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3 Ways to Reclaim Your Creativity and Productivity

How do you pull yourself out of a productivity slump?

Back in May of 2019, Matthew flew to New York City, New York to attend Adobe’s 99u conference. The conference was focused on the future of creativity, and what role each of us plays in shaping it.

In this video, Matthew breaks down some of the challenges we’re collectively facing as a creative community, and what tools we can incorporate to combat them.

Below we’ll share some of the takeaways from Adobe 99u so you can reclaim your creativity and productivity.


The Challenges

#1: The Robots are Coming

We’ve heard this one before. “The robots are stealing our jobs!”

While we have seen some major developments in artificial intelligence, the future’s not so bleak. We’re not getting replaced, but we do need to adapt in some way.

The role of designers will change dramatically with the increased presence of AI. The types of skills we need to bring to the table will have to be very different.

We have to do two things in this near future to stay above the bots: (1) dream up a future that is bold, ridiculous, and unexpected. And (2) bring our human touch to everything we do. We have to break from convention and push ourselves to stretch and flex our creative imaginations.

#2: Innovation Over Iteration

We’ve witnessed industries change right before our eyes with the development of technology over the years.

Disruption is inevitably headed our way, so how do we prepare for it?

Well, we have to think REALLY big. We have to become comfortable with what makes us uncomfortable. We have to think expansively, and practice growing our imagination every day.


#3: Distractions, distractions…and more distractions

We are by far the most distracted generation. The irony is that we have so many tools at our disposal to help us get work done better, faster, and in an easier way; yet we are mindlessly twiddling our thumbs on our phones.

These statistics presented at the 99u conference tell us just how distracted we are:

  • The average person in an office gets distracted or interrupted every 90 seconds.
  • Employees only get 3.5 hours of productive work time out of an 8 hour work day.
  • Multitasking is a myth: it just takes us longer to complete two things together versus trying to knock them out one at a time.


The Tools to Reclaim Our Creativity and Productivity

#1: Focus Sprints

A focus sprint is a 90-minute chunk of uninterrupted, distraction-free, concentrated work time. In order to complete a focus sprint, follow these steps:

  • Turn off all distractions and notifications. Go on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode, and hide your phone if you need.
  • Assign a goal for the sprint, then break it down into subtasks.
  • Set a timer for 90 minutes and go. This will feel awkward the first time around, but if you stick with it, you’ll find it much more easy to approach.
  • Rest for 20 minutes at the end of the sprint. Go for a walk, rest your eyes, or stare at something green.

Try and repeat as many focus sprints as you can throughout your day.

It’s important to note that your brain enters a peak flow state during the sprint, so when the time comes to rest, really give yourself the time to come down.


#2: Hold Better Brainstorm Sessions

Before jumping into a brainstorm session with your team, define a challenge to tackle. The more specific you can make it, the more innovative your ideas will be.

Then, break into small groups (if you can). Have one person facilitate, while the others participate in the brainstorm.

Play hot potato with the idea. The goal is to expand one idea with each person’s input, but you can’t shoot anything down.

Document the idea in a t-sheet. Write down what you got out of the brainstorm and pair it with a sketch to bring it all to life. This will make the idea tangible and much easier to relay to others.


#3: Get Bored

Why do some of our best ideas happen when we’re in the shower?

It’s not the hot water that’s charging our neural pathways; it’s the fact that for a few minutes, we are undeniably bored. When we get bored, we allow our subconscious to work and come up with new ideas.

Rather than jump in the shower when you need a new idea, try this instead:

  • Create an undistracted space. Your only objective is to be bored.
  • Turn off all stimuli.
  • Get bored and let your mind wander.
  • Document any ideas or thoughts that stuck out to you.


Final Thoughts

Creativity is rapidly changing, yes, but it is at its peak. Where we let creativity go from here is entirely up to us.

We have everything at our disposal to create any future we dream of, and it’s our obligation to make it.

We hope you’ll give these 3 tools a try to reclaim your creativity and productivity.

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