Tag Archives: work-life balance

Never Skip Your Lunch Break

“Ask not what you can do for you country. Ask what´s for lunch.”
-Orson Welles

I have only few principles I live by: never say sorry, listen to Wu-Tang regularly, exercise every weekday morning and never attribute your own behavior to apply to the target audience. One of the most important principles is however the following one:

Always have a lunch break.

“A man may be a pessimistic determinist before lunch and an optimistic believer in the will’s freedom after it.”
-Aldous Huxley

I always find a slot in my calendar to go out and eat a proper lunch. That is something you should never skip, even how busy you think you are. It is not that much about physical need of energy, the lunch break is a really one of the only opportunities to recharge your batteries during workday.

“Even when I am writing I usually take a break around lunchtime and go for a little walk to clear out my head.”
Patricia Cornwell

Here are four ways on how I make my lunch break a sacred moment every weekday:

1. Lunch should never be eaten at your desk.
First, take-away food is disgrace to the chef. Food should to be eaten where it is made. Also walking to restaurant and back is a good exercise in the middle of the day.
If you spend majority of your time by your desk, you will eventually end up crazy like William Foster (great Michael Douglas) in Falling Down. He snapped already during breakfast time. It is also an illusion that eating your lunch at your desk is that much more effective. On worst case, you might spill something on your keyboard.

2. Lunch should always last minimum of 30 minutes
It is not called break without reason.
Brain is a muscle; you have to give it a rest once in a while so you can keep on pushing throughout the day. Usually people who do exceptionally long hours are the people who are not really using their brains that much. They disguise their lack of real work in meetings, planning meetings, meetings about meetings and meetings about meetings where you are planning meetings.
It is impossible come up with good ideas, if you are not giving your brain a rest. We spend already too much of our life captured to our uninspiring offices. Lunch break is our only opportunity to gather some outside stimulus to do a better job. I have never gotten a good idea in a formal meeting. I have gotten thousands of great ideas during the lunch break.
30 minutes is an absolute minimum, Three Martini lunch can last until dinnertime and beyond.

3. Lunch is the time for the banter
Working lunch is a contradiction in terms. It does not really work at all. They make actual work less effective and lunch less enjoyable. Lunch is great opportunity to get to know your colleagues and to talk about everything else than work. That might give new perspective to the actual work as well. I also try to meet people outside the agency to keep lunch conversations lively. If I happen to eat alone, I read a book. Regardless of with who I am (colleague, friend, wife or remote Paul Auster), I always get some new viewpoints during my lunch.

4. Try to test something new every week
People love routines and they make us dull persons. Trying new lunch joint is a great opportunity to take risks, go to the discomfort zone and have new experience in controlled setting. The worst thing that can happen is that you had a bad lunch. It is definitely safer way to bring some excitement to your life than wrestling with tigers.

So today when you think that you are too busy to have a proper lunch, think again. It might save your life.

“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
Douglas Adams

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How To Conduct An Effective Meeting?

I don´t like meetings.

They go overtime, everyone is late, and no one is listening but instead just playing with their smartphone. Every agency has certain amount of personnel, whose sole purpose is to book pointless status update meetings. Usually they are the people who don´t have to do the actual worh. These meetings are just a way to secure their ass and tick some imaginary milestone on calendar.

My work is to think and present that thinking, not to sit in pointless meetings going same things over and over again. Unfortunately the more people you have with opinion in the meeting room, the less effective your marketing will be. The same applies to all the revision rounds.

Advertising seldom is a democracy. It is war of the ideas, where every opinion is not equal. You have to fight for the ideas, until you win or lose.

There is a need for meetings and good ideas can come from anywhere. The problem comes when you try to fix all the issues in one single meeting. There are times when you have to make decisions and when you have to come up with ideas. To try to do both things at the same time is lunacy.

So what you need to do is to only have two different types of meetings (and never ever confuse these two):

  1. Getting sh*t done -meetings (15-30 minutes)

This is project management with tight leash: tight agenda, tight timeline and total army discipline. Deciding on stuff on max. 30 minutes, preferably less. Clear leader for the meeting and limited opportunity to voice your concerns. The goal of this meeting is to make sure that the project is on timeline, right track and all the practicalities are taking cared. No joking around, you can really feel the pressure on this meeting. If someone starts brainstorming throw him with an apple, pen or whatever comes handy in the meeting room. If he continues, use more severe methods. Time is ticking, so shut up.

  1. Getting sh*t figured out –meetings (2-4 hours)

Call it brainstorming, kicking around the idea or ideating. This can take the whole day and it does not have to happen in boring meeting room. Get somewhere else to let the creative juices flow. Talk about it over lunch or over a drink. In these meetings every opinion has a value and the timeline is more relaxed. You still have a goal for the meeting, but it builds up gradually.

If you follow this construct when doing meetings, you will be much happier and more effective person in workplace.

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Why Don´t I Use Data on My Smartphone?

Constant amusement for my co-workers is that I use pre-paid phone with no data. So you cannot reach me with e-mail when I am not anywhere with Wi-Fi. I cannot be reached with WhatsApp (or at least not that fast).

Yes, I work in digital agency.

Originally this started because I was not quite sure how long I would be in Singapore. Now that it has gone well over two years, it might just be procrastination. When asked my odd mobile behavior, I will always tell these three reasons:

1. Only way to protest is through consumption

All of the telecom operators offer only 2-year plans, which I oppose in principle. I believe that you should be able to make profitable business without forcing the customer lock-in. Forced customer lock-in is total opposite of what great brand should do. It is a cheap move and there are smarter ways to do that lock-in as well (see: Apple)

If someone would come with more flexible plan, I would probably sign a proper deal. Until that, I am minimizing my phone costs and paying to any Telco by having the pre-paid. And they are already screwing me up with my home internet plan, so they are getting them nevertheless.

 2. Connectivity can be good: constant interruption is not

Being connected to Internet is a great thing and I damn the lack of data every single time I cannot get a cab. There is a superb app for that in here. If I would be constantly connected, I would also be constantly interrupted with different alerts (from mail, social media, other apps). That makes you stupid and it is a fact.

I counted that I have read over 100 novels, while I have been here. I mostly do my reading while commuting. With data, I would have probably read 100 novel worth of inane status updates or have a Nobel laureate in Candy Crush Saga.

3. Limitations set boundaries

My co-workers know that I do not have data and I generally do not read mails after leaving office. After a while they also respect that and also know where they can contact me if there is something urgent. As Internet and digital is so much of what I do at my work, I rather spend my spare time with analog activities. Which does not mean that it is a good thing, I just prefer vinyl records to music streaming services. Different strokes for different folks.

Am I a Luddite?

I don´t think so. I genuinely believe in the possibilities of digital. I think that digital detox is bullshit. Mobile Internet is constantly making our lives better. I am not a better person compared to antisocial commuters with their mobiles. I am antisocial with my book. What works for me, does not necessarily work for you. And vice versa.

I am also super excited about new technological possibilities. Yesterday I was totally amped up when testing new virtual helmet. I am probably abandoning my pre-paid days to fully experience Apple iWatch (as I believe in the potential of wearables). I constantly test new apps and services (I am even on Ello, which is probably the most overhyped new service ever). I usually test them for a while and find out what makes people tick. Why they are using them? Then I usually abandon them.

You don´t have to be a digital native to be able to do successful digital marketing. You have to be curious and always open to new things. And you better understand that none of your peculiar old-school habits reflect any other people. Then you will be just fine.

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