Admin? The stick of creative work.
I filled in a business health check and one of the questions was how you cope with admin.
It’s the dread of most businesses – it has to be done, someone has to do it, and sadly, being a creative doesn’t mean you can get away with ignoring those excel spreadsheets, accounts packages, quotation and estimation work, and keeping track of those expenses, invoices, subscription renewals and travel receipts.
You can run, but you can’t hide and your next quarterly VAT might well turn into a nightmare orchestrated by Mr. Admin. I’ve been there, believe me, and it’s honestly far more ugly and stressful to pull a late nighter trawling through email histories and getting accounts in order than managing it a little bit at a time.
I’ve developed my own little rule of thumb… (love that expression). I can’t start creative work until the admin is done. That’s on 4 out of 5 working days. On the 5th day, it’s the other way around. It’s creative first, and potentially no admin at all (unless there’s print buying to be done as part of a creative brief).
This may sound petty and not suit everyone, but I need a clear head to think outside the box and worrying about that email I need to reply to will just hang over me and stop me from thinking freely.
And doing a little bit every morning first means there isn’t much to catch up with.
It also allows me to happily go into what my colleague Steve calls monk mode. In monk mode you just focus, ignore everything else, email, chat, news of another calamity, and you buckle down to concentrate on what you’re working on, nothing else.
I love being in monk mode. It takes the guilt out of not reacting to every inbound query in whichever form whilst I’m dedicated to what I’m working on and usually results in a much faster output than trying to do too many tasks at once. There has been a time when we all functioned without instant responses, and it’s ok to wait a couple of hours for a reply…
I’m obviously bound to urgent deadline requirements and sometimes it all goes out the window and I need to do an after hours catch up, but generally, by changing my attitude towards those more technical tasks and seeing them as the stick that gets me my yummy creative carrot, we’ve become quite good friends (Mr Admin and me).