Client A’s new logo.
In reality, the job is somewhat more involved than that, and if you’re a creative professional, you’ll know how long and arduous most days are.
When a creative passion becomes a job, much of the fun often drains from it. What was once something you did as a hobby and worked on gleefully through college suddenly becomes much more serious and sometimes even stressful.
Screw something up, and the success of a marketing campaign is on your head.
Equally, obtaining feedback from clients is often a test of how thick one’s skin is. Something you think is beautiful, considered and contemporary might be thrown out of the window in disgust by the person to whom it was delivered.
1. Unwind before you sleep
We’ll start here because sleep is probably the single most important productivity technique you can rely on as a creative.
It’s thought that our minds need at least a thirty minute period to relax before going to bed if we’re to enjoy a good night’s sleep. That means no smartphone, no laptop and absolutely nothing that relates to work.
During that half hour period (make it an hour, if you can), do something that makes you ultra relaxed. It might be a book or podcast, but whatever it is, take a mental break from your work.
2. Create a few playlists
Unless you’re not into music (come on, really?), this is a brilliant way to raise your productivity levels.
Work on several playlists that inspire you. Pick artists and songs that make you happy, raise your spirits and make you feel like getting stuff done.
You don’t need to use music all the time while working – in fact, it makes sense to mix it with periods of complete silence – but the right music mix at just the right time will have you rattling the
3. Follow your instinct – always
Don’t be influenced by conventional thoughts, methodologies and design philosophies. The more you chase the desires and techniques of others, the less time you’ll spend getting stuff done.
As a creative professional, it’s your job to create entirely original work, and if you’re influenced by conventional thinking too much, you’ll end up jumping on far too many bandwagons that do nothing but slow you down.
4. Try learning a different language
Chances are, you won’t have thought of this as a productivity technique, but it’s a powerful one.
We won’t quote direct research on this, because it’s all open to interpretation, but many experts believe that people who are capable of speaking more than one language are better multitaskers.
As a creative, you’ll be multitasking all day, and this is one element of the job that can get very tiring. Try and stem that feeling of exhaustion by training your mind to be great at more than one thing. In doing so, you’ll be even more
5. Turn off email
Non-email zones should be a part of every person’s day. Email is great, but it should only be used in small doses.
To achieve this, set specific times during the day when you’ll check your email, and keep them to an absolute minimum. Pick periods when you’re normally at your least creative (that lull after lunch, for example), and reserve the most creative times for inbox-free productivity nirvana.
6. Maintain a sense of fun
We alluded to this at the start, but as soon as your creative job becomes nothing more than a job, you need to start reminding yourself why you chose this particular career.
You did it because you loved doing whatever it is you do. You grew up doing it, improved your skills during those long school and college years and think about it almost constantly.
It was fun once, wasn’t it? So, regain that sense of fun – it’s what pushes you on to be more creative than you ever thought you could be!
7. Remain active outside of work
Healthy bodies fuel healthy minds, which is why you should do all you can to maintain an active lifestyle outside of work.
Joining (and visiting!) the gym, running regularly or simply taking one extra dog walk a day will be enough to raise your activity levels to a point where you feel like you can achieve anything.
If your boss allows you, take time out during the day at work, too, or make use of that discounted gym membership.
8. Use mobile apps to channel your creativity
One look at the app store for your chosen smartphone platform and you’ll find a whole host of apps that promise to raise your productivity levels.
There’s no magic formula at play here, and in truth, not every productivity app is particularly efficient at helping you get more stuff done, but there are some gems available if you look hard enough.
Look for simple, brilliantly designed to-do list apps, note taking apps and those that help you practice ways of working that enable you to get to the bottom of your to do list every day.
Equally, if you work in a team, using communication and collaboration smartphone tools is a great way to bring everyone together and allow you all to feed off each other’s desire to be optimally productive.
9. Work when you feel most productive
Depending on your working arrangement, this tip will likely make a huge difference to your productivity levels.
If you wake every morning at 6am and leap out of bed, have you tried getting to work straight away? If you’ve been instead sitting in front of the TV eating your porridge, head to the laptop instead – you’ll be amazed by how much you get done.
Equally, if you struggle to get motivated in the morning but find your mind racing with ideas come early evening, why not put yourself to good use then?
More and more people are adopting flexible working patterns, and if your situation enables you to work as and when you feel most productive, you’ll question why you ever used to tie yourself to that nine-to-five.
10. Take regular breaks from the creative side of your job
Remember that designated email time we mentioned earlier? You’ll come to relish it, because it will also give you a break from creative endeavors.
Similarly, if you need to have a particular meeting each week, treat it as a break from creativity. The same goes for lunch times, walking breaks and any other task that needs to be done but which doesn’t require any form of creative thought from you.
The more breaks you take, the fresher you’ll feel when you return to your workstation. Don’t be tempted to run yourself into a productivity brick wall by attempting to work 24/7.
Feeling productive? We bet you are!
Our ten tips above aren’t foolproof, and they require a heavy dose of self-motivation, but if you’ve got that in abundance, you’ll have no problem getting more stuff done than you ever thought possible.