Being a creative person does not mean you have to fit the stereotype of being disorganised, aloof and ‘free-spirited’ when it comes to your work. If this was the case, then how on earth would any creative industry ever survive? Nothing would ever get done, deadline or no deadline.
However, it can be challenging to structure and organise creativity, as the two seem to contradict each other at times. If you think about it though, organisation is just another skill to learn. The same way you learned to read, write and speak, you can learn to be organised.
Whether you are reading this as an individual or from a company perspective, here are 5 tips you can use to organise creativity:
It sounds obvious right? Don’t go on social media, don’t keep checking your emails… we’ve heard it all before. It’s one of the most basic pieces of advice you can give, but if we are really honest with ourselves, how many of us ignore it on a regular basis? If the internet didn’t exist for any other purpose than work imagine how productive we would all be! Apps like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all designed to distract you. Similar gestures and actions that are used in casinos such as pulling down levers (pulling the top of your screen to refresh) even down to the colours they use (our eye is naturally drawn to red colours, hence why the notification icons are always shades of red) are all there to keep us online longer. If your phone is on Do Not Disturb mode, you won’t waste the 15 minutes scrolling that you did yesterday and that 15 minutes can be spent productively.
If removing external distractions isn’t enough to keep your mind on the task at hand, don’t worry. In today’s society none of us are very good at staying focused and on track 100% of the time and that’s why project management tools like Hive, Trello and Asana exist.
There are lots of different digital management tools to choose from, some are free and some aren’t and all have multiple features trying to outsmart the other. Here’s a short synopsis of three of the big ones:
Trello is essentially a list-making platform that uses boards to separate out different projects. You can collaborate with team members and create boards and lists together to ensure all aspects of a project have been addressed. Trello separates out your workflow into ‘Not Started’, ‘In Progress’ and ‘Complete’ tabs so you can easily visualise where your project stands. Compared to other platforms like this, Trello is very visual, but perhaps a little less familiar looking than Hive and Asana.
The interface is still very clear and intuitive however, so don’t let that put you off. Trello has integrated your Timeline, Calendar and Projects (table view) and also provided you with a statistics dashboard. One of the best things about Trello is that it’s free for individual use and starts at $10 per user per month for businesses.
Asana is very similar to Trello in what it does, though it may take the lead for being slightly more efficient when you get down to the details. Like Trello, you can collaborate with team members, make tasks and organise multiple projects at once from one dashboard. Unlike Trello, the user can easily switch between a visual view or a tidier listed view. Asana offers more flexibility when it comes to smaller details, allowing sub-tasks to be created by collaborators with just as much detail as the main task, which really eliminates the need for external messaging boards or endless email threads. Both have internal messaging systems similar to Slack and are essentially very similar programs, however Asana seems to offer slightly more customization and flexibility. Asana is also free for individuals and starts at $10.99 per person for businesses.
Hive is yet another productivity platform, however it seems to take first place. Not only does it do everything Trello and Asana do, it also has its own email system too, so there’s really no need to use any external communication platform for your company. Everything from project briefing to giving feedback to signing off on the final designs can be done using Hive’s lists, boards and collaboration tools. The interface is a little more complex looking as a result of the extra features, but it still seems to be a very intuitive platform with lots of flexibility around team management. It’s main drawback is that there is no free version — prices start at $12.99 per person per month for everyone.
Being productive doesn’t necessarily equate to sitting at your desk every minute of the day. When you’re trying to be creative or if something isn’t working out the way you want it to, don’t force it. It usually ends up in time being wasted and negatively affecting your mood. Whether it’s taking a minute to doodle, taking a walk to the water cooler or even going for a quick lap around the office (or your house) sometimes our brains need to ponder things for a little while before we can see the correct solution. Think of it as a break with a purpose. Check out Quick, Draw with Google for some break time digital doodling.
Creative flow is a great space to get into, but rigid timetables can easily interrupt it. We all need some sort of plan for our day though, so what’s to be done about it? If you plan your schedule around your time rather than specific projects, you might find that certain types of work suit you better at different times of the day. Have you ever planned to start working on a certain project after lunch and really not felt in the zone when 2pm came around? This will help avoid trying to force creativity and give you more flexibility within your day. Rather than plan for project A before lunch, project B after lunch and project C in the evening, plan for a general work stint in these places and decide on what project you feel like working on when the time comes. This ensures you have time available to complete all your work without boxing yourself into a rigid timetable. The time within the work stints is relatively unstructured and so, it’s a kind of ‘organised chaos’.
If the idea of digital collaborative lists and boards sounds like your worst nightmare, it’s definitely not time to panic. Paper to-do lists can be just as effective as a digital management tool if you stick to them. Making lists is nothing new. It’s one of the most basic tools of organisation there is — but it works. If you are trying to concentrate on a task, but trying to make a mental note of multiple other things at the same time you don’t have much hope of success. This is where lists come in handy. Simply by writing things down, we make space in our head for new ideas and more efficient brain activity. Once a task is on paper your brain can forget you ever had to remember it in the first place and switch focus to the task at hand. This is called the ‘Zeigarnick effect’ – that the brain remembers things we need to do better than things it’s already completed – so by writing tasks you need to complete down onto a piece of paper or even in your phone’s reminders, your brain can make space for new thoughts and stop obsessing over things you need to remember. Google Keep is a free and easy to use platform for any digi folks.
Verve is an agency celebrating 30 years at the top of the events, experiential and marketing industries. This podcast pulls from that wealth of experience, giving key insights from the past, tips for the future, and everything in between.
You can listen to all of The Verve Experience episodes here: https://audioboom.com/channels/5045240
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