Working as a Freelancer: Create, Consume and Communicate inploi Team | 23.08.2016
Working remotely, and in the creative industries of social media, content generation and online PR, brings about the juggling of multiple tasks, work and thought processes. Based in Cape Town, South Africa – with inploi HQ in London, I’m entirely responsible for how I approach my workday. Keeping the 3 C’s in mind however, which broadly encapsulates everything that a freelancer worker, especially in the creative industries, does, is incredibly helpful when thinking about how to approach your work.
I’ll briefly discuss what is meant by creation, consumption and communication, and how it plays out in my normal working day. This will be followed by some suggestions on how to find an adequate balance when approaching the 3 C’s – in order to maximize productivity.
Creation refers to ‘doing your work’, and often requires high levels of creativity – especially in the creative industries. As inploi's Communications Manager, continuous creativity is a must. Although some tasks require little creative thought such as monitoring press mentions and identifying relevant tweets to retweet, much of my work involves being creative. The brainstorming around which competition we need to run, the planning of a new article or which copy to use in a Facebook post or ad. Creativity requires mental alertness and sharp focus. Of the three C's, creation is the most important task a freelancer has. This process, however, can be interrupted by the two following, yet also very important C's: consumption and communication – if not largely being treated as two distinct processes.
Consumption refers to the knowledge one consumes on a continual basis, which often informs what one does creatively. It can also refer to the broadening of one's knowledge about one's industry - in inploi's case - the future of work, hospitality or recruitment. That which informs what I need to do creatively, includes latest research about social media, paid advertising, content strategy - or niche topics such as the ideation process of writing an article.
The problem with consumption is that it adds to the overload of information we often experience on a daily basis – which is not only available for consumption, but which is being targeted towards you. This arrives in many forms: from knowledge one actively seeks about various topics, up to information that arrives in your e-mail box, Slack channel, Twitter feed or as a recommended article on a news website. Apart from the potential distraction that consumption can create, it can also be time-consuming, or even of little value if the consumption of information doesn't translate into a change of behaviour (especially the information that directly relates to optimize one's work).
At inploi we use Skype, Slack and e-mail for our communication. Working remotely, it's important that I'm available through these means. Once a week, I deliver a report to co-founders Matt and Alex. However, communication can be a potential distraction if not properly managed. Although a fast response time is important, one should also keep a balance between answering quickly, and staying on track with your own tasks.
I'm currently based at Spin Street House coworking space in Cape Town CBD. It's a fantastic space, with a strong community. On Wednesday, I pitched the topic of creation, consumption and communication to our weekly group discussion, called FIKA. It was clear that balancing these three distinct processes is indeed a challenge. Although we didn’t get to the details about possible solutions, we concluded that it’s important to keep your underlying values and value proposition in mind, when dealing with minute tasks – reinforcing your passion and purpose. Herewith a list of three potential solutions to ensuring that the 3 C’s are properly attended to:
1) Create a checklist of must-do items
> I've found this to be particularly helpful in dealing with small, minute tasks such as regularly following new potential users on Twitter and scheduling a good mix of tweets. Getting these tasks done early in the morning, set yourself up for the rest of the day, as you've accomplished set and measurable results. Furthermore, the rest of the day is open to spend on tasks which require more brainpower. There is also an argument to make for starting off with that which requires most brainpower. This could also be a strategy, partly dependent on when you’re most productive. As for me, I’ve found that the accomplishment of various tasks in the morning, gives me a solid base for the rest of my day.
2) Read with purpose and keep track of key learnings of material consumed
> The ultimate goal of knowledge consumption is a change in how one executes one's daily tasks. Don’t overload yourself with new information, and identify in each article, the most important takeaways, even if it’s only three items. Write the most important points down - those which resonates most with your work, adds value to it, and which you will remember. Regularly revisit these learnings and put them to the test. At inploi we use Percolate, where we can create Briefs about our various campaigns. In these Briefs we address issues such as our Objectives and Key Activities.
3) Immediately return to the task, once you've answered a question on your team’s chat platform
> Chat platforms such as Slack are highly efficient tools for ensuring team synergy and streamlined communication, but should be used wisely. Remember that chat platforms main goal is to eventually enhance overall productivity.
I hope that the creation, consumption and communication distinction will also make you think about how you are structuring your own day as a freelancer. Multitasking is needed in some instances, but can often be an excuse for not properly setting out your work processes; hampering productivity, and making it hard to move from ideas to execution, as our CPO Alex-Hanson Smith explains in this article.
The new world of work is unfolding, but we're often not adequately prepared for it - especially by the constant stream of information we need to process. Sometimes it's important to just sit back for a while, reflect - turn off the autopilot, and decide how you can optimise your work processes. Keeping the 3 C's in mind, is a great way in getting one's thinking around this topic started!
About the author: Malan Jacobs is Communications Manager of inploi.