Five ways to improve your creative workflow

From declaring use of technology in meetings to breaking performance working habits, Nicola Kemp explores how to achieve the perfect creative workflow.

1.Embrace the notion work is a mindset not a place

If the Blackberry and its constant blinking light was a sign of the bloated inefficiencies of outdated ways of working, the new era of work could be defined by the wave of new flexible working spaces such as WeWork.

Ben Little, founder of Fearlessly Frank, says the notion every employee should work in the same place at the same time is the ultimate extravagance of time. He explains: "Everywhere we go we see people working in coffee shops or spaces like WeWork and it is fundamentally more fluid. In the creative sense efficiency is an idea which pushes a business forward, not hours spent at a desk."

Nick Turner, chief creative officer at SapientRazorfish, adds: "A key point to remember when trying to break out of performance working is that creatives should never be tied to a desk or a computer. Creatives should be able to work wherever allows them to optimise their creativity, as different experiences and environments inspire new ways of thinking and new ideas.

"Technology has freed us from being chained to an office; laptops, iPads, mobiles, cloud computing and connectivity encourage employees to work from anywhere in the world. Technology is therefore a productivity enabler, and should be used to help break ‘performance working’ habits, enhancing our creativity rather than impeding it."

2. Introduce boundaries

Attention is a scarce commodity and when executives are all too often "here but elsewhere", mistakes and overload are increasingly commonplace. "We declare our use of technology in meetings (for example if you’re using a laptop to take notes). Technology has brought great flexibility to our working lives but we need to be careful to protect our energy and time outside of work," says Antony Mayfield, chief executive and founder of Brilliant Noise.

3.Take the 70/20/10 approach

Robin Gadsby, CEO of Forever Beta, says that the only way to allow valuable time and headspace for creative thinking is to move from working at 100% efficiency or productivity to 70% which focuses on accountability, freeing up 30% for responsiveness and over-and-above thinking.

He explains: "At Forever Beta, we have adopted a 70/20/10 approach to how we work for our clients where 70% is focused on the essential, delivering against the brief, 20% on the evolutionary, adding additional value to the brief and 10% on the extraordinary, identifying and developing ideas that will revolutionise our client’s businesses."

4. Schedule in thinking time

"Protecting my calendar for time to ‘think and explore’ is crucial for creativity in this new world of work," says Gerard Crichlow, head of cultural Strategy at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO. "Exploring new exhibits at the Tate Modern across the road from our office sparks new concepts. Meeting movie executives and hearing about their upcoming slate of films opens new possibilities of collaborating and meeting publishers who know their audiences better than anyone else creates new relationships to leverage on behalf of brands in the future.   

"Creativity is about making connections and there’s no one tool that can do that better than we can. The faster we can make those connections and create worlds for people to get immersed in the faster we’ll innovate as an industry."

5. Embrace the power of your network

Harnessing the power of your network should be more than just about technology. Diana Tickell, CEO of NABS, warns that in the short term life is only going to get tougher for the CMO with pressures from all sides, a shift which she believes means it is vital to "build a great network around you to bounce ideas off and be a supportive team to each other".

She adds: "Don’t be afraid to talk. Find yourself a cheerleader and a coach. NABS know that even the most confident leaders have times when that confidence is at a low ebb and a personal reset might be necessary."

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