By Jo Fraser, on Apr 6, 2020

Deep work with Contentful: How to be productive in scattered times

Contentful App Framework features to boost productivity

We’re living in pretty scattered times. One moment you’re ticking off the to-do list, and the next you’re skipping between 17 different open tabs in a manic game of “what’s next, who’s responsible, why do I have so many emails, and yes, this is the 109th time I’ve read the news today.”

If you’re a marketer, editor, or content creator who is working with a lot of content, things can get tricky, fast. It’s not like you can sit down in front of one piece of work, buckle in and get going. More likely, you’re having to move between screens, tabs, programs, software, and platforms. — not to mention in-person meetings, Zoom calls, and your kind-hearted (but sometimes ill-timed) deskmate reaching across to borrow a phone charger. Some studies suggest interruptions can consume as much as 28% of your day. That’s about two hours of a typical 7.5-hour workday. 

Interruptions also pull you out of deep work. According to Cal Newport, in his book of the same name, “Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.” You might recognize deep work as getting lost in writing a blog post, or getting so involved in design work that you forget about lunch. While we would never advocate skipping lunch, there is something very satisfying about this state of work; You can clock off knowing you’ve done your best and aced the to-do list, too. 

The biggest threat to deep work is distraction. This includes half-paying attention to what's going on around you, reaching for your phone or the news, getting interrupted for a meeting, or not having a clear idea of your tasks. We’ve rounded up the ways Contentful can help you sweep some of these distractions out the door.

Tame the tabs. Get rid of context switching.  

If your computer screen looks a bit like one of those infinity mirrors you find in a funhouse, it might be time to intervene. This includes consolidating the software and tools you have to flick between. Launching a new landing page doesn’t have to mean switching between multiple CMSes, emailing developers, pulling content from Dropbox, popping into Jira to see who is doing what, and then launching Gatsby preview before hitting publish. To quote a recent NYT’s article: “Productivity isn’t about time management. It’s about attention management.” And dancing from screen to screen, program to program is enough to scatter your attention span into a million pieces. 

Every time you have to move from one browser to another, this counts as a tiny onslaught of distraction. Have you ever noticed it is during these transitions that you pick up your phone, or go to your inbox?  

The Contentful App Framework was built for this very reason: to minimize the number of times you have to completely switch contexts while you work. The App Framework means that you can have all your favorite tools and services in the sidebar of the Contentful authoring hub. 

Know what you’re doing. Nail down your tasks. 

Have you ever sat down to work –– and then ended up on social media or ordering the week’s groceries? One reason you could have ended up ordering Oreos is because you sat down without a clear set of tasks. Or maybe you sat down with a job that was so big that you didn’t know how to approach it. Overwhelm often turns into procrastination. Nobody builds a house right away; It’s a matter of putting down one brick at a time. The same goes for being productive. It’s all about knowing what you have to do and then breaking it up into small, manageable pieces.

Gif of how to pubish content on Contentful

There are a few ways that Contentful helps with organizing your tasks. The first is the “tasks” section of the web app sidebar. Every entry has a spot where you can divide up the work required, keep an eye on who is doing what, and assign tasks to whoever is responsible. 

You can write whatever you like in the task sidebar. Managers can assign tasks to their members of the team. You could use it to communicate how long a task should take. And you can even use it as a personal to-do list; Before signing off for the day, leave a note for yourself about where to pick up in the morning. Entries can’t be published without finishing all of the tasks attached. When you assign a task to someone in Contentful, they will be notified with an email. 

Alternatively, you can integrate Jira with the App Framework. The Jira app gives you a clear overview of the Jira tickets attached to content entries, reporters, or assignees. Teams can see both open and resolved tickets.  

Organize your assets. Avoid the last-minute scramble for media. 

Ever been ready to publish a content piece and noticed that you’ve forgotten to add a cover image or author profile? Or perhaps it takes you 10 minutes to find a brand or media assets every time you go looking. Feeling like you don’t have your sh*t together can be a real productivity-killer. 

How does Contentful organize your media? You can add apps such as Dropbox, Bynder, Frontify, and Brandfolder to your Contentful web app. Instead of logging into another tool, searching through the folders and uploading, you can access all your media from your Contentful sidebar. And once your content is in place, you can use tools such as AI Image Tagging and the Image Focal point app to edit, tag, and categorize your assets. The only scramble is your morning eggs. 

No more work on weekends. That’s an order. 

Managing your attention span, and being productive during the week, means shutting off during your days off to rest. That means no more pressing publish on a blog post on the weekend, or frantically emailing colleagues on the weekend to get things done. We’re calling it — you’re not allowed to be available all the time! Being a productive, creative person during your working hours means switching off for deliberate and restorative rest.   Before you settle down for your nap, the bad news is that signing off for the day requires a little foresight and planning. This could be scheduling your posts for when you’re out of office, assigning tasks in the sidebar to hand overwork, or streamlining jobs like translation (which typically requires a lot of back and forth).  

Are you interested in boosting your productivity? Read about how to thrive when working remotely, and how the Contentful App Framework integrates all your favorite productivity tools. 

Jo Fraser

Jo's a Contentful web app expert and collaborates with our customer success teams to elevate the authoring experience. She's a long-time power user who knows the product inside and out.