#EspressoMonday Episode Nr.17
You just have to admit it – that web designers, being creative people, are prone to distractions. Besides, science tells us that our brains only takes some number of minutes to actually focus.
It’s not okay to be distracted, but it’s okay to take a break. It’s foolish to drive yourself to death, but it’s wise to have or create a realistic time management. You don’t over-think as it will drive you to madness.
If you’re a super busy creative who has a tendency to get distracted or have difficulty making most of your time productive, we are more than happy to share some life hacks in this #EspressoMonday episode. So grab your cup of java and begin to spread the Monday happiness.
Everybody, no matter which industry they are in, aims for a high rate of productivity. Web designers are no different. However, we cannot escape the fact that we are affected by external forces, two of the most common are a poorly set up work space and the changing demands of your clients. While you cannot control the latter, you can do something with the first challenge and improve your workflow to free more of your time and earn more in a fast and efficient way.
10 Effective Life Hacks to Improve Your Productivity
Here are the 10 tips we prepared to help you improve your productivity.
1. How to Focus
Our brain can only focus for 90 minutes – that’s a fact. Try going beyond that and you will see that your brain automatically shifts its attention to something other than what you are doing. That’s because your brain can only take as much. So our suggestion is take a break every 90 minutes (we recommend every 60 minutes) to keep your focus as well as your energy higher than working straight through a project. A 15-minute break every 60 or 90 minutes will do wonders to your productivity. And when you take a break, get your eyes off the screen.
Another method is the Pomodoro, a time management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo, where you buy a little timer to break down your work into 25 minutes and have a 5-minute break in between. Again, when you take a break, you have to take your eyes off your computer screen.
2. Realistic Time Management
Every plan always has a contingency plan so that you have a back up just in case something unplanned or unpredictable happens. The same goes true with time management. When you’re plotting your time, you have to put at least 15 percent of contingency time because you do not know what will happen – it could be human error or it could be loss of data. No matter what it is, you will have more edge if you anticipate such things and have an alternate plan or extra time to keep you out of panic mode.
3. Don’t Over Think
This also means don’t over-design nor over-code. As web designers, we have the tendency to make everything excellent (to the point of perfection) just to satisfy our clients. However, you should not forget to balance things. Even if you have great design skills, your goal is to make the design simple, clean, and efficient. It doesn’t mean that you have to under-deliver but rather, don’t spend too much time on something when there is a better way of doing things more quickly and efficiently.
4. Dealing with Tasks
This comes from David Allen’s 2-minute rule of how to kill your tasks immediately. The principle is rather simple – you list your tasks for the day and when some tasks come up during the day, you ask yourself if it can be done in 2 minutes. If it’s longer than 2 minutes, add it to your to-do list but if it is doable in 2 minutes, like replying to an email, kill it immediately by doing it.
5. Feel Your Goals and Tasks
This tip comes from my partner, Dainis Graversi, who said that when it comes to tangible, physical tasks and goals, you need to “feel” them. As a team, we use project management tools, such as Basecamp and Asana, but he also likes to write these tasks and goals on the white board. Once it’s done, he finds the ultimate satisfaction of crossing finished tasks off the board. He describes his feeling as orgasmic happiness or much better than that. So if you can physically remove or erase, or tick off finished tasks one by one from your board, do it and savor the feeling of being able to do it.
6. Automize and Systemize
This goes for the itty-bitty tasks you have, such as answering similar email. For example, I receive emails inquiring about guest posts. My answer is basically the same so what I did is I made a canned answer for such emails and copy-paste it. Saves a lot of precious minutes. On the other hand, if they are bigger tasks, you might consider delegating, outsourcing, or whatever system you have to make the task easier to do and faster to accomplish.
7.Share the Monday Happiness
Most, if not all, people simply hate Mondays. Why not? Just imagine you had a great weekend with family and friends enjoying and relaxing then Monday comes and BAM, you’re hit with the reality. The transition is so harsh – from relaxation and rest to a desk piling up with tasks and responsibilities. You don’t have to hate Mondays. In fact, your weekend can help you become excited with Mondays.
Before going to sleep on Sunday night, set aside at least 5 minutes of your time to have a sneak peak of what you’re going to expect or do on Monday. Look at your emails or your checklist to see what upcoming tasks you have the next day, this way you can condition your mind even before Monday comes.
In addition, there’s our #EspressoMonday episodes you can always look forward to.
Research have revealed that ambient coffee shop sounds can boost your creativity. We don’t really know how it works but science says that the sounds of people and other things going on in a coffee shop boosts your productivity. I’ve tried it and it works like a charm. There’s a website (they also have an app) where you can get these sounds. Try it and compare how it works for you.
9.Shrink Your Goals
This means that instead of setting a one-year goal, only create a 90-day goal. This is in fact logical because a lot of thing can happen in a year. Of course there are quarterly goals to evaluate these yearly goals but a 90-day goal is more feasible because it is neither too long nor too short. Moreover, you can change or adjust them after 90 days.
Again, this tip comes from Dainis who recommends that you get an accountability buddy to help you push yourself. It should be someone you trust and someone you resonate with. Have weekly Skype calls (if they are from another city or country) or meetings with them and discuss what you plan to do next week and vice versa. Then, you meet again after a week and discuss/evaluate whether you were able to do what you said you’re going to do. You also talk about the problems and challenges you encounter as well as give encouragement and insights to each other.
So there you are – 10 tips how to become more productive as a web designer. Write it if you want where you can always see it and be reminded just in case you are losing focus.
Once again, have a happy #EspressoMonday!
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