Public Relations and Marketing are fast paced industries. I have days (weeks, really) where it’s non-stop from the moment I open my eyes in the morning all the way through to closing them again at night. Days fly by and I have to ask myself, “did I accomplish anything?” I’ve been asking myself that question a lot lately. Serendipitously, I was able to find time and have a few moments to brainstorm with some coworkers and in those few minutes we were able to come up with some pretty good stuff. That’s where the 80/20 rule comes in.
Google got it right with their 80/20 rule. To keep their employees motivated and innovative, they encourage 20 percent free time to spend on something company-related that is of personal interest. Google’s allowance of the 20 percent free time is responsible for some of their best known products such as Gmail and Google Suggest (which auto completes your internet search). Google has recently moved to a more structured approach to innovative thinking, but it’s an interesting idea to think about applying to myself and my teams.
My first instinct about the 80/20 rule was, “but I’m so busy I don’t have time to think.” Therein lies the problem. Here are some ways that I’m going to try to make more time to ponder:
Make it a priority
I am no more or less busy than the next person. When I take a few minutes to look at my schedule, I see that I can spare 30 minutes here and there. In finding those 30 minutes I immediately tried to fill them up with more client work, which is the exact opposite of what I’m trying to do.
Block off time in my calendar
The next logical step is to block the found time off in my calendar. Blocked time, at least in my world, is negotiable. It’s time that I’ve blocked for myself and not for a client. If something comes up or some one needs some time, my blocked time tends to vanish and I’ve been ok with that. Time that is set aside needs to be a priority and guarded. (see above)
Encourage the rest of the team to do the same
In blocking and defending free time, I’m going to encourage the rest of the team to do the same. If we’re all blocking the same 30 minutes off there is a better chance that it will stick and not get filled up with something else. One can dream.
I don’t expect to find enough hours to have a full 20 percent of time to dedicate to brainstorming and innovating. Starting small, like 30 minutes a week, is better than nothing. If nothing else, setting aside 30 non-client related minutes is probably going to prevent full burnout of myself and my team.
Director, Marketing Technology