How to stay productive at work when you're bored!
If you run a Google search for "ways to increase productivity at work", you'll see page upon page of blogs and articles with ideas that range from taking short breaks to avoiding unnecessary meetings to inbox management. These ideas are all swell, and in many cases the suggestions can indeed help you to get over a hump. But they don't apply to every position at every company.
Productivity is integral in an agency environment, so I'm going to hone in on agency life - digital agencies, PR agencies, ad agencies, creative agencies, etc. While working at an agency, what do you do when your day is feeling redundant and repetitive, yet you need to continue to produce high level, agency quality work?
If it weren't for this exact problem, if I never had a day that felt eternal and it seemed like I'd never break through the finish line, then you would not be reading this blog. Matter of fact, you wouldn't be on this website because it wouldn't exist. So here are four unorthodox and outside-the-box ideas for not only remaining productive while working at an agency, but actually maximizing your creative juices at work.
Idea #1 for increasing your productivity while working at an agency:
World Off, Passions On
First, schedule 15 minutes on your calendar so no one else can book you. During that 15 minutes, don't answer email, don't pick up the phone and if someone asks you for something let them know you need just a few minutes.
In this 15 minute block, think about something you love to do outside of work. Do you love poetry? Are you into arts & crafts? How about fishing or race cars, are they a passion of yours? Hiking? Boating? Baking? Biking? Sports? Music? Animals? Kids? Everyone is passionate about something.
Perhaps you have a slew of interests. That's still perfect. Pick one.
Now grab a pen and write about it! (or open up MS Word, of course) Just start jotting down thoughts as they come to your mind. It doesn't matter what comes out in what order and the grammar is irrelevant. The fact is that you can transport yourself into a world of stimulation. This brief escape can really inject some creativity back in your day and rejuvenate your drive.
Fill up the whole 15 minutes with ideas - anything that comes to mind. If you find that you are writing at a infuriating pace, you are on the path to introspection. Let it become emotional and overtake you. When 15 minutes is up, give yourself just a minute to breathe. Then read what you wrote. You'll be shocked at the amount of thoughts that pass through your mind during the cogitation. Each thought tends to breed another creative thought - you have become your own muse. You've invested in yourself, you've invested in your day, and you've actually invested in your company by giving them back more of your better side.
Now you can help your counterpart or answer that question a colleague was asking.
Idea #2 for increasing your productivity while working at an agency:
Every day one of my esteemed colleagues sends the team an invite entitled: Mental Health Walk. At some point in the afternoon we all get up, leave the office and walk around the parking lot. 9 out of 10 times our conversations are not work or client-related. This is the optimal time to take a breather from the workload that seems endless. Its also an opportunity to nurture office relationships. Inner office relationships lead to higher levels of collaboration and productivity.
If it's cold or cruddy out, there are a couple other options. There is usually a hallway or set of stairs you can pace a few times to suffice. There are also some great in-office exercises that can help you to get over that hump. Here are 5 exercises you can do at the office:
A lot of studies point to the idea of taking some time out of your day for these kinds of activities in order to improve overall health and effectiveness. Give it a try, see if it helps!
Idea #3 for increasing your productivity while working at an agency:
Learn Someone Else's Work
When your projects or your daily tasks are feeling repetitious or excessive and you know your productivity is falling off a cliff, it might be time to get a fresh look at something completely different.
I'm primarily in a business development function. That encapsulates a variety of activities and challenges me daily. But there are always days where I hit a wall.
My office, which isn't our agency headquarters, houses account managers, account executives, digital marketing specialists, and other individual functions. One thing you can do is talk with someone else about what they are working on. But take it to a deeper level. Try to understand what their goals are and how they get there. Are they a SEM Specialist? So learn what an ad group is and how a daily budget is set, maintained and achieved. Are they a performance display media expert? Find out what cookie data does for targeting and how they buy it and use it. Is there an analytics ninja around? These guys are the best! No matter how good at Excel you think you are, they always have a new trick you can learn.
There's a couple benefits to doing this for 15 minutes in any given day. First, it gets your mind out of the box its stuck in and gives you well-deserved rest. Aside from that, it gives you the opportunity to better understand your agency, the industry and your clients. Its a win for everyone.
Idea #4 for increasing your productivity while working at an agency:
Games And Contests
Distraction can actually be a good thing when performed effectively and in small doses. I call it "structured procrastination." Here are six ideas that will help divert you from a daunting task for about 15 minutes:
There are tons of other suggestions along these lines. They are all meant to take you out of your sometimes detrimental level of focus so that you can ultimately improve your attention output when you hunker back down.
I wasn't planning on adding a fifth idea to this post because my intention was to bring more out of the ordinary ideas to light. But a colleague just mentioned something to me that resonated. Most agencies have a TV or even a video game console. For lunch, get away from the computer for 20 minutes or so. Dive into the world news or some entertainment news. Watch SportsCenter. Perhaps play an XBox or Wii game. Our jobs are high intensity. The brain and the body can only take so much. A break will actually benefit your performance.
Remember, there's no silver bullet for maintaining and enhancing your productivity at work. The fact is, everyone hits a wall at some point. We're human, and much to our clients' dismay, that means we aren't actually superheroes (though some of my SEM & PPC colleagues are certainly exemplary!). Sometimes a little constructive diversion is necessary to ensure we're putting our best effort in all that we do.