Another post about the effects of the pandemic on work life. Can you blame me, though? It has fundamentally shattered all of our ideas of ‘normal’ and allowed us to examine in what ways we might possibly be able to do things more effectively. I’ve decided to share a few things I’ve learned personally over the past few years after shifting to a hybrid work model

1. Self care & community care

I’ll keep this one brief, but remembering that we are humans and not just productivity machines is key. We have experienced so much shock and grief, both collectively and personally, over the past few years that we cannot expect ourselves to be healthy unless we prioritize taking care of ourselves and each other

Once our base-level needs are taken care of, our creative thinking and problem-solving skills can thrive, and we can better serve our clients and their missions.

2. Staying inspired

I’ve learned the importance of seeking inspiration off-screen. I frequently take neighborhood walks where I observe signage, the stickers on the telephone poles, the flyers hanging at the corner market, and (my personal favorite) the architectural details on all the old and beautiful buildings I’m lucky to have in my neighborhood. 

I’m also a big advocate of books of all kinds! I love a good design book. I have a few by folks like Aaron Draplin, House Industries, and Louise Fili to name a few. But I also love a well-designed book on any subject. There’s something about the tactile, interactive nature of books that’s refreshing and invigorates my creative process. 

Like most creatives, I am strongly affected by my environment. Dedicating work spaces in my home has been important for getting into a creative flow. These spaces have carefully curated art and decor that speaks to me, as well as the tools I need ready at-hand to get the work done. And a good playlist or podcast doesn’t hurt, either.

3. Removing distractions

I am lucky enough to be the only remote worker in my household at the moment, so a lack of distractions comes easily to me. At other points over the past few years, I have had to be clear with family members when I need quiet, undistracted time for focus. Sometimes that means closing a door if you can, or putting on headphones with some ambient focus music to help zero in.

Lately, I’ve been a fan of silence. It is undoubtedly a privilege, but one I recommend trying out if you can. Eliminating noise and being with the task at hand can speed up the problem-solving process, at least I noticed it has for me. This silence also includes turning off notifications and unplugging, even if just for 20 minutes or so. 

4. Using office time wisely

As an agency, we’ve always got a lot of projects going on in different stages. Some parts of the process benefit more from collaborative thinking than others. Certain projects may be far along enough in the process that straightforward edits delivered via Slack or email are far more efficient than meeting about it. Other projects have more complex moving parts that take some group discussion to get ideas rolling and clarity on direction. Prioritize the latter. 

As a designer, I also try to get tangible mockups or prints ready for my team to review and react to when we’re in person. When it comes to things like logo design, publications, or other forms of print, people react stronger to a printed piece over viewing a PDF on a screen, and it’s informative to witness their reactions in real time when I can.

I’ve also learned reviewing digital pieces such as website design is actually much easier via screen sharing on Zoom, so I try to save those meetings for remote days.

It’s been said before, but it’s undeniably true: The pandemic will forever change the way we approach work. Still, this change brings opportunities to reevaluate efficiencies in our own processes and set ourselves up for success on both a personal and professional level. It’s a matter of learning what methods work for ourselves and our teams, and staying inspired along the way.