Real productivity is not about completing every task, but being consistent in your daily creative efforts. There’s a huge benefit to staying engaged with your work mindset beyond meeting deadlines and developing new ideas. Every creative is different, but it’s rare for any of us to easily transition from not working at all to being highly productive.
Instead of struggling to churn out loads of work in isolated bursts, try focusing your energy on being consistent — you alone have the power to determine how and when you work. The best ways to exercise greater control over your productivity are to stay creatively occupied, recognize small successes, and remain accountable to yourself.
Occupy Idle Hands:
Creatives should always be wary of periods of idleness — meaning the time when you’re least productive. Resting after intense periods of work is important in order to avoid creative burnout, but that shouldn’t mean that you cease practicing your craft entirely and pick it up again only when you have another deadline. Your profession relies heavily on a healthy creative perspective, and just as you’d regularly exercise to maintain good physical shape, your creativity needs constant attention to stay sharp.
Remaining engaged with your professional passion is both simple and challenging. It takes an unrelenting fascination with your field and a hunger to produce work no matter how inspired you feel on any given day. If you’re always aiming to make heroic strides towards your career goals, you might occasionally experience dips in energy. Try smoothing out the ups and downs of your productivity by being constantly involved with your craft. This will turn working into a second nature experience.
Few of us fully appreciate the value of small successes and our more subtle productivity while at work. Knocking off project milestones absolutely feels great, but tracking the incremental achievements you make throughout each day can offer a more sustainable source of satisfaction. These moments might come from conferencing with your teammates about an upcoming initiative, exploring new technical capabilities of your tools, or maybe reviewing completed projects for teachable moments.
The important thing is to recognize and build upon the progress you’re making on a smaller scale. Celebrate your daily moments of forward momentum. Once you begin to see the consistency of your growth, you’ll find it easier to make the efforts that help you progress towards your goals. That’s because motivation comes directly out of the confidence, which is itself based on how you see your successes. Tally up your tiny achievements at the end of each workday; you’ll be surprised how they inform the future efforts you make.
One of the biggest challenges for creatives is to stay accountable to their goals, particularly for freelancers who aren’t integrated into a structured environment. Being creative in any professional capacity requires a serious investment of energy and discipline. You need to constantly manage distractions and stay committed to producing work because no one will be as invested in your growth like you are.
Build in a sense of responsibility with each day’s work. It’s not helpful to just assume you’re making progress — you need to see it and know it’s a fact. Take note of your commitment and the value of what you’re doing. This process should reveal areas to improve and keep you accountable to where you want to be in the future. Just be sure to relieve yourself from the pressure to produce your absolute best every day, as you should be most concerned with exercising consistent effort, as that’s the real source of productivity.