Time. Whether you don’t have enough of it, or you’re not sure how to manage it, time is something that affects each and every one of us, within our working and personal lives, daily.

On the subject of time management and creative problem solving, Ogilvy’s CSO in the UK, Kevin Chesters, spoke about time at Ogilvy’s home on London’s Southbank earlier this week.

From daydreaming to fatigue, here are his hints and tips.

Embrace Fatigue

When fatigued, it’s easier to avoid completing tasks.

Yet Kev advises that this is in fact when you can see good results, because the brain is fatigued so goes into ‘default mode’ completing tasks more easily.

 Daydreaming is good

“It’s good to let the mind wander” Kev believes.

He also advises not filling downtime with big or tricky tasks which will only keep the brain hard at work. Instead, read a trashy book or listen to an easy podcast.

Chunk your diary

Don’t sit stunned into inaction because you’re overwhelmed by big tasks. Kev advises to split the big things into chunks that last only a few hours. “If you chunk your diary up into 4-hour slots it becomes much more manageable”.

Just make a start

Kev advises against procrastination. “The brain gives a disproportionate amount of energy to incomplete tasks” says Kev, “which is why it's important to just start”.

If you don't have enough time for a task, instead of worrying about it just start the task! You might be surprised how much else will fall into place.

Ditch your phone

Just having your smartphone on you slows your brain down.

Even if it’s turned over or turned off, just having your phone in the same physical space that you occupy makes a difference to productivity and problem solving. When your phone is left in another room, people have shown 7% stronger problem solving abilities and 11% higher attention.

For Kev, when trying to creatively problem-solve, you should put your phone away.

Pick up a pen

Having a mental block? Starring at a computer screen? Grab a pen says Kev. “When you’re staring at a screen and nothing is happening in your head, it’s time to write stuff down” he advises.

Stop saying ‘busy’

Kev called for a ban on the word “busy”. Time pressure, he says, leads us to feel panicked and anxious.

But, if we take a leaf out of behavioural science and reframe time based anxiety as something different, for example if we reframe it as ‘excitement’, our reaction to it changes. Suddenly a morning of back to back meetings isn’t ‘busy’; it becomes a morning of exciting talks with people and clients.

Forgive thyself

“Don’t be so hard on yourself” says Kev. No one is perfect and it’s important not to beat yourself up about procrastinating or not getting things done as quickly as you would like. It’s ok.

 

Want to read more from Kev? Check out his feedback on feeding back here.