One of the top keys to productivity is organization. If your business (or your life) isn’t organized, chances are you’re either going to be too distracted to get anything done, or you’re going to be focused on the wrong things. So first things first, realize that finding an organization system IS important, and take time to set it up.
Then, don’t be afraid to change it up to make it work best for you and your company. Even if you think you’ve found the perfect system, be open to change. As organizations, times, and technologies change, your productivity system should change to fit growing needs and new opportunities.
Also, know that every person and every company is different, so what works for us might not work for you. Heck, five years (or six months) from now, it might not work for us either. But currently, we’re hitting peak productivity by utilizing these three organizational tools.
What it is:
It’s basically a sophisticated to-do list that you can share with your team and your clients.
How we use it:
Let’s start at the high level. Within one Basecamp, you can have multiple projects. Within one project, you can have multiple lists. Within one list, multiple to-dos. And each of those projects and to-dos can be assigned to specific people. Then, you can look at your assignment list, and start working! It also lets you add in dates and transfer files.
This is a great way to communicate with clients. At TwoTone, we have every client of ours use Basecamp. Emails can get lost and attachments sometimes go unseen, but in Basecamp, the whole history of an entire project is readily available. This helps keep communication between multiple designers and clients orderly.
Tasks of any size, shape, and form have a place on Basecamp. The premise of the program is simple, but really it’s effective. And at the end of the day, there’s nothing quite like checking an item off your to-do list (even if it’s digital).
What it is:
The business equivalent of texting, if your texts were organized into specific channels and could store all kinds of files in one place.
How we use it:
This is mainly for quick conversations. Need to know where a file is ASAP? We send a quick message to our clients or coworkers, and usually get a response in just a few minutes. Slack also stores files, so it’s great for sending over a quick screenshot or PDF for review.
Another way we use Slack is to record hours and projects’ statuses. Each designer has a private channel to record how long projects take and where they’re at in the process. Then, whenever there is a question, it is easy to look up when a project was worked on or how the project is going.
Aside from these everyday uses, Slack is a really handy place to share business and design inspiration. It’s also great for sharing funny stories or quotes – just make sure these are kept in a separate channel so that they don’t detract from important business!
What it is:
A glorified white board filled with sticky notes and a fancy name. And also one of the most effective organization tools for visual types like us.
How we use it:
We start each day with a 15 minute stand-up where we discuss the how each task is coming along. Unlike Basecamp, the kanban is reserved for projects that take more than 30 minutes. If it takes less time than that, you don’t need to go through the process of writing a sticky note.
Each employee has a different color sticky note so that it’s easy to see what all is on someone’s plate. If one color is dominating the board, we know to ask that person if there are tasks we can help out with.
These little sticky notes can have a long life. Often times, a project will move back and forth several times between areas. It might move from a specific day of the week to the next, and then move to on hold because we’re waiting to hear back from a client. Then, it could move to the “To Print” section, then “Printing”, and then finally to the “Completed” section.
Throughout the week, it’s rewarding to see the notes travel across the board as we make progress on these tasks. At the end of the week, all of the sticky notes in “Completed” are taken away, and the process begins again.
The Process of Productivity
Staying productive relies on having solid strategies in place and staying organized. Know that achieving productivity through a method that works for you and your company is going to require some trial and error. That’s okay! Try new things and discover what works best. You just might stumble across a process that increases your productivity tenfold.
We’ve only scratched the surface of the organizational elements used to increase productivity. However, it’s our hope that this small snapshot into our process will help you discover what works best for you! Leave a comment or message us with YOUR top recommendations – we’re always looking for new inspiration!
Learn more about us.
Kayla is our resident wordsmith and grammar aficionado. With an editorial background and experience working for a major magazine, she is passionate about creating unity between words and design…