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Big Ideas

The 2011 Idea Execution Audit

"94% of people rework their original idea at least once." An infographic analysis of how creative professionals really get stuff done.

Earlier this year, we polled the 99U community to take the pulse of making ideas happen in 2011. To answer questions like: How do creative projects really get pushed forward? What tools are you using to manage your time and energy? And: Are the ways we live and work as creative professionals undergoing major changes?

Then we crunched all of the data and transformed it into a gorgeous, poster-size infographic sponsored by BlackBerry, which we premiered at our annual 99U Conference just a few weeks ago.So what does idea execution look like? Below we share our thoughts on some of the more unexpected and intriguing survey results.

Email Is Our Biggest Distraction


Respondents said that over 60% of their communication took place over email or instant message, outpacing face-to-face conversations (22%) by almost 3 to 1. At the same time, email was ALSO listed as the number one distraction from getting work done, with Facebook as a distant runner-up.Therein lies the crux of the email problem. It’s become THE go-to communication tool, but it’s also a huge productivity drain — which is why having an email management strategy has become so crucial.

Solo Entrepreneurs & Home Offices on the Rise


We also confirmed our suspicions that: a) the co-working movement is seriously gaining steam within the creative professional community, and b) the creative workforce, in general, is becoming more mobile and fragmented. According to our poll, the home office (38%) is now almost as popular as the company office (49%) among creatives.While this flexibility and freedom is — of course — awesome, it’s also a great argument for honing our organizational skills. As the typical big company bureaucracy breaks down, independent workers will have more and more administrative-type details to manage — on top of being creative geniuses!

The Best Insights Come During Downtime


As we discussed in a recent article on Brian Eno’s creative process, it’s not uncommon for great ideas to strike when we’re taking a break. The 2011 Idea Execution Audit results confirmed that stepping away from our desks — both to recharge and let our minds wander — is as valuable as slogging away at the computer.While we’re not suggesting you switch your work regime to all naps and strolls and daydreaming, it’s worth noting that energy renewal is as closely related to making ideas happen as “keeping busy.”


To check out the full results of our annual survey, get the full Idea Execution Audit infographic below.

–> Download the 99U Idea Execution Audit infographic

More Posts by Jocelyn K. Glei

A writer and the founding editor of 99U, Jocelyn K. Glei is obsessed with how to make great creative work in the Age of Distraction. Her latest book is Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distraction, and Get Real Work Done. Her previous works include the 99U’s own bestselling book series: Manage Your Day-to-Day, Maximize Your Potential, and Make Your Mark. Follow her @jkglei.

Comments (9)
  • Glory Ramsey

    Thank you, this is wonderfully done! 1 question, is it 49% company office or 38% company office – graphic shows it one way and article says it another 😉 thank you!

  • jkglei

    The infographic is correct, it was my error in the written summary. Thanks for pointing it out, Glory. Tis now fixed in the text as well!

  • essay

    Wow, this was a really great post! I enjoyed reading it and although each point was short and to the point, they were all factual and very helpful!

  • H B L

    This whole damned thing is overwhelming!

  • ginadblog

    Great visual and not too surprising about the e-mail being a major time sucker. Just glad it’ns not just me!

  • custom essays

    Yes its very hopefull!

  • Brian Lemen

    Great article, nicely done. Not only is email a distraction in how often you check it and reply to people… but when waiting on email from others, for information that you need in order to finish projects!

  • Fahim MD

    Well done. Reading more of your articles.

  • Fahim MD

    Well done. Reading more of your articles.

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