Lately, the Big Sea office has been in productivity overhaul mode. Our leadership team has researched productivity tips, and we’re trying new tactics to make sure everyone has space and tools to do their best work.
What works for one person might hinder another, so we’ve been learning a lot about how we best work as a team. What we agree on is that our team values hard work and focus. Every member consistently delivers, making each project better than the last. We asked around to see how everyone manages to get it done — in and out of the office.
How we GSD
Everyone on the team has a unique method to GSD (get shit done). Daryn St. Pierre, Front-End Web Developer, sets himself up to be productive all day by starting the morning right. “Getting up early some days and working at a coffee shop helps me calm my brain. I like the world before all of the hustle and bustle,” he says.”
Start with the basics
No matter when you start, setting up yourself for success seems to be the first step. That could mean starting with the basics, like a cup of coffee and good music. A quick mental cue that it’s time to get shit done kicks your brain into high gear.
Use music to get your brain going
Putting on music to focus and be productive seems to be a theme. “I’ve managed to slap together hours of playlists that are suitable to any given task and I’ve found getting myself into a groove musically speaking can do the same for my focus and productivity,” shares Adam Kuhn, UX/UI Design/Dev.
Make Trello work for you
Tools and lists are huge here at Big Sea. We use Trello, a collaboration and project management tool, at the office for almost everything, and our team has found ways to make it work perfectly for them.
“I make lists, color coordinate things. Having a little OCD means that once I get myself into a habit, it sticks,” shares Kim Spencer, Marketing Strategist. Our HR director, Cat Cheshire, uses lists by creating a top 3 priority list. “I have three accomplishments or goals for the day at minimum,” she says. “When one gets done, another pops up from my really long list of stuff!”
Lean on visual cues
Making lists can be good for both work and personal use to organize thoughts and actually see what needs to be done. Ashley Mullings, Marketing Coordinator, also uses a handwritten list or the Clear app to organize to do items. For her personal life, she takes a similar approach. “I have a whiteboard in my room. It’s in clear sight when I am getting ready for the day so I know what needs to get done,” she explains. “Being able to have a visual makes it 10x easier to keep track. It also feels good to cross something off and see the list get shorter.”
Document your progress
In some cases, list making and weekly planning goes to a whole other level. Both our Andi Graham, CMO, and Maria Mora, Content Director, use bullet journals to keep track of scheduling and tasks. “My Bullet Journal organizes every task and idea according to priority. Plus, creating each day’s list gives me a short creative task,” says Graham.
Our development team keeps on track by meeting daily for 15 minutes stand-up meetings.
“They force myself and the team to evaluate all of yesterday’s accomplishments–not to be confused with activity–but actual accomplishments and to focus on the goal today,” shares Dzuy Nguyen, CTO.
Set productivity goals
Setting goals is part of staying productive and motivated. Most of these surround small successes, like feeling better throughout the day. “I think more positively and shifting to an earlier schedule has energized me a bit,” Daryn shares.
Map out your week
Those small wins add up though. “By creating weekly schedules, with specific tasks on each day, I am able to see how relatively small increments of productivity on the day to day can create substantial progress by the end of the week,” shares our Office Manager, Desiree Moore.
Overall, our team agrees that getting work done, staying on task, and refining daily processes is a goal we’ve all met through paying attention to productivity and removing distractions. Of course, they’ve helped with bigger successes, too. “I’ve used my writing goal system to write two books this year,” says Maria.
The elephant in the room: Distractions
As productive as our team is, it can be hard to stay focused on work all the time. Our open office space keeps everyone close and collaborative, but it can also be distracting “I find myself most distracted by non-work related discussions during peak hours” says Chris Lagasse, Web Application Developer.
Sometimes other tasks get in the way of the task at hand. Andi shares that giving or getting feedback, clarity on assignments, or approvals are a big distraction.
Kevin Fabisiak, Web Coordinator, is often pulled away from tasks to help with client requests. “I’m the main point of contact and will get numerous requests each more ‘important’ than the last which can sometimes scatter my thought processes. It requires me to spend a minute planning out the priority of each task.”
Sometimes it’s harder to pinpoint what causes the distractions, but you know when it happens. “When I’m out of productivity flow, I’m out, no matter what level of distraction pulled me,” says Adriana Generallo, our Creative Director.
Create space for heads down time
To directly combat time lost to distractions, we’ve implemented four hours of heads down quiet time during the work day. Fewer meetings, a quiet Slack channel, and a conscious effort not to interrupt has eliminated many of the distractions that frustrate the team.
Don’t forget productivity rewards!
After lots of hard work we like to take a break. For Ashley, that means taking time to unwind. “I watch a movie, do some online shopping, or take a walk in the area.” For Andi, it means keeping work at work. “If I have a really productive day, I leave my laptop at the office and enjoy my time at home!”
The number one reward shared by our team was (unsurprisingly) a cold glass (or two) of beer. A few team members mentioned coffee or kombucha. Sometimes the reward is built right into accomplishing goals. “I don’t think I reward myself really. The contentment of crossing something off a list is reward enough,” says Adriana.
Kevin might sneak in some relaxation, but doesn’t think of it as a reward. “I don’t typically reward myself when I GSD, it’s my job. Don’t get me wrong, I feel the relief of a job well done, but there’s always something else that can be done and I try to keep pushing myself to always GSD. I will sneak a game or two of pinball in between getting shit done though.”