Everybody has their own way of working and I’m no different, but as small business owners we often need to do many different jobs in one day – the types of jobs that larger companies have entire departments for: so there is a need to optimise time and focus on efficiency.
I am primarily a designer and I don’t know about you but my brain certainly behaves a little bit like a computer running on low RAM: too many applications running at once and ideas take a long time to load. This is obviously no use and tasks very quickly bottle-neck. I need to keep mentally fresh and energised.
I can do this by concentrating on a maximum 2 designs at any one time -allocating 2-and-a-half hours each per day. This creates instant structure in my design schedule and work-week but I have found the 2.5 hours to be the optimum time frame that keeps me motivated and excited about the next 2.5 hour chunk the following day and allows me the creative down-time that is so crucial for those eureka moments. By focusing on 2 designs I can also pair ideas to each, or even develop one from another thus increasing productivity and reducing creative lag-time.
These 2.5 hour chunks are further broken down into 5 x 25 minute session with a 5 minute rest/exercise break after each: this is based upon the Pomodoro Technique devised by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique essentially forces you against the clock into 25 minute chunks of focus, concentration and productivity on one specific task; the 5 minute break at the end is like a hot-towel for the brain but I have changed this slightly to become a 5 minute workout to combat the sedentary lifestyle of a designer-at-work. Doing this over a 5 hour stretch culminates in a 50 minute work-out and a whole lot of work progress to boot! Focus Booster is a great app for the PC based upon the Pomodoro Technique that sits a countdown timer in your task bar and rings a bell both when the 25 minutes are up and when the 5 minute rest break is complete.
During design time it is crucial to minimise all distractions and I have installed an app called LeechBlock into my Firefox browser to prevent me from “quickly checking” Facebook, Twitter or any other distracting blackholes. I also only download emails and voicemails once a day and deal with these at the end of my 2 design blocks – using the Pomodoro Technique I can normally get this all done within an hour and this is usually around 130pm leaving me plenty of time for the other tasks required in the business.
Next week we can discuss the design process and how different each designer’s approach to it might be.
What methods do you use for concentration, focus and productivity at work?
Add a Comment