Instant Productivity

Published by Chris Coyier

All jobs are a series of tasks needing to be completed. Let's look at a construction worker. Today she needs to bust up a bunch of cement. Here is one path of action:

Put hardhat on
Start jackhammer
Bust up a bunch of cement

Here is another way she could have gone about it:

Scout out area
Determine weather conditions
Make labor assessment
Evaluate different jackhammer models
Stretching and breathing exercises
Get third party opinion
Coffee break
Put hardhat on
Start jackhammer
Bust up a bunch of cement

Which way is more efficient? The go-getters amongst you might say the former — just get after it! The more management types among you might argue the latter — having a full evaluation of the task means the job will be done with more efficiency once it's started.

The answer, in my opinion, as most things in life, is somewhere in between. But a lot more former than latter, especially when it comes to web work.

Let's bring it back to the web. Now the job at hand is designing a specialized landing page for a product. Here is one way she could do it:

Open up Photoshop
Start playing around with ideas
Land on something decent, or go back to the top

Here is another way:

Conduct interviews with potential customers
Analyze past analytic data of website
Browse web design galleries
Go on urban walking tour for color inspiration
Evaluate latest web technologies for animation
Poll twitter followers for opinions
Attempt to use Fireworks instead of Photoshop
Coffee break
Catch up on email and RSS feeds
Open up Photoshop
Start playing around with ideas
Land on something decent, or go back to the top

Clearly there is value in the latter group. That group is filled with activities that will help us grow as designers and dig into our current task at a deeper and perhaps more insightful level. It is also filled with glorified thumb twiddling.

Choice of Tools

I use WordPress. It just so happened that back as a fledgling wanna-be web designer I came across it, installed it, and starting using it to make sites. Years later, I'm still using it to make sites because I know it really well and I don't feel limited in its abilities. I don't feel particularly compelled to even try Joomla, because with WordPress I can be instantly productive, rather than enter a new learning curve. Call me crazy.

I'm also aware that that is dangerous territory. The web moves fast and it's easy to get left behind. I'm sure we all know some old curmudgeons that are convinced some crazily outdated technology is superior. We might laugh and point. We might be right. Or they might be right. Maybe they are the ones being instantly productive.

Bob Staake uses Photoshop 3.0 and nobody is calling him unproductive.

So what?

My point is that if you have a job to do, just get after it. Roll up your sleeves, get the tools ready that you already know you can be productive with, and start dishing out some instant productivity.

Then maybe after you get some work done you can read you feeds and do some scholarly thumb twiddling =)