Productivity Prompts

Productivity Tool: The Job Aid

I'm a big fan of the job aid.

A job aid is a quick-reference tool you can use to help you with tasks you do regularly, but not quite often enough that you could do them in your sleep.

It's an easily accessible "how-to" that saves you from wasting time trying to remember how you did something the last time. Whether it's in the form of a diagram, a checklist or a single word jotted down on an index card it can make your life a heck of a lot easier.


Tonight I was getting ready to prep another print for the online shop and couldn't remember the convoluted 5-filename printing system* I'd come up with the last time. I knew the system worked and I knew I'd scribbled it on the back of one of my daily planning cards.

When I found it I created the following job aid so I wouldn't have to flip through all of my cards again:

Job Aid for Making Prints

my friendly guide and reminders to help me not lose any changes

when manipulating images for prints

Now the next time I create prints for the shop all I'll have to do is bring up my checklist and work through the steps. No scratching my head, no re-thinking through the process, no trying to remember where I put my notes.

Easy peasy.

* I came up with this 5-filename system when more than once I had to redo some work after having saved over something I shouldn't have saved over. I am open to suggestions for simplifying it if you have any!


Is there a task you do regularly, but not often enough to do it in your sleep?

Instead of wasting time trying to remember how you did it the last time each time it comes up, would it be useful to create an easily accessible quick-reference go-to guide?

Productivity Prompt: Choose Pretty, Quality Tools

This is the sixth and last of this series of weekly Productivity Prompts - quick, simple tips or practices gleaned from productivity-related books or blogs that have helped me better manage my work, my time, or move things forward.


Choose tools that make you happy when you work. The more they make you happy, the more you'll want to work with them.

Are your paintbrushes constantly shedding?

Would you prefer extra fine coloured pens to the blue BIC ball points you've been working with since kindergarten? (Not dissin' BIC here, blue ball points have a purpose I'm sure.)

How about your daily planner? Are you using the plain black one they give you for free at the office or would you prefer to have something that reflects your creative style amidst your fellow cube-mates?

Supplies are available for me at the office, but in some cases I choose to splurge on my own to have pens, notebooks and paper clips that bring me pleasure. Though it's subtle, they DO make a difference.

"The aesthetics of the tools you use to make ideas happen matter."

~ Scott Belsky, Making Ideas Happen

Try it. With just one small thing. You'll see.


Credits, references & inspiration:

  • Scott Belsky, Making Ideas Happen, Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision & Reality.
  • Cirque du Soleil - In 2007 I attended a presentation by the Corporate Sales Manager at Cirque du Soleil and one of the things that stuck with me is their commitment to giving performers quality materials to work with. I remember him saying that we may not know that a jacket is made from good quality leather, but the performer who's wearing it does, and that will be reflected in his or her performance. This summer I saw their show Totem in Montreal and the main character's costume contained over 4,000 pieces of Swarovski crystal and mirrors. Now that's aesthetics!