The secret to getting ahead is...



Yell Work! is the graphic design and lettering studio of Jamie Shelburne Crowley, a graphic designer and lettering lover from Amarillo, Texas. Jamie focuses her efforts on branding, hand-lettering and event design. She loves to create beautiful work that offers creative and professional solutions to problems and to make invitations (and envelopes!) that people won’t want to throw away.


Whether you are hustlin’ at your dream job or still working a day job (like me), there will always be a facet of your work that is tough to find the motivation to complete. Sometimes it’s a thing that you really don’t want to deal with. At other times, it is that the thought of adding one more thing to your to-do list incites panic and heart palpitations.

I wish I could offer you a short-cut to eliminating the no-fun or extra challenging things that you need to get done. But since that short-cut doesn’t exist, I thought I would throw out some encouragement and remind you that the ebb and flow of productivity and creativity is totally, 100% normal and happens to everyone. I would also like to share some ideas that will hopefully help to kick-start your creativity the next time you are caught in a rut, stuck in a funk, in over your head, and need a push to just get started.

1. Get your space in shape.

Far be it from me to tell you where you will be the most productive. But, wherever that place is, the key is to find a place with the least amount of distraction. Bri wrote a great post a couple weeks back with tips and tricks from working at home. One small thing that is necessary for me is to file away everything on my computer desktop. For some reason having those little files peeking out behind my work can really stress me out. On that note, I created two desktop/iphone wallpapers for you to download and enjoy.

You Got This: desktop

You Got This: iphone

2. Set the tone.

I came across a comment on instagram the other day where a girl said that the physical act of putting her headphones on at work helps her get into the work zone. This may make me a total weirdo, but I can stay focused longer when I chew gum. Another essential key for me is using music to drown out the distracting background noise. And hey! Click here to listen to this playlist.






3. Build upon something that already exists.

Sometimes you need a different kind of push to get your creative juices flowing. There have been times when I’ve been able to change my whole outlook on a project by finding a new typeface to love and using that in my design. Or, maybe this is a good time to try a simple DIY you’ve pinned. Testing out a different idea or trying something totally crazy can give you the momentum you need to get out of the rut preventing your productivity.

4. Fill yourself up.

When I get really burned out, I turn to creative art forms that I know nothing about. For instance, reading poetry. A few months after I graduated college, I experienced a particularly rough bout of burn-out. A writer friend recommended that I check out “Good Poems for Hard Times,” a collection of poems compiled by Garrison Keillor. Honestly, I thought she was crazy, but when I read this quote in the preface, I was sold: “The meaning of poetry is to give courage. A poem is not a puzzle that you the dutiful reader is obliged to solve. It is meant to poke you, get you to buck up, pay attention, rise and shine, look alive, get a grip, get the picture, pull up your socks, wake up and die right.” Makes a good case for poems, am I right?? If reading poetry isn’t for you, queue up an interesting documentary or an artsy vimeo (or youtube) video. Even when you are under a tight deadline, spending just a few minutes watching or reading or listening to something inspiring or thought-provoking or funny can help you to feel better about the work you need to get done.

5. See how far you’ve come.

Last but not least, it is so so important to remember that you are just one person and that any size step you are taking toward your goal is something to be proud of.