So, I recently had a birthday and on this birthday I got a Wacom pen tablet. Talk about a really great (expensive) birthday gift. This tool has completely changed the way I work. I first saw an amazing re-toucher Peter Gibson using one and I have seen them around, but never really felt I would work well with one. I could not have been more wrong, this thing has completely changed my work flow and made tasks I used to find boring and mundane actually quite exciting. On top of that it is incredibly easy to use. So thank you to Pete for this spot on recommendation, I would recommend this tool to anyone. This got me thinking though about work flow and process.
This post is not going to be for everyone, but I’m going to talk a bit about work flow and structure. I have found myself working 16 hour days lately and spread pretty evenly between shooting, re-touching, software development, and recently I took on about 10 hrs a week with a NPO. While this has been exciting, it has been extremely challenging to manage myself and work flow. Recently I discovered a great time tracking tool called Toggl that so far I have been thrilled with. The price is extremely reasonable (free) for real basic tasks and syncs great with my iphone so if I’m out on the field I can time manage that task as well. I have been using a great simple task tool called TeuxDeux off of a recommendation from Marke. This has been my go to for the last year, but with all the different projects I am working on I have been feeling lately like it doesn’t help me feel as organized as I would like. The layout is perfect for the day to day, but I have found that I wish I could create a hierarchy for individual projects. This is actually a system I am still looking around for still. I have been reading a book by Scott Belsky that I would highly recommend called, “Making Ideas Happen.” One of the areas of focus in the book is on organization, it breaks down every task whether it is taxes, personal finance, photography, design projects into it’s own project with 3 parts to it. These being “action steps”, “references”, and “back burner items.” For me, this system makes a lot of sense. These 3 steps are pretty self explanatory and I won’t go into too much detail here. I just can’t keep from thinking how much more I get done creatively when I am organized. Interestingly enough, these two traits usually don’t go hand in hand. Most people are one or the other, but I saw this interesting equation in the before mentioned book. I am not sure if I completely agree with it, but on some level it makes a lot of sense.
Creativity X Organization = Impact
Where if your creativity is 100 but organization level is 0
100 X 0 = 0
2 X 50 = 100
100 X 50= 5000
I’m not sure if this example breaks down anywhere, but the idea is interesting. Apple is considered one of the most efficiently organized companies in the world which I think is why they get so much done creatively. I think this also speaks to why great artists never make it out of their basement or how the Thomas Kinkades of the world are able to make millions on mass produced works of art.
I have gone back and forth with what makes an idea. For me I have come down to three important areas of focus when it comes to an idea. Inspiration, refinement, and then execution. I usually give myself about 8 hrs a week where all I do is brainstorm either alone or with a select few partners. I will then usually re-look at the ideas a few weeks later and see if any still stick with me. If there is something that I feel is still viable I start creating and building on the idea, refining away excess or adding missing pieces. When I have the idea where I want it, I then move to the last phase. The last phase for me is in the execution which is making the product or idea tangible, real, and usable for whatever market it is going into. Sometimes the timeline for this can last years. I have found this process to be really helpful for me personally. Pad Folio has been out for 9 months, and we have a list of future updates that will probably stretch the course of the next 2-3 years. So we are constantly analyzing, adding, and growing. For every area of my work whether it is inventing, software development, photography, consulting, or creative direction this framework has really brought me a lot of structure, which in turn helps me create.
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