Freelance Designer, based in Glasgow

Specialising in branding, advertising, digital art working, typography and editorial design.

Chasing That Ol’ Productivity

There are buzz words that people like to throw about the workplace, among these are ‘Productivity’ ‘procrastination’ and my favourite ‘multi-tasking’. Productivity is, by definition the rate of output per unit of input, but who’s measuring? My preference is that of Abramah Lincoln, who said:

“If I had four hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first two hours sharpening the axe”

The brain can really only absorb and process a limited amount of information at once. One concept that all productivity methodologies agree on is that being productive means staying focused.

Think of working as a state, to use an analogy lets think of it like sleeping. Just as you’re nodding off there’s a noise outside and you have to reset. But if you’re in the deepest part of sleeping it’s more full, it’s harder to wake, and more importantly, it’s the most beneficial type of sleep. So how does someone reach the rem equivalent of working?

Prioritising only two tasks at a time helps to drill down into the specifics of a given day or week. Fine, have that massive list of things to do, but put it aside and have a small list, what are you working on now, what’s next. Humans have issues staying in the now and are constantly thinking about the later. There is also the 80/20 rule, are you spending 80% of your time on something that gives 20% reward? Well, stop.

Give yourself days off! When we are busy we claw at free time taking it whenever we can. If you are so busy that free time is limited – plan it. When are your friends free, when’s that movie on? If you have a rest day scheduled in, you’re less likely to slack off at random times.

Take regular breaks, manage your day. If you arrive at the studio with no plan or structure you’ll just flop about until it’s time to go. Order and structure are beautiful things when mastered.

Turn off your phone! Last year Apple released some interesting statistics on its uses. One of which was that the average user unlocked their phone 80 times a day for a total viewing time of around 3-5 hours.

The brain doesn’t like work. Literally, you are preprogrammed to stay home and keep your body out of harm’s way – incidentally the same reason you don’t like change. But that’s for another time. So to help your brain along here are few software companions:

  • Grammarly – spelling grammar checker, working in browser? Huge time saver.
  • Toggl – time tracker – you can also add an extension to this if you’re a fan of the Pomodoro Technique
  • Trello – Project management software. Build your week and check off as you go.

I am always building on these. There is an incredible harmony to be had if you take the time to set out the groundwork.

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