5 Tips to Help Designers Do Great Work in Your Creative Agency

Meet Jordan, a busy web designer for Studio J. She is consistently interrupted by account managers who want to share more creative details about a specific project and the traffic manager who wants her to stop what she’s working on and switch to a different project. Not only is this extremely frustrating for Jordan, but it doesn’t allow her to do great work.

If your studio has a “the door is always open” policy, your creative team might never be getting the chance to get in the creative zone. Jason Fried talks about Why Work Doesn’t Happen At Work in his eye-opening TED Talk. Fried points out that organizations hire people to do great work. They provide employees with an office, a desk, software, the internet and then expect them do great work. But, great work is hard to achieve in this environment because of the frequent interruptions. Fried talks about how getting into the zone of doing great work is like sleeping. It is a phase or stage based process.

For example, when your sleep is interrupted in the night, you don’t automatically go back to the good deep “stage 5” sleep. When your sleep is interrupted you have to start over and go through stages 1–4 again. Creative work – and really all great work – is the same! People can’t really dive into work and get into the headspace where great ideas come from if they are frequently interrupted or only have short spans of time between meetings and phone calls. People need a good 4 hours of uninterrupted time to get into the deep phases of thought where great work can happen.

Here are 5 tips to help everyone in your office – especially the creative team – to do great work – uninterrupted.

1. Set Up The Day

Take 10 minutes at the start of the day to do a team huddle. Everyone can share their goal for the day, what they achieved yesterday and if they are having any roadblocks. The meeting should be lightning speed, everyone should remain standing and any roadblocks should be dealt with outside of the meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to set up the day so everyone knows what everyone is doing and to ensure that everyone has what they need to do their work. This can really help the company know what projects the creative team is working on and cut down on interruptions. If your team has flexible schedules and aren’t there early enough for a morning huddle then try meeting late I the afternoon to set-up the next day. Just remember, you don’t want to have your huddle breakup people’s chunk uninterrupted work time so schedule it wisely and keep it very high level and short.

2. Use Non-Verbal Queues

Create non-verbal queues so that everyone knows when it’s ok to interrupt and when it’s not ok. Common queues are if someone has their headphones on, their door shut (if you have a door) or I love this one – they have a note on the back of your chair that says “doing great work, do not disturb”.

3. Implement Work at Home Day

Allow your team members a “work at home day” once a week or even once a month to work on bigger projects and have some creative space without interruption. And if you are worried about if people are actually working from home ensure your team members are filling out timesheets and also have them attend huddle via phone, Skype, Facetime or other easy to use conference tools to check in just like everyone else.

4. Have an Account Manager 4 Minute Download

If your account managers need to download or exchange information with the creative designer that is not captured in the creative brief then have a project huddle for the beginning of each project that includes the designers and account manager. Have all the designers read the production brief before the huddle and then allow the account manager 4 minutes to further detail not explained in the production brief and the creative team 3 minutes for questions and then let the project roll. If this meeting requires a lot more time you might want to have a look at refining your creative brief (check out our blog on How to Write an Effective Creative Brief) to make it meatier. And of course, have this meeting standing if you can. It’s good for your health but it also keeps meetings brief and to the point.

5. Create a No Meeting Day

Make sure everyone, including yourself, has at least one day a week (if not more) that is a “no meeting” day so that they can work on bigger projects and have time to think and go deep. And make sure that everyone knows when your “no meeting” day is so that they don’t schedule meetings on that day.

If you have some tips you would like to share, let us know in the comments below.

This article was written by former Function Pointer, Amanda Truscott.

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