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Team Culture

Laying Your Energy Line

Energy Lines are a simple way to prioritize and use design to guide creative energy when you're juggling multiple projects.

Creative teams juggle multiple projects at once. The constant streams of ideas lead to more ideas. As energy is spread across projects like peanut butter, prioritization is all but lost. Energy Lines are a simple way to prioritize and use design to guide creative energy.

At any given point in time there are a few projects that are urgent, some that are just important, a few that need to be kept moving, and others that are idle. How much of your time are you spending on what? Are you focused on the right things?  Amidst the everyday craziness of a creative enterprise, it is hard to keep energy in perspective.The Energy Line is a simple mechanism to graphically display energy allocation. A simple line starting at “Idle” and going up to “Extreme” is drawn along a cork or dry erase board. Then write the names of all of your major projects on small cards. Place the cards along the energy line according to how much focus they should get.  Be realistic and make the tough decisions on what projects need to live on low energy for a while.

Customize the system with words, colors, and design that works for you and your team. You and your team must have an affinity for the design in order for it to stick. Remember that beauty breeds loyalty when it comes to organization systems.

Energy lines are most helpful when a whole team gives consistent input and someone takes the time to keep the line updated. At its best, the energy line keeps you focused and serves as a constant reminder of how energy should be spent. At its worst, the energy line makes great office art!

This tip was written by Scott Belsky, Behance Team. Explore more tips, and check out Behance’s guest postings for small businesses trying to make ideas happen, hosted at American Express’ OpenForum.
Comments (6)
  • Pinkandfluffy

    I love the line “beauty breeds loyalty when it comes to organization systems”. That is so true! Especially for creative people like me who don’t like using things unless they look and feel pretty.

  • glastonbomb

    Love the energy line.<br />
    One change I made on my energy line is to make the extreme and high work from green down to blue. I know red and orange is the colours that scream “Do this!” but I though it would be great to make it green so when you keep looking at your energy board next to your monitor you don’t panic at the site of your highest task, but feel better that it’s a go.

  • WildDirt

    I saw Scott Belsky at the How Design conference in Denver this past summer (2010) and I had already knew about Behance but wasn’t aware of at the time. He gave a great speech at the conference and was very inspiring. Since then I have kept my eye on the site.

    I am the type of designer that likes to be organized so I immediately toss the energy line up on the wall and used 5×3 lined post its to put up projects. I included a description, project number for reference, and some details on the post it. I also moved our weekly progress meeting from a large conference room to our work area and made everyone stand around. The meetings went way faster since you couldn’t sit and chit chat and there was less questions asked because the energy line showed what we were spending our time on. It allowed the product managers from the different areas to see all the different projects the graphics department was working on and how much time we think it would take. I recently left that company and plan on bringing the energy line with me.

    ps I also infected both companies with the action method note books.

    Great ideas! keep ’em up!

    Alexander Kwapis
    Creative Director at Fusion Pkg

  • WildDirt

    Update to the energy line. I now put projects that are of higher priority above the energy line and those that are of lower priority below the energy line. This easily shows what things I am spending my time on inrelation to how important they are. Next to the energy line I have a hanging file folder organizer that holds the files of the associated projects on the energy line. 

    Alexander Kwapis
    Creative Director at Fusion Pkg

  • Maryanne Carman

    Hmm…I think this is something I seriously need to start doing.

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