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Ways We Work

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Ken Dyment

Graphic Designer & college teacher

What do you do?

I am both a self-employed Graphic Designer and teacher of Graphic Design at two local colleges.

What mobile device do you use?

iPhone 4s, iPad.

Best way to stay on top of email?

Because I have a business, two teaching jobs, and an online clothing store, I have to manage several email addresses pertaining to each. In order to do so, I set up several rules to organize the emails into specific categories and folders. For each job, I file in accordance with who the sender is, be it Clients, Suppliers, Product Orders, Staff, Students, family & friends, etc. I find keeping up on and organizing email to be a very challenging aspect of my career even though it should be an easy task.

Top five applications/programs?

In terms of my work itself, I use the Mac-based Adobe Creative Suite and most of its applications on a daily basis as they are standard in the Graphic Design industry. Along side those, MS Office, and Mac calendars, notes, and reminder apps are very useful as I am constantly making notes and scheduling tasks.

What is your best time-saving trick?

The best way that I am able to save time and be efficient is to remain organized. I find that lack of organization for me equates to lost time trying to prioritize tasks and actually keep my creative thinking up to speed with project demands. When I am organized, and thoughts/tasks are clearly noted and accounted for, my mind is free to focus on the most demanding part of my work, which is being creative. I find I am better off spending an hour a day maintaining my organization systems than I am losing three hours due to not being organized and in turn struggling in my work flow.

Favourite productivity tool?

Making notes to a post-it and then logging them to my overall to-do list. Nothing has ever topped the simple to-do list for me. When I have appointments to remember, I get a lot of use out my reminders app on my phone and iPad that with an alarm can alert me a day or two ahead. Keeping things simple and consolidated works the best for me. If can avoid having to remember things myself and literally be reminded at the right times, it makes my work life so much simpler.

One non-tech thing you can't live without?

Pen and paper. Because I am constantly noting creative ideas, tasks to remember, and places to be, my first and fastest go-to is noting it on paper for more “official” documenting at a later time.

Structure of your typical day? How do you divide your time?

I operate my business out of a home office. Therefore, I treat it as though I am going to an actual workplace by having breakfast and being dressed for the day prior to go into my workspace. It never feels right for me to be in my office without being such that I could step out to a meeting or errand at any time.

My first rule is of course checking for any urgent emails that have come in later the previous day or early in the morning. I then refer to my to-do list or often an important task noted on a post-it that I stick to my laptop or even to my car keys or shoes at times—anywhere I will absolutely see it. The steering wheel in my car even sees the odd note attached to it.

After determining my tasks for the day, I either get down to work or be where I have to be if it’s out of my office or at school to teach.

I find routine in my work life to be very helpful for staying organized and staying on top of deadlines.

What does your workspace look like?

My office could typically be described as organized chaos. Paperwork piles up for filing or in reference to particular projects, and student assignments that are brought home for marking also have their place. I also print clothing within my office space, so that often sees silk screens and print materials being placed about. When I have a creative project to execute, I always make sure things are tidied up prior to starting so that I am not distracted by my pet peeve of things being out of place.

My space is also bright and allows me some creative inspiration whether it’s a picture or the one bright orange wall. Even seeing my silk screens and printed shirts inspires my creativity and reminds me that I am running a business and have a serious career to focus on.

Who would you like to see featured on Ways We Work?

Because I am a designer, I would love to see other designers featured. If it were possible to interview Bruce Mau of Toronto to share his “ways”, that would be very interesting. However, more corporate-based creatives such as Joe Mimran (of the Joe Fresh brand) would also be very insightful.