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Creativity and Productivity: A Winning Team

Being creative is a challenging task sometimes, especially when you have a tight deadline or face other distractions, it can suck the creative juices out of you. Here are some tips I have learned to hopefully be more creative and productive during any design project.

One) Get out of the house! If you are freelancing it is often tempting to be a bit lazy and work from home. I have often worked from my bedroom and found productivity only to decrease.

There are too many distractions, too many things to tempt you away from working. I find the best places to work are often coffee shops, I find a few hours in one and I can get so much work done. Also look for co-working spaces near you, these are often very productive environments full of like-minded people.

Two) Eliminate distractions! Or at least as many as you can. With the advent of social media and the ease of which you can access new films and tv shows, it is becoming more and more difficult to stay on task.

Spend less time on social media if you do, do you really need to spend an hour or two each day on Facebook? I mean it's all drunk photos and spam right?

There are tools where you can either block certain websites or only allow a certain amount of time on a website each day. Try StayFocusd for Google Chrome for example. Try and make using these tools a habit!

Three) Get motivated! If you are working solo it is often difficult to keep the motivation going. Long hours of solitude with just you and a screen is never easy. Try to get out there, do some networking – maybe get in touch with fellow designers/developers online, or see what local events there are.

Design expo's or conferences are a great way to keep up to date with what is happening out there and also to get in touch with other people in your position and see how they do things for better or for worse.

Four) Break a project down! A major mental block in a project can often be only visualising what the finished product will look like. This can be somewhat intimidating regarding the volume of work that is ahead of you.

Sometimes the sheer difficultly of a project can be scary. A client wants for example a shiny new website with the latest JQuery plugins, fully integrated e-commerce, a Content Management System: the works.

But when you break a project down into manageable chunks, or focus on areas of the project you enjoy the most first then the rest becomes more manageable and less intimidating.

Five) Take a break. Summoning every last ounce of your creative juices can often be quite draining and leave you feeling weary. By all means go for as long as you can if you are being productive. But don't forget to take a break and do something completely different.

Go for some exercise, a coffee, anything unrelated to take your mind off things and give your brain a much needed break.

Six) Learn something new. There are always better and more powerful tools being developed in your field. Take a bit of time to see what's going on.

For example I have recently started using Stylizer a powerful CSS editor which greatly increases productivity with CSS design – by automating repetitive tasks and providing new tools such as rulers and grids to measure a design more accurately.

Seven) Research. See what other designers are doing, get some new ideas and fresh impetus but of course never plagarise. Perhaps you see a new colour scheme you like or a different way to design part of your website.

Keep an eye on the competition!

Eight) Listen to music. I usually listen to music on and off, everyone has their own tastes but usually something fairly upbeat and up tempo works for me.

Nine) Take a fresh approach.Take a step back. Is there anything you can do to improve your whole working process? Anything you can do to become more efficient, less distracted and more creative?

Ten) Get stuck in now! Try not to make excuses about why you are putting a project off especially if it feels like a difficult project. So stop reading this and start working on your project now, no excuses!