Home > Uncategorized > When Doing Nothing Is The Best Thing You Can Do

When Doing Nothing Is The Best Thing You Can Do

The other day, I came across this piece of loveliness on twitter: the International Institute Of Not Doing Much. Its advice isn’t complicated – essentially, we should slow down. Try it now. Slow down. I dare you.

Right. Come back to me. The website is obviously created in jest, but I think there’s a serious message behind it. It’s easy to forget the importance of slowing down when you work in advertising – particularly when you’re a Suit. Other departments are expected, or even encouraged to spend time away from the office, whether to get the creative juices flowing, to find some head-time to crack that tricky brief, or even, if you work in TV, just to have Lunch. But not Suits. We’re expected to be at our desks all the time, answering calls and churning out the emails, and the invention of the evil Blackberry hasn’t made that any less the case – it’s an easy myth to buy into, and an easy habit to adopt.

Walk through the DLKW Account Management department at lunchtime and you’ll be greeted by a sea of hard-working Suits sitting at their desks, wolfing down a sandwich or (on special days) a baked potato, and I know the same scene is being played out at Agencies across the world. Lunch at your desk has become the default rather than the exception, and this is WRONG.

Taking time to think, to organise, and to refresh is as important for Suits as it is for anybody else, if not more so, and I urge you to ensure you make time to do it. Step away from the desk. Put down the sandwich. Pick up a book. Go for a walk. Or just sit down somewhere, have a coffee, and have a think. About anything you like, as long as it’s not advertising. Just half an hour’s break, thinking more and doing less, and you’ll be better at your job. Promise.

Of course, it won’t always be practical, and you’ll unfortunately always need to let people know where you are, but this is important. Sometimes, doing nothing really is the best thing you can do.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. January 8, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. I use to be chained to the desk and never thought a lunch break (even 15 mins), was a wise investment of time. Took a very wise man to show me the benefits of changing that behaviour and now, I insist my team (no matter how ‘busy’), always take a break at lunch.

    Learning the blackberry has an off switch is somewhat handy too!

  2. January 8, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    If you work in planning, I strongly recommend a longish train journey at least once a week.

    (In 1st class).

    Allowing the brain to free-wheel whilst staring out of the window makes for a different class (geddit?) of thinking.

    This looks to fellow passengers like doing nothing, but it’s much more productive than that.

  3. Zombie Ron
    January 8, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    You could always try a different career; didn’t Karl Marx call advertising “Maggots feeding on the decaying corpse of capitalism”?

    • January 8, 2010 at 4:59 pm

      Possibly – I’m not as up on my Marx as I should be. He was a little bit off on the whole Death of Capitalism thing though, wasn’t he? Bless him.

      Personally, when it comes to hackneyed quotes about what utter cunts everyone involved in Advertising are, I prefer to go to Orwell or Hicks. But that’s just me.

      • January 12, 2010 at 12:17 pm

        I don’t believe you can make truly great advertising unless you ask yourself the questions of the so called evils of the industry.

        If you don’t what’s wrong how can you change it?

      • January 12, 2010 at 12:18 pm

        know* … If you don’t know… !!

  4. Susan Pinna
    January 9, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Take a leaf out of the Italian’s book. Colleagues take lunch together every day. A proper two-three course one in a restaurant. Why not go as a team once a week, or at least as often as you can? Getting the chance to chat away from the office environment might be more productive than you think.

  5. January 11, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    What’s ‘lunch’?

  6. January 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    We always (esp in planning) have to remember that we make ads for the outside world, and the more time we spend in it the better. Besides, people work better in the afternoon when they have good lunch breaks.

    Our agency has a dart board which helps you get a quick break when you are too busy to leave for the hour 🙂

  7. January 12, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Fuck. You’re on a roll, aren’t you? My resolution was to take more ‘me’ time, to actively do naff all sometimes. I find the sauna and a swim are great if actually doing NOTHING bores you.

    Graham.Creative. x

  8. January 22, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Excellent website and great post. Definitely true.

    Says he, while eating lunch at his desk…
    (But I was out for lunch Monday and yesterday 😉

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