How Do Creatives Hack The Workflows They Hate?

How Do Creatives Hack The Workflows They Hate?

If the way you work is broken, are you doomed to fail?

Creatives have tunnel vision.

We get so focused on delivering work that we can neglect the processes that get us there. I’m talking about those frustrating, recurring tasks that waste our time.

Time-tracking ineffectively.
Translating designs to developers.
Repetitive emails…

…this list is endless.

In the short-term, it’s easier to stick our heads in the sand—ignore our workflow issues and hope they disappear. So we use outdated workflows we adopted over a decade ago. Or we work without any system at all.

But broken workflows are dangerous. They hijack the energy that we set aside to make work that we are proud of. Eventually, they can contribute to the gut-wrenching sense that you will never be able to make work you find meaningful.

Ignoring bad workflows is why many creatives burnout and quit.

But smart creative pros think about the long game. They use another approach: identify broken workflows and find ways to fix them.

They talk to their peers and trade workarounds. They understand that being efficient with mundane tasks gives them more room to be effective where it really counts.

This is how professional creatives build better workflows...

This Is How Professional Creatives Build Better Workflows

The secret to building better workflows lies in collaboration.

So, last week, Creative Pulse hosted a workflow hacking workshop for creatives with backgrounds in advertising, design, project management and more.

We met at The Network Hub, cracked open a few beers and took a good look at the workflows that we hate. Our Creative Pulse team decided to use a new small-group format:

  1. One attendee would share a workflow problem
  2. The other professionals in the group would share solutions that worked for them
  3. Repeat until time runs out


Taking on the role of small-group facilitator was a new personal challenge for me. As a consummate introvert, I had jitters heading into this event.

What if my group just didn’t want to talk?
Could I, a consummate introvert, encourage others to share?

I prepared the best I could, and on the night of the workshop I was both excited and nervous, having no idea how things will go down. As we broke out into groups, all my doubts were erased.

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Everyone was eager to learn something new and share their own expertise. Furthermore, our diverse group included agency creatives, project managers, and freelancers; by sharing our workflow, we had the chance to break out from our silos and broaden our own skillsets.

Here are some highlights from my notebook:

  • How Johnathon Vaughn Strebly calculates estimates at Notice Group (gamechanger)
  • Brian Krenzer’s unique approach to time-tracking at Noise Digital
  • Customizing Slack to minimize noise in team comms
  • Better version control
  • Tools for client presentation/prototyping

It was a lot of fun grabbing drinks with like-minded creatives and trading secrets in an informal, non-competitive setting. I’m looking forward to continuing these conversations outside of the event—and to more of this in the future!


Recommended reading:

If you want to bump up your productivity, Getting Things Done is the book to start with. Lifehack dubbed this “the Bible of business and personal productivity.” Any creative professional can benefit from the “GTD” system.

What’s Next From Creative Pulse

Next month, we are excited to host project management superstar Rachel Gertz from Louder Than Ten. We’ll also be announcing our much-anticipated Behance Portfolio Review event shortly.



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Celia Chung on Twitter
Celia Chung
Celia is a visual designer with a keen interest in crafting beautiful and functional things. The list of "things" is ever-growing; so far it includes (but by no means limited to) websites, knitted socks, and ditties on her baritone uke, just to name a few.

One thought on “How Do Creatives Hack The Workflows They Hate?

  • Shout out to Derek Kass and Melisa Woo for the photos. Also a special thanks to Christopher Vincent for spearheading this event concept—it was a good one!

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