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Thread: GTD for Creatives

  1. #1
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    GTD for Creatives

    So, this is the conversation that John-Paul started with me on Facebook that made me wish I had a forum...

    It started with this link:

    Getting Creative Things Done: How To Fit Hard Thinking Into a Busy Schedule

    ...and this note from John-Paul:

    I'm still coming to terms with balancing out my own productivity as I often struggle with the process of stepping away from a project and assessing what can be done to improve the way I'm working. Another thing that occurs for me is that I tend to work with deadline stress that exceeds urgency and this tends to make the process not very enjoyable and the result not very well polished. The article does suggest some ways to work around moments of stress.

    I place part of the blame on working within industries that demand a finished deliverable in a short a time frame and a small budget. To speak metaphorically, you often wind up with a dish served luke warm, filled with frozen veggies. After 15 years in my current industry, this workflow is so well ingrained that I am having a great deal of difficulty making the transition to something more free flowing and organic while still coming up with a final result.

    Although we all struggle with the criticism of our own inner dialogue, I often use couples in creative industries (ie Matt & yourself, Ashley Wood/TP Louise) as examples to my wife as to where we would like to be in the near future.

    I must apologise for rambling so much! Maybe this would be a good conversation to have as a wall thread on your facebook page? Perhaps a number of other people would be interested in a conversation along these lines?

  2. #2
    The article and John-Paul's response are stupidly close to things I'm trying out.

    My two differences to the articles method would be:
    - taking it a step closer to David Allen-style GTD by using lists/hierarchy of ability rather than blocked out times
    - making sure I ditch an all-or-nothing feel

    Re: lists vs calendar - I struggle a lot with pre-determining what work I'm going to do when. I have no idea what I'll have the energy/inclination/ability to do at a given time, & if I do pre-determine tasks, it rarely matches up, or the pressure rachets up for no good reason. (That said, certain things are time critical, and deadlines are a good motivator, which is kind of backwards to what I've just said.)

    Re: lists, I like the GTD approach of identifying tasks, down to the specific next actions (where possible) then having a list of these ready to go. Then it depends on where I am & therefore what I can do, time I have to do it, energy/willingness, priority. All of which is just a rabbiting of David Allen, but it works for me (when I actually do it).

    The only addition I have is that sometimes I find with creative stuff (man that feels wanky to write), there are times where there aren't specific 'next actions'. Sometimes you just need to write, or think, or draw for a bit. Working on how to fit that in.

    Re: all-or-nothing, I've picked this up from the awesome (if slightly obnoxious and ridiculous) podcast Back To Work, by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin [http://5by5.tv/b2w/] where one of Mann's main points is that the idea of being 'hypocritical if you don't follow your own philosophy to the letter' is self defeating - you'll just get caught up in how crap you are at living up to an imagined standard.

    Which brings me to admitting that a lot of what I've written here is theoretical, and that I only half-follow GTD, and don't write/draw/whatever as much as I'd like.

    But I prefer the idea that (stolen from the podcast) that you actually start writing/drawing/whatever-ing again each day. If you didn't do it yesterday, that doesn't matter as much as doing it today.

    And with that in mind, here is a drawing I did yesterday of Spider-Man and Osborn, in the style of Peanuts: http://electric589.tumblr.com/post/6...yle-taken-with

    And today I plan to draw Michelle Bachmann, because I've found a photo with her making a Shuster-Superman squint.

    N

    PS - Erm, that's long, apologies. And I also want to second John-Paul's call of seeing you, Matt (and I'll add Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, our host Bendis and Jonathan Hickman) as models for how I want to work.

  3. #3
    Edited because I can't delete the double-post. Ergh. Sorry guys.
    Last edited by nickellis; 06-27-2011 at 06:58 PM.

  4. #4
    I hate my phone and network. Sorry.

  5. #5
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    Re: GTD for Creatives

    Quote Originally Posted by nickellis View Post

    Which brings me to admitting that a lot of what I've written here is theoretical, and that I only half-follow GTD, and don't write/draw/whatever as much as I'd like.
    Sing it, brother.

    My methods are wildly imperfect, but as long as I trend toward improvement, I'm okay with that.

  6. #6
    For some weird reason I've got some 'new financial-year resolutions', one of which is to have a crack at full-blown GTD. Will let you know how it goes.

    EDITed to add... Do you use any apps? I've looked at some things and have a Remember The Milk account, but it's hard to get it to be not as calendar-y. Interested to see what the new iOS 5 list/task thing will be like, and have wondered about Omnifocus (but can't bring myself to drop the cash...).

  7. #7
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    Re: GTD for Creatives

    "Do you use any apps?"

    Going to try Things next week. It would be cool if I could sync Things with a calendar and attach asset docs to specific tasks, but I'm not sure if it has those features. It does have tags, though.

    Something else I've considered: making a detailed project journal with phases/completion log in for a personal project, then using that as as schedule template (maybe with some padding). Maybe bottom-up, then top-down in terms of an approach.

    Tom Gastall

  8. #8

    Re: GTD for Creatives

    This is the thread that got me here, for the record. Saw your blog post about your work journal and I'm thinking of emulating it. You're a smart lady.

  9. #9
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    Re: GTD for Creatives

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean McArdle View Post
    This is the thread that got me here, for the record. Saw your blog post about your work journal and I'm thinking of emulating it. You're a smart lady.
    I've missed you, propboy!!

  10. #10

    Re: GTD for Creatives

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly Sue View Post
    I've missed you, propboy!!
    Missed you too, KS.

    I've been on a productivity quest lately myself, so it's timely that I saw and latched on to your blog post. This whole being my own boss thing is great, but time management is a bear. Lately I've been trying out a variety of tools, with some success. Here's what I use:

    Whiteboard: By far my favorite. I don't know what the hell I did without it. I found a huge one on craigslist for cheap and it's the best investment I've made in years. I've got it on the wall in my office and I have it divided up into three vertical spaces: To Do lists, work space, calendar. It generally keeps me focused on the tasks at hand, gives me an instant space to record random ideas quickly, and shows me my general schedule at a glance. I use the iPhone camera to archive the workspace before erasing once I'm done with something. And to archive those images I use....

    Evernote: I LOVE EVERNOTE. I've been using it for a couple of months now and I use it for practically everything, and I find new uses for it all the time. I've been able to consolidate all of the random methods I've used over the years to record ideas into a single format. Old sticky notes, journal pages, sketches, iPhone notes, emails, bookmarks, it all goes into Evernote. I also use it exclusively for note taking if I'm using the iPhone, because you can use text, multiple images, or audio. I paid the $45 for the premium membership right away because I blew past the free bandwidth allotment the first day. I need to get on the stick and remember to organize the data I have in there more regularly, but as a general rule it's been a godsend.

    Legal pads: I always have a couple hanging around to capture ideas.

    Leatherbound Moleskine-style journals: I usually bring these to meetings to jot notes because I can write faster than I can type, and usually end up sketching as part of my note taking.

    Hanging files: I've got years of old files moldering in boxes. I've started the process of organizing them into files with some success. But oftentimes I end up using the phone to scan stuff into Evernote. Chances are It'll end up being more useful there, but it's nice to have the physical archive as well.

    The next thing I need to focus on is managing my time more effectively, something which as a rule I'm dreadful at. Put a project with a timeline in front of me and I'm fine, that's a skill that theater drums into you early and often. That audience is a'coming whether you're ready or not. I've also realized how dependent I was on the structure inherent in working for an institution. Having a ton of people around you working towards the same goal means that a certain amount of planning is done for you. Also, I find it's easier for me to manage a team of people working for me than it is to manage my own time. So now that i'm mostly working solo, tim management is the monkey on my back, and that's where I'm looking for tools to help. I've been on a GTD/David Allen binge today thanks to you, and found a bunch of great stuff. For inspiration I've been reading a lot of Seth Godin over the past couple of months. But I need some practical tools for the day to day processing of information, and I think GTD is going to help. I too thought about Omni-focus, but good lord that thing has a large price tag.

    Thanks for this kick in the butt, KS, I needed it. Just writing this was a helpful exercise.

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