Are you procrastinating? Then there is no excuse not to read this blog…
Before setting up Youbiquity, I worked in-house as a digital marketer and designer for a number of businesses across a range of industries. The subject of my work has varied greatly, but over the years I have noticed patterns in terms of my processes. I have found this can be applied to other areas of my work and life to ensure a healthy balance of what I believe are key to sustaining a sense of passion and drive.
I have become more aware of these patterns since launching our Digital Marketing Agency in early 2019 and have gone on to apply this same pattern (or process) in everything I do.
I thought the Productivity Hub would be a great platform to share my ideas and hopefully help others that are struggling in terms of staying on top of things through lockdown, so I hope it’s of use to you.
Identifying a healthy pattern of working
For me, finding routine amongst the chaos of life has always been a challenge. If truth be told, I was never aware of my process until I was forced to reflect on it in order to streamline my workload. I guess for so many of us, that is often the way; we wait until we are up against it before we stop and reflect on what we are doing and why in order to better ourselves and our process.
I believe that we all have processes that we follow either consciously or subconsciously, so identifying them is the first step to adapting them to your advantage. I feel lucky to have identified my working pattern and now that I understand it more clearly, I can keep checks with myself to make sure I am on track and staying productive. This benefits my clients, my colleagues and myself.
I believe that healthy working patterns should include four things:
- creativity (or input)
- logical thinking (or planning)
- action (or doing)
- analysis (or reflection)
For many of us these processes can become overlapped or jumbled when we are working which can lead to confusion, stress and ultimately a lack of productivity.
My thinking is that if we are able to compartmentalise our process to allow us to focus on each of these areas then we can maximise productivity.
In my opinion, without creativity or a sense of input in our work, we’re all doomed.
Ok, that might be a bit strong. But my point is that in order to stay engaged in what we are doing we should be allowed input, choice and an element of playfulness to explore and learn. This not only helps us to maximise our individual thinking but also allows everyone in a team to bring their ideas to the table and builds enthusiasm for something.
It’s not to say that all (or even any) of the products of our thinking during this period will go on to be used in what we are doing, but without allowing the time for this process we could be limiting ourselves before we even get started!
I strongly believe there is no such thing as a bad idea. I find it much less productive to stew on one-hundred bad ideas, than putting them out into the world and then realising they are ridiculous and moving on. This process filters out bad ideas and lets you focus on the things that are worth focusing on.
Logical Thinking (Planning)
In my opinion, without logical thinking we’re all:
- Less productive
- Unable to move towards a goal
- Susceptible to distraction
Bringing lots of different ideas together into something that can actually be harvested is another big challenge in staying productive. Applying logical thinking is how we are able to move something from a concept stage into a place where it becomes viable, or not.
So many great ideas fall by the wayside because they can’t be executed properly and this can often be due to a lack of clear logical thinking and planning.
In order to think clearly at these times, we need to take a step back from the creative (input) phase and essentially start to work with what we’ve got. This allows us to stay focused and keeps us moving towards our end-goals. We have to think logically in order to plan, schedule and deliver work of real quality.
This ‘step’ in the process is usually the part that requires a lot of focus and the ability to manage your time and resources. Most of the time, I find it useful to apply this aspect of my thinking after the creative stage, but you may be different.
Planning is the key to delivering success. Make sure you apply focused-logic to your processes to get the most out everything you do.
In my opinion, without action nothing gets done.
This one may seem the most obvious part of the process and one that people would say is essential to maximising productivity.
However, I do feel that balancing your time actually ‘doing’ your work with the other three stages of creativity, logical thinking and analysis is also key.
If we jump straight in and start doing the work without really thinking about the how, what and why of it, we can run the risk of producing poor quality output that doesn’t get the best out of us. Let’s face it, that’s no good for anyone.
Equally, if we are not aware of the doing stage or we are in a role where we feel like it’s someone else’s job to actually ‘do’, we can become unengaged and ultimately less productive.
In my opinion, without analysis I would never have realised I had repeated the words ‘in my opinion’ in the introduction to each of these four sections.
I am a self-confessed geek and I love to review ‘the data’ to find patterns of success and failure and improve my working processes all the time.
I believe that analysis is a vital stage in increasing productivity, because without it we can go round in circles, making the same mistakes or not recognising areas of strength and weakness.
It’s fair to say though that over-analysing is something that I am personally guilty of. Being able to assign my time to analysing my work allows me to stop myself from overthinking things and worrying about it (too much) while I am in the creative and logical stages of my process.
I think that over analysing can hold people back. It can make you worry about going wrong or causing other people problems, but that in itself can restrict you and make you less productive.
It’s important to check what you are doing along the way, but putting specific time aside to analyse your work can be more useful than doing so fleetingly.
Make sure you use your analysis to improve your processes. Make the most of your analysis!
An example of how we apply this thinking to marketing campaign planning
When it comes to applying the four elements (creativity, logic, action and analysis) to my own work, I start by looking at the tasks in front of me and then assign blocks of time to allow for each process. From there, I place my tasks into the separate sections of time, allowing me to build a structure to my workflow. In some cases, I will have more than one period of each of the four elements. At Youbiquity, this structured approach helps us to ensure our marketing campaigns have the best quality output for our clients.
I have put together a quick graphic to show how I apply this thinking to my specific scenario:
The individual tasks we need to complete are never the same for each client and when we do have repetitive processes they often come in different orders, but by allowing time for each of the above we are guaranteeing that our time is the most productive it can be.
I think, ultimately everyone is different and we all perform better or worse in different areas of our process. If we take a step back and identify our process, we can begin to understand which tasks fall into which category. From there, we take back the control from distraction, procrastination and unproductiveness. We can move forward towards our goals and feel happy and content with ourselves at the same time – Personally, I don’t ask for anything more than that.
I certainly don’t think that this same process will be the perfect formula for everyone, but in using my experience to explain how it has helped me, I hope it can help someone else.
At Youbiquity, we apply this same process to all the work we do. If you’re interested in learning more about that specifically or you want to chat about any of the points in this blog, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.