Ten things that improve productivity

03 Mar 2016

by Rachel Suddart


1. A big fat dictionary
There are so many words out there and so many variations, no-one can know them all. I’m constantly checking and double checking spellings, derivatives and hyphens… My Chambers Dictionary (other dictionaries are available) turns 21 this year. I should maybe get a new one. Having the internet is a great back-up to check things. But in our office, ‘the book’ has the final say.

2. Post-it notes
My walls are full of post-it notes. It’s a fab way to break down a big job into bitesize pieces. When you work flexibly and you are juggling several clients, it can sometimes be hard to plan your days into realistic schedules. Having things broken down into smaller chunks means you can easily move things round and it helps you keep on top of deadlines.

3. Highlighters
I’m a list girl. I’m not ashamed of it. I’ve got lists in my diary, lists in my phone and lists on the wall… There have been certain times in my life that I’ve even added tasks onto my list that I’ve already done, just so I can cross them off (OK, so I’m fairly ashamed of that bit). But a list is not complete without a highlighter to cross out the things you’ve done. A pencil line or a pen scribble just isn’t the same as a colour co-ordinated strike through. (Yep, I think I might need help…)

4. Promotional Print
I’m a magpie when it comes to print and I’m always picking up examples of what other people are producing. I love it when you find something that looks gorgeous but is also fit for purpose. When you are juggling lots of stakeholders, limited budgets and have mixed messages it can be tough to deliver something but when it all comes together there’s definitely something magical about it.
Some people find it really hard to describe what they want in their own marketing materials but it really helps if you can show them some examples. Even if they can say what they don’t like, this can give you a direction to follow – which is sometimes all you need to get started.

5. Music
You can never be sure what you might hear if you stop by the office. One minute I might be singing along to a progressive rock concept album (thank you Mr Fish) and the next I’m belting out a 3 minute Stock, Aitken & Waterman track. I find indie anthems the best to blog to.
Warning: if you do drop by the office, you might want to bring some earplugs.

6. Printer
Absolutely vital for proofing jobs. I don’t like proofing onscreen. Even with all the new mark-up programmes there’s no substitute for a pencil and a clear, hard copy version on the desk in front of you. If you are looking at designs or layouts that will end up as printed products it also helps to have a printed version to get an idea of what it will look like. Bear in mind that colours might not produce as well as on the finished product, but sometimes double checking these things throws up other issues that might be missed if you only review a digital version. Using scrap paper can help reduce the environmental impacts and if you are just proofing text, set the printer to black & white.

7. Jotter
I’m never far from a jotter or notebook to scribble things down as I go along. Although I do all my commercial writing on a laptop I often do planning notes on paper first. It’s also a great way to capture thoughts and tasks that might pop into your mind during a specific job. You don’t want them to distract you, but equally, you don’t want to risk forgetting them because then they are gone forever. Also useful for jotting down time spent on various tasks, email addresses and contact details, research notes and web resources to revisit later (and you can go through them with a highlighter later on if you just can’t resist.. I’m joking! Honest.)

8. Tea
Lots of people say they need a coffee kick in the morning to get them started but I prefer tea and the kettle is often on. Granted, I only drink half a cup and leave the empties collecting on any available surface but we all have annoying habits with no real explanation or reasoning behind them (don’t we?). Having a cuppa also forces me to get up out of my chair and have a break from the screen. And it’s a great ice-breaker with clients. No-one can resist commenting on the colour of my preferred brew.

9. Laptop
I’ve got a great lightweight laptop that I can carry round when I’m working in clients’ offices, attending meetings or simply want a change of scenery. I back everything up. I look after it. And I don’t let my six year old near it.

10. Light
I don’t have curtains or blinds in the office so that plenty of light floods in. A dark room is unlikely to inspire you to write anything lively or uplifting. And more importantly, it hurts your eyes.