By Michael Mark, creative director/ceo @NYCA
In the middle of this recession, in the middle of being too busy launching two global websites, in the middle of strategic planning for three full-out 2010 media campaigns, in the middle of applying all we learned from our research, and Tweeting, Facebooking, IMing and blogging, we stopped. And painted vases.
We did what seems impossible these days – we took some time.
Time is a gift often seen as a foe: we race the clock, we are up against a deadline, we push the meeting, we run behind. And the way we try to compete is by splitting ourselves up into pieces, to do more tasks in the same second.
How often have we said we need to clone ourselves? And in the attempt we become fractured. We say that media is fractured, but it’s not true. There are just more complete communication channels each going on simultaneously, multiplying by the instant it seems. However there’s only one of us. And it is us — our attention, actually — being shattered into pieces. Tough to be centered and focused in such a state.
That’s why yesterday some of us took time and danced in the middle of the corridor by the creative area.
In this week’s “New York” magazine article, In Defense of Distraction http://nymag.com/news/features/56793/, author Sam Anderson interviewed David Meyer, an expert on multitasking & cognition.
In Defense of Distraction
|Illustration by Glen Cummings/MTWTF|
He describes distraction “as a full-blown epidemic—a cognitive plague that has the potential to wipe out an entire generation of focused and productive thought.” Because of the way we use the ever-multiplying communication channels, he says, it is tough to get things done, adding “..even ten years ago…it was a lot calmer. There was a lot of opportunity for getting steady work done.”
True. And we have proof. In NYCA’s production area there’s an LED clockthat stares, red-eyed, at everyone passing, as it winds down from the moment the client approves the brief to when we have to have the work out there. Heartlessly, it heads to 0:0:0:0:0 from month to week to day to hour to minute to the final second. It started as a joke. It became a nervous-laugh producing – and, some say, an effective — monster. Every time we walked by, we were reminded we had to do three other things by this time.
And while it blinked away precious seconds, we painted away in Fargo – one of our conference rooms between the NY and CA rooms. We casually dipped into each other’s color wells, sharing brushes, and stories and time.
Here’s what we got out of the time we took:
We got to create in a new way.
We got to catch up with ourselves and others.
We got to start again on projects with new energy (ok, perhaps fueled by anxiety of losing 40 minutes).
We got 40 minutes that we will always own.
We got something new to tweet, IM, blog, talk about.
We got vases that will sit on our desks and hold flowers that are given out twice a month as a thank you for being an NYCAer.
Oh, and Sandy in admin sent out an email later in the day telling everyone how to mark that vase painting time on our time management program. So all in the world is at peace — or at least accounted for. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Now go back to work.