If working a 70 hour week wasn’t tough enough, I recently read that the “average” person has over 70,000 thoughts per day…that’s 350,000 thoughts every working week for anyone rocking a Monday – Friday. Personally it’s more like a Monday-Sunday with the odd Saturday night break, so you can only imagine the amount of thoughts, worries and fears flying around my head every week. In recent months I’ve made a conscious effort to organise the madness in my mind so it will hopefully give me a bit more free time, allow me to relax and most importantly stop these ridiculous thoughts from wreaking havoc on my productivity. Don’t get me wrong, as a young company we need to invest our blood, sweat and tears into our business but when we fall victim to the flurry of thoughts racing around our heads, we begin to become unorganised, make rash decisions and ultimately burn ourselves out. Running two companies is exciting, terrifying and extremely emotional – from paying wages, to client prospecting or even remembering to eat lunch…without organisation, routine and practice I’ve realised that burnout is inevitable and it is only a matter of time before we start to hate the very thing we’ve set out to build. As a way of preventing burnout, Rogue is built on one core principle – avoid stress at all costs. One simple step we took was to move our working hours to start at 10.30am and finish at 6.30pm in order to avoid rush hour traffic, get an extra hour of sleep or simply have time to get some exercise – this allows our team to come to work feeling refreshed and ready to take on the days tasks. Now, this clearly won’t work for everyone and every business but as a creative agency, our guys like the freedom to express their impulsive, ridiculously crazy ideas and that’s what works for us. However, it most be noted that at the core of everything there lies a deep route of organisation – some might say it’s an organised mess but over time we have created our own specific processes that works for our company. Without this organisation, we’re no more than a room full of creatives with laptops and a fridge full of beer. As cool as that sounds, recent studies have shown that a disorganised mind can lead to higher stress levels, negativity, and impulsivity. It can also stifle productivity and contribute to a slew of health problems, including weight gain, heart disease, sleep problems, and migraine headaches- no amount of money and awards are worth that! With the coffee flowing, ideas flying and deadlines approaching it can be very difficult to stay concentrated and remain productive. Below are my 5 tips to remain organised, focused and help you keep your mind relatively clear for the manic day ahead;
1. Set Achievable Yet Challenging Goals
When trying to hit our weekly targets and achieve goals, it can be easy to lose focus and become distracted when the task at hand is too easy or more often, too challenging.. Yes, we thrive on a healthy challenge – but we all have a tendency to get lazy. Have you every noticed that your first hour at work is when you’re most productive? Well, to over come this start your day by making a list with pen & paper. Yes, we live in a digital age but using Evernote and the likes can also open up doors to checking your phone, responding to messages or simply checking Facebook for a “minute”. Instead, jot down your list in a notebook and prioritise the list in terms of importance and difficulty. Set a realistic deadline for each task and begin your day with the most challenging and high priority tasks. These methods will allow you to stay focused throughout the day, getting the most important work completed when you’re at your most productive and allowing you to leave the office feeling relaxed knowing the biggest tasks have been completed.
2. Take A break, You Deserve It
No matter how hard you concentrate or how important a task might be, unfortunately we’re simply not wired for prolonged periods of work. Have you ever sat at your desk for 8 hours, skipped lunch and still finished work feeling like three’s still more to do? Well in actual fact, working too long and not taking regular breaks or leaving the desk for lunch can actually work against you! New research has proven that the most productive work cycle is 52 minutes of uninterrupted work, followed by a 17 minute break. Between meetings, brainstorming and emails this is never going to be a realistic, rigid structure that I could live by. For me, the battle is simply won by remembering to take some breaks throughout the day. If 17 minutes is too much, try to take a 5 minute break for every hour worked. Stretch your legs, get some fresh air and give your brain a rest. It’s not easy, I can vouch for that but trust me when I say it does work and you will come back to the laptop feeling more productive and energised.
3. Choose The Right Music
Do you work in a busy office and wear headphones to protect yourself and stay focused? Research on whether music can help you concentrate and make you more productive is still inconclusive. If you feel that you need music, be careful in what you choose. A friend of mine once told me that classical music can make you smarter – supposedly we have better recall when studying something while listening to classical music. Now, I haven’t done my research but this little trick worked for me back in college and I’ve kept it up while running Rogue. The office might sound like a cathedral from time to time but listening to relatively monotonous music with no lyrics really helps to fill the background noises without falling victim to some catchy melody on repeat in your brain. Lash on Spotify, search for some classical music and see how you get on – I guarantee you’re concentration and productivity will increase.
4. Share Your Quirks
At Rogue, myself and Jason share a desk – again, it’s not for everyone but it’s works very well for us to have daily meetings, discuss issues and elaborate on impulsive campaign ideas we may have. In modern offices, we all share some sort of workspace and if you’re anything like me, you’re hell bent on making your personal working system work so it’s better to let others know it too. Personally I’m a neat freak and Jason knows this. Before I sit down, the desk needs to be cleared – pens away, cups cleaned and office tidied. Now this might be over the top but it could be something as simple as a colleague leaving snotty tissues on their desk, taking their shoes on and off throughout the day or even playing music on their headphones too loudly. We’re all unique and have our quirks so share them (work related that is) with your colleagues and I can guarantee it will lead to a less stressed, more productive day. If you don’t air your problems, you don’t really have the right to give out do you?
Don’t Get Overwhelmed By Your Thoughts
Organising your thoughts is not particularly difficult yet we often and regularly get overwhelmed and stressed because “we have so many things to do”. Yes it does require attention and monitoring but lean on the four basic steps above and see if you can start to relax and get more done.