Stop Killing Creativity: How to Minimize Interruptions for Creative Teams

You just thought up a BIG idea, began to sketch it out in words or imagery — and then, SQUIRREL! And off your thought train goes. No matter if your “squirrel” is suddenly remembering that boring task you put off until the last minute, or your well-meaning boss checking on your progress, creative team interruptions are the bane of an innovator’s existence.

To maximize their teams’ productivity, marketing operations leaders need to identify and neutralize the most common distractions their teams face. As productivity expert Gloria Mark discovered, it takes more than 23 minutes for the average person to get back to full engagement with a task after an interruption — overwhelming them with stress in the process.

That’s a lot of time to lose. And if your marketing teams experience the chaos and disorganization that many large content teams face, multiply that by several interruptions per day.

Technology, as Brandfolder’s Ryne Knudson points out, can be a “catch-22” for creatives. While automation solutions and instant access to references online save time, the same technology also produces its share of “squirrels” in the form of Slack and social media notifications, breaking news stories, incoming emails, and more.

Let’s look at several ways we can minimize the impact these distractions can have on our creative teams.

Stop Micromanaging Your Creatives

You hired these people. Trust them to do their jobs without constantly checking on their progress.

Having a content calendar where all your teams can see the progress of a project in real time can help you resist the urge to micromanage. When your creatives see a looming deadline just ahead on the calendar, they have plenty of pressure to complete it within the required time without your needling.

Overcome Redundancies with Asset Management

Without enterprise-wide digital asset and content management systems, redundant content requests abound. However, with robust metadata management for written, audio, and visual content, teams outside the marketing bubble can easily find the latest version of an infographic, ebook, or image to use in their work without distracting creatives from their current projects.

Find Ways to Remove Boring Tasks

If your creative teams are like most, tedious tasks are their Waterloo. Find ways to relieve them of these tasks by delegating some work to your support teams, automating other processes, or breaking tasks up into doable chunks.

For writers, pre-editing a project before submitting it to your actual editorial team can be a creativity killer. Using a grammar checker like Grammarly will speed up the editing process, allowing your creative teams to get back to more stimulating work.

Training your support teams to perform routine tasks, such as cropping screenshots or other images, reformatting files as needed, or searching for assets, can reduce distractions that would otherwise get your creatives off track. Using their organizational talents to complement your creatives’ natural gifts will maximize productivity across the board.

Maintain Brand Consistency with Real-Time Suggestions

Nothing diminishes the creative flow more than working on a project to completion and then receiving a scathing rebuke from the approvals team for brand inconsistencies. Keeping your brand guidelines on the content platform on which your creatives work without having to switch platforms or walk across the room to dust off your brand guidelines manual helps.

Even better, consider an AI-powered content governance platform like Writer. The minute a writer types in an off-brand word, Writer suggests an alternative term that’s a better fit with your branding. Additionally, Writer serves as a backup for your grammar checker, providing writers with corrected grammar and spelling in real time without breaking up their creative flow.

Similarly, if you invest a little more time at the outset, you can also include legal and compliance requirements within your content guidelines and your content governance platform. You’ll reduce your creatives’ frustration at having to revise their work while streamlining your approval teams’ workflow as well.

Align Your Content with Its Purpose

It doesn’t take much time to state the purpose of a piece of content within your creative brief. Whether it’s a blog post you want to tailor to your company’s goals or an ebook that helps a large market segment solve a problem common to their industry, your creatives will appreciate the guidance.

After all, your creatives don’t read minds. Stating what you want a piece of content to achieve at the start can save all the emailing back and forth that comes with fuzzy messaging.

Identify and Log Common Interruptions

As Canadian process improvement company Lean Agility advises, it pays to identify the “why” behind common interruptions.

Listen to your creative teams. Ask them to list the distractions they encounter most often. Then, set a meeting to brainstorm ways to minimize these interruptions.

Encourage Your Creatives to Find Their Flow

Flow, as the late positive psychology guru Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi put it, ‘is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”

For creatives, it’s the state in which distractions disappear in the sheer joy of work. Creative directors and heads of marketing need to encourage their creative teams to find out what activities and environments give rise to this state.

Whether it’s tuning out the digital universe, as Huntsinger & Jeffer creative director Willis Turner advises, or a long walk with their four-legged pal, it pays for your creative staff to spend some time identifying what things they need to do to get into their ideal workflow. Then, provide the environment they need to optimize their creativity.

Promote Collaboration Among Creative Teams

No matter how prolific your top content producers are, writer’s block is an ever-present hazard of the profession. Content collaboration and group brainstorming can introduce new perspectives, giving participants a way around the mental quicksand that sucks both time and creativity inside.

Inspire your creatives to collaborate by becoming more collaborative yourself. Stimulate their creativity by running ideas by them and asking for their opinions on day-to-day operational issues. When they see those ideas come to life, they’ll see the benefit of collaboration and be more likely to use it to stimulate their own creativity.

Use Templates as Storytelling Roadmaps

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Using templates can help creative teams overcome distractions by focusing them on their goal — and the map that will help them get there. Starting with who your target customers are and what they need, sketch out a guide that can help stimulate creative ways to meet those needs.

Ask questions that guide your creatives’ thought processes, helping them overcome roadblocks with innovative solutions. You’ll discover that having a structure in place before a project begins can put your teams’ creativity into overdrive.

Having a content marketing platform that encourages creativity is a great first step toward minimizing interruptions. From ideation to publication, DivvyHQ allows your teams to plan, collaborate on, and create content without leaving the platform.

And, with metadata management that allows them to find complementary assets quickly, they’ll avoid all the tedium and interruptions that kill creativity.

Even better, you can try DivvyHQ free for 14 days to see the difference it makes in your teams’ lives. Start your free 14-day trial today!