Interrupting the flow: why creatives hate unscheduled meetings

7am, coffee is hot and fresh, computer is booting up, Slack is connecting, Adobe Illustrator is opening. I look at my Trello board to figure out what my tasks will be for that day, plan it all out and get ready dig in. Inhale. Exhale.

Phone rings, unknown number. Ignore.

Back to the flow - I’ve got my big design-heavy task scheduled to start the day off. It’s a “get in the zone” task, will probably take 3-4 hours. Starting to zone in.

Phone rings, client. Ignore. Sorry, I’m getting in the flow. Will call them back.

Okay, hit reset - back to it. Grab the pen tool, start drawing. Open pathfinder, merge a few shapes, things are coming together. I’m tapping into this project now, 30 minutes in, getting on a roll.

Phone rings, same client. Gah! I promise I will call them back when I’m done with this task. Ignore.

Okay, serious reset. Back to the flow, that sweet sweet creative flow... turning my phone on silent, I really need to focus.

Email notification, client emailing to tell me they called twice and I should call them back when I can.

Now I’m definitely out of the flow and all the other things I need to get done are bogging down my brain. I’ll have to push off this big design-heavy task for later today.

Call client back. Nothing urgent. Just checking in.

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Often, creative professionals try to avoid unscheduled meetings.

We craft our days very intentionally, knowing certain tasks require non-interruption, while others are bangers (knock them out real quick) tasks. Either way, we decide with purpose when we are going to work on what. We design our days (see what I did there) around the tasks at hand when the day starts. We’ll typically allot certain times for client call backs and email responses during our day, all with the goal to balance out actual design work with client communication.

Big design-heavy tasks actually take a significant amount of time to tap into, then out of, then back into if interrupted. The mind of a creative professional is comprised of several buckets, each of which is filled with many layers. When designing a logo for example, the designer taps into the logo bucket. They get centered. Then they start digging into each layer within the bucket - mood board, check. Typography, check. Colors, check. Revisit client input, check. Get Illustrator artboard set up, ready to roll. The deeper they get, the more they are entrenched in their imagination/production zone. It took a lot of time to get there. A lot of centering, intention, and creative energy. If the creative pro is ripped out of this zone, it takes just as much time to get back in.

That’s why creatives prefer scheduled meetings (phone calls included). Scheduled meetings allow us to plan our days accordingly. If I have a call at 9:45am, I’m not going to start a big design-heavy project and 9am. I’ll start that at 11am after the scheduled call instead.

Of course, clients are always welcome to call and email! Please understand that if a response is not immediately received, the creative is likely deep in the flow and it’ll be hard for them to answer immediately. They'll get back to you at their soonest convenience. And you never know... it could very well be your project that they are deep in the zone creating! We don't want to interrupt that sweet sweet creative flow.


Do you have client scheduling tips for creatives?