The post-Labor-Day workweek. Ah yes, another wonderfully long weekend that’s benefits wear off once we’re back at work. Let’s cram 5 days of work into 4 days now, shall we?
Why should the fact that we all had permission to take one day off – specifically as a holiday from our labor – mean longer hours and more stress for the next four or more days? It shouldn’t. I don’t need to argue this point any further, do I? You’re with me. Simply put, we can enjoy our day(s) off and not pull our hair out when we come back to work.
Well, the best way is to PLAN AHEAD. Since it’s after the holiday, let’s move on to the second best ways – PRIORITIZE & CLEARLY COMMUNICATE.
What can you cut from your workweek? We’re looking for a 20% cut here. Prioritize what you can realistically handle during the short week. Delegate to someone else, streamline the process, delete the item or delay the task to next week in order to make your few days in the office more manageable.
PRIORITIZE –> Delegate – Streamline – Delete – Delay – Do
Right now, take 14 minutes and write down everything you thought you were going to have to tackle this four-day week (including your dentist appointment, happy hour with the client, etc.). Then mark each task with delegate, streamline, delete, delay or do. For each, jot down a note of whom else needs to be involved in order to make this happen. Remember, we’re shooting for a 20% cut here – saving you 8 hours of time or more. To clarify, your list is going to have a lot of “Do’s” still on written on it.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure that your priorities are also your boss’s priorities. It’s a good idea (not imperative) to check in with your Creative Director, Creative Manager, whomever necessary to confirm that you are focusing on what they would also deem as the top priorities. The key to successfully delegating, streamlining deleting and delaying tasks is clearly communicating with those involved what you are doing and why (more on this point later).
Advertising Creatives, can you delegate anything to the production studio, an intern or the account team? If so, clearly communicate with those involved in the project what responsibilities have been transferred and to whom. Freelancers, can you delegate any tasks to a virtual assistant or webmaster?
Are you able to streamline your day by not attending a meeting and asking the account manager to e-mail you the key points that will affect the creative? Before the meeting, let all the attendees know of this plan and the reasons behind it. Can you get on the phone with the strategy team, account team and project management/operations team all at once instead of meeting with each in person separately? How can you set up your files on your computer this week to save yourself time?
What can you delete from your day: Designing nine comps before checking in with your Creative Director? Answering that call from your long-winded brother-in-law? Getting caught up in the latest news about a certain 20-year-old who was recently on the VMAs? Checking Twitter every hour?
Creatives, what can you delay until next week that won’t negatively rock your world next week: Being briefed on a project that has a long lead-time? Updating your Adobe software? Posting your Labor Day photos on Facebook?
Yes, it may seem like a bunch of back-and-forth will be necessary to delegate, streamline, delay and delete tasks. When choosing these tasks, keep in mind which are more likely to go smoothly and which will save you the most time. If missing a 30-minute meeting is going to take you 15 minutes to get out of, is it worth it? It might be a better use of your time to walk over to your Creative Director’s office and unofficially meet with him about the direction your comps are going before you spend the next 3 hours on them. You may not need to do all the strategies mentioned above. If you’re lucky, you may only need to negotiate around two tasks on your To Do List.
Trouble – you will run into it if you neglect clearly communicating. Inform the people you work with that you are prioritizing and appropriately managing your time for the short workweek. You’ll get bonus points if you throw in some phases like, “the attention this project deserves,” “focused, quality effort,” “to respect your time as well,” if they are genuine.
Please know that this doesn’t mean that you have to walk every assistant account manager through the list of what you are prioritizing to do this week and what items you’re delegating, streamlining, deleting or delaying. Share what is necessary with who is necessary. This is all about saving time.
Also, using the strategies above does not give you permission to be difficult (not that you would). Keep the delicate balance of creating boundaries while remaining flexible.
FOR THE FUTURE
I’ve been there; I know what it’s like to have 5 days worth of work that is expected to be crammed into 4 days. By prioritizing and clearly communicating, you can shift those expectations.
After all, you shouldn’t be expected to make up the labor that you missed celebrating Labor Day. By shifting and managing expectations this holiday week, you set the new standard for holidays and shortened weeks to come.
By the way, the next Federal holiday in the U.S. is Monday, Oct. 14, 2013. That gives you six weeks to plan ahead.