Looking for something to do other than what you’re supposed to be doing? Read this.

My creative oppo Rich and I talk virtually all day every day. Having sat opposite each other for over 26 years you can imagine we have talked a lot.

Topics of conversation range from the business, to wine, to cars, to family, to TV, to politics, to whiskey, to the good and bad old days, to Paul Smith foootwear and on and on. But mainly we talk about the business. The clients, the people, the hopes, the fears and of course who’s turn it is to make the tea.

All this while often working on a few briefs. In a weird way, the chatter acts as a distraction that enables us to think about the task at hand. We discuss one client while thinking about another, slowly working our way towards a moment of clarity and a spark of inspiration that will spring us towards an answer. We’re then locked in and focussed on driving, exploring and solving.

Thing is, when one of us isn’t there (holidays – we’ve barely had a day off sick in two and half decades) we lose these distractions. And the danger is that proper, annoying distractions fill the void. Suddenly we find ourselves checking emails, trawling LinkedIn and Twitter, watching ‘funny’ injury videos or a clog whittling machine (see our London VOD for NX).

More and more time is spent in meetings as we crave dialogue. All this though distracts from the briefs that still need answering. Rather than clustering our tasks, every email that pops up is instantly read and everyone who wants five minutes is accommodated, which is dangerous when you’re trying to extract from your consciousness the morsel of an idea.

As Scott Belsky wrote on clustering: “You’ll get better ideas because you can dive deeper with an oxygen tank than you can if you have to surface every few minutes.”
And The New York Times published a report from BaseX that “Employees in info-intensive companies waste 28% of their time on unnecessary emails and other interruptions.” That’s more than two hours out of a working day.

Shocking really and if you’re reading this as a way of escaping something more important then stop because basically, there are distractions and there are distra… ooh look, squirrel.