We do a show that we release as a podcast about being better designers. It's called The Nudge. In it we try to cover some of the issues we think designers face and try to find people who can teach ways to improve on that.
But we don't often talk about the things we're currently doing as a studio to make us better designers; The things we're doing to make ourselves work smarter.
Recently we finished two massive projects. One was the ANZ Shareholder Review. We'll post a full case study about that shortly. The other was the redesign of the way one of Australia's major sporting bodies presents itself to the world.
These two projects took up every resource we had and then some. Many of us worked without weekends and up to 80 hours a week to complete these jobs on time.
That's not a brag: It's an admission. It shouldn't have happened. We should have been able to work smarter and avoid working harder.
During those two projects we already started looking at what we can do next time to make the work go easier. We knew that the way we were working wasn't great but we were stuck for the moment. Mid project isn't a great time to swap between task managers, for example.
But then again, is there ever a great time to do such a thing?
We were using Basecamp for our task management and project related communication. Or I should say, we were kind of using it. Basecamp became a dumping ground for files and messages, tasks that were never completed. It was a graveyard of work we had done, work we had intended to do, and it never gave us an understanding of what was happening right now.
We think this might be where our problem was. Basecamp is an excellent product but it just wasn't working for the way we do things.
Right now we're trying two new (to us) products: Slack and Asana.
Slack is a good team communication tool that many of our colleagues and friends had recommended.
Asana is a task management set of apps that gives the opportunity to categorise tasks in a number of ways, nest tasks to be as granular as we like, and offers snapshots on projects and their progress over time.
We're still in the early days of using these systems and we'll try to keep you updated on what we discover about them and ourselves.
At the moment, though, it's also important for us to realise that these systems can't make people work better but they can offer the opportunity to improve our processes.
Just like buying a new notebook doesn't make you write that novel and having a new bat doesn't make you a better cricketer, having new productivity tools isn't going to magic us into working better. It will take tenacity, discipline and support from each other when things get tough.
We're lucky as well that we work in a team. Hopefully we can do that better soon too.
This post was originally published in the Floate Design Partners blog