The Secret to Being Productive…

…isn’t that big a secret.

Around 6 years ago I was at my lowest point as a designer and more importantly as a person. I was unproductive, unhealthy and just generally not looking after myself the way I should have been. I was stuck in a job that was going nowhere, it offered nothing, my management were out of their depth and individuals within the company went out their way to victimise me on behalf of the company’s public image. The situation I was in almost cost me everything, I was stressed, drinking far too much to try and switch off and with regards to the job itself, I hated it.

It got to the point that blank canvases in Photoshop gave me the fear rather than that rush to create that I’d come to love. At this point in my life I’d have been happier pulling pints or stacking shelves.

I was this guy…

Unhealthy working environments lead to unhealthy and unhappy people. Secret meetings, glances in your direction and whispers in the hall ways can all take an effect on a person but this wasn’t just about one person. This effected entire teams and when you’re in environments where this is accepted behaviour you’ll very soon find yourself an individual swimming in a sea of your own unhealthy thoughts.

Negativity has a massive effect on your productivity, I could hardly put a portfolio together as my creativity, determination and passion for this industry, and my skills, suffered. You probably don’t realise just how low you are at the time until you’re out and able look back on it. I recently saw pictures of myself from this period of time that spurred me to write this.

I was a fucking mess.

Fast forward to present day and I’m happier than I’ve ever been, I’m as fit as I’ve ever been and I’m more productive and creative than I’ve ever been. 
So what changed? Well for a start I got out of that environment.

To be creative, you need to work in a space with people who let you be creative. My previous job before becoming a freelancer allowed me the space to grow and develop my skills. I worked in an environment where I was largely allowed to own designs and work closely with both the development team and the clients themselves. Over the course of my 2 and a half years in this position I designed over 60 mobile applications and websites.

My boss couldn’t have been any more opposite of the managers I previously mentioned, he was driven and outside of his business he had a personal interest in the design and tech industries. He knew what he was talking about and this reflected in the quality of work that was produced for the agency’s clients.

When you work with people like this it brings the best out of you and I wouldn’t be where I am today without having had the experience of not only working for him, but with him.

Working with like-minded people rubs off on you.

Being healthy may just be a mindset but I definitely feel more productive when I’m eating better, exercising regularly and generally looking after myself. I use exercise as an escapism, it really helps clear my mind and allows me to fix problems I may have spent hours trying to solve… once I’ve managed to get my breath back of course!

As the title of this article suggests, there is no magic formula to being productive, there are no ‘secrets’, it’s all pretty logical stuff. Surround yourself with people who you will learn from, work in environments that give you the freedom to grow as a person. Stay healthy and be positive, we all have our days when we get rubbed up the wrong way but think long term, what’s your end goals and how are you going to get there? Certainly not by being negative.

I wasted so much time being angry but I learned from it.

I learned to focus my energy on what I could change and could improve rather than waste energy and time on things that were completely out of my control and so ingrained in how the company worked that it’d likely never change. I was once told that the most dangerous response as to why something couldn’t be done was “because it’s always been done it this way” and they were right. There was no point trying to change mindsets or processes, regardless of the possibilities, when there are too many people that are too comfortable working the way they already do.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff”
Richard Carlson

I said fuck this to going home stressed and said fuck yes to a better work/life balance, switching off after work to being happy and spending time with my family, putting my energy into what matters most.

And because of that, I’m now this guy…

Thanks for reading.