08. Pre-empt needy clients
Some clients are going to need more looking after than others. A lot of this comes down to education: advise your client of key milestones so that you can pre-empt any last-minute pressures. Create a strong relationship with them, so they understand how you work.
09. Look for outside inspiration
When you just can't find the hook, don't spend hours moving things around. Go for a walk: a change of scene can be very inspiring - you might see a billboard, a shop front or something in a window, or you might catch sight of a typeface and link that back to what you're working on.
10. Manage your admin
When you put time aside to work on a project, try not to let admin and project management disrupt it. We have a couple of hours in the morning where we deal with all admin, then we concentrate on delivering design work and leave any further admin that comes up until the next day.
11. Drink more water
How important water is for your brain? On a scale of one to five, it probably deserves a five. When you're dehydrated, your body balance is disrupted and that means your brain cells lose efficiency. So keeping that water bottle topped up throughout the day is essential to working creatively and productively. If you find it difficult to keep track of how much you've drunk, there's even an app, Waterlogged (opens in new tab), to help you out!
If you normally drink a lot of coffee or tea, try replacing your normal cup of caffeine with a glass of water. You may be convinced you need artificial stimulants to get your juices pumping, but you'll probably find that hydration is much more efficient – and you'll probably find it easier to sleep at night too. Talking of which...
12. Get more sleep
Think you don't have time to get a decent night's sleep? When it comes to creative work, that's often the biggest false economy you can make. Working into the night may be unavoidable on occasions, but doing it regularly, especially over a series of nights, is never going to be particularly productive.
If you're working from home, you might even want to consider taking catnaps throughout the day. Even when it’s only 10 or 15 minutes, if when you feel refreshed and energized when you wake up then it's going to help you become more productive overall.
13. Give your workstation a makeover
Consider whether the familiarity and mundanity of your workplace (or your desk or cubicle) is dragging down your energy levels. Facing the same wall, seeing the same stuff, talking to the same person, for endless hours and days can lead you to get stuck in a mental rut.
Moving your desk or moving things around on it can often be all you need to blow away the cobwebs and give you a new perspective on things. Sometimes just changing your desktop wallpaper (opens in new tab) can be all you need to break the mental logjam.
14. Chew gum
Do you know that when you are chewing gum, it actually helps your brain working better (opens in new tab)? Give it a go next time you're stressed by a task or trying to solve a problem. It's not for everyone – and you certainly won't want to do it while meeting clients – but you might be surprised by the effect it has on how much you get done.
This last tip might sound a bit hippy, but there's nothing mystical about self-hypnosis: it's simply about recognising the power of a few positive thoughts to make us more efficient and creative.
Take a few moments to think about the reason you’ve been doing this job in the first place. Remember what your passion is. Remember the client’s reason to hand the project to you. Think about all the deadlines you didn't expect to it but still managed to. Then get back to work. By the end of the day you'll know the difference those few moments of reflection have had on your mood, creativity and productivity should become clear.
Words: Greig Anderson and Nindya Retnasatiti (opens in new tab)
Greig Anderson is the creative director of Effektive, a young, but established, design and ideas studio based in Glasgow.
Nindya Retnasatiti is a freelance graphic designer living and working in Indonesia. She blogs on Photoshop and graphic design in the Bahasa language at Bisa Komputer (opens in new tab).
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