Artisan Blog

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 a 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.

Boost Your Productivity by Managing Digital Clutter

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 409th issue of our weekly a.blog.

2017 started off with one mission in mind: manage my clutter, specifically digital clutter.

Somehow digital clutter crept up without me realizing it (or more likely ignoring it). My computer and I were slowly being taken over by multi-version documents and needless copies of files from years back. Digital clutter was leading to distraction and reduced productivity.

An (un)fortunate laptop mishap led to losing all my data. This newly-clean-and-devoid-of-any-files-laptop had an unexpected silver lining causing a fresh start.

A “de-cluttered” digital life became a priority, and I needed a plan to start with.

Duplicate Files

If you aren’t already using proper naming conventions, start now. It’s too easy to get bogged down with multiple file versions with slightly different names. Choose a file naming convention process and stick with it. Whether you start with the name or date, stay true to it and implement it across your team or department.

If things have gotten out of hand, a manual intervention may not be possible. In this case, duplicate file management apps like Gemini or a variety of version control options such as Git will solve your problem. If you are a creative use Adobe Bridge or DAM to manage those assets on an ongoing basis.

Backup and Delete

Once your files are organized, then back them up to the cloud, or to a drive. Back it up and have the peace of mind that you can always find that one elusive file. Delete all non-current files as well.

Say Goodbye

Unsubscribing from emails and newsletters that are overflowing your inbox will give some breathing space. Whether you change the frequency of newsletters or divert them to their own folder, change this flow of digital noise to something that is both manageable and realistic for you. You can use Unroll.me to batch unsubscribe and remove email subscriptions you no longer need.

Unfollow Posts

 Information overload from social media adds to digital clutter. Unfollow any pages that you no longer care about and turn off notifications. Not only do they add to digital clutter, they expand digital noise pollution too.

Inbox Zero

 It’s liberating, it’s invigorating and it’s hard to start, however, once you achieve inbox zero, you’ll never want to go back. A few easy steps can get you organized and help build a workflow so you can get to inbox zero. Tools like Sanebox help manage all those LinkedIn invites, or Basecamp notifications.

2017 is already looking better!

What best practices can you share to managing digital clutter?

A Freelancer’s Guide to Expert Client Communication

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 407th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Any freelancer will know that running your own business requires a broad set of skills and the ability to wear many hats. In addition to doing your job well, you have to manage clients, invoices, new business development and a whole host of other responsibilities. To be a successful freelancer involves satisfied clients with repeat business. With this in mind, how do you please clients and how does good communication affect your business?

Establishing good communication from the start is the pathway to successful projects. By keeping an open dialogue, building rapport and ensuring mutual understanding, clients will want to continue working with you. Revisions and misunderstandings are lessened, which means everyone involved will be satisfied with the outcome.

Listening vs. Talking

Initial stages are all about the client and their needs. Most often clients are coming to you because they have a problem and they need you to solve it. This is your opportunity to listen by giving the client ample time to speak and express their vision.

Project Intake

Managing new clients can be tricky and if you’re busy or feeling stressed it’s easy to miss the all-important details. Create a standard project intake form with key questions to ask each client. Your methodical approach towards taking on a new assignment will be noticed and ensures that you’ll never forget to ask a crucial question.

A Consultative Approach

Clients are hiring you because of your expertise and they’re trusting that you will do what is best for their business. They value your input, so be confident, speak up and offer advice when it’s needed.

Never Assume

The quickest way to a misunderstanding is by making assumptions. If you’re unsure, get clarification. The old adage of “measure twice, cut once” rings true here.

Put It In Writing

If you are taking lots of calls with your clients, always follow up and summarize what you discussed. Whether it’s revisions, project scopes or fees, send a confirmation via email so everyone is on the same page. Better yet, create a project scope form, and a change order form to manage deliverables and edits.

Response Time

As a rule of thumb, aim to respond to a client within 24 hours. Set expectations and deliver to those standards. Unless you’re on instant messaging such as Skype or Slack, clients will appreciate knowing they can expect your response within a set time allocation. If you’re unable to keep to a 24-hour timeframe, let the client know your schedule and that they are a priority. Ask clients for their schedules so you’ll know when to expect feedback and revisions too.

With a few minor processes added to your freelance workflow, you can minimize misunderstandings, enhance productivity and align communication. Focusing on client satisfaction will ensure you are always successful.

What additional experiences can you share with other freelancers?

 

 


Visual Goal Setting

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 405th issue of our weekly a.blog.

As part of our annual goal setting, each member of the Artisan Creative a.team creates a vision board and presents it at our first meeting of the new year. Our boards are a collection of short and long term goals that include both personal and professional aspirations.

Presenting it to the team develops accountability and enables the group to learn more about each team member’s ambitions, hopes and dreams. Some people set a theme for their board/year—others use inspirational quotes. What they all have in common is the shared use of imagery that inspires, tells a story and conveys a message to create a powerful visualization tool.

In addition to sharing our visions and goals with the group at the onset of our new year, we review our boards mid-year, and also share a recap at our year-end meeting. This sense of accountability and the revisiting of our goals helps keep us on track. This activity in one of our strongest team-building exercises, as it stays “evergreen”.

Here are 5 tips to create your great vision board and get 2017 off to a good start!

  1. Select words and images that inspire and are true to your core values.
  2. Create positivity and inspiration. Have fun…imagine the integrated life/work you want to build out.
  3. Create an integrated board where elements from both your personal and professional aspirations are represented.
  4. Keep the board where you can re-visit it daily—read the inspirational messages out loud— and often!
  5. Share your hopes and dreams with others. Having an accountability partner will help you get closer to achieving your goals.

Tools needed:

  • A large poster board to give you plenty of space to visualize your year, yet small enough to hang on your wall. We use the 22 x28 size available from Staples.
  • A good pair of scissors and a strong glue stick!Make sure you invest in good glue so the pictures stay on all year long.
  • Variety of magazines to look through to find those inspiring words and pictures. 
  • (Optional) Markers/stickers to write or embellish your board.
  • Patience and Creativity!

Although electronic versions such as Pinterest also work, going old-school where you physically search for and cut out imagery and words from a magazine and decide where to place them is in itself an opportunity to reflect and plan via a very tangible exercise.

What is your goal setting process?

Happy New Year!



Our Favorite Apps of 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

 


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 404th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Our constant use of apps has greatly impacted how we complete tasks, stay in touch with our network and run our business. The variety of iOS and Android apps available and our reliance upon them increases exponentially year over year. For 2017, the number of smartphone users in the United States is estimated to reach 222.9 million, with the number of worldwide users forecasted to exceed a staggering 2 billion users.

Smartphones graduated from being a tool for texting and calling, to serve as an access point for managing a wide array of crucial life and work events, from job applications to house hunting, banking and healthcare.

At Artisan Creative, staying connected with our a.team and to the outside world is vital to our day to day interactions. With this in mind, we thought it would be interesting to share the apps our team felt they couldn’t live without. We’ve included everything from meditation, time management and those all-important delivery services.

Headspace

An app that makes “meditation made simple.” Headspace is your personal brain trainer that allows you to take a time out anytime, anyplace and anywhere. They already have 5 million users and you can tailor your meditation to fit with your lifestyle and schedule. It’s surprising how much calmer you feel after a 10-minute time out.

Be Focused


The Pomodoro Technique used in this app is a simple time management process that tells you to take a 5-minute break every 25 minutes. After you’ve worked four consecutive pomodoros, you’re rewarded with a longer break. Frequent breaks coupled with periods of focused attention on tasks enable you to do more and work smarter.

1Password

Protecting your identity online is every internet user’s concern. 1Password consolidates all your passwords and keeps them safe with strong encryption. It also creates difficult passwords for every site that requires a login. It integrates with desktop and mobile, meaning you never need to remember or worry about your passwords and personal information again.

Wunderlist

A cloud-based and collaborative task management app that allows you to edit, share and collaborate on your to-do list. It also sends you notifications which is handy if you are forgetful.

Slack


Slack is our go-to team communication tool. We use the desktop version every day and as we’re often running to meetings, the mobile version means we can be communicative with the team while we’re on the go.

Venmo


Owned by PayPal, Venmo is the easy way to send money to friends and family. We wouldn’t recommend sending large sums of money through the app, however, it’s a quick and painless way to split lunches, cab fares or send birthday money.

Postmates

Choosing our favorite delivery app was a tough decision for the team. Postmates comes out on top thanks to its ability to choose whether you have groceries, takeout or personal items delivered to your door in less than an hour. A new level of laziness or absolute convenience? Try it out and let us know.

Do you use any of the apps that made our list or do you have any you’d recommend to our team? Let us know in the comments below.

 



Play to Your Strengths

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

We hope you enjoy the 401st issue of our weekly a.blog.

In our 20 years of running a successful creative staffing agency, we’ve met some companies who spend a lot of time and money focusing on an employee’s weakness and helping them overcome those weaknesses through ongoing training.

At Artisan Creative, we decided to focus on our team’s strengths instead. We believe the best way to keep team members engaged and productive is to develop and invest in their individual strengths. By consistently playing to everyone’s natural talents, our team has become better at collaborating and communicating with our clients and talent.

This year we selected StrengthsFinder to create a common platform to build and communicate from. Each team member first took the on-line test and with the help of a certified coach, we reviewed the finer details during an in-person session to help find and align the collective strengths of the team.

This created an open line of communication within our A. Team and has enabled us to better understand ourselves, our behaviors and reactions to situations.

Here are a few pointers from StrengthsFinder that we now use on an ongoing basis:

1. Know your own strengths.

To best develop other people’s strengths, we must first understand our own. Only then can we help our team develop theirs. This applies equally to the candidates we screen and help throughout their careers.

We each have our own unique strengths and no two people are identical — and everyone is at their best when there is a focus on a strengths-based approach to working.

This practice fosters an environment where people feel comfortable discussing their strengths authentically. It also helps recognize team communication, natural strengths and how to maximize those strengths.

2. Understanding one's own strengths gradually leads to effective use of those strengths in the workplace. 

We can help our team understand and utilize their strengths in internal communications with other members and external communication with vendors, talent and clients.

By building on one another's strengths and accepting and accommodating differences, teams gain a keen awareness of how their strengths support their peers.

3. Help people who aren't using their strengths.

When people don't apply their strengths to a task or revert to focusing on their weaknesses instead, we can redirect attention to what they do best naturally to create their best pathway for success.

4. Harmonize team strengths.

Any team can be positioned for success when team members understand and leverage one another's strengths. We can further optimize groups by bringing together teams with complementary strengths to balance and improve performance.

5. Keep strengths top of mind.

At Artisan, we review and recap instances where a strength was beneficial in a given situation: For example, how did someone’s strategic talent provide input for a new marketing initiative, or how another team member’s “developer” talent helped one of our talent in their career path.

Understanding one another’s natural strength has enabled us to stay connected, communicative and collaborative.

What strengths do you focus on?

 


Reasons for Being Grateful

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20 years in staffing and recruitment and over the years we have a learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you.

 

This is the time of the year to reflect on the past year and look forward to new opportunities and adventures ahead.

As Shawn Achor states in his popular Ted Talk and best-selling book “The Happiness Advantage” one of the ways to create happiness and positive mental change is to express gratitude on a daily basis.

Here at Artisan Creative, we are grateful for so many things and wanted to share a few with you.

We are:

  • Grateful to celebrate 20 years of creative staffing & recruitment.
  • Grateful for the incredible, dynamic a.team. Always giving, always striving to be at their best.
  • Grateful for our amazing talent who continuously push the creative envelope.
  • Grateful for our long lasting client relationships and for the opportunity to help grow their teams.
  • Grateful for our furry 4-legged friends who keep us company at work.
  • Grateful for the opportunity to write the 400th issue of our weekly a.blog today.

Below are additional gratitudes from our a. team:

Laura
  • Grateful for my family and their health, support and love.
  • Grateful to work for a company I love.
  • Grateful that I get to spend every day with my husband.

Stephanie

Grateful that I live in Los Angeles. I'm grateful for my health, home, and to have worked with a great company for 10 years.

Margaret

Thankful for my family and friends, my wonderful husband and my "a" recruiting team who comes ready to work every day and is so dedicated.

Jen

  • Grateful for a supportive and passionate team that pushes me to my full potential every day.
  • Grateful for the ability to work from home.
  • Grateful for my husband who caters to my every pregnancy craving and mood swing.

Regina

I'm so grateful for my job! I am so happy every day.

Ana

I am grateful for my family that supports each other through thick and thin, for my long time friends that are like extended family, for my employers that provide an environment to live a balanced life and for my excellent health!

Cammy
  • I am thankful for the privilege of becoming a new aunt to my amazing nephew.
  • Also my family, everyone's health, and good food!

Jamie

  • Working with a dynamic and committed team on a daily basis for over 20 years.
  • The opportunity to learn something new every day.
  • Simplicity in life and communication.

Katty

  • Grateful for the amazing a. team.
  • Grateful for family, friends, health and love.
  • Grateful to learn and grow every day.

What are you thankful for this holiday season?

 

 




Creating and Nurturing Company Culture

Wednesday, November 09, 2016


 

At Artisan Creative, we believe in creating long lasting relationships—with our talent, with our clients and most definitely with our team.

Engaging in an integrated life-work philosophy and staying true to our core values has always been how we conduct business and have maintained our culture here at Artisan. We believe this is one of the reasons for our success over our past 20 years in this business.

We also believe that culture must be nurtured, cultivated and cared for.

As our California-based company has been virtual for over 7 years, we’ve learned to do things a little differently that allow us to continue to build a strong culture for our team members who all work remotely.

Many of our client companies have offices in multiple locations, and the tips we employ with our virtual staff can easily be applied to teams in remote locations as well as virtual teams.

Below are 5 tips for creating and nurturing company culture in a virtual work environment.

 

  1. Befriend Technology! Use Slack, Yammer or any other team communication or collaboration tool to stay connected. We hold scheduled daily Zoom video huddles to brainstorm and share ideas, and use Slack to review assignments and execute our search plans. A good CRM system keeps track of communications, meetings, appointments and client and talent information.

  2. Communicate metrics and expectations clearly— review them daily/weekly. Communicate the vital short-term goals.

  3. Create a transparent environment so people understand their value and contribution.

  4. Come together often. We have in-person team meetings once a month, and team members meet up for talent interviews and client site visits throughout the month.

  5. Meet socially! We have team activities ranging from potlucks, paint nights, bowling and dinners out. We include spouses and partners in the social outings.

Please share any best practices for growing culture within your team.

 


Body Language - What Does It Say?

Wednesday, November 02, 2016


The expression “actions speak louder than words” is often true when it comes to interviewing. Body language expert Amy Cuddy states in her TedTalk “our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.” So what does this mean when you’re going for that all-important job interview?

Interviewees must walk a fine line during job interviews. How do you convey confidence, without gloating; friendly but not overbearing; talented but not arrogant?

What are you revealing with your body language and how can you make sure your messaging is what you want it to be? Using a few simple tricks and tips can impact the outcome of your interview and help forge relationships.

Direct “face” contact: We’re often told that direct eye contact is key to building relationships and showing that you’re actively engaged. Research shows that this is not accurate. Our eyes instinctively wander around a face, jumping between a person’s eyes and mouth. Do what comes naturally to you and don’t get hung up about staring at your interviewer.

Be expressive: Sitting on your hands or staying too still can be a sign of nervousness or insecurity. Use your hands and arms to express yourself. Showing your palms can be interpreted as a sign of engagement and honesty, too. However, watch the over-gesturing.

Good posture: There are few things more unnerving than interviewing someone with bad posture (see also: limp handshakes). Sit upright in your chair, but make sure you’re comfortable and not too rigid. Lean in every now and then to show that you are engaged, but remember to be mindful of your interviewer’s personal space.

Mirroring: You may be familiar with mirroring and how it shows that someone is subconsciously interested in you if they begin mirroring your body language. This works in reverse, too. Mirroring your interviewer can help create a sense of ease and maintain rapport.

You and your interviewer are relaying more information to one another non-verbally than verbally. If you are paying attention, you can understand the information being shared and influence the information in your responses.

Do you have an upcoming interview? Check out our interview advice on the Artisan Creative website.

One-Two-One Onboarding

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Best Practices for onboarding new hires and making them feel welcome


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