11 Key Strategies to Aid Creativity and Productivity
Creativity and productivity are two concepts that are not easy to combine.
After all, we think of productivity as something dull, consistent, and stodgy, while creative people are thought to be free-spirited and hard to control.
However, by applying principles that allow you to explore your team’s creative talents while focusing on getting things done, you can enjoy a high rate of productivity with creative end results that work.
The strategies that we swear by:
1. Get Organized
It may feel counterintuitive to carefully plan your creative output. However, strong organization early on makes for better developed ideas.
Before you begin designing, create a plan. Establish the purpose of what you are creating. Identify your audience. Create a task list so that you know what needs to happen, and when. I use printable planners for that because it somehow gives me more satisfaction to write my tasks down on a piece of real paper.
Refer to your task list regularly as a guide so that you can create your schedule around it. By giving yourself a series of mini-deadlines, you can move forward consistently toward your goal.
2. Cultivate Obsession
The best creative and organizational minds are obsessed with what they do. They are deeply committed to quality and passionate about making things that convey their ideas. Subscribe to design emails to learn from others.
Watch tutorials, go to talks, and read about your craft. The more you learn about the principles of good design, the more you are able to bring to the table as a designer.
3. Open Your Eyes to Opportunities
There is inspiration lurking everywhere. Have you had a conversation that sparked an epiphany about your brand and what you have to offer? Did you see a TV commercial that made you think about something differently?
Sometimes the ideas that come to you may seem unrelated to your creative pursuits. However, you may discover that you will find inspiration in the most unlikely places.
4. Research Before You Start
When you are ready to begin creation, your best first step should be investigating what others have already said. Look at relevant art and content and consider what makes them work — or, what doesn’t.
Bone up on facts and figures that can make an arresting addition to an infographic or another asset. By starting with a firm handle on the knowledge involved, you can create a far more successful piece.
5. Simplify Your Process
Most professional designers will tell you: simplicity is the key to quality design. Stick with a small set of fonts, plenty of open space, and just the necessary elements to convey your ideas.
The drive toward simplicity doesn’t just apply to the design itself. It applies to the tools that you use. Pick tools that allow you to get the results you want easily.
These social media graphic creators allow you to make your ideas come to life quickly with drag and drop utilities and a vibrant library of fonts, icons, templates, and tools. Using the simplest and quickest tools allows you to complete items like infographics and presentations more quickly and efficiently, which means you have more time to get other stuff done.
6. Keep Focus
It happens to us all: you start working on an assignment, then go to another web page to look something up. Suddenly, it’s an hour later and you haven’t gotten much more done. When it is time to work on a creative project, eliminate distractions that can pull you from the task.
If you use a Mac, download the productivity tool, Self-Control, which temporarily blocks sites like your web-based email, social media, and other distractions. Close your office door to deter people from interrupting.
When you focus deeply without interruptions, you are more able to enter the flow state that allows good ideas to come together.
7. Commit Regularly to Creativity
As with organization, planning creativity can seem counterintuitive. However, committing to spend time brainstorming or engaging in creative work for a set time every day helps you prime your mind for the sort of creative thinking that can make your projects shine.
Is your team made up of early risers who think best first thing in the morning? Then have a morning meeting to jump-start each day. If your team tends to think well when the workday is coming to a close, an afternoon creative meeting can be scheduled for better results.
8. Think Laterally
It is easy to slip into mental habits when you are thinking about how to make a project work. To shake things up, force yourself to think differently. How can you approach the problem in a way that is novel and engaging?
If you usually go with a data-oriented method for your infographics, for example, try going with stories and emotion instead. By attacking a problem in a different way, you force yourself to think creatively.
9. Collect Great Ideas
Whether it’s a Pinterest board, an Instagram, or a physical idea board or book, you can find a lot of inspiration in the work that others have done. Never feel like you are “stealing” other people’s ideas; even master painters and musicians have influences that helped them become great.
Whenever you see something that you like, whether it’s the layout of a page, a way of organizing information, or a really great color scheme, save it for later reference.
You can go through these collections when you are looking for new ideas. The key is not to copy exactly. Instead, use elements that you love in a design that is 100% your own.
10. Use Tools That Nurture Both Creativity and Productivity
I love using tools, especially those tools that make me feel creative while prompting me to work. Stay away from tools that take days and months to figure out and set up. Those may very well kill both productivity and creativity.
Here are a few examples of tools that work for me:
1. Text Optimizer
Text Optimizer is my ultimate writing productivity tool that never ceases to spark my creativity. It takes any word or phrase, runs it through Google search, and applies semantic analysis to identify underlying concepts. It is a great way to find unique angles as well as define the direction of your future content.
I am one of those people who start a new project whenever they feel hopelessly bored or stressed. Yes, I have quite a few mini-projects.
Namify is the most creative brand name generator out there. It is free and easy to use. Simply choose your category and type your keyword, and the tool will come up with some coolest names out there.
Keyword research is usually a good way to make me creative and start writing. The problem is that keyword research tools tend to be too cluttered. I just love Ahrefs interface and the way they let you quickly figure out those lists and narrow down your lists.
Start by looking at the left-hand panel to quickly identify the most common searching trends. Click any word there to narrow down your list to those containing that word, and find even more trends: Productivity that makes me creative!
Keyword clustering is one of those tactics that organize your mind and help you get creative. Here are also writing apps as well as great free WordPress plugins to record your ideas, keywords, and notes.
11. Take Care of Yourself
When you aren’t putting your mental, physical and emotional well-being at the top of your priority list, you will not get the best out of yourself. Make sure that you get adequate sleep every night, as studies show that people who are well-rested are more likely to be creative and productive.
Eat a nutritious full lunch instead of snacking out of the vending machines. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially if you work in a dry, air-conditioned office. When you treat your body and mind well, they will reward you with better ideas, more productivity, and an eagerness and excitement about getting things done.
Productivity and creativity can be on equal footing when you apply the strategies above as part of your regular working method.
By making creativity a regular part of how you work while keeping yourself accountable for results, you will see more and better results as well as materials that are more likely to engage your audience and move them to act.
It is ultimately up to your personality which of those tricks will work for you. If you struggle more with creativity than productivity (this is me), you should focus on boosting the creative side of your personality. If you are not sure, consider taking a self-assessment quiz and see which tips and tools may work best for you.
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