STREAMLINING YOUR WORK INCREASES CREATIVITY
There are plenty of resources and advice out there about setting up systems for organization and systems for your business that will help increase your productivity.
We frequently hear words like “time management”, “output”, and “efficiency” and promises to help you get more done in less time. I’m sure you know the lingo, because like me, you’re probably always looking to streamline your work and achieve that sweet sweet entrepreneurial productivity you see advertised as the path to nirvana.
This past year, I’ve decided to approach all this from a new perspective. Instead of just looking at it through a lens of productivity, and increasing my output, I’ve been trying to look at ways to:
- Show up my best in every situation with energy and excitement
- Increase creativity and enthusiasm
- Have more FUN doing what I love and the amount of FUN time I have outside of work!
- And create a better customer experience for my clients
My goal is to reduce the number of decisions my brain needs to make on a daily basis so I can focus more on things I love, increase creativity, and move away from the time I spend on tasks that drain me.
All of this streamlining put together helps increase creativity a lot!
One of the BIGGEST compliments I got recently was from a fellow entrepreneur who said she’s become far more protective of her time thanks to the tools I’ve shared with her. She’s reframed her view of TIME and the way she plans her schedule to see it as an energy resource and as a way to increase creativity.
As she’s put boundaries in place, she finds herself freer to create, she shows up better to everything she says “yes” to and she has more time to play, relax, and enjoy her family where she doesn’t feel obligated to be working!
In this blog, I’ll share 5 simple systems that helped me maximize my energy and streamline my efforts this year, which led to increased creativity (and of course, productivity as an added bonus).
As you read, you will discover things you’re already doing, things you can try and adapt for yourself, and things that are just simply not for you! All I ask is you approach it with an open mind and curiosity if you, like me, would LOVE a little extra pep in creativity step on a regular basis.
If you’re looking for more ease, simplicity, consistency, and creativity – this blog is for YOU!
Prefer to listen to podcasts?
Or maybe you want more when you’re done reading this? I share similar material to this blog in this episode of the She Built This podcast, “What Does an Entrepreneur Do All Day?”
1. Increase Creativity with a Brain Dump
Ok, so the term sounds a little disgusting, I know. But when you’re feeling overwhelmed or mentally clogged, I find a massive brain dump is usually the first step in digging yourself out and back to a place of productivity.
I often just let my overwhelmed squirrely brain do its thing on a blank sheet of paper (I have a special journal specifically for brain dumps) and just pour it all out. Personal, professional, upcoming, on the radar but not even upcoming, everything weighing on my mind.
After it’s all out, I put it into a formal, typed one-page sheet labeled “Current Brain Dump” and I categorize it:
- Business To-Do’s
- On Radar (this is like my don’t forget section or if I have oodles of extra time projects to tackle)
- Client Projects
- Important Dates and Appointments
Writing out helps it to stop circling around my mind and cramping my creativity. This is EVERYTHING, so I can pull from this list when creating my daily to-do’s and knowing where to focus my time and energy. It also helps stop pre-worrying for things that are way down the road and don’t need time and attention yet.
You could organize a brain dump document however you like -or keep it messy and just know it’s all out for you to access whenever you need to refer to it.
2. Increase Creativity by Time-Blocking
One of my favorite tools for increasing creativity and productivity is Time-Blocking. Some of you reading this are like, “Ew, no. Stop.” Wait, hear me out! Time-Blocking can be done ALL sorts of ways!
In essence, there are four basic types of tasks you do on a regular basis as a business owner:
- The pushing of ye olde pencil: How you produce your work. Whether it be actively designing, writing, doing, producing, making, coaching your clients.
- The marketing tasks: How you attract your clients to work with you or get more customers. Networking, lead generation, content creation, following up on lead generation and networking, and other behind-the-scenes tasks to increase your visibility and get dollars in the door.
- The admin piece: Financial, accounting, systems, paperwork, paying bills, invoicing clients, tracking metrics, the actual setup of meetings and workshops, etc.
- CEO time: These are big-picture tasks dedicated to planning, visioning, strategizing, goal-setting, mapping, and brainstorming. The high-level stuff you do to grow your business, solve problems and really be an active participant in choosing your direction forward.
Some of these things ooze over into one another naturally and the lines get blurry, and you might have one or two categories to add or remove from this list!
When utilizing time-blocking and keeping in mind these four task buckets, I start big picture. I set up my weeks so that some days are blocked for doing the work and some days are blocked for CEO time, and some days are blocked for marketing/networking, etc. Almost every day includes a little admin time so I can stay organized.
It’s easier on my brain knowing what’s expected of it each day and I can show up with far more energy and gusto when I have to be “on” for calls. I find it exhausting to constantly be switching tasks and contexts, so this is how I keep my energy high, increase creativity in the work spurts, and align myself with whatever the day ahead requires of me!
Monday – CEO time and admin time
Tuesday – Client calls and client work
Wednesday – Marketing
Thursday – Client calls and client work
Friday – Client work and content creation
Pro-tip: Before I wrap up for the day, I map out the day ahead with time blocks too!
I like my time blocks LONGGGGGGGGGG. That’s how I can get in the zone and let my creative juices really flow! I can work for hours at a time on a project and not get bored or tired. Others I speak with like short time blocks/bursts of things (ie. Pomodoros) so here are two examples of how you could set up a time-blocked day.
Example of Time-Blocking with Extended Blocks:
8-9am: Admin time: replying to emails,
9-11am: First client project
11am-12pm: Second client project
12-1pm: Break for Lunch / Walk
1-4pm: Third client project
4-5pm Admin time: wrap up and prep for next day
Example of Time-Blocking with Shorter Bursts:
Choose a task and set a timer for 25 minutes. Work on the task uninterrupted, without distraction
Five minute break
Repeat for four cycles and then take an extended break (after two hours).
Continue throughout your workday
You can make time blocking your own no matter your work style, but the KEY is to minimize distractions when you’re working on the task at hand. Distractions are anything from text messages, emails, social media, Voxer messages, etc. How long you can devote to minimizing these and concentrating on one task at a time will look different depending on your lifestyle!
We like to think we can multi-task, but most humans are terribly inefficient when they multitask.
3. Increase Creativity with Task-Batching
This goes along hand-in-hand with time blocking and is something I LOVE to increase creativity. A lot of us sit around and wait to feel inspired before starting on something. I find, personally, that if I just sit down and get started… inspiration finds me along the way. This is why I love task batching especially for inspiring creative work and content creation. If I’m sitting down to work on my blogs, podcast, emails, or social media posts – I save time, energy, and brain power by doing like tasks at the same time.
Let me give you a super practical example that probably applies to most of you reading this!
Social Media Content Creation
Let’s say you sit down to write a #TipsTuesday post… you might be able to expand one tip into two, or another one might pop into your head at the same time. Which to choose!? Choose both. Create one #TipsTuesday for today, one for next week, and heck, maybe you’ll even feel that inspiration train start rolling in and want to do three or four weeks in advance! Then more ideas flood in and you decide to work on your Wednesday posts as well, and so on and so forth. Task batching can help you create more, generate bigger and deeper ideas, and let that creativity flag really FLY once it’s started!
Task batching can also give everything you’re creating a really nice underlying cohesion. For example, if I write three weeks of emails in a row, they build on one another like a story series. If I record one podcast episode after the other, I can touch on points from last week’s episode with ease. And I’m not constantly task-switching and damming up my creative flow.
4. Increase Creativity with Automation
I’m only going to touch on this briefly because I’m still learning the many blessings of implementing this in my business! There’s A LOT to learn and automation can save so much time doing the mundane, uncreative tasks that bog us down. Think: creating proposals, sending contracts, collecting payments, figuring out each other’s calendars, setting up Zoom calls. Automation can be set up around so many things in your business and really enhance your customer experience and process.
My TOP tips when getting started with automation are:
- Remember that automation isn’t for everyone! Not everyone is at a point in their business where they need to start considering this just yet. If you’re still searching for your next client, focus on attracting clients. If you’re still struggling to figure out your messaging, start there. I find a lot changes from when we first start working with clients to when we get so busy we can’t think straight anymore. It’s worth it to take your time and experiment to see what works and doesn’t work in your process before taking on every tech and tool that’s offered.
- Know that automation doesn’t solve all your problems in your business. You still need to be productive. You still need to do the work. You still need to provide excellent customer service and deliver on your word.
- Be aware that automation requires YOU (or an expert) to sit down and map out the steps. Each. And. Every. One. You often have to start with pen to paper and then figure out the tech that helps to make that happen. And… there’s a WHOLE LOT MORE COPY involved than you thought when it comes to your client journey! Trust me.
5. Increase Creativity by Finding Your People
Finding a support system and community can increase your creativity in so many ways!
I engage in Collaborative CEO Days on a regular basis and I have a tiny circle of trusted and loyal confidantes that I can bounce just about any problem off of and help move to a place of awareness or a solution. Creative ideas are a wellspring of more ideas and having someone in your life you can share yours with makes all the difference in sparking creativity.
Need some creative brainstorming in your business? Book a Strategy Call with me!
One of my favorite new automation tools in Honeybook! I use it to streamline my client onboarding, podcast guests, and MORE! Because I’m a fan of spreading a good thing your way, here’s my affiliate link to get 20% off your first year and get on your way to automating with EASE (plus, it’s uber pretty!)
BONUS TIP: Repurposing is a GAME-CHANGER when it comes to saving you time, and energy, and help kickstart your creativity. I teach you how to do it in this blog HERE.