My “twenties” have been far from boring. I began this decade of my life in a different country, in South Korea. And here, this is where I began a turbulent and exciting journey of finding out both who I am and how to be myself as an adult. And as well as being far from boring, learning how to be myself and an adult has been far from easy.
Recently I have started my first real full-time job at a branding/advertising agency in my city. It’s a small place I interned with as a university student but it is growing rapidly and has an amazing co-working office overlooking the city with a great view and lots of free food and resources. I’ve always been pretty good about my scheduling, planning, and sharp sense of what it means to be “on time.” But there are a few things I feel like some people my age, including myself, have some trouble with doing on a regular basis that could really help move me forward.
Some of these things are very simple, and some of these things will take some serious re-alignment of your concept of time blocking and routine. But at the end of the day, all of them are simple things you can do to improve your productivity and your brand as a creative in their twenties. What do you need to work on?
- Check your email every morning and every night, at the very least.
During my school years, I was always pretty awful at checking my email. I stuck to my social media, texting, and the occasional phone call for nearly all communication. Most of the time instead of sending emails to professors, I would just wait until class time to speak to them in person; this worked out okay, for the most part, but a few scenarios could definitely have been avoided had I just been better about looking through my inbox. I’ve gotten into the habit because of work to be checking my email address as many times as I possibly can: my work email address gets refreshed multiple times a day, my blog email address I usually check once in the morning and once sometime during the evening. And my old gmail address I check probably once a day or so. And once a day, I make sure to clean out these inboxes as well, even though it’s tedious, so that I’m never too overwhelmed with bolded and unread text on my screen.
2. Set aside specific time every week to do housework.
Don’t get into the habit of only doing laundry/cleaning your space when you think you have time. Soon you’ll get into the habit of just telling yourself “Oh, but I have this I need to do” just to justify putting off cleaning. Set aside some time every week to get this stuff done. Having a clean space, clean clothes, and a cabinet full of dishes to use will make your week so much more productive. Plus it’ll be a great habit to keep for the rest of your life, no matter what your goals are. If you make it routine, you’re more likely to not despise doing in after a while. Cleaning my room is a task I do when I’m anxious, and it not only is productive for me to do something with my hands as I freak out, but it calms me down. Find something that works for you, but definitely make it a point to put cleaning in its own spot of your schedule.
3. Also set aside time for networking events.
Facebook doesn’t always have to be useless scrolling when you’re bored. Are you a photographer? Find a meetup group or event in your area that you can go to to meet people, find models, and easily get connections to collaborate. A graphic designer, a social media analyst, an illustrator, a blogger? Find events catered toward your crowd and your age so that it’s easy to meet people with similar interests. My city has a few recurring events dedicated especially to young creatives of all areas, and they’re usually free to attend and always fun! So next time you’re wondering what you should do the coming weekend, and before you settle on hitting up the local bar again and again, try to find something constructive that will grow your network. Even joining a yoga or pottery class can be a great in to find people who can be great business contacts and collab opportunities.
4. Stop worrying about your “ratio.”
Social media is fickle and shallow, yes. But the concept that you should only be following a certain ratio of people compared to how many followers you have is bogus and shallow. Plus it will cut you off from potential inspiration. Yes, I regularly scroll through my list of people I’m following to see if there’s anyone who hasn’t posted in a long time or whose style doesn’t fit what I’m interested in right now. But I don’t tell myself I have to unfollow a certain number just so that I can follow other people. Don’t fall into the habit of following people and then unfollowing them later to keep your ratio “perfect.” I get really annoyed by Instagram creatives who follow people and then unfollow them within a few days. It gets easy to notice when someone does it, how they follow without interacting with any of your content. Organically engage with people/brands you are interested in, and stop worrying about your follower count.
Another thing I do regularly is clean out inactives from my follower list: these are people who have zero posts, usually are following an absurd amount of people, and don’t have a profile picture. These can limit your engagement and even lead to a shadow ban.
5. Organize your files!
I don’t know about anyone else, but after a few weeks of work, my desktop looks like a tornado blew through and scattered files literally all over the screen. For my clients, I’m always sending drafts of projects and re-doing things and making small changes. Instead of taking the time to put things in their proper place when I’m in a rush, I just save everything to the desktop so that I don’t have to sift through folders when I’m trying to find it or attach the file to an email. What I’m trying right now is that at least once a week, I make sure all my projects are in a correct folder and stored away on an external hard drive so that I both don’t have to worry about losing anything, and my desktop is clean again. I throw away any files that I don’t need so that I don’t get confused later. I suppose this is like my earlier tip about dedicating time to housework, but here, it’s housework for your workspace and computer! Keep that stuff clean!
What other tips do you creatives have for staying productive? What helps you keep on your A-game? And what do you think about mine?