I’m delighted to have creative entrepreneur Torie from Call it Adventure guest blogging for me. I love Torie’s blog, which is full of inspiration and advice for boss babes and adventurers, and she has some fantastic strategies to share to boost your creative productivity.
Hey everyone, I’m so glad to be here, talking creative productivity with you today. Like Cassy, creativity is what makes me light up. It’s not always about creating something from nothing, though. Sometimes it’s looking at a problem in a new way or creatively managing business tasks to make them more fun. Whatever shape it takes in a given day, I’m willing to bet you identify with creativity as your main source of inspiration and motivation as well. If you aren’t feeling creative, you certainly want to feel that more.
Even when we are oozing with creativity and feel like the world is our blank canvas or brand new word document (or notebook if you prefer to go old school like I do occasionally), making creativity time PRODUCTIVE is no easy task. We live in the age of social media where endless distraction is just a couple finger taps or a glowing notification screen away. “Infotainment” is the creative entrepreneur’s worst enemy. I’ve spent the better part of the last couple years working to fight off the stagnation that comes with constant distraction so I can amp up my productivity when I’m working on creative projects – here’s what I’ve learned.
Have a space.
A lot of us are working on our creative businesses from home. It’s hard enough to draw the line when you live where you work, but if you don’t have a certain space in your house or apartment designated to work, you’ll find yourself dragging tasks out for hours on the couch, flipping channels on the TV or being unable to say no when the kitty wants to cuddle. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, a desk with a calendar on the wall in the corner of your bedroom can do the trick if need be. I have a desk in the guest bedroom with a small cabinet on the opposite wall. I can peek out the window and see the Rocky Mountains in the distance, I have a bulletin board hung up above the desk and a big calendar to the right (Day Designer + Blue Sky – I cannot recommend this enough, there’s a column for projects, to-dos and notes for the month…SO HELPFUL!). When I come to my desk, it’s like entering a whole different world where my deadlines matter and the to-do list seems more pressing.
Use the Pomodoro method to limit distractions
This is the part where I tell you to GET YOUR PHONE TO SHUT UP! Put it on Do Not Disturb mode, flip it over while you’re in the biggest “time part” of the 45 minute period, keep it on the other side of the room on silent if you have to. This is something I’ve been implementing fairly recently and it has made a world of difference. The idea behind the Pomodoro method is this: You focus on one task (just ONE!) for 30 minutes and then break for 15 to do various smaller tasks.
Our brains are not wired to multitask efficiently, really. It works fine with the small stuff, but the quality of our bigger, more creatively intense projects suffer when we are constantly switching our brains back and forth between different tasks. So, focusing in on one task for 30 solid minutes allows you to really get into “your flow” that place where the work seems almost effortless and zoned in. Then, if you are really feeling it, keep going after the 30. Otherwise, if you’re practically itching from not checking your email or handling miscellaneous business tasks for “so long”, you can take the 15 minute break time to clear out your inbox and schedule those meetings or follow up with a client. Make it your goal to start with the 30 minutes and then slowly work up to an hour of one-task time followed by 20 minutes of the extra stuff. You will knock out projects faster and feel like you have more clarity to tackle the rest of what’s going on. Multi-tasking all day leaves us feeling scatterbrained which seriously hurts productivity. If you’re having trouble with this (I know I sure do!) try the app, Forest. It grows a little tree while you work on your focus task, and if you leave the app your tree dies. The more times you successfully complete a focus task time period, the bigger your forest gets. How fun is that??
Structure your to-do list – then check those suckers off!
It’s really easy to get overwhelmed by a massive to-do list, but if you ONLY put the big, overall tasks on it, you’re going to get frustrated when you have been working for four hours and haven’t been able to check anything off. What I like to do is have the bigger list item with a checkmark next to it, THEN break it down into smaller steps with check boxes by them as well. It’s like watching that little Domino’s bar thing telling you your pizza is being prepared, is in the oven, is being packed up, and is on it’s way to you! And okay, maybe you’re not getting pizza at the end of it, but you’ll have a completed project you never stopped being excited about and that’s (almost) better than pizza.
Let technology help you – use connected apps.
Chances are, if you’re a creative entrepreneur, you’re pretty freakin’ busy. You may be running around without access to a desktop for a good portion of the day. But that doesn’t mean inspiration won’t hit, and when that happens you’re going to want tech to be on your side. I love using apps that sync with my phone, tablet, and laptop so I know I can access the info I need regardless of what gadget I have on hand at the time.
A couple of my favorites here are Sunrise Calendar (this is seriously an amazing app. It connects with SO MANY apps, including Office 365 now!) to keep all of your calendars and to-do lists in one place. Plus, it’s really pretty and I’m a sucker for a well-designed app. I also adore Evernote. I know this certainly isn’t new to the scene, but its syncing capabilities are amazing, and you can share notes and edits with a chat feature on the premium account. This has made collaborating for guest posts, testimonials, and getting feedback from other creative entrepreneurs on rough drafts so much easier.
Using connected apps saves you time and allows you to be on the go like you need to be sometimes. Just remember that it’s always best to set aside some time for a good sit-down editing session before you hit publish on something or launch a new product. Convenience can make it a little TOO easy to hit ‘publish’ before it’s ready. Don’t skip the revision step.
Feeling stuck? Get outside!
Even if it’s hotter than Hades out there, step away from your work for half an hour. Put on those sneakers and hit the trails/sidewalk/streets. You can walk, jog or run, but moving your body when you’ve been staring at that blinking cursor waiting for you to create can clear your head (and save your computer from a good punch). Some of my best ideas have come while I was running, music blaring in my ears, focusing on my feet on the pavement. There’s something about focusing on something else that lets solutions pop into your brain you couldn’t have come up with while staring in frustration. Good blood flow = good brain flow. Get out there and move!
Have you tried any of these, and have they worked for you? What are some tips for increasing creative productiveness that you have? I’d love to hear from you!
Torie Jochims is a writer, blogger, and creative entrepreneur. She is passionate about your success and helping you create a life filled with self-love and dream-making. She loves Gala Darling, good coffee, warm pet cuddles, hiking in the mountains, bouldering, eating well and reading great books. She is a hopeless romantic with no desire to cure it. Torie also writes online content for a variety of online sources and loves collaborating with like-minded boss babes.
league of adventurers: http://www.callitadventureblog.com/league-of-adventurers