5 Great Work Life Tools for Creatives

work life tools for creatives
work life tools for creatives

By Tim Månsson

Communication Manager at Craft

Creativity

Working in the creative industry means there’s a lot of focus on creating, producing and promoting… But not very often do we stop up and think about how we are doing things.

Our passion here at Craft is the creative process, and something closely related to that is planning for the future and reflecting on our learnings.

That’s why in this post, I’ll present some tools that can help you get more structure in your work life.

1. Explore Your Values

This exercise helps you explore personal values and identify the most important ones to help guide you in your career.

Step 1:

Grab a bundle of post-its and a pen.

Step 2:

Write down the ten things in your life that you value the most, one on each post-it, in the form of a value. In other words, rather than the name of a specific person, put down, for example, “friendship,” “family” or “honesty” – something they actually value in the relationship with that person.

Step 3:

Spread them out in front of you to get a good overview.

Step 4:

Time yourself and spend 30 seconds picking out the tree post-its that are the least important to you. Use your gut instinct.

Step 5:

Repeat step four but spend 20 seconds to throw away two more.

Step 6:

And repeat again and throw away two more, leaving you with the three most important values.

Step 7:

Now spend 15 minutes to reflect by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What do I feel about the values I ended up with? Were they expected or did they surprise me?
  • How do these values show themselves in my everyday life?
  • What actions do I already take to live by them?
  • What actions would I like to take to live by them?

These actions can be connected back to an action plan, using everyday actions to live and work more holistically.

2. The 5 Whys

This simple and powerful method is useful for getting to the core of a problem or challenge. As the title suggests, define a problem, then ask the question “why” five times, where you can use the resulting explanation as a starting point for creative problem solving.

Step 1:

Create a problem statement. A single sentence formulated as concisely as possible. e.g. “Customers are dissatisfied with the quality of our latest product.”

Step 2:

Ask yourself: Why do we have this problem? Spend two minutes thinking about it and try and encapsulate it in another concise problem statement. e.g. “Because the interface isn’t user friendly enough”.

Step 3:

Once again, ask yourself why you have this problem and think about the answer for 2 minutes and encapsulate it in another concise problem statement. e.g. “Because our designers are too busy”.

Step 4:

Once you feel that you have your root problem statement, think about how you would like to proceed to solve it. From here talk further with your team or use a brainstorm tool to try creating a solution.

3. IDOARRT Meeting Design

This is a simple tool to support you to lead an effective meeting or group process by setting out clear purpose, structure and goals at the very beginning. It aims to enable all participants to understand every aspect of the meeting or process, which creates the security of a common ground to start from. The acronym stands for Intention, Desired Outcome, Agenda, Rules, Roles and Responsibilities and Time.

Step 1:

Before the meeting/process, prepare a Flipchart / Slide outlining all the points of IDOARRT. See below:

Intention – What is the intention, or purpose, of the meeting? In other words, why have it?

Desired Outcome(s) – What specific outcomes should be achieved by the end of the meeting?

Agenda – What activities will the group go through, in what order, to move toward the desired outcome?

Roles – What roles or responsibilities need to be in place for the meeting to run smoothly? Who is facilitating, and who is participating? Who is documenting, and who is keeping track of the time? What do you expect of the participants?

Rules – What guidelines will be in place during the meeting? These could relate to agreed group norms. They could also relate to use of laptops/mobiles, or practical rules related to a space. Let the participants add rules to ensure that they have ownership of them.

Time – What is the expected time for the meeting, including breaks,and at what time will the meeting end?

Step 2:

At the beginning of the meeting, introduce the IDOARRT, going through point by point. Invite participants to ask questions or make suggestions for changes. Once the group is happy with the plan, go ahead with the rest of the meeting.

4. Individual Reflection

Individual reflection helps you pick apart complex experiences, so that the successes of the experience can be repeated and the failures can be avoided in the future. The format is flexible, taking you through key stages of the reflection process, and ending with key action points.

Step 1:

This is an individual exercise. You are facilitating your own reflective process. First, create the right physical and mental state for reflection. Finish any pressing tasks. Send any important emails. If possible, go somewhere quiet.

Step 2:

Check-in with yourself: How do you feel? How was the day? What’s on your mind? Take a few moments to get into become present in the moment. Decide what experience your reflection will focus on (e.g. a meeting that has recently taken place, the previous day, etc.)

Step 3:

You may wish to write down reflections with a pen and paper, free from the distractions of computers, phones, or tablets. Set times for each of the following questions, depending on how much time you have:

  • What happened during the experience?
  • How did I feel and what were my reactions?
  • What insights or conclusions can I draw from the experience?
  • What actions can I take based on what I learned?

Step 4:

If relevant, set deadlines for each of the actions you have identified during your reflections and share them with a colleague. Your colleague can support you to complete them.

5. Brain Drain

Let’s finish off with a simple one. This is an exercise for when you are feeling unproductive or uncreative to simply empty your brain from obstructing thoughts to leave room for creativity.

Step 1:

Grab a piece of paper or notepad, and a pen and find somewhere quiet to sit.

Step 2:

Simply write everything that comes to mind for 30 minutes.

Step 3: 

Enjoy a productive day!

Find more useful tools in the Hyper Island toolbox