The Case of Multitasking: Good or Detrimental for your Career?

Throughout college, multitasking was the soft skill every student, professor, and mentor would demand I have displayed on my resume like a shiny badge. At the time it was seen as this desirable trait that exemplified the best 21st-century workers from a sea of other applicants (this may or may not be an overstatement). But what once was seen as an effective exercise to utilize day-to-day has the exact opposite effect in the workplace now.

“Social media is changing how we interact” – the phrase is overused but is in no way farfetched.

Today, we have greater access to information than we ever had before. We see more, know more about the world, and are more connected than any other generation. We largely, in part, have the betterment of technology to thank for this. With the continual advancement of social platforms, the rise of content switching, (bouncing from app to app or screen to screen), has snowballed. To most of us, it’s subconscious and goes completely overlooked as we sit on the couch – television on, laptop in lap, phone in hand. But why are we doing this? Just because we can… does it necessarily mean we should?

Photo Source: The Glitter Guide

We see this same effect happening in offices. Outside the workspace we call it “content switching,” whereas here we consider the same activity “multitasking.” To multitask means to deal with more than one task at a time, simultaneously. On average, we spend just over a minute on a task before interrupting it with something else. “Multitasking” in this way is actually a distraction disguising itself as work—and is the biggest disrupter of productivity to date. It’s an invisible problem that many of us don’t even notice.

I myself am a huge offender of this and have been guilty of checking emails, switching between projects, even checking my social accounts before diving back into a subject. (In my defense monitoring digital media is in my job description.)

We are now seeing this demand for instantaneous engagement catapulting. As a consumer, I want brands to engage with me – and as a brand, I don’t want to keep my customers waiting. If it happens to be a negative remark, well, it’s almost worse to not answer at all. Instant conversation is becoming a huge part of our culture. We are now seeing it branch out into how we function day to day.

This cultural shift makes it seem like we are giving ourselves room to breathe between jobs by jumping back and forth, but it actually interrupts the train of thought. Let’s call it mind saturation. It takes time to truly get immersed in a subject. Whether there’s a connection between the two activities or not, the mind considers it a huge sidetrack that can potentially add minutes, hours, even days to your workflow.

Don’t get me wrong, there are benefits to the act of multitasking. Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean life stops, so it has the potential to actually help you deal with interruptions. After all, the biggest case for multitasking is getting twice as much done in one sitting, so maybe it’s more about finding that balance. It’s just semantics, right? An illusion to make sense of everything we have to do. Everyone wants to be perceived as a good multitasker, but are any of us really experts?

Photo Source: Courtney Out Loud

My question is, how can you program yourself to un-multitask while being involved in an industry that is built around the daily investing and dividing of your time into multiple projects? Does thinking like a designer mean being scattered both mentally and physically? And if anyone should be an expert in the art of multitasking shouldn’t it be adland?

From what I gathered, the definition we’ve come to give multitasking is flawed. It’s not the act of doing two, three, four things at once – it’s the feeding of our need for an interruption. We crave the engagement.

So is multitasking a myth? Can it even be done? Is it worth a whole blog post to discuss? What do you do when “high efficiency” isn’t so efficient anymore?  There’s obviously a much deeper reason why we reach for our phone for comfort, whether it’s FOMO or the false idea that we need something to fiddle with.

So will monotasking become the new multitasking? My guess is no – but it doesn’t mean we can’t adapt and better our production rate in this new age. Read below on a few how-to steps to consider on the job.

SHORT BURSTS OF PRODUCTIVITY

Work in 60 (or so) minute chunks and take frequent breaks – not social media breaks, real breaks. Breaks from the desk. Breaks from your co-workers. Breaks for you and only you. It’s tempting to perform marathon sessions of work (jk), but in the end, the results just aren’t there. Short bursts with no distractions are the way to go.

Photo Source: Pinterest

MANAGING THE WORKFLOW

Understanding your workflow-flow is nonnegotiable for productivity. Know when you can take on more and when you can’t. Burnout is real. Managers especially need to consider this for the team. Whether it’s an urgent or not-so-urgent job, adding it to someone’s schedule can make it difficult to complete regular tasks on time. So be mindful of approaching deadlines and push back low-priority concerns for when things are slow.

DON’T FORGET TO CLUTTERTASK 

Cluttertasking is a handy technique to train yourself to only do things during a certain period of the day – like only checking your Instagram over meals or looking through emails first thing in the morning and right before you leave the office. Ultimately, this helps you eliminate distractions by scheduling a time for it in your calendar.

Photo Source: iStock

COMMIT TO CHOICES

Short and sweet, when you choose to focus on an assignment for the day – commit to it! Discipline your brain to stand firm with your decisions and goals for that week.

All in all, you don’t have to save the whole world in a day. If you’re a serial multitasker – just stop. Your mind will likely thank you.

John Cote – the Intern 2017

Interning has become essential for all college students. More and more employers hire based off experience and not just on educational background. Company Man Studios provided me with the perfect internship experience. The internship was geared towards me and what experience I wanted to gain.

To begin with, from day one I got hands-on experience with a list of projects I could do from start to finish. I didn’t know if I wanted to pursue a career in directing, producing, or editing so they catered to all three to help me figure out my passion. I was able to work independently on multiple projects from creative design and shot calling to post production.

I got helpful critiques and feedback on shot composition and subject focus along the way but the CMS team allowed me to complete the majority of the creative concept and work. I loved this aspect. Free range was exactly what I needed to find my strengths and discover my passion.

The project I enjoyed the most and got the most experience from was creating a culture video for the Company Man website. I got to script, setup, film, and edit the entire project. At first I didn’t know what to film, they showed me a previous video that was used to give me some inspiration and guidance as to how they wanted the final project to look. The project was a short clip of B-roll footage and behind-the-scenes shots of Company Man that would attract viewers attention on the CMS website.

First, I filmed everything I could think of. Not all the shots were good, but it gave me a starting point for feedback and improvements. I was told to focus on the subject and to make it clear to the viewer and try new angles instead of straight on or looking down on the subject. Another piece of advice I received was really look at the composition and get rid of ‘dead space’ though specific object placement/blur or by changing the camera angle. After improving the shots by following the team’s advice, I was sent straight into editing and preparing the shots for presentation.

This internship allowed me to explore all parts of the pre and post production process, whether it was shot setup and scheduling or editing for slow motion and color correcting. I got to see which area I enjoyed most, for me it was the hands on filming and the magic that happens in the editing room. I am fully confident that I would not have got this experience elsewhere. The CMS team avoided giving me the stereotypical paper stapling, coffee running intern treatment and saw me as a young man interested in the video production field who was after experience and guidance–CMS was happy to provide me with both.

Overall, through this internship, I learned about lighting, shot composition, the importance of organization when editing, how to treat/deal with clients,  and got familiar with different cameras/lenses and other filming equipment. I was given helpful advice about improving my reel, such as keep everything and always think about how a project or shot could improve my personal reel, and marketing myself to the career field I am most passionate about. When I was young, around the age of nine or ten, I got my first video camera. It was a handheld panasonic camera that was only around $70. I filmed my first video of my cat playing fetch and edited it, well put it together for viewing, in windows movie maker. I had so much fun doing something so simple and easy that it was then I knew I wanted to go into the video production field, but I didn’t know which part specifically. Through this amazing internship, I learned that I like both the creative process and editing footage and the multiple projects I worked on allowed me to improve in both areas.

Advice from a Perpetual Student of Design- Part 2

With the ever changing world we live in, it’s hard to keep up with what’s the newest–but it is part of your job after graduating to keep teaching yourself. As designers we must constantly keep up with the trends of today’s society. This is the second part to my blog entry, that gives advice to those who are fresh out of school.

TECH

The computer and software you use to design is just an extension to the skill you have as problem thinker. Knowing how to use Adobe CC doesn’t automatically make you a skilled designer. You are a perpetual student in the realm of technology, because it’s always changing. A great example is the iPhone X compared to the iPhone 6.

Adweek GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY


The phone is the same kind of concept, but Apple always adds new features to its latest phone. In this case, the facial recognition software analyzes facial features and muscles and tries to mirror your expressions is also being used as a password, instead of the fingerprint to access account information—this phenomenon is becoming more of a normality in the technological world. But when the iPhone 6 came out in 2014, it was hard to even picture what was next. You are constantly learning to use new tools available to you. But the core of design isn’t based on these tools, so it’s a good idea to start out with old school paper and pencil—as rough as these sketches may be, it makes you think about problem solving design differently without having the crutch of technology to rely upon.

Love GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

Check out the new iPhoneX

FEEDBACK

In the design world, feedback isn’t optional. Always welcome criticism. You are putting work out there for everyone to take in, some people will love it, and others won’t. It’s important to encourage criticism in order to better your work for future designs. When you receive creative direction from your mentors or supervisors, you have to evaluate, listen and improve. Accept the criticism, but also think for yourself. Be different. Ask why. Have a point of view, but don’t be obnoxious. Remember you are a perpetual student, and there is always something new to learn from the process or from people. If you’re asked to critique, make you sure you do it with honesty and finesse. If you receive criticism, receive it with gratitude and openness.

 

And always remember to be humble

Nobodies. GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

COMMUNITY

After graduation, it’s gonna feel like someone dropped you out in the middle of the ocean and said “swim”. You don’t know what the next steps are, or who to turn to. You’re used to having the educational support of classmates and professors, but now you’re on your own. So what do you do? Showcase your designs on a super nice online portfolio, apply to about twenty thousand jobs, and lastly—reach out to your community. Every city has a design community. If you reach out to a design professional for a meet up at a café to talk about life, design, or even puppies, chances are they’ll agree to meet you. This is not an opportunity to ask for a job, it’s just a way to reach out to someone who is active in the field and see what their experiences and perspective of design in your city. Every person you meet, regardless of them being creative or non-creative, has something to teach you. Networking is essential to continuing your career because design is a human-centered field.

 

TEAM

Another piece of advice is to find an experienced team that you can learn from. Which leads me to Company Man Studios. The office has an open concept with public work spaces and casual meeting spots for everyone to gather and talk. There are vibrant colors everywhere and artwork hung on the walls made by our very own executive creative director. My very first interaction was a phone call with the Art Director, Terry Campbell. I’ve been here for almost 3 months and I love it. So far the culture of the studio has been extremely welcoming—everyone that works here has a special task, but when teamwork is needed no one hesitates to step up and help. Every person that works here loves what he or she does. Since the first day I started, we all eat lunch together; we all ask how the other is doing. It’s so personable and I feel like they treat each other like a work family as opposed to just having a co-worker relationship.  

Fam GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

The main point is to always keep learning. You must provide yourself a continuing education on a daily basis. If you don’t know something, google it. There are thousands of  youtube videos and articles explaining the DIY of many things, from coding sites to animating a GIF. You are still constantly learning about yourself and how to overcome the challenges you face.

 

Here are some sites for my fellow perpetual design students:
LEARN

www.w3schools.com

www.lynda.com

www.udemy.com

https://tutsplus.com/

https://www.skillshare.com/browse

 

 

And remember, always fake it til you make it.

Fashion GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

Perpetual Student of Design,

Nina

 

Advice from a Perpetual Student of Design- Part 1

FINE ARTS & DESIGN

I attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and graduated this past December with a BFA concentration in Graphic Design and a Minor in Art History. While in school I learned a lot about design, but after school is when I’ve learned the most. A lot of people undermine design education. But being a designer automatically makes you a perpetual student. I believe that the education I received is totally worth “the fat check” that was written for it. But what they teach you in design school is mainly how to teach yourself.

Learn new trends. Learn from history. Learn from peers, professors and colleagues. There will always be learning.

Thanks to the Bauhaus school, design students are exposed with a way to merge arts & crafts and technology together. The school favored simplified forms, rationality, functionality and the idea that mass production could live in harmony with the artistic spirit of individuality. Students learn the basic elements and principles of design while on the track to receiving a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts. Being exposed to a variety of art professions from photography to painting to printmaking and digital design, classes like these open up a completely different perspective on how to look at the world. You can always look at things, but design helps you see things better. Try thinking about a picture in terms of contour, colors, lines, and shapes; this is how a fine artist thinks.

Although education is always a good start, school doesn’t teach you everything. You have to have the motivation to teach yourself everything that they don’t cover.

Bauhaus: Design in a Nutshell

 

LEARNING TO THINK LIKE A DESIGNER PART 1


AUDIENCE

First things first, as a designer, you are a communicator of ideas. We help our client translate their message to their particular audience. There will be very little instances where you are the audience you’re designing for. The audience is one of the main things that constantly changes depending on the client, so you have to learn to speak different languages. You always have to practice empathy. Empathy is the ability to see the world as other people do, to see what they see, feel what they feel, and experience things as they do. If the message is complicated, then as the designer, your job is to be able to simplify complicated concepts.

The Importance of Empathy
Try to understand how other people experience the world.

 

DESIGNING

Design is the intentional solution to a problem with a set of constraints. In order to design, the first thing you have to do is research. Without research you can’t understand the problem you are trying to solve, and therefore, you can’t design. Ideating comes next. Divergent thinking is when there is never one correct solution. After you’ve established what your problem is you come up with a variety of solutions so you brain storm, make mind maps and brain dumps. These techniques allow you to come up with the craziest ideas that can then be narrowed down into a feasible idea that fits what your client is looking for. The first draft of any design is never going to be the one you go with, kinda like how you make that first pancake and it’s always the worst one. The more pancakes you make, the better they come out.

Pancakes GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

If you are working as part of a team, the Art Director or Creative Director will oversee your designs, in which case you must follow their suggestions for the direction of the design as it’s the client’s best interest that’s important—not your creative genius. As a designer, customer service is key. Learn how to ask questions, not just to the client, but also to your supervisors and mentors. You can always get better, as long as you keep learning.

You have to step back from your designs and reevaluate your work in order to see a better solution to the problem. This also helps with allowing you to breathe and not get frustrated with what you’re working on—because it will happen at some point in time. Another thing to keep in mind is that design doesn’t sell itself, you are a communicator of visual impact, but you also have to learn to talk about your work. Work it.

Hayley Kiyoko GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

 

Here are some sites for my fellow perpetual design students:

INSPIRATION

www.logodesignlove.com/

coolors.co/browser/latest/1

www.typewolf.com/

www.designspiration.net/

www.behance.com

www.webcreme.com/

Perpetual Student of Design,
Nina

 

Amber’s First Blog: Starting at CMS

LEARNING THE IN’S AND OUT’S

I walked into the doors of Company Man Studios not knowing what to expect. Starting a new job is both exciting and nerve racking. I have been here a few months now and I already feel like I have become fully integrated into this amazing company. The charm the office has is unlike others. And, without a doubt, Rob (Founder and Executive Creative Director) knows how to make you feel welcomed and part of the team of extremely creative people producing amazing things.

Sitting down with our senior editor Edna is always a delightful experience. I was able to sit in on a few edits including one for Achieva Credit Union. It was a great opportunity for me to see the process of the footage Jon (Director/Producer) shot turned into an edit from start to finish in post-production. As well as the client interaction that happens throughout the process. The turnout was amazing leaving both the client and our team proud of the work produced. 

As I traveled around our office I made my way over to our two exceptionally talented animators. Kevin (Animation Director) and Jazz (Designer / Animator) know how to flow from a storyboard to the screen with ease. Producing fun and informational characters to help our clients like Tribridge easily get their message out about their company. Next up was a trip to the CXIS office, which gave me new insight on the continued abilities that Company Man Studios has. Making plans to transform the office space with Nathan (Senior Art Director) and Terry (Art Director) into a client friendly and welcoming environment. Putting plans into motion for future print and design changes to give their office the look they need. 

In a short amount of time, I’ve been able to be a part of numerous shoots, listen in on voiceovers, watch animations come to life, read finished scripts, view websites go through revisions and sit in on post-production edits. The capabilities of this company surpass what I thought when I walked in on my first day. Everything from production, print design, web, info animation, billboards and the list continues. Understanding what everyone does allows me to be able to seek out the correct potential clients – and the fact that Buddy Brew is next door doesn’t hurt either! 

WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER 

Pancake Day at Company Man Studios

Pancake Day at Company Man Studios

Teamwork screams importance at Company Man—and not just with each other. It’s important that we have a collaborative approach with the clients, as well. We love to be able to sit down and talk in person with our clients about the content they would like to create. Whether it is working on the next promotional campaign for Achieva or scouting locations for Saint Leo’s commercials, everyone is available and ready to go. The environment that Company Man Studios has created is unlike the rest. I could see this from the moment I walked in and continue to notice it more and more every day that I work here. If you don’t believe me check out our 2016 recap video. Not only does it capture our awesome company culture but you get to have an inside look at the behind the scenes of projects produced throughout the year. Looking forward to an even greater 2017!

2016 CMS Recap from Company Man Studios on Vimeo.

Contact us at Company Man Studios.