Artisan Blog

Holiday Prep for Freelancers

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Holiday Prep for Freelancers

Now that the Thanksgiving holiday has passed, everyone is gearing up to bring the final weeks to a close and prepare for the new year. For many, this includes vacations and paid time off. As a freelancer, your year-end to-dos may be a little different and can be just as rewarding.

Here are a few tips to help you celebrate your success as a creative freelancer during the holiday season.

Pick Up Extra Work

If you want to keep working during the holidays, you may still find work that needs doing. When full-time designers, developers, or other creative professionals are out of town, employers may need someone to pick up quick assignments that otherwise wouldn’t be turned around in time.

If you are ready, willing, and able to work during the holidays, make sure to let your important professional contacts know and update your social profile with your availability.

Additionally, this is a good opportunity to work on personal passion projects and expand your portfolio with new pieces.

Tend To Your Infrastructure

A successful freelancing career involves much more than client work. It requires managing and marketing, taking care of financial obligations, and making sure you have the infrastructure in place to get work, get paid, and stay connected.

The holiday slowdown provides an opportunity to take care of professional details that aren't often a part of your usual assignments.

For freelancers, paying taxes and doing other paperwork is often a challenge; why not tackle it during the slow days?

You can also take online classes to learn new professional skills, to be more marketable during the new year.

Now that your clients are on a break, this is an ideal time to handle all obligations of running your own business. Organizing your paper files, managing digital declutter or achieving inbox zero can be great projects to get ready for 2018.

Prepare for Down Time

Even in our super-connected, always-on culture, the business world tends to slow down during the holiday season. Starting on the week of Thanksgiving and continuing through the first week of January, offices take on a different rhythm and often focus on staff and family celebrations.

It is always wise to have plenty of money socked away for such dry spells. Lots of personal finance and accounting programs will automatically save a certain amount each month, or you may be able to set up automatic savings through your bank.

With a buffer in your bank account, you can spend your holiday season relaxing, not fretting about money.

Take a Break

If you can find regular work and manage your career, freelancing can give you the freedom to travel, spend time with your loved ones, and set your own schedule. If you are able to and have handled all your obligations, why not take off for a week or two? Time to reflect and unplug is a great opportunity to recharge and get the creative juices flowing.

Set an "away" message, letting everyone know you are taking some much-needed R&R. You can go entirely off the grid or put your hours on "emergency mode," in which you let it be known you are only available for very important matters.

Prepare for Next Year

Set your goals, create a vision board and plan ahead for a successful year ahead.This month leading up to the holidays can be a great opportunity to research companies you want to target.

If you haven't had time to update your resume, website, or online portfolio, block off some time and make sure you are showcasing all your current work in a manner that does it justice.

Give Thanks

The holiday season is an appropriate time to acknowledge the people who have supported your career.

Send a note to your clients, vendors, and colleagues, letting them know you've appreciated the opportunity to work with them and wish them the best in the new year. If you're a designer, you can send a special holiday card, extending your gratitude and ensuring that clients will keep you in mind.

Here at Artisan, we are grateful for another rich and rewarding year of working with top creative talent and clients. We look forward to celebrating continued success in 2018 and developing new ways to support you and your work.

 

Contact us today to learn more. We hope you enjoy the 452nd issue of our weekly a.blog.


The Productive Commute

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

The Productive Commute

Although remote and at-home work is gaining acceptance, most jobs still require some on-site face-time. That means you'll be spending at least some of your professional life in transit. As housing costs continue to rise and many companies relocate, you may be in for a long commute.

However a commute does not have to be wasted time and can become nourishing and productive. If you can make it a point to stay engaged, cultivate useful and revitalizing habits, you may find yourself looking forward to rush hour!

Here are a few things you can try when you want to get more out of your commute.

1. Conference Calls, Meetings, and Check-ins

If you take public transport to work, this can be the perfect place to be a "fly on the wall" for a call that someone else leads. This can also be great opportunity to check in with key clients, colleagues, or friends, provided you can still have a good reception and your environment isn’t too noisy.

2. Podcasts

Since Apple’s release of the iPod more than fifteen years ago, the growth of podcasting as a medium has exploded. Compared to radio, the barrier for entry is practically nonexistent, which has unleashed a wild variety of shows. Podcasting has been embraced by journalists and has reignited the careers of rebellious comedians who do their best work uncensored. The most popular podcasts now have devoted audiences in the millions.

There are so many podcasts to explore that it's easy to get lost. If you're looking for places to start, you can get creative and cerebral inspiration from TED or Creative Mornings, hear interviews with leading entrepreneurs on The Knowledge Project and The James Altucher Show, or dive into the more narrative-based shows from the Radiotopia network, which will reacquaint you with the mystery and wonder of life.

3. Audiobooks

Reading books remains one of the most reliable ways to become a stronger thinker and speaker. If you drive, you can find more wisdom, heroism, romance, humor, and insight in audiobooks than you could possibly absorb in one lifetime.

The personal growth coach Duff McDuffee provides a plan for "reading" quite a lot in the 1.5-2 hours a day many of us spend commuting. In the brilliant So Many Books: Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance, the author Gabriel Zaid suggests a strategy for choosing the right books to cultivate a rich awareness of the world.

4. Meditation

A commute may be the most unlikely place to get in touch with your innerself and the true nature of reality. However, now that meditation is in vogue among leaders in tech, media, and the creative industry, more and more people are practicing some form of mental relaxation on the go, including in traffic.

In your commute, you're likely to face frustrations, distractions, and emotional highs and lows. This makes it the perfect place to practice mindfulness.

You will need to stay focused on the journey, so you can't close your eyes and go into a trance. Today’s cutting-edge meditation instructors Vincent and Emily Horn have devised a practice called "There Is Driving," a simple "noting" practice you can use to train your attention as part of your everyday activities.

5. Train Your Brain

The human mind is designed to be stimulated, in youth and throughout life. If you spend less time "zoning out" and more time engaged in challenging your mental reflexes, you will do wonders for your creativity, productivity, and mental health, now and into older age.

You can use your commute to learn a new language, or work through riddles and puzzles.

If you typically drive give mass transit a try if its available in your city - you may be amazed at how much a train or bus ride can shift your perspective and what great ideas arise when you come in closer contact with your community. If you can't take the train, vary your route to work - take side streets instead of freeways, or allow some extra time to take the scenic route. Another option is to walk or ride a bike to work when possible and get some exercise in the meantime too!

See if you can devise your own ways to make sure your commute is productive.

At Artisan Creative, we believe that a creative life is one of the most rewarding ones you can pursue. Contact us today to leverage our resources and experiences and get more from your career and your life.  We hope you enjoy the 449th issue of our weekly a.blog.


Unplug

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Unplug

 

The cultural impact of the iPhone and its cousins can hardly be overstated - even Star Trek didn't have this sort of technology. We've been carrying around email, apps, cameras, games, social media, home security and our entire photo album now for more than ten years.

While smart phone technology has provided us with access, engagement, and entertainment, not all of its effects have been unilaterally positive. Many of us are concerned that we spend too much time on our phones, distracting ourselves from in-person relationships, focus, and the joys of our physical surroundings.

If you want to reclaim some of your attention from your smartphone habit, it may be easier than you thought. You may not need an aggressive digital detox or a meditation retreat. Although smartphone usage can take on some of the hallmarks of addictive behavior, most of us simply need to be more mindful of how we use this technology, and whether or not we're using it to our best advantage.

Here are a few steps you can take to make your smartphone less of a bothersome distraction and more of the revolutionary tool it was meant to be.

Quantify Your Usage

The rise of "big data" has made it easier than ever to get concrete information about our lives and behaviors. Crunching the numbers and quantifying our smartphone usage can show us, beyond dispute, how it impacts our time, and give us actionable insights about how well it serves us.

Just as Mint has helped people gain control of their spending by breaking it down with charts and graphs, apps such as Moment (for iOS) and QualityTime (for Android) track and illustrate how we're using our phones, minute by minute. With this detached perspective, we can begin to regain control.

Make Your Phone Your Friend

If you spend some time with your phone's control panel and rework some of your settings, you may find small changes dramatically improve the way your phone harmonizes with your life.

Start by turning off unneeded notifications, those little pings and vibrations that pull your attention away from the world outside. Delete apps you don't use - decluttering your interface helps declutter your mind. You can even put your phone in "airplane mode" when you need to get some work done or you need peace and freedom.

Take Regular Breaks

To make sure you're not using your phone too much, make sure you spend plenty of time without it. Create a buffer between sleep and digital absorption. When you turn off the lights, shut it down. (If you're using it as an alarm clock, buy an old-fashioned one to use instead.) Stop checking your email as soon as you wake up - substitute an early-morning meditation practice, or make coffee and read a book for an hour before you engage with your phone.

If you're afraid to fully power down, the gorgeous app Forest will reward you for disengaging and turning your attention elsewhere for awhile.

Now that you've freed up some time, try adopting simple practices of mindfulness - at home, at work, or anywhere else - to train your attention, be present, and relish the simple joys of being alive.

At Artisan Creative, we believe a healthy, balanced lifestyle is essential to building a happy and fruitful creative career. Contact us today to find out how you can align your work with your values and take your career to the next level.

We hope you enjoy the 447th issue of our a.blog.

 



4 Effective Meeting Formats

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Although many in-person meetings are still held in offices or conference rooms, try leaving the office behind where possible to promote flexible thinking and energized collaboration.  Managers are creating playful and unconventional environments to help their teams think differently.

Some innovative companies have found that fresh and powerful insights can emerge when they challenge conventional notions of how meetings are conducted and bring people together by holding different meeting formats.

Here are four meeting formats that startups and large corporations have used to bring colleagues together in new and refreshing ways. If you want to treat your team to a dash of the unexpected, give one of these meetings a try!

Walking Meetings

With the popularity of standing desks and on-site gyms, it is clear that creative professionals and companies prize fitness and physical activity. Incorporating exercise into routine activities has been proven to increase creativity.

Walking meetings are a part of this trend. Instead of sitting in a conference room or office, many teams have found that moving their muscles, getting their hearts pumping, getting fresh air and experiencing a change of scenery can be more fun and productive. Harvard Business Review has some best practices for walking meetings

Active Meetings

If everyone in your group is up for breaking a sweat, you might try a meeting that entails additional physical activity.

In Fast Company, Stephanie Vozza shares unusual meeting formats from twelve cutting-edge companies. For example, Genera Games, holds meetings on the basketball court. Such a meeting can drive nimble thinking, allow players to indulge their competitive streaks, and, in the case of Genera, helps put employees in the mindset of the mobile gamers who use their products.

Creative Meetings

At Plum Organics, team members are encouraged to hit the books - coloring books. As they meet and discuss business matters, they engage "right-brained" thought by using paper, colored pencils, and crayons to jog neurons that aren't often in play in such settings.

According to Innovation Director Jen Brush, as featured in Vozza’s piece, an activity such as coloring promotes active listening, an important workplace skill that suffers when employees are "multitasking on something like email."

Brush holds coloring meetings every Thursday and says they have been an important factor in developing new products.

Gamified Meetings

Another example in Vozza's article is Darrell Ghert, a VP at the Inqusium division of Cvent. In the past, the quality of Ghert's meetings suffered from chronic lateness - some team members consistently showed up ten minutes behind schedule. This problem was a stubborn fixture of the office culture, not something he could fix by making threats.

Rather than getting frustrated, Ghert came up with a fun idea to help team members modify their behavior. Anyone who is late to one of his meetings is now required to sing. "We’ve heard the national anthem, happy birthday, and nursery rhymes," he says. However, these performances have become more rare, as almost everyone now shows up on time.

This sort of gamification is a step beyond the traditional rewards and demerits of the workplace - it is a system that improves processes while also itself serving as an example of creative thinking and problem-solving.

At Artisan Creative, we are deeply engaged with the changing culture of the workplace and want to help our world-class creative talent and clients do their best work, take advantage of new opportunities, and mine crucial insights that can change the world. Contact us today to learn more.

We are celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 438th issue of our weekly a.blog.


4 Tips for Better Brainstorming

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

 


While generating fresh ideas requires limber and liberated thought, there is more to consider than the standard group brainstorming techniques.

The most productive and galvanizing idea generating sessions are guided by qualified facilitators applying best practices under the right conditions. According to one study, brainstorming sessions that meet these guidelines can generate more than four times the number of useful ideas than those that don't.

While there's no substitute for a group brainstorming session led by a trained professional, if you know and apply the following best practices, you will likely get more out of your brainstorming session, making it a more satisfying experience for your group and a more fruitful pursuit for an organization.

Establish Ground Rules

Make sure all participants understand what a brainstorming session involves, and don’t get caught up in problem solving. Add ground rules that best reflect your group and culture and set expectations ahead of time.

Set the Setting

Make sure all participants have the opportunity to plan ahead for the session and think about the key questions and issues in advance. Allow space for solo thinking ahead of time to enable members to contribute freely, avoid groupthink and generate a larger number of ideas.

The session itself should take place in a quiet and comfortable place, free of the normal workday distractions. Some organizations rent off-site rooms (such as those available in co-working spaces). A change of scenery may help shake up established assumptions and patterns of thought.

Ask the Right Questions

To be useful, brainstorming must be more than a group of people talking. To borrow from Proust, the right questions, games, and structure can inspire participants to ideate "like good poets whom the tyranny of rhyme forces into the discovery of their finest lines."

This excellent piece offers a menu of structured brainstorming exercises that may help generate more productive thinking and discussion. The most important factor for success is to build the session around a powerful central question. According to the research of Flow author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the brightest thinking is prompted by the strongest questions. Create a central question or theme that best describes the issue you are brainstorming around.

Write First, Talk Second

In a piece for Fast Company, Rebecca Greenfield recommends that much of the mental action take place before the group convenes. All participants submit their ideas in advance, which can then be made anonymous and put to a group vote. This mitigates the influence of more dominant and vocal personalities, empowering everyone to contribute more and establishing a "meritocracy of ideas."

At the least, the session should be set up and run in such a way that constructive criticism is encouraged and the loudest voices don't dominate the exchange. This requires rigorous adherence to time limits and other rules, and a pervasive atmosphere of mutual respect. This can be a delicate balance to establish and maintain.

Each organization is different. Its particular decision-making criteria will factor into whether or not actionable ideas emerge from brainstorming. Thus, leading a productive brainstorming session can take some trial and error, but the investment will pay off in greater satisfaction, innovation, and organizational cohesion.

 

Artisan Creative's a.team is here to help you build your dream team. Contact us today for assistance with your hiring needs.

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 436th issue of our weekly a.blog.



Returning to Work

Wednesday, July 05, 2017


Hoping everyone had a Happy 4th of July holiday.

We know going back to work after a few days off may require a brief time to get back into the flow of things.

However, going back to work after a prolonged absence may require a longer period of adjustment. Extended leave isn’t just for maternity anymore. Sabbaticals, family leave and unlimited vacation policies are a few reasons you might take time away from work for a longer period of time.

To return to your workflow seamlessly will require preparation and a plan. Not only do you need mental preparation, you also need to incorporate concrete steps to get into the flow of things and kick-start your productivity right away.

Here’s how to prepare for RTW (Return-To-Work).

Routine, Routine, Routine. Get back into a routine as soon as possible. Some suggestions by two of our a.team members who just got back from maternity leave are:

Wake up earlier. Setting your alarm clock earlier by 15 minutes every day is a good way to slowly ease into a routine. If you are managing jetlag, or a new baby, it’s easy to have your routine disrupted, so this does take concentrated effort.

Hit the gym. Exercise helps you to sleep better while also giving your body more energy to use when you’re awake. You’re going to need the extra boost of energy when you’re back at your desk.

Regularize your meals. Meals are necessary to fuel your body, obviously, but they also send a signal to your body that you’re back on a schedule. They can also help structure your day. “I have to eat dinner at 6, no matter what” can help the rest of your day fall into place.

First Day Back at Work

Set Your Own Expectations. There’s a tendency to want to conquer the world right out of the starting gate. However, depending on how long you’ve been away, accept that you may not get caught up on the first day back!

Pace yourself. Catching up is neither a marathon nor a sprint, but a medium-distance race. Pace yourself and create balance between the various to-dos you have to tackle.

Set your calendar for the week. (Hint: you can plan for this even before you leave.)

Schedule meetings for Day 2. with key collaborators, clients, managers and staff to get updated on the department goings-on.

Get back to Zero-Inbox. Depending on how long you were gone and how many emails are waiting for you--this task can take a bit of time, so schedule time for it.

Your first day back is key for organizing, catching up and getting everything together. Doing this will set you up for success for easing back into work successfully.  

Welcome back!

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 432nd issue of our weekly a.blog.



6 Month Goal Setting Review

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 431st  issue of our weekly a.blog.

Hard to believe that this week is already the ½ way point of the year! It seems each year that our days & weeks pick up speed, zooming by faster than ever.

Our connectivity to our devices, to our colleagues around the globe, and to friends and family via social, makes one day blend into another with the passage of time becoming seamless.

With the mid-year here, now’s a good opportunity to revisit the goals we set early on in January and take stock of where we are.  Are we on track? Are there goals that have already been accomplished that we can remove from our list? Can we add additional ones for the next 6 months? Are we behind on some? How are we keeping ourselves accountable for staying on track?

If you didn’t make the time to set goals earlier in the year, it’s never too late to start now.

If you are on track with the goals you set in January—congratulations!You are part of a committed group of people who know how to keep on track and stay focused. The rest of us can use some help to stay the course.

Marshall Goldsmith, in his new book Triggers says, “we are superior planners and inferior doers”, and that we start the day with excitement and enthusiasm and yet we get “blindsided by our environment ” and don’t get to do what we had planned. He further suggests three steps to forecast the environment by Anticipating, Avoiding or Adjusting where possible, to stay on track with our plan.

So, if we are continually getting blindsided and not accomplishing some of our goals….. it raises the question of how much do we really want to achieve that goal?

If the goal is getting pushed from month to month to the following year….how important is it? Should we just drop it and focus on a few vital goals that are non-negotiable or do we get back on track, revisit our goals, evaluate them and measure their progress?

Here at Artisan we create vision boards that provide a visual reference for our goals. It was a great exercise and I was inspired by the pictorial vision of what my year could look like. I placed my vision board right in front of my desk—so I would look at it everyday. However, after the first few months of the year, my vision board became part of my office décor. Even though I was looking at it daily, I wasn’t seeing it.

I wasn’t actively revisiting the bold statements and visuals I had intentionally placed on my board and wondered if they still resonated or were driving me towards a better year. Until…I read Dr. Goldsmith’s Triggers book and understood the power of asking active questions to keep me on track and help me focus.

I now start each day by evaluating the action items I had set the day before to help me achieve my bigger goal and ask myself the daily question introduced in the book.

Did I do my best to………..? and then I fill in the blank with my goal.

For example, on my vision board I have several images of the great outdoors (mountains, the beach, trees, etc.) to inspire spending more time in nature. Now I ask myself the active question of  "Did I do my best to spend time in nature today?”.  Some days that means a hike in the Santa Monica mountains or a walk on the beach, and other days it may mean a simple walk around the local park. 

The important facet is I’m trying to do something everyday to move the needle closer to my goal.

What daily actions do you implement to achieve your goals?  Please do share!


Remote Work Best Practices

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 424th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

More and more employers, employees, and freelancers are thinking outside the cube.

According to a recent Gallup survey covered in The New York Times, as many as 43% of employed Americans spend at least some of their professional time working at home or off-site, representing a four-point increase from 2012 and indicating a growing trend toward remote work.

This trend may seem liberating, however, with freedom comes responsibility. Remote work pumps different muscles of accountability and discipline.

If you're new to remote work or plan to work remotely in the future, these best practices can help maintain or improve your productivity.

1. Get to know the team

When starting a new remote freelance assignment or a new full time remote job, you'll want to learn everything you can about the company, its team, and its culture. 

Since you will not be seeing everyone in person on a daily basis, it may take longer to get to know the team or manage issues as they arise. Miscommunication may affect your work and your relationships if you aren’t familiar and intuitive enough to mitigate them. 

However, if you understand the people you work with and share their values and mission, you will have an easier time hashing out difficulties through email or video meetings.  

2. Keep the Paths of Communication Open

When you are communicating as a remote worker, err on the side of generosity.

If you can, schedule regular check-ins to discuss how things are going and address any potential issues before they turn into active problems. It's key to be open, honest, and thorough in all your communications.  Setting up virtual zoom meetings or participating in your company's slack channels can be a good way to stay connected.

Since most of your communication will be digital, take care to avoid digital miscommunication. Learn to convey your professional diligence and interpersonal skills through digital channels, and respond to any questions or concerns as quickly and thoughtfully as you can.

3. Find the Right Environment

For some people, working from home is a dream come true. They roll out of bed, start the coffee maker, and "commute" to their desks, twenty seconds away.

Others may work better in "third places" that are neither homes nor offices. These workers may find their ideal environments in coworking spaces or coffee shops. It is no coincidence that, as remote work has increased, new spaces and industries have appeared to accommodate those who still need to separate their work from the rest of their lives.

Wherever you decide to work, make sure the atmosphere is ideal for your productivity. If you are energized by the bustling ambiance, try working from a coffee shop. If you need quiet and isolation, find a peaceful place to work and set boundaries to protect it.

This requires some trial and error, so before you commit to full-time remote work, understand your own patterns, preferences, and boundaries. Any assignment is easier when you’re tackling it within your designated sweet spot.

4. Know Thyself

The right external environment is as essential as the right mindset. The relative freedom of remote work can empower you to play to your strengths.

The new world of work provides more freedom than ever before. Making the most of it requires wisdom, experimentation, and sensitivity to your own body and mind.

That's where Artisan Creative can help. We work with a wide variety of talent with different styles and work preferences. We can help you play to your strengths and uncover opportunities where your skills and efforts will be the most appreciated. Contact us today to learn more.


6 Things to Stop Doing

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 420th issue of our weekly a.blog. 

 

In life, the time we spend with ourselves and others is all we have. How we make the best use of our time drives us as individuals. To make more efficient, productive, and mindful use of our time is among the most important goals we can pursue.

As with any self-improvement practice, it’s possible to go overboard with time management. Being able to use time more wisely doesn’t require dramatic personality, behavior or lifestyle changes as excessive ambition can backfire.

As you endeavor to make better use of your time, here are a few common pitfalls to avoid. This time we felt that a top  “don’t do list” would resonate more than a top “do list”:

1. Don't expect miracles

"We can stretch our personalities, but only up to a point," writes the author Susan Cain. "Our inborn temperaments influence us, regardless of the lives we lead."

Some of us are natural daydreamers and do our best thinking in loose, casual environments. Others work comfortably at a slower, more deliberate pace. We can all make modest adjustments to better use our time, but if we expect to fundamentally transform our habits and patterns all at once, we are being unfair to ourselves and setting ourselves up for disappointment.

Set reasonable goals you know you can hit. Then ratchet them up over time.

2. Don't over think it

The more time we spend poring over productivity literature, exchanging time-management tips online, and imaging ourselves as whizzing, hyper-disciplined superheroes, the less likely we are to get started. Take realistic steps, to get things done in the real world. When we're planning for greatness in the future, we let dust collect on the work that's due today.

When in doubt, forget about who you want to be. Do something concrete right now and get one mundane task out of the way.

Don't get stuck in the planning stage. Avoid analysis paralysis. Do something.

3. Don't wear yourself out

Coffee and sleep deprivation are best used in extreme moderation. And the most dangerous poison of them all may be “workahol!”

Simply put, to make the best use of your time and do your best work over the course of your career, take care of yourself. Court burnout at your peril.

Sometimes, this means stepping away from a side-project that sucks you dry. Sometimes, it means firing a client who asks too much for too little. Protecting our long-term health by all means possible is something we all need to be doing every day.

4. Don't lose focus

The best way to save time and energy, to get more out of your life and live it with greater self-respect, is simple: get used to saying “no”. Say "no" to things you don't want to do and opportunities that don't align with your core values or fit into your larger projects.

Determine your core mission. Boil it down to one or two sentences. Then take an inventory of your activities. Cross out the ones that aren't mission essential. Next comes the hard part: stop doing them. And, if you are offered the opportunity to take on new responsibilities that don't resonate with you on a fundamental level, turn them down. Say "no thank you," say it often, say it proudly, and stand behind it.

You will save your bandwidth and will give other people the opportunity to do the things you don't have the time or inclination to do well.

5. Don't jump around between different systems and fads

Time management is big business, and new gurus are constantly making the scene, with new “systems” that they promise will blow everything else out of the water. Needless to say, skepticism is in order.

None of these programs have a monopoly on wisdom. Most of them boil down to the same few bits of useful, practical, time-tested advice. You can waste a lot of time following trendy advice that isn't right for you, attempting to change horses mid-stream, or signing onto a program that works for someone with a completely different life.

If you decide to embrace a time-management system, commit to it, at least long enough to test its efficacy.

6. Don't beat yourself up

Life is an experiment. Your career is a work in progress. Your mistakes are best understood as learning experiences.

If you fail to make the best use of your time or you can't stick to your plan, don't give up. Take an honest look at how you can improve. Consider how you can play to your strengths and work with your natural personality, rather than against it. And congratulate yourself for taking on the hard challenge of self-improvement and your willingness to adapt and grow.

The best way to manage time is to cultivate relationships that play to your strengths and make things easier.

At Artisan Creative, we understand how world-class clients and talent can make the best use of their time together. Contact us today, and we'll give you a boost on your way to the next level.



End Time-Wasting Habits

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 411th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

Procrastination is a choice. You may let yourself believe you're just sending a few more harmless texts, frittering away another hour by “taking a break” on Facebook, or putting off your goals for one more day. What you’re really doing is letting valuable time evaporate.

You’re smart and talented enough to use your time more effectively, and you have to first understand your habits in order to change them. Poor productivity isn't the fault of Mark Zuckerberg and his team of programmers. It's something you can change when you call it by its name. 

Here are five big categories that encompass our little time-wasting habits. When you see yourself falling into these traps, call yourself out. As you learn to correct counterproductive tendencies, you’ll be on your way to a better body of work, better career opportunities, and more self-confidence.

1. Analysis Paralysis

It's time to make a decision, yet you continue to wait until all the facts are in. You need more data, or more research, or one more class that will make you a master and hopefully eliminate any apprehension for good.

Analysis paralysis is the result of a fear of failure. We are trained to avoid embarrassment, and we'd rather postpone big risks that may not play out the way we want.

To get past this, accept that you will never be prepared for every possibility. You can learn a lot through trial and error, experiences that you can't glean through any amount of preliminary study. When it doubt, do something, see what happens, and be willing to embrace it fully.

2. Self-Sabotage

You put off a big assignment until the last second, forcing yourself to rush it and turn in mediocre work. You distract yourself, creating conditions where you know you will do less than your best. You give 70%, resenting every second of it.

There are false benefits to engaging in self-sabotage. When we know we're not giving it our all, it allows us to fail without damaging our egos. "I could have done a great job," we often say. "I just didn't have the time, or the energy, or the commitment."

To get around self-sabotage, try this exercise:

Visualize the consequences of neglecting your responsibilities. Maybe you will lose your job, lose the respect of colleagues, or miss out on future opportunities. Feel that pain and frustration as fully as you can.

Now turn that image black and white, and make it smaller until it disappears. Replace it with a new image, bursting with color, one that celebrates you successfully completing your work. With that image in mind, tackle your work wholeheartedly, take pride in your follow-through, and integrate new things you learn from the experience of getting the job done.

3. Micromanaging

As a manager, you are familiar with every process. You know how every part fits into the company's broader mission. You could do everyone's job better if you only did it yourself; you just don't have the time.

The best supervisors know how to free up a lot of time by delegating tasks to others and empower their teams. If you have trouble doing this, it may indicate a lack of trust.

Remind yourself that employees are there for a reason, and you trained them well. If you simply let go and let them do their jobs, you will have more time to handle your own responsibilities. In turn, the company will run more smoothly, and your team will feel more appreciated.

4. Interpersonal conflicts

Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."

She did not mean that great leaders lack empathy. On the contrary; our best ideas come from understanding the lives and experiences of others. Excellent thinkers channel their interest in humanity into their work; they do not engage in office politics and idle gossip.

Engaging in status games or worrying about who is in the boss's good graces is at best a waste of everyone's time and a distraction from the important work that needs to be done. At worst, being too concerned with how you're perceived can make you harder to get along with which will hinder fluid teamwork.

5. Trying to do too much

"Specialization is for insects," wrote Robert Heinlein. There's much to be said for being a "scanner" and having a broad range of interests and experience. The danger kicks in when you try to do so much, that you find yourself unable to focus on anything long enough to see it through. 

If you need to correct this tendency, we recommend rigorously limiting your to-do list. Give yourself no more than four big things to accomplish in any one day. As time goes on, these little accomplishments will add up to a larger sense of accomplishment leading to well-earned confidence.  More information on being productive can be found here.

If you are short handed and need help to get the job done please let us know. Get in touch to learn more about how the a.team can help find your dream team.



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