We all get bogged down in administration. Boxes to check, i’s to dot and t’s to cross. Over the course I my career I’ve learnt how much creative time that can sap up, and when you’re trying to work in a creative environment you don’t want to load any of that time. It led me on a journey to discover clever tips and tricks to minimise the admin, and maximise the creative time. I call it ‘Systemised Creativity.’
Rob D’Ovidio, an old manager of mine used to always say to me “slow down, to speed up.” It’s important to understand this. Setting up new systems and establishing them can take up a lot of time – but it is always worth it, when you’re looking to minimise administration in the long-term. Essentially you’re creating systems to allow you to be better at being creative.
Create a Workparts System.
Without a good workparts system you can find yourself forever searching for sounds, music and artist content to create with. Always struggling to find THAT impact you like? Where did you save that music bed you liked? Where is today’s voice over session? By filing these away in a structured way in a workparts system you’ll find yourself much quicker and less bogged down trying to find things. It might take time to find and edit audio to save into your work parts system, but after a few weeks you’ll wonder how you ever worked before…
Here’s how our workpart’s folder at IMGR looks:
- Artist ID’s
We archive our artist content here, by artist name and the phrase they’re saying. i.e.: “ALISHA KEYS – Hi I’m Alisha Keys.wav” and “ALISHA KEYS – You ready?”
- Live Clips
Any concert content we find is archived here similar to above. i.e.: “JUSTIN BIEBER – Hands Up Lets Go.wav”
As above, but by sex. i.e.: “MALE – I love the music.wav” and “FEMALE – they wake me up.wav”
- Artist ID’s
- Jingles – Self-explanatory.
All our sound design elements get saved in here sub-categorised by folders to explain groups of sounds. i.e.: BREAKERS, DRONES, IMPACTS, WIPES.
- Music – These are all self-explanatory.
We save all the raw sessions here, with a unified naming structure that matches the document name we save in the Scripts folder. i.e. “DF10616.wav”
As above this contains the session scripts saved with the same name as the .wav file saved in the RAW folder. i.e. “DF100616.docx”
Commonly used phrases we cut out and save here for quick finding and saved with the voice over initials and the phrase being said. i.e.: “DF – Complete Station Branding.wav”
It’s a useful system that I’ve used in my earlier workplaces to great success. My favourite part is the way we save our VO. The system means we never find ourselves needing to have extra voice sessions because we have access to all our earlier ones, and can search the documents to find any needed words or phrases to edit in as needed. It not only saves time, but it can also save you money.
At IMGR we’ve been going one step further than purely organising our audio like this. I’ve extrapolated the Workparts system into various parts of the business, from Asset management to Contract and Press Release management and beyond to Talent and Team management – it all makes it easier for us to track things down day-to-day and move quicker. It’s possible to repurpose the workparts system for any need across the business.
Become Spreadsheet Savvy.
There are always things to track, details to keep and numbers to count. For us that means making sure we’re making a breadth of awesome content across multiple formats. It means trying to plan social media to coincide with content becoming available on the IMGR App. It means keeping robust details of clients and potential clients. All of that can mean COPIOUS spreadsheets. Or does it?
I always start by questioning the need for multiple spreadsheets for similar departments. For example, do we need a separate spreadsheet for each format IMGR delivers content in? Do we then need another spreadsheet to help us calculate who has delivered what percentage of work? No, I can take all four spreadsheets and create a singular entity. Research on how to create function and beautiful Google Sheets becomes invaluable at this stage and is time well spent. Spreadsheets get a bad name because they can look clumsy. If you spend time designing something to look beautiful, you’ll enjoy using it. Understand how formulas, data validation and conditional formatting work. These things have allowed me to create a colour-coded spreadsheet that tracks how much work is being delivered per format, per week all the while generating me an overall percentage of quantity deliver per contributor across all time. It might sound complex, but by using the Google Sheet help it’s completely possible to do, allowing me to keep a track of weekly deliverables and it solves a problem I’ll have later down the track when I’ll need to understand how many pieces everyone has contributed and how best to distribute income.
This above example isn’t the only sheet we’re using. I’ve created two others – one for our Social Media management, and another for our Sales arm. They all work with colour coding and self-populating formulas to take the leg work out of calculations and forward planning. Spreadsheets really are useful tools – I know they’re tough to create, but if you set them up right they do take a lot of the admin work out of the picture for you.
Organise Your Communications.
How are you talking to your team? At IMGR we use Slack. It allows us to communicate with each other quickly from our desks without the need to multiple email chains, phone calls and meetings. Less of all those distractions (especially meetings) leaves us all with more time to be creative. We’re using it by having separate channels for different parts of the IMGR business. A #social channel. A #brainstorm channel. A #workshare channel. A #content channel. And more. All discussions are kept to their relevant channel to keep streamlined communication. It really does work. Try it.
Another small little timesaver – we use an iCal system to track leave and sickness. It lets everyone know where everyone else is at so that we can get on with being creative.
There are plenty of other great ways to use systems to have more creativity in your life. The above have worked best for me in my career and for us at IMGR so far – I hope they might prove useful to you. If you have other ideas I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, because the best systems should always be tested, tweaked and updated to be even better!