Monday, April 26, 2010

Stop The Sag

Politicians have occasionally attempted to campaign against baggy pants. Even President Obama, when a candidate, urged young black men to pull up their pants. Now New York state senator Eric Adams is putting up billboards in Brooklyn NY in an attempt to “Stop the sag” as well as a video in which he slots baggy pants into a chronology of negative racial stereotyping. Adams, a black retired police captain first elected in 2006, tapped his campaign coffers for $2,000 to put up the billboards and to make a YouTube video.


Time Flies

To recognize its 10th anniversary, Real Simple is offering “the gift of time” to its harried readers. Inside the April issue, that means time-saving tips such as quick-cook dinners, while the cover addresses the issue conceptually. “Time is a very intangible thing — there isn't a picture of time, and there isn't a particular image that comes to mind,” says the magazine's creative director, Janet Froelich. She decided to commission clocks from industrial designers; shown here is one of the outcomes, Harry Allen's yellow clock with one hand, which reads “Past” on the top and “Future” below.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Get More Work Done in Less Time.

One way to manage time is by time chunking. (We’ll define that in detail later.) There are many variations of time chunking techniques.

What Is Time Chunking?

Time chunking is a popular method for increasing productivity. The basic concept is that you set a timer for a specific chunk of time. During that time, you focus on one task at hand, without allowing any distractions (short of a fire or somebody bleeding) to interrupt your work. When the timer goes off, you take a break for another set period of time.

The Pomodoro Technique is more structured than other time chunking techniques, and can even be applied in team settings. Before I dive into the details of the technique, let’s talk about…

Why Time Chunking Works

Time chunking helps us become more productive for several reasons:

• For one thing, it compels us to truly focus on just one task, instead of trying to do several tasks at once–and doing all of them poorly.

• Because the time for focused work is limited, we’re forced to keep distractions at bay. For example, if you’re tempted to check your email, you can easily tell yourself, “I only have four more minutes on my timer. I’ll check my email after the timer goes off.”

• The timer can also keep us motivated when we’re doing something that we don’t particularly enjoy. For example, let’s say you’re coding a client’s site and getting kind of bored. You take a quick glance at the timer and keep going because after only seven more minutes, you know you can take a break.

• Working in chunks of time also keeps you rested and refreshed. It’s easy to get carried away and stay in your chair for hours at a time, even missing meals sometimes. But with time chunking, you are forced to take frequent breaks–no matter how fired up you are with your work. This helps to make sure that your mind and body get the rest they need. This in turn keeps your creativity and productivity flowing.

The Pomodoro Technique

On to my favorite time chunking method: the Pomodoro Technique.

Although it sounds more like a kind of pasta sauce, the Pomodoro Technique is actually an effective way for increasing productivity.

The Pomodoro Technique was founded by Francesco Cirillo, now a business consultant, when he was still in university and struggling to juggle his studies. Cirillo, who developed the technique in 1992, named it after his tomato-shaped timer. “Pomodoro” is the Italian word for “tomato.” Thus, the name.

One pomodoro is equivalent to 25 minutes of focused, uninterrupted work on a single task.

The basic principle of the Pomodoro Technique is that each pomodoro cannot be broken down. For example, you cannot say that you’ll work for half a pomodoro (12.5 minutes) and then continue later. There’s no such thing as a part of a pomodoro. It’s all or nothing.

If something comes up and you cannot complete one pomodoro, then you cancel that pomodoro and start over.

Each pomodoro is followed by a five-minute break. The length of the break can be extended, such as when you’re particularly tired. However, the break shouldn’t be too long, because then you’ll have a harder time getting back into the groove of your work.

The rest period after completing four pomodoros is 15 minutes long.

How to Manage Interruptions

The thing I like best about the Pomodoro Technique is that it shows specific ways to handle interruptions.

First off, the technique distinguishes internal from external interruptions. Internal interruptions are those that arise from our own thoughts, such as suddenly remembering that you should pick up a birthday gift for your friend Sally.

For this type of interruption, the Pomodoro technique advises writing the thought down in the form of a task. For example, you add it to your list of to-do’s. Even include a deadline for when it needs to get done. And then go back to the task at hand and finish the pomodoro.

By doing this, you would have been interrupted for only a few seconds and the pomodoro is not lost.

What about external interruptions? Obviously, you should ignore your email and telephone when you’re supposed to be focusing on your work.

But what if your doorbell rings and your neighbor is at the door? Or your spouse rushes into your home office?

The Pomodoro Technique recommends a strategy called “Inform, Negotiate and Call.”

The Inform, Negotiate and Call Strategy

Let’s use the spouse example above to see how this strategy works:

1) Inform. “Sorry, honey, but I’m in the middle of something and can’t be interrupted.” (To diffuse the tension, Cirillo suggests saying, “I’m in the middle of a pomodoro.”)

2) Negotiate. “Can we talk in 15 minutes?” (Or however long you have left on your pomodoro.)

3) Call. Approach your spouse and talk, as promised, after 15 minutes.

If necessary, you add the task of calling the person in your to-do list.

SOURCE: Freelance Folder •

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dancing Shoes

The 50th anniversary of Doc Martens shoes, boots and sandals has sparked a digital campaign centered on 10 modern covers of classic pop tunes spanning the brand's musical history. Ten exclusive tracks and videos are available for free online download. "We wanted to celebrate the brand's heritage, but champion its contemporary relevance and look to the brand's future," explained Tom Phillips, creative director at New York's Exposure. "Music is inherently linked to the brand. It's always been worn and adopted by musicians throughout its history." •

Thursday, April 15, 2010

iStock Photo Tenth Anniversary

iStockphoto was founded in 2000, pioneering the micropayment photography business model, and has become one of the most successful user-generated content sites in the world. The company pays out more than $1.6 million weekly in artist royalties and offers millions of vetted, royalty-free photos, illustrations, video, audio and Flash files. Perhaps most important, istockphoto has reshaped the way professional graphic designers, and other art and photobuyers, work with and think about digital imagery and workflow. A microsite is dedicated to anniversary activities. Kelly Thompson, founder and now COO of istockphoto says that it is not the organization's nature to blow its own horn, but that it was important to recognize all the contributors and participants who have become part of its close-knit community. A microsite is dedicated to anniversary activities. •

Monday, April 12, 2010

2010 Pantone Must Have Color!

Pantone is pleased to announce PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise, an inviting, luminous hue, as the Color of the Year for 2010. Combining the serene qualities of blue and the invigorating aspects of green, Turquoise inspires thoughts of soothing, tropical waters and a comforting escape from the everyday troubles of the world, while at the same time restoring our sense of wellbeing.

In many cultures, Turquoise is believed to be a protective talisman, a color of deep compassion and healing, and a color of faith and truth, inspired by water and sky. Through years of color word-association studies, we also find that to many people, Turquoise represents an escape, taking them to a tropical paradise that is pleasant and inviting – even if it is only a fantasy.

Whether envisioned as a tranquil ocean surrounding a tropical island or a protective stone warding off evil spirits, Turquoise is a color that most people respond to positively. It is universally flattering, has appeal for men and women, and translates easily to fashion and interiors. With both warm and cool undertones, Turquoise pairs nicely with any other color in the spectrum. Turquoise adds a splash of excitement to neutrals and browns, complements reds and pinks, creates a classic maritime look with deep blues, livens up all other greens, and is especially trend-setting with yellow-greens.


Passing with Flying Colors

Pantone's New iPhone App
Everyone from graphic designer's to industrial designers can now have access to all the PANTONE Color Libraries without carrying around bulky guides, and users can easily create harmonious color palettes by finding complementary, analogous and triadic combinations for slected colors. And not only that, colors can also be extracted from images taken by the iPhone's built in camera and matched to the closest Pantone color.

Palettes can be share with other iPhone users or emailed as color patches or application-ready swatch files for the Adobe Creative Suite, etc. Visit for more info.

SOURCE: Layers Digital Magazine •

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How to Ask for a Referral Without Sounding Like a Jerk

It’s a lousy truth, but if you want referrals, you have to ask for them. No matter how great your work is, no matter how wonderful you are, most clients aren’t thinking about referring you to anyone.

Why Clients Don’t Give You a Referral

Did you ever wonder why your clients don’t give you more referrals?

It’s not because they’re mean or because they don’t want you to succeed; it’s because giving you a referral never crosses their minds.

I’ve seen this happen with my own two eyes. In the company I used to work for, we contracted out our design services to a very talented guy. He would come in to the office to present his work, and he was always great to talk to and fun to have around. He put out quality work, too. If you’d asked anyone in the company, he was a killer designer.

I don’t think we ever referred him once.

In fact, I watched an opportunity for a referral go whizzing right by. My boss’ friend, who ran his own company, came in for a lunch date and was complaining to my boss about the terrible designer he’d hired. My boss sympathized and hoped he’d find someone who could fix the problem.

It didn’t occur to him to refer our own freelance designer. He might have thought of it had his friend specifically asked if he knew a good designer.

But, the friend didn’t ask, my boss didn’t volunteer, and that was that.

Don’t let that happen to you.

Freelancers don’t ask for referrals because we think we’ll sound pushy, or unprofessional, or, in the worst case scenario, like a complete jerk. These are valid concerns. Many people who ask for referrals come off sounding like a bad used car salesmen.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to ask for referrals. There’s nothing stopping you from doing it the right way. Here’s your number-one tip for asking for a referral without sounding like a jerk:

Make it about the other guy

When Should You Ask for a Referral?

The best time to ask for a referral is when your client is raving about what a fantastic job you just did on your last project. Let’s say you’re a copywriter, and he’s telling you that he’s worked with dozens of writers in the past and no one has been able to hit just the right note the way you have.

“I’m so pleased you like it,” you say. “I know it can be rough finding a good writer. There are a lot of hacks out there. I’ve heard some horror stories.”

That’s his cue. Usually, your client will he’ll launch telling you about his own bad experience or that of another company he knows. Let him, and be sympathetic about it. Then say this:
“Well, listen, if you know of any other companies who are having a rough time finding good work, feel free to pass on my name. Actually, if you have a few names in mind, I could just drop them a line myself and save you the trouble.”
See what just happened? Instead of saying that you want a referral so that you can get more clients, you’re saying that you want a referral so that these companies–who your client knows and likes–won’t have to deal with shoddy work anymore.

You’re not being a jerk. You’re being helpful. You’re being the nice guy.

And guess what? Not only will your client give you the referrals, he’ll think you’re a great guy for asking.

Not bad for a task you always considered the low point of marketing, right?

SOURCE: Freelance Folder •

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Move To Softer

A new corporate logo and brand identity for Kraft features an upward, red smile exploding into an array of flavor bursts and bears the slogan or mission statement “Make today delicious.” Kraft worked with graphic design agency Nitro on the launch. The new logo will not completely supersede Kraft’s current blue, white and red brand identity; the latter will still remain on Kraft-branded products. Christopher Nurko of Nitro is quoted in Brandweek as observing: “People have looked for softer, more organic shapes... There’s this movement in art and design that’s a lot softer.”