Reshaping the Mechanics of Your Creative Workflow

Fingertip web access has made the internet the primary avenue for inspiration for creatives. More often than not, we habitually default to digital inspiration because it’s convenient. But this habit has the tendency to produce heaps of work that looks like illegitimate Dribbble children. Thankfully, there are more effective ways for getting inspired and igniting your creative workflow.

Stop feeding the monster

Picture this: You book a job to create a new identity for an architecture firm. Naturally, work starts by endlessly scrolling Designspiration or Dribbble, analyzing and comparing other designers’ stuff until several examples pique your interest. But where does the line draw in originality? Forget the line and instead take a step back, close your laptop and go run some errands downtown. Some buildings might catch your eye, the forms sparking connections to your client. You now have a starting point and without realizing it, this action inevitably guided you down a path of illustrative possibilities.

The third bird is the word

Stepping away from the computer screen is a stone that can kill many birds. The first “bird” is your health. A body in motion stays in motion, so occasionally get away from the desk and stay healthy. The second “bird” is your to-do list. Getting outside, or out of your usual workspace, frees up time to pick up that shirt at the cleaners you keep forgetting about. For creatives, there is a third bird we don’t tend to acknowledge, and it’s usually a product from the first two birds: a clear mind to absorb new information.

Make time for doodles

Sometimes, laying off digital tools doesn’t help and a designer needs a middle ground between the screen and real world. Sketching effectively enables us to quickly explore concepts the internet can’t. It also allows for faster client or internal communication. Yet we seem to deem sketching as time consuming. This is only true if you’re attempting a masterpiece, and making the minute effort for chicken scratches can efficiently take you from point A to point B.

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time

Cliché, I know, but nevertheless true. Get lost in a book, watch Skillshare videos or attend a seminar — they’re all great ways to waste time productively. We often think the more work we put into our careers the better. While hustling in your career is a no-brainer, so is wasting some time. Wasting time, in this sense, does not mean intentionally distracting yourself from your responsibilities. Instead, keep your deadlines in mind while finding some time to play your favorite video game or catch a few waves. Your brain will thank you.

It’s not all bad

Inspiration sites or blogs are not evil dwellers waiting to suck the creative juices out of you. These sites are filled with crazy-talented designers, with images that get us asking, “Why didn’t I think of that first?”. Having these design resources at hand is super beneficial. They help us dodge competitive audit and maneuver us toward forming the building blocks of your work. However, be mindful of the time you put in surfing the web, because like most things in the world, too much of anything is bad.

Competitive Audit: Sizing up top competitors in a professional field. Used to gain advantage and/or see where you fall short.

We subconsciously ignore how and when to take a step back from our work. This is typically outside of our thinker/maker bubble. But taking a breather could be your saving grace for future projects. Do the things you enjoy outside of work. Get errands checked off your list. Grab some coffee. Show the daily grind who’s boss. While others think of this as unorthodox to a workflow, it will prove to be a valuable refresher that results in distinctive executions and an overall stronger workflow.

Alex Chavez is crushing it as a Visual Designer at Parliament.