Posted on 4 Comments

Being a Productive Creative on a Daily Basis

Productivity is a term I don’t use all that often, because I tend to think in terms of creativity rather than productivity. But beyond the semantics of it all, when it comes down to it, creativity without productivity equals procrastination. Yes, like most creatives, I could spend hours thinking about all sorts of designs and ideas. In fact, I tend to spend some time doing just that while falling asleep at night, and I guess that is ok for the most part. It’s during the day, when productivity should be the focus, that creative thinking alone—or anything else that becomes a distraction from being productive—can become a problem. Like Pablo Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

Life presents many obstacles and distractions on a daily basis, so I decided to make a list of some of my most challenging ones and find solutions to tackle them on a daily basis as well:

1. The E-Mail Trap. Reading email can take hours, especially if you are like me and get work related email and personal message from friends, organizations, blogs, and loops you belong to. A lot of those email messages have links that you click on to read a post, go to a specific web page, fill out a form to support a cause, and so on, which in turn may lead to other pages, so before you know it you can find yourself surfing the web for hours. Yes, there is wonderful information to be found out there, but each minute you spend online is one productive minute you are losing for yourself.

My Solution: Scan your email messages earlier in the day and choose only the ones related to work, those that you need to reply to during business hours. Reply to those and close your email application. In other words, save all the non-work related email for the evening, and forget about it. You can quickly scan only for work related email during a break in your day, but avoid checking your email every 10 minutes!

2. The Facebook Trap. Whether it is to connect with friends and family or to promote a business, Facebook has become this huge social hub that everyone belongs to. Nothing wrong with that, as long as the time you spend on FB doesn’t take away from your productivity.

My Solution: If you have a FB page, visit it only once or twice a day, check if you have any new comments you need to respond to, post something on your wall if you have something to say, and sign out of FB. You can check what your friends are doing and posting about later in the evening.

3. The Blogging Trap. Yes, blogging has also become a big part in a lot of people’s lives, including mine, yet it can also take so much time to do this on a daily basis that it can also become a hindrance to productivity. As part of a marketing campaign, it is fine to spend some time blogging or visiting other people’s blogs, as long as you don’t get lost in the blogosphere, which can happen very easily!

My Solution: Blog in the evening and don’t try to finish a post at once if it is taking too long. In other words, give yourself the time to write the post, but limit it to what feels ok to you in terms of time, and leave it for the following day if it’s not done. Don’t think that you need to finish the post at once, if it’s not flowing smoothly, and take your time, or spread it in installments. Just don’t spend all evening with one post. If blogging is your main business, then this wouldn’t necessarily apply to you, of course.

4. The Self-Sabotage Trap. Well, anything can go in this category, really. We can find a million ways to sabotage productivity—from watching TV and doing house chores to unexplainable reasons to justify why we don’t just go into the studio and work. The important thing here is to identify how we do it, how we sabotage our productivity and utilize the time we should be spending creating something that fulfills us, and redirect that energy toward productivity.

My Solution: Set up a schedule and stick to it. Get things that need to be taken care of (work, house chores, email, FB, marketing, etc.) earlier in the day or later in the evening, depending on what works best for you, and leave a good chunk of the day for productivity and only that. Allow no distractions and no interruptions. Before you start creating, sit for 10-15 minutes in meditation to help you focus, release all stress, and clear your mind of other concerns. Now get to work!

Have you found your own way of being (and staying) a productive creative? I’d love to hear it here…

Posted on 2 Comments

To Facebook or Not to Facebook?

That is the question nowadays… Not so much if you should join the millions of people on Facebook, which you probably already do, given the fact that is nice to reconnect with old friends and share things you do, think, or enjoy with friends and family members, but the question is whether you should join Facebook as a creative type and have a “Fan Page” to promote your business. I have been reading people on both sides of this issue and I wanted to share this here for you to decide what is best for you.

There are those who claim that your business will go nowhere if you don’t keep up with the new SEO and marketing trends, and utilize Facebook to attract new customers, as multi million companies are doing. Yes, it is very time consuming, but it is an investment that you need to make to survive, given all the changes going on in online marketing. Some even claim that you don’t need a “traditional” web site anymore and can cut costs by simply using a free blog along with your Facebook and Twitter (and similar social media sites) accounts to promote your business. Even if you keep a traditional web site, you should include Facebook as part of your SEO and marketing strategies.

Then there are those who believe that Facebook is a passing fad and that the Facebook fever may translate into “fans” on your fan page, but not necessarily into new customers or sales. Why? because having “fans” is not equal to getting new orders, and most of the time your “fans” are friends and family plus other business owners who want to know what you are doing, or find your posts interesting, but do not necessarily want to buy anything from you. Yes, some may actually be people who admire your work and want to follow what you are doing, but that is usually the minority. There is trend of ”link love“ between merchants who become fans of each other as a network support base, but does it make a difference in term of sales? Plus, some artists expressed how uncomfortable they feel about asking their friends or contacts to become their “fans.”

I can see truths on both sides of this issue. I have a fan page and I am a fan of other pages, too. I know how time consuming it is to keep my fan page active, but also how potential customers might want to connect with me and follow what I am doing and writing about on Facebook. I have to agree that it does feel a bit uncomfortable to ask some of my friends to become my fans, although I have become their fan without much thought, just to support them in what they’re doing. I guess the word ”fan“ is what may be wrecking a good marketing tool for some people. In any case, I am still not absolutely sure that Facebook is the answer to everyone’s marketing needs, and I definitely disagree with those who think that you don’t need a ”traditional“ web site for your business. You know I am all for web sites and good web site design! No matter what other marketing tools you may use, nothing can be as complete and informative as a web site (or a blog that has been converted into a web site with extra pages about yourself and your work and even a shopping cart).

Now I would love to hear your opinions on this issue…

[Note on the “fan” issue: As it turned out, Facebook realized (shortly after my original post) that the concept of a “fan” page was turning people off, so now you can simply “like” a page instead of becoming a fan. This makes it easier for people to follow a business and such, but the question about the actual return or ROI on it still remains…]