Artisan Blog

Our Top 25 Blogs

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Our Top 25 Blogs

We are thrilled to publish our 500th blog today. As we approach the end of 2018, we’d like to share some of our a.team’s favorite blogs.

These cover a range of topics from self-development and time-management to job search, hiring and much more.

We hope you enjoy this top 25 greatest hits compilation.

We hope you've enjoyed our 500th post.  You can find plenty other tips, inspirations, best practices and advice on our a.blog.

We look forward to connecting.




Project Management Software Review

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Project Management Software Review

 

Choosing a new project management software is one of the most significant and impactful management decisions you can make. The right choice can amplify your efforts, help you achieve and exceed your goals, plus give you what you need to work more efficiently, effectively, and fruitfully.

If you’re close to making a decision, or you’re just getting started on your research, here is a quick inventory of five popular project management software systems, with some of their pros and cons. This may help you stay focused on choosing the right project management solution for your particular team and case.

Basecamp

Basecamp was one of the first all-in-one project management solutions to gain wide popularity, and it remains widely used and loved. Created by the team formerly known as 37signals, it’s designed with a deep appreciation for the culture of business.

Pros: Simple, intuitive, easy to use and to master.

Cons: Lacks some of the slicker capabilities associated with newer entries into the market.

Trello

Based on a system of boards, lists, and cards, Trello has quickly become a favorite of designers and visual thinkers and is now a serious contender in the field of user-friendly project management software.

Pros: Fun to use, aesthetically pleasing, popular with visually inclined users.

Cons: Potentially challenging for users more accustomed to more plain and traditional methods of organization.

Asana 

Sleek, colorful, and user-friendly Asana is currently a pace-setter in the realm of project management software. Designed for detailed tracking, its organization encourages collaboration. It has been gaining wider adoption over the last several years.

Pros: Excellent mobile app, well suited for more fluid communication, collaboration, and goal-setting.

Cons: Requires some training and practice to master, which demands participation from the whole team.

Smartsheet

Smartsheet functions as a sort of enhanced version of Excel. Its spreadsheet-based interface is useful for planning and tracking elaborate projects and breaking them down into specific initiatives, tasks, and goals.

Pros: Highly recommended to those who are experienced with spreadsheets and fond of that organizational format.

Cons: Not as colorful or user-friendly as the modern-minded alternatives.

Airtable

Relatively new on the scene, Airtable is popular with publishers and is gaining steam and broader acceptance thanks to its versatility.

Pros: Highly flexible, easy to use and customize, well geared towards communication, file-sharing, and more.

Cons: Still fairly new, complex, requires some patience to understand and to master.

When choosing a project management system for your team, choose mindfully. This decision will fundamentally affect the culture that you work so hard to develop.

You need a system that works with the quirks, practices, and objectives of your team, as individuals and as a group. The right software should empower you, play to your strengths, be geared toward your goals, and bring you closer together.

As you choose, we recommend further research on collaboration tools and apps, project management software, and the broader thought behind project management systems.

At Artisan Creative, we pool our workplace wisdom and dedicate ourselves every day to finding the best creative talent available and to helping your team be as effective as it can be. Contact us today to learn more and explore your full potential.

 

We hope you've enjoyed the 493rd issue of our a.blog.

 


Create a Creative Workspace

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Create a Creative Workspace

Living things don't exist in isolation - we are who we are through complex interactions with our environments. This means building strong relationships with colleagues and coworkers. We can also pay more mindful attention to the details of our physical surroundings. This can help us bring our workspaces into harmony with our projects, our values, and our personalities.

Whether you work from home or have a desk/cubicle in a larger office, these tips can help you spruce up your space, which can help you become happier, more productive, and more creative.

Shed a Little Light

The light you work under sets the tone for what you think and what you accomplish. It can have a powerful effect on your psychological and ocular health. If you can, invest in a stylish lamp you love. If you love to work with your hands and you know a bit about electronics, you can even try making your own.

Know Your Ergonomics

We did not evolve to sit at desks all day. But with a basic understanding of the principles of ergonomics, you can make your work much easier on your health, and feel better as well. Understand what you need from a chair, how to place your equipment, and how to sit. You'll feel better, accomplish more, and preserve your long-term health.

Keep Your Vision in Sight

Keeping your vision board prominently placed in your workspace can help you stay cognizant of your larger goals and mission. When you're in danger of getting lost in the details, your vision board can realign your mind with a larger perspective. Whatever you're working on, the big picture is only a glance away.

Add a Splash of Color

In every culture, colors have deep symbolic significance. According to color theory, the right combinations of colors can inspire new ideas and perspectives. In your space, experiment with colors to find your ideal aesthetic and psychological balance. You don't need to turn your office screaming neon pink; minor accents can be enough to alter your brain chemistry and enhance your insights.

Go Green

When we strengthen our relationships with nature, we put ourselves in touch with the rhythms of the earth and the essence of life. Bringing plants into your workspace (even just a modest succulent) can freshen your perspective. Taking care of a plant also provides a sense of responsibility and accomplishment, a valuable reminder that what you pay attention to always matters in this complex web of existence.

Work Within the Code

When we innovate within the rules, we become, as Proust writes, "like good poets whom the tyranny of rhyme forces into the discovery of their finest lines." If your employer has rules governing how you can decorate your space, this can drive you to be more creative, not less. Go through the rulebook in detail, and figure out fresh ways to let your personality shine within the structure. This can inspire you and those around you to look at established guidelines with a fresh perspective.

At Artisan Creative, we support all aspects of your career, because we believe the best work can only be done in the right environment. Contact us today to learn more.

 

We hope you've enjoyed the 490th issue of our blog.


 

 




Employee Ghosting and the Value of Respect

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Employee Ghosting and the Value of Respect

Which one of these do you feel is harder: to be rejected outright, or to be simply ignored? Today, many employers are facing this question almost on a daily basis.
 
In dating and romantic relationships, the practice of one partner ignoring another - not responding to texts and treating all attempts at communication with radio silence - is known as "ghosting." Similar practices are steadily creeping into the business world, with a wave of talent and prospective employees not showing up for scheduled interviews and agreed-upon start dates, or even for jobs they've already committed themselves to. Ghosting is giving hiring managers and employers a scare.
 
How We Got Here
The United States is in an era of low unemployment and sustained economic growth. As the demand for new talent outpaces supply, employers have struggled to find the right people for all of their open opportunities. Talent and employees thus have much more power than they did during the Great Recession when many lost their jobs with little fanfare and interviewers often ignored candidates they didn't want to hire. The new reverse imbalance manifests in cavalier employee behavior such as unannounced absenteeism and a failure to communicate.
 
According to USA Today, as many as 20% of workers in some industries now engage in ghosting practices. This trend is negatively impacting large and small businesses, along with their customers. On the other hand, it's inspiring conversations about how workers and employers can treat each other better, to foster more healthy and successful relationships down the line.
 
In order to facilitate mutual growth, the culture of work requires trust, respect, and core values to be shared between employers and employees. As any discerning politician can tell you, it is foolish to pin one's fate to shifting, unpredictable trends in economics. We advocate that employers, employees, clients, and talent use the advent of ghosting as an opportunity to get reacquainted with the core values that can sustain them through booms and busts.
 
Communication
As a talent, it’s ok to reject opportunities that aren't right for you, however, do it in a manner that respects the offer and lets any relevant stakeholders know. Honest compassionate communication always makes the truth easier to convey, and with an appropriate heads-up, everyone should be able to move on more smoothly. When leaving your current job, give two weeks' notice when possible, and offer to tie up any loose ends in your work to facilitate an easy transition.
 
As a hiring manager, when you decide not to hire a candidate after an interview, let the candidate know. If you can, provide some constructive feedback, even if it may not be what the candidate wants to hear. It can be difficult to deliver bad news, however, it's worth it if it means supporting a culture of openness and mutual respect. It is also important to acknowledge that it's a candidate driven market, and many candidates are experiencing multiple interviews. Providing timely feedback is key, especially if you are interested in the next steps with a candidate.
 
Transparency
When we give accurate information to others, we empower them to make better-informed decisions in the future. We also invest in the strength of our own reputations, because everyone appreciates those who deliver the truth with respect and understanding.
 
As your circumstances change, make sure everyone around you knows what they need to know to prepare for any impact this may have. As a talent, this means letting your employers or recruiters know if you are available. As an employer, it means keeping your team informed about the state of the company and letting them know you're all on the same side.
 
The world is small, and life is long. As technology makes us all more closely interconnected, our reputations, previous actions, and patterns of behavior are more likely to open or close new opportunities for us. If you must exit a difficult situation, and you do so with grace and full disclosure, you will more likely find support from your former colleagues when circumstances change and may be less in your favor.
 
At Artisan Creative, we believe a culture of respect is paramount in all human endeavors. We give our talent and clients the tools and support they need to succeed when they lead with their values. Contact us today to learn more.
We hope you've enjoyed the 488th issue of our a.blog.


9 Apps to Boost Creativity

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

9 Apps to Boost Creativity

As creative professionals, it’s important to be able to generate a steady stream of new ideas. Professional creativity means having a regular creative practice. It asks that you cultivate a life in which creativity can take root. It means thinking playfully even when you may not be in the mood. If you encounter a creative block, you can take a break, find inspiration in the outdoors, and come back with a fresh perspective.

You can also utilize the many tools, exercises, and habits to give you a jumpstart as needed. Here are a few free or low-cost apps you can download to your mobile device and use when you need a quick creative spark.

Blip Synthesizer

Even if you don’t think of yourself as a musician, riffing on musical instruments is a proven way to limber up the creative areas of your brain. This Android app is one of the simplest music-making apps available - it turns simple visual patterns into catchy miniature melodies. If you’re deep in a detail-oriented project or need to revive a spirit of play, it’s great for a quick hit of inspiration and joy.

Brainsparker

Created by the creative and leadership coach Gabriella Goddard, Brainsparker is one of the more popular and widely-used ideation toolkits in the agency world. With 250 built-in creative prompts, it’s a randomized card game that facilitates group or solo brainstorming on the go.

Coolors

A new color combination can carry a bounty of new moods and ideas. If you’re a visual artist or graphic designer, you’re working on a new brand package, or you’re at all energized by color combinations, give this palette generator a try.

Evernote

The more deftly you can organize your information, the more cognitive bandwidth you’ll have left over to make connections and get fresh ideas from your data. With its robust integrations, this massively popular note-taking app is a go-to if you want to keep all your raw material in one place.

GLTCH

In the art world, glitch art is a movement based on digitally manipulating images, often in weird or irreverent ways. With this app, you can warp, corrupt, and mutilate any image you choose. It can help you see old concepts in new ways, and it’s a lot of fun.

Insight Timer

A regular practice of mindfulness meditation is one of the most time-tested habits to calm and clear the mind and to take heart in the face of the unexpected. With goal setting, rich analytics, hundreds of free guided meditations, and a worldwide community of practitioners, Insight Timer is one of the most popular and versatile apps for meditators at all stages.

Oblique Strategies

Created by the musician Brian Eno and polymath Peter Schmidt and inspired by the art movements Surrealism, Dada, and Fluxus, this set of cryptic and ironic instructions can help you take your work down unexpected and counter-intuitive avenues. Variations on Oblique Strategies exist for iPhone, Android, the web, and Slack.

Simplemind

Creativity is a connection, the art of forging new connections between existing points. This user-friendly mind-mapping program can help visualize clusters of ideas and information, making it easier to spot patterns, draw new throughlines, and find order in apparent chaos.

UX Companion

The multi-faceted discipline of user experience brings together some of the most vital and relevant thought in the areas of design, technology, research, and human behavior. This annotated glossary of UX concepts provides a useful introduction to ideas that are shaping the way we interact with our constructed worlds.

At Artisan Creative, we believe creativity should be fun, and we believe in sharing the resources that help the pros keep their creativity flowing. Contact us today to empower your mind and energize your creative career.

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 486th issue of our a.blog. 

 


Are you a Digital Nomad?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Are you a Digital Nomad?

As humans and especially as creative professionals, we must learn to maintain a delicate balance between security and adventure, as our minds and hearts deem appropriate. If you are the sort of person who tilts toward adventure, or you crave a lot more risk in your life and career than you have currently, have you ever considered the life of a digital nomad?

Digital nomads take advantage of the wondrous interconnectedness provided by flourishing digital technologies. The consumer internet has only been around for a bit more than two decades, and these digital nomads live to explore new landscapes both virtual and geographical.

To be a digital nomad, one condition is to hone the skills you can do remotely, such as web design and development, copywriting, social media marketing, or any other creative trade that requires only an agile mind and a laptop. You must also cultivate your adaptability, learn to strategize, and develop a whole range of travel and interpersonal skills, some of which are so specific that they don't have names.

You can start to live a successful life as a digital nomad, with all the romance and adventure that come with it, if you can master these four core principles.

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

Before you travel the world on your own steam, get smart with your money. Eliminate as much debt as possible and cut expenses to the bone. Own only the property you absolutely need - place most of your items in storage, and if you own a home, consider renting it out on AirBnB for extra income. If you don't own much, don't owe much, and lead a simple life, you will have an easier transition to becoming a digital nomad.

Plan Ahead - Take Care of the Details

The life of a digital nomad involves lots of improvisation. That's much easier to manage if you handle as many potential variables as you can before you go. Figure out your communication strategy - how will you stay in touch with clients and creative recruiters on foreign soil? Plan your itinerary - where are you staying, and where can you stay if those plans go awry? Do you need travel insurance, or extra guidance and protection? Use your networking skills to find a community of mentors and peers who have overcome some of the challenges of being digital nomads. Their friendship, camaraderie, and insight will make your travel experience less lonely and more fun and fruitful.

Put Your Assets to Work

As a digital nomad, you won't have access to the same professional networks you would if you were anchored in one location or community. You can make up for this if you create assets that will work in your favor when you're traveling or go offline. Make sure your online resume and digital portfolio are attracting new business while you sleep (especially if you're sleeping in an unusual new time zone). If you have unique skills to share, you might create an online course - this can generate passive income to help you get through any rough patches.

Keep an Open Mind

The most important skill of a digital nomad is adaptability. This bold lifestyle will teach you how to embrace unpredictability, dive into the unknown, and change your mind on the fly.

"Travel has a way revealing that much of what you’ve heard about the world is wrong," says Rolf Potts, author of the acclaimed travel lifestyle manual Vagabonding. " Even on a day-to-day level, travel enables you to avoid setting limits on what you can and can’t do. On the road, you naturally ‘play games’ with your day: watching, waiting, listening; allowing things to happen. There’s no better opportunity to break old habits, face latent fears, and test out repressed facets of your personality."

At Artisan Creative, we can help you conquer the challenges that matter to you as you claim the life and career you want. Contact us today to learn more.

 

 



Setting Six-Month Resolutions

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Setting Six-Month Resolutions

We celebrated the Summer Solstice on June 21st. The end of June marks the halfway point of the year and at such times of transition, it can be useful to pause, reflect, and consider where you've been, where you are and where you plan to go.

By now, you may have kept some of your New Year's resolutions, while others may have fallen by the wayside or diminished in importance. This is an excellent time to reflect on your progress so far and to make a few simple "six-month resolutions", re-focus and re-set intentions. Here are a few broad and useful ones that are easy to keep.

Tie Up Loose Ends

What simple tasks have you been putting off? If tasks, expectations or obligations have been hanging around on your to-do list for months, you can use a simple system such as GTD to knock out the small but important ones today.

If there are larger concerns weighing you down, consider if they’re worth your time and energy. Prioritize tasks and considerations that relate to the larger themes of the career and the life you want.

If you plan to take time off over the summer, now is the time to prepare and make sure everything is in place, so you can more fully relax and recharge during the hot and slow season.

Nurture Your Relationships

Take the time to reach out to important people in your professional life with whom you want to maintain your ties. This can be as simple as sending a quick check-in note or checking their LinkedIn pages to see what they're up to.

Relationships require attention, and it is always wise to offer more attention than you expect to receive. If you keep your connections strong over time, you will find it easier to ask for help when you need it. And, if you are there for others when they need help, it can work wonders for your career and overall sense of well-being.

Follow the Green Lights

It is important to reflect on the challenges you've faced this year and explore opportunities for improvement. It is equally (if not more) important to acknowledge what went well, how you've improved, and what new opportunities you've created for yourself.

What new skills have you built up in the last six months? What have you accomplished that you would not have expected to have completed six months ago? What new options have you created now because of your growth and hard work?

When you take stock of your accomplishments, you realize you can do a lot in a small slice of time. Now, you are primed to do even bigger things with the back half of your year!

If you didn’t create a http://www.artisancreative.com/artisan-blog/creating-your-2018-vision-board vision board in the beginning of the year, you can create one now for the remainder of 2018. Every day is a new opportunity to set our goals in motion. As Emily Dickenson says “Dwell in Possibilites”. The year isn’t half-way over, instead we have 6 months to start new initiatives.

At Artisan Creative, we embrace a growth mindset and we are thrilled to help you make the most of your hard work so far, and figure out where you want to go next. Contact us today to learn more.

 

We hope you've enjoyed the 477th issue of our a.blog. Contact us to learn more.

 


Making Time vs. Having Time

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Making Time vs. Having Time

I realized I had been in a negative relationship with TIME, until now. I was always catching up, falling behind, stressed, and challenged with the ticking of the clock. Time was always running out, and I was always trying to slow it down. Time always had the upper hand, and I felt inferior.

I have read many articles, and listened to many lectures about time, and how we have limited time--only 525,600 minutes in a day or 8,760 hours in a year, etc. Comments such as either “manage time or it manages you” were my mantra for years. However, I was in a losing battle, as time was always managing me! No matter how many time management tools I used and how precise my calendar was, I was always chasing time.

A typical image of time management on any stock photo site shows frustrated, desperate, and frazzled individuals. That used to be me as well until I read Gay Hendricks’ book The Big Leap.

That’s when I decided I'd had enough. No more being the victim of time.  It was time to change my negative relationship with time!

In his book, Hendricks describes the concept of Newtonian time vs. Einstein time.

Newtonian time is the concept of time where time is finite, and it will run out. We either have time or we don’t. This is very much the notion of time most prevalent in society and in business. He says “ The Newtonian paradigm assumes that there’s a scarcity of time, which leads to an uncomfortable feeling on time urgency inside us.”

Einstein time, as Hendricks explains, is the notion that we are time…and we make time. We make time for things that are important, that have meaning or that we must focus on. He says “Take ownership of time, and it will stop owning you”.

He suggests going on a time diet, which I have been practicing as of late.

This move requires a complete end to complaining about time and moving away from the victim mindset as it pertains to time. Start by paying attention to how often you are playing time-catch-up and saying the following:

  • Where did time go?
  • There simply isn’t enough hours in a day
  • I don’t have time right now to…..
  • I wish I had time to…..

Eliminate the above phrases from your daily conversation. Time is not a pressure from outside as Hendrick states..it's one that we place on ourselves.

Instead, focus on what you want to focus on, and do what you love to do. Focus on your passions, and your creativity and your loved ones and the career you love.

It’s a notion that is simple to grasp—perhaps not as easy to do unless we shift our perception of time entirely.

I now spend each day with an intention and focus to make time for what is a priority for me. If I veer off course, I come back to my intention. My colleague Jen introduced me to the concept of saying a time-mantra “I Am Now” as in "I am now doing xyz". This time mindfulness has allowed me to make time.

And I discovered that by making time for what I love doing, I have more time for everything else.

Happy time-making!

~ Katty Douraghy

We hope you've enjoyed the 475th issue of our a.blogContact us to learn more.


Create Your Productive Week

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Create Your Productive Week

Weekends are regarded days of rest, blocked off to recharge or catch up on obligations outside of work. However, there is a marked phenomenon of "Sunday blues," a collective sense of frustration that comes from not getting as much satisfaction from our Sundays as we’d like. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps we can take to make our Sundays more productive and pleasurable as well as create a more productive week in the process.

If you want to get more from your Sundays, here are a few tricks you can try. You might make Sunday your new favorite day of the week.

Get Organized

You can use your Sundays as opportunities to make things easier on yourself during the rest of the week. This starts with setting your schedule, which allows you to take care of any details you can while you have the opportunity. Sundays also provide ample time to balance your budget, clean out your inbox, and cross out any other tasks you may want to complete in order to free up time and bandwidth on busier days. Organization can take the form of a self-care ritual, a time for peaceful reflection as you tend to the details of your life.

Make Lists and Set Goals

If it's Sunday and your mind refuses to rest, seize the opportunity to provide yourself some pre-set structure for the coming week. Make a list of some tasks you intend to do, or goals you would like to accomplish by week's end. By making your work week concrete and your goals achievable, you will find that you have plenty of time ahead of you to do everything that needs to be done. This may make it easier for you to spend your Sunday relaxing, with a clear mind and conscience.

Prepare Meals

Mindful eating is an oft-overlooked element in personal well being. In the hectic rush of the work week, making time to prepare healthy food can seem challenging. However, if you prepare nutritious balanced meals ahead of time on Sunday, it's a breeze to eat well during busier times. Mix up your favorite standbys with new recipes, and stack your creations in the fridge, ready to go to work with you Monday through Friday.

Pursue Personal Interests & Hobbies

An active mind is a healthy mind, and it's crucial to cultivate interests and projects. This could mean doing freelance work on the side, pursuing a creative "passion project" or hobby, or volunteering to work for a cause that resonates with your values. The right sort of work can be a pleasure. If you're not satisfied "doing nothing" on Sunday, try doing something you love instead.

At Artisan Creative, we believe a successful career is one part of a successful life. We help top creative talent fulfill their professional and personal goals. Contact us today to get started.

We hope you've enjoyed the 468th issue of our a.blog.

 



Project Management Triangle

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Project Management Triangle

 

"Fast. Cheap. Good. Pick two."

This is a summation of the Project Management Triangle, a framework for project scoping and resource allocation that has been in use since the 1950s, and has long been embraced by freelance software developers in particular.

The basic idea is that an emphasis on any one or two corners of the triangle requires constraints in the third. What we emphasize shows the world who we are and what we value. Project managers, hiring managers, and creative professionals must determine what areas are most important, and realize the value of compromise in some areas to achieve excellence in others.

If you are filling a role or scoping a project, or you want to make sure your clients understand your constraints and give you appropriate support, the Project Management Triangle is a useful model for negotiating fairly and setting appropriate expectations.

In any profession, it is useful to keep these rules in mind:

If you want work done at high quality, with a quick turnaround, it may be expensive.

Time is perhaps the most precious resource of all. The work that goes into completing complex projects on tight turnarounds doesn't begin when you sign the contract - it requires years of study, experience, and preparation on the part of those who complete the assignment. Under such demands, you will need to work with the best, and you can expect them to charge what they're worth.

If you want your work done quickly, and you have a tight budget, it may not be of top quality.

If you make harsh demands and don't pay well, you may run the risk of being "penny wise and pound foolish," or sacrificing big returns in the future for small savings now. You can offset this by shifting from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset. If you don't have a lot of money, what other sorts of value can you offer talent to get them excited about your projects and build strong, ongoing relationships based on collective appreciation? To set the stage for great work, establish realistic expectations based on mutual respect.

If you want to build something of high quality at low cost, it may take a long time.

As Billie Holiday sings, "The difficult, I'll do right now. The impossible may take a little while." If you have high expectations and a low budget, your most crucial virtues are patience and persistence. Your success depends on building long-term relationships with passionate professionals who care about your project and have the expertise to get it done.

Every project is different. That's why we use flexible mental models to determine how we can best accomplish our goals. For instance, under the "lean startup" framework, we would not gauge "fast," "cheap," or "good" in the same way as we would in a typical corporate setting. However, for most projects, the Project Management Triangle provides the most useful values system for determining the scope and setting expectations.

If you're hiring skilled and qualified professionals for your project, or you're an ambitious creative in search of the perfect challenge, contact Artisan Creative today. Leverage our decades of business experience to build relationships that lead to mutual flourishing.

We hope you've enjoyed the 464th issue of our a.blog.

 



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