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    Does Being Organised Stifle Creativity?

    Have you ever had the debate with a work college as to whether an efficient and organised workflow stifles your creativity? Picture a genius artist, engrossed in their latest masterpiece, isolated from the rest of the world, hidden amongst a mess of paper and books, paint in their hair, working late into the night. Is organisation really important to them? Well maybe not, but for those of us working within a more commercial landscape, with deadlines to meet and clients to please, poor organisation is not an option.

    Back in 2008 I attended a DBA talk by Kevin Duncan, author of Tick Achieve: How to Get Stuff Done, and this became the starting point for taking my personal organisation skills more seriously. Since then I have been through several iterations of personal organisation methods, including a custom pdf that I would print out each week and use to create daily to-do lists, through to using online systems such as Behance’s ‘Action Method’.

    David Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done’ book is considered by many as the Holy Grail of organisation methods. In it he presents a convincing argument that to do an efficient job of a current task or to come up with a great idea, our mind must be free from clutter. This clutter might be: thoughts on other projects, emails we need to reply to or the present we need to buy for our other half on the way home, whatever it is, if it is on our mind it is getting in the way of doing a good job of the task on hand. Allen makes the brilliant analogy of computer RAM: we can’t have our brain’s RAM clogged up with information that should be stored away on our hard drive i.e. written down somewhere for safe keeping. We need as much free RAM as possible to use on the current calculation.

    When great organisation really comes into it’s own, is in a group environment. Having good systems in place for teams gives cumulative efficiency, as well as helping create stress free environments. When producing larger animation projects at Infectious, simple things such as making sure everyone names production files in the same way and stores them in right place ,can increase efficiency ten-fold. As individuals we would all rather spend our time on creating something truly brilliant rather than trying to find where another team member has hidden the file on the network!

    Striking a balance between being organised and over pernickety is often tricky. Reading Allen’s Getting Things Done was for me the tipping point between spending far too much time trying to adopt a full proof organisation system and actually getting anything useful done! Ironic really. I am sure that if one invested the time to fully digest the 267 pages and master the work-flow, you would reap the benefits, but personally I found the approach a little overcomplicated. Just check the forums of popular blog Life Hacker and you will find plenty of people discussing and obsessing over productivity, rather that investing that time in the creation of some original content of their own in whatever their chosen field might be.

    One day I will return to study Allen’s Getting Things Done in more depth, perhaps when I have a little more time on my hands and less to do.

    If you are keen to improve you personal productivity skills and the references I have made here are new to you, I would initially recommend dipping into Duncan’s Tick Achieve and enjoying a more of a digestible read.

    So for now I will return to my notepad, google calender and Action Method to see what other things besides writing this blog post I need to do today. Good luck and stay productive.

    Article by Martin Drake, Creative Director, Infectious.



    Getting Things Done by David Allen

    Tick Achieve by Kevin Duncan

    Online Reference

    Lifehacker curates tips, tricks, and technology for living better in the digital age.

    Zen Habits is about finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness.

    43 Folders is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

    Online Tools

    Google Calender

    Google Docs

    Action Method by Behance (also available as an app)

    Basecamp, Online project collaboration tool.


    Action Method by Behance Stationary

    Muji - to do list post-it notes

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