As freelancers and entrepreneurs, we have a lot to keep track of. The way we spend our time can make or break a project and even our business...so this critical idea of creative productivity is worth taking a closer look.
Allow me one minor disclaimer: there is no right or wrong way to work. Gasp! It’s true. Everyone is unique…we all process differently, learn differently, remember differently…so a cookie cutter methodology is out of the question. But before you settle down to watching your daily fill of Youtube cat videos, there are some proven tips to getting MORE done in LESS time.
Behance Knows Best
With world-class interviews, research, and creatives, Behance 99 serves as a powerful online force, empowering creative minds to stay current, work well, and be connected. Behance’s Scott Belsky (who happens to be VP of Community at Adobe) has conducted research and interviews with hundreds of the world’s most produtive (and creative) teams and people. This post captures his research and insight into productivity.
Reactionary Workflow and the Project Perspective
Belsky reveals a need to avoid “reactionary workflow”. This occurs when we let whatever comes in at the moment: emails, texts, phone calls…rule our lives. This is not a good way to get things done and ultimately we feel stressed because we are channeling our energy to put out fires rather than focus on our goals.
Belsky’s research points to the need for a ‘project perspective’. This means we need to view everything in our lives, both professionally and personally, as a project. Anything that comes our way should fall into some project category.
The Meat: Action Steps, References, and Backburner items
To break it down further, each project is made up of components. Some of these components require action. Others do not. You ready for them? Here you go:
- Action Steps – specific concrete tasks that inch us forward
- References – handouts, sketches, articles, meeting notes, ongoing discussions, etc.
- Backburner – things that are not actionable, but may be someday
Imagine: You are in the shower, lathering up and humming a few bars. Or not. Then it hits you: I want to go Santorini and stay at that same villa that Lady Gaga frequents. You get really jacked until things like your mortgage, your car payment, and oh that’s right…your three kids…start to crawl into your idea and threaten your magic moment. Following the Action Method: what do you do? Finish your shower and go write down “Go to Santorini, Greece : Lady Gaga villa” in your backburner items within “Travel Ideas” project folder, notebook, or ipad.
Not so bad right? Action steps require a little more definition. These need to:
- Start with a verb : “Go, Get, Call, Email, etc”
- Stay short, clear, and concrete: “Call John re: client reaction”
- Be captured everywhere: At work, at home, in a meeting, in the car…don’t let them slip!
To make all of this actionable:
- Start tracking action steps, references, & backburner items. Write them down whenever you think of them and assign them to a project!
- Process daily in a quiet place: this is where you prioritize projects, action steps, etc.
- Execute. Learn to say no and get excited to cross things off that post-it, list, or app!
Action Method I (check out II and III too)