THE BLOG

30
Jan

Wake Up and Go to Sleep

 

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Are you yawning, eyes struggling to focus, as you settle down to read this? Or perhaps you’ve just refilled your coffee cup for the third time in an effort to “stay focused.” For many of us, the workday stretches well into the night. Last minute emails sent during dinner, presentations tweaked before bed and early “pre” work-work to jump ahead of the day.  If rumors are true, many now disgraced public figures are floating the excuse that it was a lack of sleep and grinding schedules that contributed to their bad behavior. 

For the rest of us, continuous work cycles carry lots of risks and relatively few rewards. According to sleep researchers, bad decision making in business begins, in part, tended to happen when participants showed poor impulse control or let emotions run wild. Without a good sleep schedule, people make poor decisions, are more irritable and tend to be uncreative and imaginative.

It may boost the ego to feel in demand but the quality of work, clarity of mind and decision making suffer when we keep our minds spinning rather than taking rest, float into downtime and sleep.

Francis Bacon said, “silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom” meaning our best selves need regenerative nourishment.

 Recent studies have confirmed that Americans do not get enough sleep, with more than a third of adults getting less than seven hours a night, which may be just as bad at not sleeping at all.

Many bad decisions in negotiations we may very literally be working ourselves to death.

Even Arianna Huffington, the queen of productivity, has gotten onboard. Her latest book, “The Sleep Revolution,” touts the benefits of getting more shut eye in order to be more creative, productive, and even happier. In her 2010 TED Talk, where she advised attendees to “sleep their way to the top,” Huffington tackled the culture of “sleep deprivation one-upmanship” that has led people to brag about how little rest they’re getting and how much they’re doing.

We’ve adopted a culture where we struggle to recognize or justify our own value unless we’re in a constant state of being in-demand. When we’re too busy, have too many conflicting deadlines and back-to-back meetings, it’s easy to trick ourselves into believing that just compromising on a few hours of sleep is the best answer. But ongoing sleep deprivation, even losing just a few hours a night, can lead to health risks, lowered creativity, trouble concentrating or even an inability to function through the workday. And, according to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is something that can’t be caught up on later.  

What can we do? Powering down all electronics, at least one hour before bed may be our biggest goal. By signaling to your brain that it’s time to relax, it can start the necessary process to prepare for sleep. Having a nightly ritual, like meditation, reading or putting on some extra comfy pajamas, can help ease your mind to make the transition from the busy workday to the world of Morpheus.

So, next time you’re getting lost in your work at 2 am and feeling that charge that comes from knowing your ideas are flowing and you’re bringing value to the table, just remember how much you’ll suffer for missing those extra zzz’s tomorrow. Or as Huffington says, “I urge you to shut your eyes and discover the great ideas that lie inside us, to shut your engines and discover the power of sleep.”

28
Apr

The Science of Sleep

Are you yawning as you settle down to read this? Or perhaps you’ve just refilled your coffee cup for the third time in an effort to “stay focused.” We are loathe to admit it in a work environment that prizes being “on” at all hours, but, as a whole, we are not getting enough rest. Recent studies have confirmed that Americans do not get enough sleep, with more than a third of adults getting less than seven hours a night, which may be just as bad at not sleeping at all. So, we may very literally be working ourselves to death.

Even Arianna Huffington, the queen of productivity, has gotten onboard. Her latest book, “The Sleep Revolution,” touts the benefits of getting more shut eye in order to be more creative, productive, and even happier. In her 2010 TED Talk, where she advised attendees to “sleep their way to the top,” Huffington tackled the culture of “sleep deprivation one-upmanship” that has led people to brag about how little rest they’re getting and how much they’re doing.

We’ve adopted a culture where we struggle to recognize or justify our own value unless we’re in a constant state of being in-demand. When we’re too busy, have too many conflicting deadlines and back-to-back meetings, it’s easy to trick ourselves into believing that just compromising on a few hours of sleep is the best answer. But ongoing sleep deprivation, even losing just a few hours a night, can lead to health risks, lowered creativity, trouble concentrating or even an inability to function through the workday. And, according to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is something that can’t be caught up on later.  

What can we do? Powering down all electronics, at least one hour before bed may be our biggest goal. By signaling to your brain that it’s time to relax, it can start the necessary process to prepare for sleep. Having a nightly ritual, like meditation, reading or putting on some extra comfy pajamas, can help ease your mind to make the transition from the busy workday to the world of Morpheus.

So, next time you’re getting lost in your work at 2 am and feeling that charge that comes from knowing your ideas are flowing and you’re bringing value to the table, just remember how much you’ll suffer for missing those extra zzz’s tomorrow. Or as Huffington says, “I urge you to shut your eyes and discover the great ideas that lie inside us, to shut your engines and discover the power of sleep.”

16
Aug

Dare To Vacation

Summer is quickly coming to an end.  And with friends and colleagues chasing the coming eclipse we’re talking in the office about the importance of vacation, time away from solving complex problems, working toward new solutions, an ordinary day at work.

Vacations, while important, are fraught with anxiety. Often times, I think I can’t be away from projects, clients, and deadlines.  At the same time,  I crave retreat time and the unfolding of my thoughts, habits, and routines, I’m anxious at stepping away from my devices. And I’m not alone.

With Americans working more hours than any other industrialized nation, and with research making it clear that all of our overworking isn’t getting us ahead, it’s time to take a look at our work/life balance.

As we’ve explored before, creative brains lose focus when they don’t get enough sleep and can greatly benefit from disconnecting. But in an industry where there’s a seemingly never-ending line of projects to finish and deadlines to meet, sometimes, things fall a little off balance. A recent study found that 87% of knowledge workers admit to working more than a typical 40-hour workweek, and 23.4% put in more than 50 hours a week. And 71% of responders admitted that they were unhappy about putting in the extra time. The corporate, and even creative, work cultures have unwittingly created an environment that is literally wearing us down.

As one of the founders of a creative company, I see the importance of maintaining work/life balance not only for myself and my own well-being but for our teams and employees. If we’re not setting a good example at the top, it’s likely the rest of the team won’t feel they have the freedom to take care of themselves as well. With that in mind, we put together a list of ways that we maintain work/life balance for ourselves and encourage our employees to follow:

Put Health First
From mental health to physical ailments and even sick family members, when our well-being is on the line, we must take the time to take care of ourselves (or our loved ones). From exercising and eating right to taking a sick day when we need to, in order to bring balance back to our lives, we need to put our health — and that of our employees — first.

Encourage Passion Projects
We are firm believers that passion projects drive innovation, and encouraging those passion projects for ourselves and our team members allows us all some much needed creative freedom and the ability to take a sanctioned break from our day-to-day. The result, hopefully, is that we’ll all feel re-inspired and reinvigorated.

Respect Creative and Personal Refresh Time
Creative companies tend to lead the corporate pack when it comes to setting examples for prioritizing the importance of “free time.  Reclaiming weekends and evening hours makes for happier and more productive employees. It’s simple, and yet many companies still cling to the ethical virtues of round the clock availability.  Certainly, emergencies happen, snafus occur, but establishing and maintaining clear signs around peoples’ free time sends a clear message, we can’t lose sight of our or our team’s humanity.

Promote Vacation Time
Maybe we can’t all offer unlimited vacation time, and there’s some controversy on whether or not it actually discourages employees from taking time off, but we can make it clear that vacation time is meant to be taken. From working with employees who never seem to use their two weeks, to touting the benefits of travel directly and taking our own vacations, we need to ensure that taking time off is seen as a worthy path to nurturing the creative soul.

That’s just a small list of how we can begin to incorporate better work/life balance into our days. How do you or your company encourage better living through less?

 

photo courtesy of Leio McLaren/Unsplash

30
Jun

What’s your Creative Manifesto?

 

Ah, the professional creative. Is there any other profession that’s as romanticized, misunderstood and yet, pursued and desired? The deadlines are short, the hours are long and the competition is fierce. But most of us wouldn’t change it for the world. There is, after all, a reason we’re so fascinated with creatives. We assume their minds are somehow quicker, more thoughtful and talented than most. But the truth is, it’s a job like any other.

And once you monetize creativity, the demand and expectation becomes higher. Something that once was done for the sake of job and artistic validation and reward now comes with a price tag and a set of deliverables. Instead of treating creativity as an art form, we begin treating it like a machine, expecting a certain and consistent output. But you can’t have a computer analyze your new logo and tell you it’s got to be 14% bigger and just a tad more cyan, and you can’t use an algorithm to build a new visual strategy. When that happens, it’s easy to lose sight of why you first got into this industry, whether you’re an individual, overseeing a team or running a company. Here are four tips to help you keep sight of why we love what we do.

Savor the Victories…But Grow Too
We’re incredibly proud of our creative work for clients such as NBCU, E! Sprout, Nickelodeon, FOX or NFL Network among others. And while some of us collectively groan at self promotion, there’s value in solid reflection on successful projects, especially if the work stretched teams limitations. It’s often painful to grow into the next stage of creative evolution. And one big lesson has to do with creativity and ourselves, we humans require lots of time, space to reflect on projects, the work and review our limitations. 

Remember, We’re Only Human
A machine can run on zero sleep, zero fuel and never needs to leave the office, but humans cannot. In order to stay creative, we need to step away. It may seem counterintuitive when you’re facing a big deadline, but if you need to spark an idea, stepping away might be the best solution.

Be Realistic
Yes, you have THE idea, the award-winning, ground-breaking, studio-launching idea that will change everything… except it would require three times the budget, twice the staff and at least an extra six months, when you’re already down to one. Don’t be discouraged. You still have a great idea, it just might not be the right idea for this project. Or, maybe it needs to face a few challenges to work. Challenges can turn into solutions and make you a stronger creative.

Stop Fearing Failure
When it’s your job to come up with original ideas on a regular basis, it’s easy to fear failure. After all, if you’re being paid to do what you love, it’s easy to slip into the mindset that we’re always just one project away from ruining it. Or, as artist and author Christoph Niemann addresses in his truly inspiring 99u talk, what if “I’m not good enough?” “I’m out of ideas” or “My work is irrelevant and soon I’ll be broke.” Spending time dwelling on the possibilities of failure isn’t going to get you anywhere. Spending time investing in your own creative growth will.

It may not be the stuff of Mad Men, but we are still lucky to be in this industry and to be creating. Ultimately, our clients believe in us enough that they hire us for an idea…Can a computer do that? Not yet anyway.

15
Jul

Thriving in the Balance Between Career and Life

Summer is in full swing, and the warm weather has us thinking about taking a vacation. And whenever we plan time off, it makes us face the important question of if we can really afford to be out of the office for even a few days. With Americans working more hours than any other industrialized nation, and with research making it clear that all of our overworking isn’t getting us ahead, it’s time to take a look at our work/life balance.

As we’ve explored before, creative brains lose focus when they don’t get enough sleep and can greatly benefit from disconnecting. But in an industry where there’s a seemingly never-ending line of projects to finish and deadlines to meet, sometimes, things fall a little off balance. A recent study found that 87% of knowledge workers admit to working more than a typical 40-hour workweek, and 23.4% put in more than 50 hours a week. And 71% of responders admitted that they were unhappy about putting in the extra time. The corporate, and even creative, work cultures have unwittingly created an environment that is literally wearing us down.

As a leader of a creative company, I see the importance of maintaining work/life balance not only for myself and my own well-being, but for our employees, too. If we’re not setting a good example at the top, it’s likely the rest of the team won’t feel they have the freedom to take care of themselves as well. With that in mind, we put together a list of ways that we maintain work/life balance for ourselves and encourage our employees to follow:

Put Health First
From mental health to physical ailments and even sick family members, when our well-being is on the line, we must take the time to take care of ourselves (or our loved ones). From exercising and eating right to taking a sick day when we need to, in order to bring balance back to our lives, we need to put our health — and that of our employees — first.

Encourage Passion Projects
We are firm believers that passion projects drive innovation, and encouraging those passion projects for ourselves and our team members allows us all some much needed creative freedom and the ability to take a sanctioned break from our day-to-day. The result, hopefully, is that we’ll all feel re-inspired and reinvigorated.

Respect Personal Time
When Wieden+Kennedy’s London offices recently announced their initiative to ban emailing during night hours and encourage employees to reclaim time spent working on weekends, we were struck by how simple, yet important it had become for our industry. Certainly, there are times where work cannot wait, but by making it clear that they valued their employees’ personal time, they’ve set a good example for all of us in this industry to make sure we’re not losing sight of our or our team’s humanity.

Promote Vacation Time
Maybe we can’t all offer unlimited vacation time, and there’s some controversy on whether or not it actually discourages employees from taking time off, but we can make it clear that vacation time is meant to be taken. From working with employees who never seem to use their two weeks, to touting the benefits of travel directly and taking our own vacations, we need to ensure that taking time off is seen as a worthy path to nurturing the creative soul.

That’s just a small list of how we can begin to incorporate better work/life balance into our days. How do you or your company encourage better living through less?

27
May

Want a Strong Company Culture? Define It

A company culture is typically defined as an organizational set of shared ideas, values, beliefs and behaviors within an organization. A work culture influences people in both big and small ways — everything from clothing choices to meeting styles to the systems for getting work done.

While this definition seems fairly straightforward, it’s recently taken on more complex understandings and practicalities in work spaces. Now, offices must consider all aspects of human thinking and creative needs, designing and building out spaces and offering benefits best suited for churning out innovative ideas and behaviors.

This new perception of work culture now factors into how we see a company’s success (no matter how much money you’re making your investors, if you’re employees are miserable, it’s just bad business) and its outside appeal. Some companies like Zappos, Google and REI draw new recruits in just based off of their famed cultures. And studies have shown that flexible work cultures and ones that value further development of their employees’ talents are especially appealing to Millennials. But while we’re all familiar with free lunches, in-office yoga and “unlimited” vacation time, what’s really at the base of a company culture that will make it strong?

Turns out, for a company culture to have the most chance of success, it doesn’t really matter what perks you’re offering. What really determines whether a culture will thrive is how well it’s defined. If everyone feels they’re operating under different, or even competing goals, it can cause conflict and distort expectations. In fact, having a strong company culture is so important, that according to Fast Company, even having a negative company culture can be better than having no company culture at all; at the very least, it provides employees with a structure, and set of values and expectations from which to operate. We’re certainly not advocating for a toxic work culture for anyone, but the fact is, even knowing what you’re working against can help you make something better.

And while there is proof that positive work cultures make people more productive, what employees really want is a sense of consistency and the ability to be part of a work community, where they can contribute to ideas and solutions. In fact, a little push can be just what a business needs. A little candor on everyone’s part, and even some healthy conflict, can start a conversation, get people actively thinking, talking and ruminating on ideas.

So, if your culture isn’t clearly defined, maybe it’s time to sit down and recap your essential principles and define it. Or better yet, invite your team to contribute. By including their input, you may be taking the first step to fostering the strong, community-oriented culture that draws people in and keeps them engaged.

10
Mar

Playing to Work, Working to Play

According to Pablo Picasso, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” Even though we work in a creative industry, many of us are faced with this same issue, but the solution could live in our childhoods as well. When we were young, most of us spent a great deal of time making our own fun by engaging in unstructured imaginative play, and it turns out that all those hours on the playground might have been developing our brains as much as our time in the classroom. But as we’ve grown older, most adults are faced with a constant barrage of meetings, deadlines and the monotony of the day-to-day, which often gets in the way of us feeling like true creative beings and competes for any leftover time we might have to engage in playful activities.

Studies have shown that even under-stimulated adults can suffer from play deficiency, the same way we suffer from sleep deficiency if we don’t get our required allotment of hours every night. In fact, those grownups who do engage in consistent play have been proven to be more productive at work. According to Brian Sutton-Smith, the developmental psychologist who devoted his life’s work to studying the importance of play in both adults and children said, “The opposite of play is not work, it is depression.” Play isn’t just an activity; it is a powerful mindstate and a skill that requires commitment and challenges us to stay creative yet focused and must live in everything we do.

But what is play? According to Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of nonprofit the National Institute for Play, “Play is something done for its own sake. It’s voluntary, it’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.”

So, it could be a game of office foosball or trivia night, keeping playdough or some other fun, stimulating activity at your desk or even just engaging in work that feels playful. At Oishii, we’ve been lucky to have worked on several projects for children’s brands, from our rebrand of The Hub to our recent award-winning work for Sprout, which have kept us on our toes creatively and reminded us about the wonder a child’s imagination and an afternoon of unfettered playtime can hold. Those projects had budgets and deadlines and meetings, but we were able to find a sense of fun in each of them, and tap back into our younger years of unstructured play.

In the process, we’ve been able to strengthen ourselves as creatives, build better relationships with our coworkers and even relieve stress. And by engaging in our own versions of play, we can keep our minds and hearts open to new creative ideas. After all, you never know when that sense of kid-like wonder will spark your next great idea.

24
Oct

Creativity Doesn’t Happen in 0s and 1s

Ah, the professional creative. Is there any other behind-the-camera profession that’s as romanticized, misunderstood and yet, still desired? The deadlines are short, the hours are long and the competition is fierce. But most of us wouldn’t change it for the world. There is, after all, a reason we’re so fascinated with creatives. We assume their minds are somehow quicker, more thoughtful and talented than most. But the truth is, it’s a job like any other.

And once you monetize creativity, the demand and expectation becomes higher. Something that once was done for the sake of job and artistic validation and reward now comes with a price tag and a set of deliverables. Instead of treating creativity as an art form, we begin treating it like a machine, expecting a certain and consistent output. But you can’t have a computer analyze your new logo and tell you it’s got to be 14% bigger and just a tad more cyan, and you can’t use an algorithm to build a new visual strategy. When that happens, it’s easy to lose sight of why you first got into this industry, whether you’re an individual, overseeing a team or running a company. Here are four tips to help you keep sight of why we love what we do.

Savor the Victories
As we’ve previously said, we’re incredibly proud of the recent refresh we did for children’s network Sprout and taking time to reflect on successful projects and what we learn from them is important for any creative. Not only will you feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride in your work once you’re able to see the finished project, but also when you’re having creative doubts, being able to turn back to something you know went well can motivate you in your next task.

Remember, We’re Only Human
A machine can run on zero sleep, zero fuel and never needs to leave the office, but humans cannot. In order to stay creative, we need to step away. It may seem counterintuitive when you’re facing a big deadline, but if you need to spark an idea, stepping away might be the best solution.

Be Realistic
Yes, you have THE idea, the award-winning, ground-breaking, studio-launching idea that will change everything… except it would require three times the budget, twice the staff and at least an extra six months, when you’re already down to one. Don’t be discouraged. You still have a great idea, it just might not be the right idea for this project. Or, maybe it needs to face a few challenges to work. Challenges can turn into solutions and make you a stronger creative.

Stop Fearing Failure
When it’s your job to come up with original ideas on a regular basis, it’s easy to fear failure. After all, if you’re being paid to do what you love, it’s easy to slip into the mindset that we’re always just one project away from ruining it. Or, as artist and author Christoph Niemann addresses in his truly inspiring 99u talk, what if “I’m not good enough?” “I’m out of ideas” or “My work is irrelevant and soon I’ll be broke.” Spending time dwelling on the possibilities of failure isn’t going to get you anywhere. Spending time investing in your own creative growth will.

It may not be the stuff of Mad Men, but we are still lucky to be in this industry and to be creating. Ultimately, our clients believe in us enough that they hire us for an idea…Can a computer do that? Not yet anyway.

10
Jan

Delicious Minds: Gina Young

Gina YoungHappy New Year! Please meet Gina Young, one of our copywriters at Oishii:

1. What was your first paying job doing what you love?

My first real, grown-up writer job was for Pop Up Video on VH1, which was exactly as fun as you would imagine it to be. But the first time I remember getting paid to be creative was when I was in fourth grade. I got to leave school early (no way!) to sing a song in a real recording studio… and from that moment on I was so eager to get out in the real world and learn by doing. I quickly became the kid who was always writing and self-publishing zines, making music and putting it out on cassettes, or putting on plays with my friends. Do-it-yourself all the way.

2. What inspires you in your work?

Language itself, I think. Writing is like problem-solving; rearranging words, and with every word you add or subtract you can completely change the meaning or the feeling of a thing.

3. What are your favorite types of projects?

My favorite types of projects are things that haven’t been done before, or things that have only been done in a way that I want to turn on its head. I’ve been writing a lot for the stage lately (see links below), but I also like writing web content and am working on a feature-length screenplay.

4. What is your ideal working environment?

I do my best writing on trains and public buses. Coffee shops can be nice too, because it feels like a co-work space where a bunch of us are all writing together. I’m very excited to finally — this weekend! — get benches for the little breakfast nook in my new apartment. It’s going to be such a good workspace for me; a nice rectangular table, tons of light, but it’s very claustrophobic and womb-like. Haha.

5. What artists inspire you?

Artists and playwrights whose work I’ve been returning to a lot recently include Keith Haring, Tom of Finland, Frida Kahlo, Caryl Churchill, Maria Irene Fornes, Anna Deavere Smith… I’m also very inspired by the work of Los Angeles choreographer Ryan Heffington. I had the pleasure of producing a recent dance concert at his studio and look forward to doing the next one in February 2014.

6. What companies do you like to work for?

The best companies are the ones that are open to new ideas and to change, that embrace social media and that do everything in a spirit of collaboration. And of course, the closer as I can be to the arts/film/TV, the better.

7. How do you like to work? As a freelancer? Alone? In an office environment?

I prefer to work alone, but I also love collaboration. I’m a freelancer by nature because I need new stimulation every day. Some of the best days of my life were when I was traveling or touring; I love falling asleep in one city and waking up in the next. I’m not a huge fan of routine, although I do value discipline and long hours.

8. What kind of mentoring do you find most helpful to you?

I wish I had more mentoring in my life! I think the best mentor is one who listens to your goals and doesn’t impose their will on you, but can still be super real about where they think you should be focusing your energies, and what steps you should or shouldn’t take.

LINKS:




25
Oct

How Meditation Makes You A Mindful Multitasker

Being unproductive? Free yourself!

Being unproductive? Free yourself!

Om, that feeling of complete calm and quiet is something we’re all greatly missing in our daily lives, which is especially true when we’ve got a busy work and personal life schedule. Stress can manifest itself in many ways mentally and physically. It impacts our ability to be creative and think clearly, the way we relate to others, the quality of our sleep, and our overall well-being.

Latest neuroscience research shows that giving yourself time to relax and meditate help you better make creative decisions and even multitask. According to a paper titled “The Effects of Mindfulness Meditation Training on Multitasking in a High-Stress Information Environment,” released by professors at the University of Washington, meditation training can help people working with information stay on tasks longer with fewer distractions and also improves memory and reduces stress, which is something we could all use a little more of.

We share IDEO founder and Stanford professor David Kelley’s ideas in his most recent book Creative Confidence. We too believe that for clients to think creatively, it takes a lot of taking a step back, breathing and letting yourself assess the situation before judging or using analysis, the basic principles of meditation. That’s not just beneficial on the client side; anyone in our creative community could take a page from that. Too many times when we’re faced with a situation that has us over-taxed, emotionally, physically or mentally, we’re in such a hurry to power through it to get to the other side that we don’t often stop and really let ourselves really think on it.

So even with all of those multitasking apps aimed at improving productivity at our fingertips, the best solution might actually come from within.

 


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