Welcome to Episode 23 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the topsy/turvy world of creativity.
My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and no matter what aspect of the creative world that interests you, this episode is for you. Especially the majority of you are neglecting the fact that you have to feed and water yourself. Yep, ya gotta feed and water yourself.
If there’s one thing that we can all agree on, it’s that while it can be crazy fun, working in the creative world can also chew you up and spit you out. The pressure to produce, the timelines, the hours, crazy clients, crazy co-workers, crazy bosses…There’s a whole lot of crazy going on. And I think it’s getting worse. Why is that?
When we talk about technology, it’s usually about how much easier it makes our lives. And that’s the case in creativity. But not always. Sure, designing and editing have been transformed by computers. But now those you answer to know that you can make more adjustments. They want more options. More detail. (Hell, comps todays are basically ready to go out as is.) And finally, they want it yesterday. Where once the creatives held the magic, today, technology does.
Shamans & Magicians
Once upon a time, creatives were regarded as possessing some sort of magical, mystical powers. They were considered shamans and magicians. (Some even gave themselves god-like status.) Whatever their status, they were given ample time to concept and craft their ideas. Then came technology. And the game became less
mystified and more became expected. Not a bad thing, necessarily. That is until nitpicking, indecision and ego created delay after delay. And a fraying of confidence and order. That’s not the fault of computers, that’s the fault of people. People supposedly leading the process, not throwing themselves down on the timeline as human speed bumps. It continues to this day.
With more media, we need more content. And in real-time. That means we need that content, faster. And faster. And faster. And we need it all coordinated from medium to medium. Often with multiple agencies. Not an easy task.
Can’t Go Back to Future
We’re not going to create more time by going back in time. OK? Times have changed and going back to the old ways ain’t goin’ to happen. We can’t simply demand more time to work. Nor should we. We’re going to have to create time within the deadlines we already have.
One way to save time is not to waste time. To move the process along as smoothly as possible. No holding onto information longer than necessary. No left out requirements or misinformation that costs precious time. This requires better communication, better processes and people who are good- make that great- at preserving controlled chaos. And it will be chaotic at times. It’s the job of these master cat-herders to keep as much momentum as possible going.
Often we don’t trust ourselves enough. We don’t know when to stop. Creative development falls victim to this all the time. If we don’t know how to edit our thoughts and to recognize great ideas when they’re staring us in the face, we lose time.
When it comes to collaboration, the equation should add up to 1+1=3. People getting together to make something greater than the sum of its parts. When performed properly, I’d contend that by adding the right people, you can save more time. Listen to the earlier episodes on collaboration to hear more on why that is.
It’s About Time
As Technology magnet and NBA owner, Mark Cuban, says…
Time is the most valuable asset you DON’T own. You may or may not realize it yet, but how you use or don’t use your time is going to be the best indication of where your future is going to take you.
To be more successful, and possibly save your sanity, you have to master time. Or at least to tame it a bit. Because the mismanagement of time is the main reason for the chaos and pain spent in a career that can be so rewarding and joyous. And that’s why I’ve spent so much time upfront talking about time.
Here’s the deal. Time is NOT on your side.
Not because no one here gets out alive, but because like most professional services businesses, creative enterprises are built upon time.
Efficiency vs Effectiveness
Once a procurement person asked me, Wegs, what’s the average print ad cost to make?
Well, I said, I’ve worked on ads that took months to come up with and sold little; I’ve also worked on ads that took minutes to create and sold lots and lots. Finding the average didn’t seem so important to me. Making effective messages did and still does.
But because most businesses are based on efficiency, the financial types are going to focus on the efficiency of the hours per assignment or client; not the effectiveness and value of the work done.
And that’s why timesheets and other measures of time are held so near and dear. Your company is getting paid more for the quantity of your time than the quality of your work. It’s like an author getting paid per word rather than sales. So, unless the system changes, increasing increments of time are going to be loaded on your back, until your back starts to break. Wearing you out physically, mentally and emotionally. That makes time a major key in feeding and watering yourself.
You Must Be Your Own Time Manager
Account people and project managers are key, but when it comes to how your time affects your well-being, that responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders, my friend.
Stop Being a Martyr
Ever find yourself on a plane where businesspeople are bragging about their insane schedules, as if their schedule was a major measure of their personal worth? I heard one guy basically bragging that he was missing his son’s 8th birthday to make a presentation. I wanted to hit him over the head with his briefcase. His poor kid! Couldn’t even compete with his old man’s PowerPoint.
Take Every Minute of Your Vacation Time
Wish I had followed my own advice earlier. Now I plan most of my vacations the year before. That way I’m committed, and my team can plan around those dates. I start looking forward to such times, and don’t let my plans be derailed.
Go Home at a Decent Time
Don’t procrastinate so much. Give yourself set times to tackle problems. Honestly, clock yourself. Gamify your time. Set boundaries. Exceptions can be made, but bad leadership is no excuse to waste your time. And if you allow too many exceptions, they become the rule. Pre-plan as much as you can. And communicate clearly, so you know where exactly your situation stands.
Point of Diminishing Returns
At some point you hit a wall. And all those extra hours you expend, end up producing inferior work. Wasted time. Go home and reenergize. You’ll wind up more satisfied with your work, and more importantly, your life.
It Takes Time to Feed & Water Yourself
Time to enjoy others. To recharge your batteries. Take in new thoughts and ideas. Stay up to date with what’s going on in the world. To make friends. Have hobbies. To volunteer. And dammitt! Don’t miss your kid’s birthday.
Let’s Take a Short Breather… (EXHALE.)
…We’re here at Deaf Mule Studios to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. And I’m Wegs, your humble host. Now back to the show with one last thought from the greatest comedian of them all, George Carlin:
Trying to be Happy by Accumulating Possessions is Like Trying to Satisfy Hunger by Taping Sandwiches All Over Your Body.
Like hunger, happiness comes from within. Mainly. Research has shown that there is a ceiling on just how much money will make you happy. Do you know at what point your annual salary stop making a difference? As of this printing, $70,000. A lot of money, but probably less than you thought, right? Yet that’s the cut-off. Once you can keep a roof over your head and food on the table, and have a little walking around money, what you earn doesn’t mean that much. It can’t buy you love. It can’t buy you a life.
So please, please, please, feed and water yourself. Become more mindful of your homelife. Become more mindful of what you’re allowing the fustercluck to do to yourself. Make a plan and commit to yourself. If you get anything out of listening to this podcast, I hope it’s this.
Well, that about wraps up our 23rd episode of Navigating the Fustercluck.
Here from Deaf Mule Studios, I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, thank you for listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at
NavigatingF. Or at NavigatingTheFustercluck.com. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to make a difference. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.