Guest post by Food Startup Branding 101 instructor Marni Kleinfield-Hayes.
I’m constantly faced with creative deadlines, some of which seem to defy the space-time continuum itself. My first instinct when faced with a looming deliverable is to panic and cancel all my plans, but I’ve noticed that the quantity of hours I spend on a project doesn’t always reflect in the quality of result I’ll achieve. My best work tends to come from using my time efficiently and as I like to put it “banging it out.”
As you go through Food Startup Branding 101 and start the task of branding and running social media for your own food company (all while continuing to running said company) you’ll certainly come across similar time crunches. So allow me to share some of my tried and true methods for gettin’ it done.
Before I start any assignment or task, I take a minute and really think about why I’m doing it, as well as how much time it will take. Does the intended output justify the time and effort I’m going to be putting into it? This applies to personal projects as well – Is hand drawing 30 placecards going to look “artisanal” enough to justify the two hours I’d be spending with paint markers? If it’s not, push back and reevaluate what it is you actually need to be doing. No one–especially not busy founders–should waste their time.
I always take ten or fifteen minutes before I dig in to send those emails, make those reservations, and put the laundry away, so that those little things aren’t hanging over me as I embark on the bigger stuff. (This also gives me a nice glow of accomplishment that serves as a confidence boost as I begin.)
The only time I start from scratch is when I’m cooking, as a blank page can be incredibly intimidating. That’s why I recommend starting from a presentation, email or blog post you’ve already written, or read (a quick Google search can help with this). It will give you an instant idea of the length and format you need, making the task at hand far less formidable.
I put on headphones, go into a different room, turn off my IM, and do whatever I’ve got to do to make sure no one is bothering me.
Just start. I can’t stress this enough. I often realize that I can spend a lot of time agonizing over starting, spinning around in my desk chair and twiddling my thumbs or I can just start. I like to just get into a PowerPoint slide or a notebook and just start writing. It doesn’t have to look pretty or be perfect, in fact, don’t waste anytime formatting here. Really, it’s just important to get as much out of your head and on paper in one go as possible.
Once I’ve spat everything out, then I go back and pretty it up. I find holes in my argument and go back and fill them in. This is where I turn a rough draft into a more final draft.
It’s scientifically (maybe, I don’t know, I’m not a scientist) impossible to catch all of your own mistakes. So, I take a break and send whatever I’m working on to someone else. Sometimes it’s a simple as asking “Hey, does this make sense to you?” Not only will they be able to give you fresh insight, it’ll also give your brain a nice break from what you’re working on so that when it comes back to you, you’ll be able to see the forest from the trees once again.
When you’re brain is done working, it’s done. If you’re tired, or hungry, or cranky, just stop. Go give your brain a rest and move on to another task. Don’t try to force it, because the work won’t be good and it’ll take 1,000 times longer.
I’m still honing this method, but I will say that I used all of these techniques in writing this and was still able to make it to 6:30 Vinyasa Flow Yoga on time. So as you’re going through this course, give them a try and see how they work for you.
Do you have any tried and true techniques for battling time sucks and getting your shit done? Share them with us in the comments below!
Marni works as a Content Strategist at Knock Twice, where she focuses primarily on Google initiatives such as Creative Lab and Maker Camp. Before joining Knock Twice, Marni was an Account Strategist working on communications strategies and promotional campaigns for independent films and brands including David’s Bridal, MTV, A&E, BabyBjörn, Slimming World and Park Hyatt.