I've read a stack of books on productivity.
And I coach creatives in productivity myself.
So when Mark McGuinness offered me a review copy of his newly-updated book, Productivity for Creative People: How to Get Creative Work Done in an "Always on" World, I was pretty sceptical I was going to learn anything new.
Rock-solid Coaching Experience
Mark McGuinness. Have you heard of him? He's a poet with a penchant for things Japanese. He's always struck me as a pretty unassuming guy really. But turns out that in his other life as a coach for creative people, he's worked with the likes of the BBC, Al Jazeera, The British Film Institute (BFI), Channel 4, Magnum Photos and The Royal College of Art.
Mark is certainly no newcomer to the world of coaching. As well as all those illustrious companies I just mentioned, he's coached hundreds of private clients since he began as a coach back in 1996.
I've read a lot of Mark's writing over the years and his gentle, common-sense approach is always a welcome relief after the hyped-up, in-your-face style that's so prevalent online these days. So I swallowed my scepticism and got stuck into reading his book. And I’m glad I did.
Not Just the Usual Productivity Suspects
The book is sprinkled with the themes you’d probably expects such as:
But there are certainly enough novel topics - or new takes on existing ones - to make sure even a seasoned productivity hacker like me sit up and take notice.
My most unexpected take-aways were:
Making space for ‘Asset building’ in your workload
If you’d asked me about building assets before reading Mark’s book, I’d have said it meant content creation.
But Mark’s definition is WAY broader than that. It really makes you think again about all the stuff you do - or might make time to do - to create growth and value in your art life.
Asset building—investing time in creating something that will generate ongoing value in the future.”
Recognising the time and energy-consuming nature of Events.
I know that events like exhibitions are major landmarks in my life. But I hadn’t fully recognised just how time-consuming they are. I’d certainly never thought of building in a post-event recovery period!
Because they consume a lot of energy, you need to allow time to prepare before and recuperate afterwards—one event after another is a recipe for burnout.”
Dealing effectively with Backlogs
I’ve been swimming in backlog after my summer on the road, and trying to figure out how to get back on top of it.
Mark’s take on separating out backlog from your normal workload was a real mind-shift for me.
Just seeing my backlog on a completely different list from the rest of my workload has really helped me start to get it under control.
In an ideal world, they wouldn't exist, but this isn't an ideal world, so you probably need a way to deal with backlogs."
The power of Naps
Ok, so the great Spanish siesta is far from dead. And I know from personal experience that a rest in the middle of the day effectively supercharges me for a ‘second day’ that begins at 5pm.
Still it’s always nice to find out that someone I respect also take naps!
...there aren’t many techniques that will give you a 34 percent boost in productivity within 20 minutes.”
Hidden benefits of Speech Recognition
I’ve toyed with using speech recognition a few times but I generally prefer the silent patter of my keyboard.
However, Mark is SO enthusiastic about the benefits of using speech recognition software, that I got quite fired up to experiment with it again.
I especially like the insight about how literally voicing your words helps you develop your writing ‘voice’.
Should I read Productivity for Creative People?
I learned a LOT more than I expected from Productivity for Creative People but if you’re looking for an ass-kicking, earth-shattering productivity plan, then this probably isn’t the book for you.
On the other hand, if you just need some quiet, friendly advice from someone with years of experience in dealing with managing creative workflow, then Productivity for Creative People might just hit the spot.
After all, I suspect that Mark McGuinness is more of a friendly-advice than earth-shattering, ass-kicking, sort of guy.
Which is fine by me.
GET PRODUCTIVITY FOR CREATIVE PEOPLE FREE!
At the time of writing, Mark is offering this eBook free on both Amazon and iBooks so don't miss out.