Your Productivity Secret Weapon

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December 8, 2020 post jumbotron work

Is your to-do list a mile long? Do you have more stuff coming up this week than one normal human could handle in a month?

Never fear. The team at Urban Influence is here with a secret weapon for you; several secret weapons, in fact.

After a particularly busy couple of weeks this summer, I’ve had productivity on my mind. So I thought I’d ask my amazingly productive coworkers how they stay creative and effective even when they have piles and piles of things to get done. I asked them to share their secret weapon — their go-to strategy when things get crazy — for getting a lot done, no matter what.

If you’ve got to-do list angst, check out this post for some tips on how we stay productive, and maybe you will find a tip or two that can help you be a getting-things-done superhero.

CHAUN OSBURN — Art Director

A productivity secret weapon? Hmmm, I guess I’d say driving every day, back and forth to work, is where a lot happens actually — it’s nice to distance yourself from projects and think about them without being in front of a computer.

When on the computer, I like to use this app called Wunderlist for my daily/weekly tasks, and Fantastical, a calendar app, helps me be more productive — plus it looks better than the native Calendar app. And now we’ve been using Slack, that helps bounce ideas and links quickly with the team.

KATE MATSUDAIRA — Principal

My Spark Notebook.

When I plan my week, I always know what to do and I make sure I don’t drop anything important. It allows me to not just get things done, but truly maximize my time – which is so important as a new parent with a crazy work schedule.

CHRIS COMIS — Project Manager

To maintain productivity on many projects at once, I like to have conversations with contributors in Slack or Podio, where conversations are segmented by subject or client. And when times get really tough, I turn to coffee and earplugs….

ANDREW SAXTON — Lead Designer

Usually when I’m in the middle of designing – say, a website – I’ll often browse inspiration sites like thebestdesigns.commakebetterwebsites.com, or http://www.mr-cup.com/blog.html.

I’ll browser a lot of work at once; this helps me paint a picture of what’s going on right now, the leading designs, and also start my brain working in different ways. Also, if I need specific inspiration on how an element will work – because so much goes into interactive design – I’ll frequent sites like patterntap.com and siteinspire.com. These allow me to see how others have solved similar problems, and will also get me thinking in a different way.

If I’m beginning a project, and am seeking out a concept or general idea, I’ll often throw some headphones on and take a walk to think about it in a more abstract way – I’ve found this really helps when starting designs, especially logos, iconography, or illustration.

And, as always, I’ll consistently ask for my team members’ input – not just our design team, but developers, our project manager, etc. Getting different opinions and eyes can often see something you don’t and plant a seed for something really interesting.

PETE WRIGHT – Principal

Start your day out answering emails and sending requests or anything that requires another person before starting on your solo tasks. This way you can get balls rolling while you work on tasks that don’t require anyone else to complete.

With regard to tools: Simplify the tools that you’re using and don’t become too reliant on complex project management tools. A simple tool like Wunderlist will do.

Take advantage of off-hour times to do research and non-time sensitive items so you can focus without too many distractions if you find your daily tasks are too abundant.

MAX BENOIT — Project Coordinator

To keep productive without burning out during the day, I’m a huge advocate of walk-taking. The Urban office is conveniently right next to Cal Anderson park so that helps! I’ll also set timers for myself on my phone to create a nice reward system (at home, I like to set aside a 20 minute alarm to play with my wonderful cat, then set an hour or two before I can do that again).

CHRIS LOPER — Lead Developer

How do I become productive? Headphones, a comfy couch, and watching the freedom speech from Braveheart. Just kidding about Braveheart.

ANNA MROCZKOWSKI — Executive Assistant

Pete introduced me to an app called Wunderlist that is definitely a new productivity favorite!

KATE STULL — Copywriter

When I need to get a project done quick, I head out to a coffee shop. Something about a change of scenery and the buzz of a busy room helps me get super focused (and the coffee doesn’t hurt, either). I’ll tell myself I can’t leave until I get the task done, and that helps me kick into gear and be super productive.

STEPHEN SCAFF – Head of Interactive

Productivity enhancers include:

– Going to get coffee right before a pointless meeting is about to begin, then acting like I forgot all about it apologetically. “Oh snap… my bad ya’ll…”

– Tuning out anyone with “Strategy” in their title with fervor and gusto.

– Equally ignoring both email and phone calls like a boss. Protip – never set up your voicemail. Also, make sure to vary up your reasons for missing email. Claiming an influx of Spam only works a few times. Maybe sometimes said emails mysteriously went to spam. Or, perhaps your email had to be “rebuilt.” – no one really knows what that means anyway.

– Pretending to listen to co-workers with occasional head nods while I’m actually writing code. Make sure to look down thoughtfully a few times to give off the appearance of actually considering whatever the person yapping at you is going on about. Throw in an occasional eye squint for good measure.

– Rocking headphones and a hoody to look like I’m ‘In the Zone’ and not to be bothered.

That’s it for now. Can’t give my best stuff away.

 

Feeling inspired now? I hope one or two of these ideas can help you snap back into supercharged productivity whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed. You can do it!

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