Productivity is everyone’s favorite subject and to address issues related to it, web designers often need to find out how they can wrangle their creative mind into submission. Web designers often try out numerous solutions in hopes that they will finally come up with a magic technique that solve all productivity problems.
It is interesting to note that web designers are often fighting the very thing that makes them really good at what they do: their creative mind. As creative beings, they tend to think uniquely and more importantly, act uniquely than many other professions. One single reason for this is that they are quite non-linear in what they do and don’t have clearly defined work paths. For example, you should take a look at their to-do list and often you’ll see things that are difficult to quantify. A website logo may take half an hour or even one whole week to complete, if the client is persistent enough in demanding revisions. A visual overhaul of a website may take a week or several months. The truth is that they are experienced in both cases and know what to do in a short- or long-period task. Unfortunately, creativity doesn’t come in a steady stream and sometimes it takes you minutes to do something you usually did in a few hours. Often a standard system doesn’t help to improve productivity and in some cases they are the real productivity killer.
By now, sensible web designers should be nodding their head, especially if the description matches them fairly well. Fortunately for them, there are movements among the creative community aimed at addressing this issue. Behance and Rework refreshingly use different approaches to enhance productivity and they can be applied effectively in the web design community. Although there are many methods circulating around, these serve as the primary inspirations for creative minds. When you take in advices and collective ideas from these sources, you might quickly notice a common theme, interruptions.
To easily understand these unique approaches we should picture typical web design firms. They lease or build a building, fill it with costly equipments and ask designers to work there so they can monitor them. It should be noted that when designers are asked to work in a specific place, they suffer productivity issues. Most designers need a quiet place where they can focus on the task undistracted. Distractions are a huge issue in modern corporate workplace. Curiously, the source of these distractions are not Twitter and Facebook, but instead meetings and bosses. Bosses can easily interrupt their subordinates’ workflow and meeting can sometimes badly disrupt designers’ day. Some experts went so far as to label them as “toxic” because they are very disruptive to a productive employee. A 30-minute meeting with 20 people doesn’t cost the company 30 minutes but 10 man-hours (30 minutes multiplied with 20 people). This is mostly the heart of the productivity issue faced by many employed web designers. Web design firms should allow their designers two large chunks (before and after lunch) of interruption-free sessions in a single day, No meetings, no nagging emails, no talking, just let them work and leave them alone.
Web designers should also quantify goals for their creative tasks. In many cases, a to-do list is insufficient for them because they poorly accommodate long stretches of uninterrupted works. Experts suggest a system where designers first outline their big projects for the week and block out a few 2-hour sections each day and they must be strict about it. They should outline rules during these sessions, such as things that are not allowed. They should focus on the process and place goals on lower priority. Works happen in phases and creative minds can’t just be switched on to churn out wonderful ideas. Our brain needs a warm up period to get to a productive phase and every single interruption set them back to previous level.
It should be clear now that being productive is not just about following a task list. Because sadly, writing down everything you should do won’t do much in ensuring that they’ll be accomplished. Web designers should get themselves into that magical state where creativity flows smoothly. Each designer may experience it a little differently; many prefer a quiet room while some enjoy loud music or a busy coffee shop. Regardless of what choice you make, you need to make sure to incorporate long stretches of uninterrupted sessions into your schedules whenever possible.
A popular method used by creative people is the Podomoro technique and perhaps, you have tried it. If you are not yet familiar with it, here is the gist of it.
- Choose a specific task
- Set the timer (Podomoro) to 25 minutes on a sheet of paper.
- Work steadily until a Podomoro ends and put a check on the paper.
- Take a five-minute break
- Every four Podomoro take a fifteen-minute break.
The system is geared completely towards creating an uninterrupted work session. For some web designers, 25 minutes may be too short, for many of them it can take longer than thirty minutes. Just make sure your breaks don’t kill the progress and force you to start over on something.
If you feel 25 minutes is too short, make each Podomoro longer. Ultimately, each designer’s brain is different than others, so it’s important to experiment with different Podomoro length until you find something suitable, whether it’s 45 minutes or 1 hour. You can install smartphone apps to aid you in implementing the technique, such as Pomodoro Task, which is available for free at Android Market. You can add a task and the phone rings when a Podomoro ends.
To sum up, you should avoid those so-called “necessary interruptions”, which can completely destroy your chance of obtaining a true productivity. It is the time for bosses to cut back on the meetings and allow their subordinates to get some solid work sessions. Web design firms should find a correct pattern of uninterrupted work sessions and balance them with adequate breaks. Designers should try to get things done instead of spending their days fiddling with long to-do lists.