Did you ever have one of those days where the clock magically turns from 10:15 am to 5:15 pm and you have no idea how that happened? Somewhere between meetings, emails, unexpected visitors and scope creep, you completely lost track of your day and now your head is spinning in disappointment and confusion. You’ve just been sandstormed.
Named after the popular trance techno song of the same name, “Sandstorm” is our Posture term referring to our day being thrown into fast-forward.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the song, but just in case, you can check out the original 1999 track by Finnish DJ and record producer Darude(listen here).
The seven-minute song has an iconic repetitive beat that embodies sheer speed and momentum. When Spotify played this song one too many times in a single day, our entire office found ourselves transported throughout the day with no reason behind the rapid passing of time or scattered nature of our brains. That’s when we coined the term: we had been sandstormed.
FUN FACT: The song’s name came from the text on the startup screen of the synthesizer used in the song.
So how can you avoid the storm?
Well, first of all, don’t listen to Darude in the office. But the real problem behind an office sandstorm is time management, something we all struggle with. Here are some ways we try to avoid the storm:
Whether we want to admit it or not, our brains are not natural multi-taskers and shifting between tasks and yielding distractions does, in fact, slow us down.
Forbes reports “Changing tasks more than 10 times a day drops your IQ an average of 10 points.”
Make a list and check it twice. In our office we use a phenomenal project management system called Asana. With fun checkboxes, project lists subtasks and all notes and conversations housed in one place, it keeps us on task and all tasks in one place.
Stay conscious of the time. I went through a phase where my mac was set to obnoxiously announce the time every hour on the hour. While it was a creepy robotic voice that was startling to the entire office, it was immensely helpful in giving me a reality check on how long I had spent on a particular task…or how much time I spent avoiding a particular task.
You don’t need to watch the clock to be aware of the time
Track your time
Our agency runs on time as our currency, so it makes sense that we track all of hours as an essential part of our billing system. But it’s easy to rack up three-hours of uncategorized or unbillable time. Treat your own business like you would a client. Maybe no one is pulling those hours for a bill, but at the end of the week you’ll be able to review the data… you’d be surprised how much time you spend answering emails!
How does the Posture team manage time?
“I like to make small lists and accomplish each task one-by-one.”
“I schedule blocks of time for my daily tasks so that way I’m not bouncing around aimlessly between to-do’s.”
“Everything kinda feels important to me, so I try to break it down into three categories: critical non-negotiable (eat, sleep, etc.), critical (the meat of the day), and important (everything else).”
“When it’s time to focus, I throw on headphones and avoid eye contact.”
TL;DR : Posture won some awards at the Addys, enlightenment ensues.
This past weekend our agency had a stunning experience at this year’s American Advertising Awards, the annual ceremony where creativity’s effectiveness, judged by folks we respect & recognize, is acknowledged and ultimately rewarded for excellence at the Addys 2018.
Now that it’s been a few days, I’ve had a bit of time to try and understand what that night signifies for our team, processing how we got here, and looking forward to where we’re headed. I apologize in advance for the windy road below and appreciate the time your eyeballs are on loan to these words….
This year’s Addy awards yielded us the type of acknowledgement that gravity sort of pushes down onto you like humid air…a blissful, nervous, overwhelming, ultimately self-conscious state of being where you aren’t sure what to do or say, how to feel or what to make of it.
We ultimately won eight awards (listed below in order of category – client – award):
Packaging Campaign – Electric City Roasting Co. Cold Label Packaging – Gold Addy Award
Branded Content Entertainment Campaign – Breaking Benjamin Social Teaser Video Campaign – Gold Addy Award
Digital Self Promotion – Posture Interactive Company Website – Gold Addy Award
Judge’s Choice – Electric City Roasting Co. Cold Label Packaging
People’s Choice – Electric City Roasting Co. Cold Label Packaging
Best in Show – Breaking Benjamin Social Teaser Video Campaign
Addys 2018 Takeaway #1 – Validation is Nice.
To a certain extent, falling into the category of recognition for anything that we put out the door makes me do a double take. Years and years ago when we formed this little strange-brew human triad of a designer, a programmer + and a business director, we had no idea how we were going to *do* anything.
We didn’t have much, but we had what we needed.
We had a strong, rapidly evolving knowledge base of core design and development beliefs and best “practices” with the chops to back it up. We had a deep, neural understanding of the need to execute the client’s vision in their best interest no matter what, and ultimately how to build the foundation of long-term, healthy business relationships.
Posture was built culture-first. I don’t care how freakishly talented some rock star developer is. If they are an asshole, I don’t want to be around them a bazillion hours a day (and I certainly don’t want to make cool shit with them). If we can we have a conversation that produces something meaningful, and the skillset is chasing close behind, we’ll gladly cultivate that mindset and grow *with* you. The rest is cake: Just don’t be a dick.
This many years later, I never dreamed I would be so fortunate to have had the opportunity to hire and surround myself with such talented people that are just…*better* than me in every sense of the word: I’m made aware & encouraged every day to be a better artist & builder & thinker, to develop more tasteful business acumen, and to strive to actually become the person I’m prone to convince myself I think I am.
I get to work and grow with these incredibly talented people every day to produce some of the most creative, challenging, and engaging solutions our clients have come to know and depend on us for.
It was only after I ran this dialogue back in my head (quite a few times) that I was able to get a grip on why people put so much weight on being validated and why it matters.
When I wrap a project, if I’m cool with it and it has met or exceeded the client’s business objectives, that’s as far as I can let myself define a “success” for our team. Taking some time the past few days to dig into how I reflect on work we complete, more often than not at some uncomfortably blistering pace, makes me think I need to be open to understanding and accepting validation more in general.
We work in an incredibly competitive, feverishly paced industry. These awards represent projects that span the breadth of our core competencies and were in some way or another touched by every single team member doing the best that they possibly could to help make our clients successful.
I realize now that these awards signify that *in addition* to meeting our client’s goals and helping write their success story, our work is being appreciated by other creative talent in our industry as well…peers that understand the hustle and what good hard work is when you see it.
If this is what feeling validated is like, sign me up all day.
Recognition is Humbling.
This speaks for itself, but we are truly humbled to have been recognized to this degree by the American Advertising Federation. A jury of fellow creatives singling out our work out of the battering ram of submissions is incredibly rewarding and we couldn’t be more grateful.
None of it really comes easy for any of us, and I’ll spare you the cliché agency nonsense masquerading as team-building or business growth …such gems as “Excellence is a habit”, or “you can’t choose which projects you go all in on or which you push through the pipe – go all in every time and be inspired!”……it’s all bullshit.
We’re a team and a family. We fight, bicker, bitch and moan. We burn ourselves out on the grandest of scales. We’re all incredibly guilty of not seeing beyond the closest Deadline o’Clock coming full throttle, but also staring it right down to not only our own mental nerve-endings but of those around us as well. It’s intense, it’s challenging, it’s relentless, and I wonder on occasion how we didn’t implode or collapse on ourselves completely by now…
Why is calling ourselves out like this so important? Humility. It’s all rooted in Posture’s commitment to getting the absolute best solution for the visions and goals that we are fortunate enough to be trusted with by our clients.
My mind loses sight of that, and we just need to remind ourselves every now and again that we are never pushing for the *wrong* solution, or the *easy* way out when it gets tough. We are pushing for the new, the best, the most abstract, the brightest…we’re pushing further.
We were recognized and rewarded for our take on the creative spirit of excellence in the art of advertising.
I can’t tell you how proud that makes me to say, and with just a smidge less self-consciousness this time around the bend.
Let’s Push Further.
We look forward to what this year may bring, having the opportunity to be pushing new boundaries, exploring new tech, creating new types of content and solutions for our clients…virtual reality, 360° video, Blockchain development…the sky is the limit, and I’m looking for 2018 to be a pretty rad year.
About the American Advertising Awards/ADDYs
Conducted annually by the American Advertising Federation (AAF), the local chapter is the first of a three-tier, national competition. Concurrently, all across the country, local entrants vie to win ADDY Awards – recognition as the very best in their markets.
All local Golds get automatically forwarded to the second tier where they compete against winners from other local clubs in one of 15 district competitions. District ADDY winners are then forwarded to the third tier, the national stage of the American Advertising Awards.
The ADDYs 2018 is the advertising industry’s largest and most representative competition, annually attracting more than 40,000 entries.
Sustained creativity isn’t easy. It originates from routine, a bedrock of creative productivity. We struggle with it at times here at Posture – maybe you do as well.
One of the most rewarding things about working in design and development for me is the flow I can fall into during a project, not coming up for air until I feel whatever I’m working on is “finished” and that part of my mind feels satisfied with the results.
Getting to that point, however, is honestly incredibly challenging for me. Coming up with a creative ritual, a foundation and groove I can build and carve out to keep myself moving I’ve found is much more difficult than just plugging headphones into my ears and going to town on something.
Benjamin Franklin made sure to end every day by asking “What good have I done today?” Maya Angelou only wrote in tiny hotel rooms. Jack Kerouac made sure to touch the ground nine times before writing. – 99u.com
One of my favorite sites to visit to recenter my mind for work is 99u, which featured a really great article entitled “10 Creative Rituals You Should Steal” that does a deep dive into the creative routines of some of the world’s best thinkers, entrepreneurs, researchers and creatives.
While I am far and away not practicing any of these as religion (yet!), some of them just make sense to me. Namely:
Holding a retrospective team meeting after a project to see where everyone’s head is at, how they feel, gripes they have etc.
Getting out of the building; sometimes just a 15 minute walk clears my head enough to get back in the game.
Take time to let your mind breathe; a vacation of sorts isn’t always a reality but something as simply as honoring your weekends to keep to yourself can make a world of difference.