Like most creatives and entrepreneurs nowadays I am constantly looking into the latest productivity articles, podcasts, apps and "hacks". And while I continue to read up and try out new methods, I have come to find some that stuck more than others and have helped me to create my own little formula/routine that for the most part has worked out well. I've also noticed many of the information I read up about sometimes have common parallels. I'd love to share a compiled list of my favorite productivity resources (which is to come) but for now I am giving you a simple roundup of my personal top favorite tips.
I find this absolutely crucial if you're juggling more than a few clients at time - and even if you have one client with multiple projects going on. Although I've used Basecamp during previous years, lately I've made the switch to Asana and absolutely love it. I'll admit while this recently re-designed digital product is not 100% perfect, the UX/UI is on point and the design is clean and much more pleasant than Basecamp (sorry Basecamp but you need an update!). Best of all it's free for businesses with fewer than 15 employees. You can learn more about Asana at https://app.asana.com
With that I'll add don’t over do it on apps either. It's easy to overload and juggle using multiple apps at any given time including google docs, evernote, pinterest, Paper by 53, Pomodoro, etc etc etc - which can end up complicating your productivity rather than simplifying it. Find one or two that work best for you and try to mainly stick to those. After trying out other countless "to do" and calander apps like TeuxDeux I've discovered Focuster has by far it's been the best! It's UX/IA is easy, simple and beautiful and it's also worth mentioning it works with your Google Calender. Between Focuster, Google Cal, and Asana I'm feeling pretty organized and productive.
It may sound simple but I've found that a quick 10-15 minutes of organizing the house, my workspace, making the bed and cleaning the kitchen in the morning clean in the morning leaves me feeling refreshed, at ease and ready to start my day. Even if you think you're the type where a little clutter or mess doesn't bother you (which I totally had that mentality before), try it for a few days and see how you feel. If you want to go further into the philosophy behind organization and how it relates to productivity I highly recommend reading "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo.
This is definitely something I've repeatedly read and come to find is a common practice of so many successful and productive people (like Oprah). Personally, to me it's not up to debate about how beneficial meditation is for your brain and productivity - it's also just a nice way to start your day with purpose. Again, if you find yourself thinking it's "not for me" I urge you to give it a try just for a week and see how much clearer and sharper you feel. To find out more on how to meditate (which there are many different methods) you can check out this helpful read. You can definitely find a spot to close your eyes and sit in silence or there's plenty of apps and youtube videos out there that can aid in guided meditation (I like a mix of the two). One of my favorite apps for anyone just getting started is Headspace which you can try for free.
I kind of merged my #4 with meditation and visualizing because to me they go hand in hand. After meditation, I find that visualizing how great and productive my day is going to be helps me stay in the mindset and I kid you not, I usually end up having just that. It also helps me to constantly think about my long term goals, gain clarity and motivation. This can literally take 5 or so minutes but it works!
On multiple occasions I've found myself reading and the idea is we all have a reserve of mental/creative energy per day - that reserve is basically there for decision making. So if you take a time deciding what to wear, how to do your hair or makeup for the day, what kind of coffee to get, or what to make for breakfast that all takes away from your precious reserve leaving you probably a little fried or less creative come the early afternoon or evening. Many brilliant minds have opted to try to make their lives as streamlined and decision free as possible so they can use that mental power towards their work and problem solving instead. For me, this has meant I only wear a few select outfits during my working days and save my more creative outfit choosing for social outings. But to be honest boyfriend (who is also a designer) and I are thinking of taking it further and creating a daily "uniform" for ourselves - think Mark Zuckerberg who wears pretty much the same thing everyday a tshirt and jeans. Secondly, I make the same tea and eat the same breakfast everyday - maybe this would be too mundane for some people, but for me I love it and I'm good with it. Lastly, I pretty much wear my hair and makeup the same (again except for social outings). So if this sound appealing, I'm here to testify it makes my mornings SO much easier, stress-free and yes productive.
This is pretty much a given and probably the hardest habit to break - and I still haven't by any means mastered it. But I consciously try to limit my social media time (aka facebook) to a few times throughout the day when I need "mini breaks". Honestly, if anyone has any great articles or apps that have helped them with this do share!
Another common productivity "philosophy" I kept coming across was the magic being rituals, meaning consistently repeating certain actions when you're about to work on a certain task. So for me, I have established a morning ritual of meditation, organizing, making tea and putting on some music right before starting my task at hand - whether it be writing, designing or doing anything that will take the creative mental power. Having a consistent ritual basically helps train your brain to get into work mode or "into the zone" more easily and at a higher level of concentration.
To add to this overall morning and productivity routine, I think this has changed how I work and feel more than anything. Although I occasionally pull a late nighter, for the most part I make it a priority to get quality sleep so I can take advantage of the mornings when my well rested brain functioning at its best. There's a lot of compelling articles and studies about how the morning is when we are most productive, a recent popular one is a book called "The Miracle Morning" by Hal Elrod, which goes into much more depth about it. I'm currently reading it so I may write a review once I'm done, but even if you don't see yourself as a "morning person" it’s worth being open-minded about a practice that many brilliant/productive people have adopted (and even those who too use to classify themselves as night owls).
Happy New Year!
With the new year comes a new site and a new blog! Ok, so the timing happened to work out this way - but the truth is I’ve been working on the new site for the past few months now. With client projects, passion projects, a new job and moving to a new state, life got a tad bit busy. But I’m a big believer in things happening when the time is right and it just so happened the website launch fittingly lined up with the beginning of a fresh new year.
I really do see this past and coming year as a new chapter in my personal life and in my business/career. I’ve grown and have gained much clarity on what matters most to me as well as the goals I find most important. With that being said, I hope with this new rendition of the blog to share branding advice, new work, career philosophies, my own as well as guests’ tidbits on how to live a more “quaint” life - and of course general design findings and inspirations. But before we get started on all of that, I thought it would be appropriate to share a small bit about myself and my background.
My name is Leah and I’m a designer/illustrator who currently resides in Austin, TX with my partner in crime, Frank, and my real life muppet, Linus (dog). I have worked as an art director for the past 6 years for a design agencies, while also having QuaintInc on the side where I do branding and illustration. I’ve always loved balancing both my day job, where I work with big national brands, and my side business where I get to take my experience and expertise and work with smaller businesses and fellow female entrepreneurs who are looking for a certain aesthetic as well as doing various illustration assignments.
All in all, it’s very rewarding and fun getting to exercise all my creative passions, but time will tell how my career/business will continue to unfold. I love working with a few select clients every month with QuaintInc and so far I am going to continue that path.
Putting aside the “career” stuff, in my free time I do try to make the most of it and enjoy going outside and reconnecting with nature and the world around me. Being a designer during my day (and night) it’s very easy to realize you’ve been looking at the screen nonstop for hours so getting outside or even just getting some non-computer time has become a necessity - even if sometimes I don’t feel like parting from my beloved electronic companion. I also enjoy dining at different restaurants here in Austin and sipping an occasional gin concoction (“bees knees” is the bees knees), traveling to historic places, reading, self-growth and spending quality time with friends and family. Lastly, I really love being inspired by other people’s stories, wisdom and passions as well as inspiring others in anyway if I can.
I believe life is a wonderful journey and there is so much beauty around us if we choose to see it. I think creativity plays a major role in life’s beauty, therefore I’m so thankful to be able to contribute in some way in my day to day life.
Overall, I’m curious and happy to see what the new year brings and I’m even more excited to have a new online home where I can be more open, share, help or inspire.
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