Plan, reuse, and ‘just say no’: doing more with less

By Wes Meltzer, Orlando Sentinel

When you have to do more with less — and it happens to all of us — it’s easy to fall into the trap of killing ourselves, or doing subpar work.

Laura Stanton, of The Washington Post, offers another way. “It all comes down to you and your great ideas,” she told a packed room, the 9 a.m. blues notwithstanding.

Her tips for learning to live with more, cribbed from luminaries around the industry:

  1. Don’t reinvent the wheel every day. Make things predictable, so you can spend time on what matters (content creation and innovation).
  2. Get ahead of the ball whenever you have downtime. Don’t wait until the end of the day, month or year to put together complicated material. Take advantage of time you have throughout the day.
  3. Do what you know how to do when your time is limited, and do it well, rather than learning something new just for the sake of it.
  4. Automate the repetitive tasks. If all your wire maps come in with dark blue water, and your style is light blue, you could change it manually every time… or you could automate it. InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop all have recorded actions.
  5. Do it all. In these down times, you’ll be a lot more productive and useful the more you have the skills to do.
  6. Sometimes, simple is OK. Not everything needs to be complex to work.
  7. Train each other and share your knowledge. The broader your base of knowledge, the better off you are.

Stanton also put the question to the audience, and broke them into small groups. She will compile the groups’ suggestions into a Google Doc (which we will link to when it’s available). Here’s the top suggestion from each group, from this reporter’s Twitter feed, 120 characters at a time:

#sndstl Laura Stanton’s session broke into small groups. Our overriding theme: “Plan ahead.”

#sndstl Laura Stanton small groups: “Use reader-submitted content.”

#sndstl Laura Stanton small groups: “Make good use of paid resources you have and stock your pantry.”

#sndstl Laura Stanton small groups: “Just say ‘no’ or at least offer a simpler alternative. Be in control of your own destiny.”

#sndstl Laura Stanton small groups: “Avoid scheduling issues and conflicts.”