With the ever-increasing volume, velocity and variety of content demanded of creative teams, it is more crucial than ever for creatives to be as productive as possible. Read on for 5 tips and tricks creatives can use to increase productivity:
1. Get all the information you need up front
How many times have you started a project, only to realize halfway through that you were missing some key information in the creative brief? Missing or incorrect information can slow down or completely derail a project, so it is important for creatives to make sure that they are getting everything they need at the beginning of the project.
One easy step is to review your team’s intake forms. Does the team use one general form for all projects? Custom forms for common project types save time by putting all the relevant information for a project type on the form. General-purpose forms may not contain more specific items that aren’t required for all projects.
Once you’ve customized your request forms to be more specific, don’t be afraid to send them back! If a client hands you a request form or brief that has missing information, or if they’ve used the wrong form, politely return it and explain what they need to correct for you to be able to start the project.
Finally, if your team uses a creative workflow software, its worth checking to see if the tool has the functionality to create custom, dynamic intake forms with required fields. If so, you can streamline the process by making sure your clients always submit the correct form, and the software can be the bad guy for you by requiring all the information before the form will submit!
2. Remove distractions
In a digital world where we do everything on our computers, it can be difficult to tune out distractions. Whether that’s your own brain wanting to Google goat yoga classes in your local area, or outside distractions like calendar or chat notifications, we are constantly bombarded with alerts, even from software that is supposed to help us be more productive!
To minimize these distractions, start with your own machine. Turn off notifications from your calendar or chat-app or email. Next, check out apps that help you focus by blocking your browser from certain sites (*cough*facebook*cough*), or streamline workflows, like moving between multiple monitors.
Next, deal with distracting surroundings. Sometimes you just have to get up and move. You may never be able to write anything if the person in the next cubicle in on the phone all day, so try sitting in a breakroom or empty conference room. On a nice day you could even go outside (if the wifi doesn’t reach, all the better!).
Even if you work at home you may still have a distracting environment: Pets clamoring for attention, the lawn mower next door, and the surprise UPS man. Try going to your local library or coffee shop to get some quiet. If physically re-locating is not an option, then try noise cancelling headphones with white noise or music that fuels your productivity.
3. Learn productivity tips in Adobe
Ultimately, your productivity is determined by your ability to use the tools of your trade as efficiently as possible. For most creatives, that means the Adobe Creative Cloud. Here are a few Adobe-specific tips to make you more productive:
- Learn (or setup your own) keyboard shortcuts. Most people know a lot of Adobe keyboard shortcuts, but you could probably be using more. Make sure you are leveraging this easy way to speed up your work.
- In InDesign, use Master Pages to populate standard elements on each page like page numbers, copyrights, headers, and footers.
- Use Actions in Photoshop to automate repetitive tasks.
- Add Plug Ins that cater to your specific work
If you don’t use Adobe, then look up productivity tips in other programs. Even software as popular as Microsoft Word or Excel have a huge range of functions that many users never touch. If you live in these tools, take some time to become an advanced user so that you can get work done more quickly.
This one is easy – make templates for everything thing you can. These can be literal templates, like for Twitter Ads in Photoshop, or it can be just writing out a process in the most efficient way possible, and following those steps every time. To really take templating to the next level, use a workflow software that allows you to build templates for things like workflows and approval routing templates for specific project types.
5. Get feedback quickly
Finally, it doesn’t matter how fast you work, if the people who make final approvals don’t get back to you. Help your reviewers get feedback to you quickly by telling them exactly what kind of feedback you need and giving them a deadline for when you need it. Telling them exactly what you need keeps reviewers focused, and giving them a deadline gives them a sense of where they need to prioritize the review in their own schedule.
This is another area where workflow software can really come in handy. Creative workflow software like inMotion allows users to set up proof routing that automatically sends proofs to the right reviewers in the right order. Logic can be applied to indicate that within a group approval is needed from all, some or just one of the reviewers before moving on to the next group. Notifications and reminders are taken care of by the software, so creatives no longer need to spend time tracking down reviewers for approval.