Back2Work: Surviving The Feast & The Famine

Feast or Famine. I never understood that term until I got into advertising. (I don't think I ever heard it until then either.)

You literally go through periods of time when you have a million projects (sometimes with the same deadline) and then you have periods when you spend days on end searching the corners of the whole world wide web.

Here are some tips on how to make the most out of both periods so you don't jump off a bridge. (Being too bored or too busy elicit the same response from my brain: jump)

Feast: On average you'll have about 3 or so projects at a time, with varying deadlines and importance. (If you can't handle 3 project at a time, you should quit and go work at a Dairy Queen.) There will times when you get a hot project on top of everything or a deadline changes and things get a crazy, or if you have a CD that ignores you like I did at one of my first jobs, then you'll have 10 projects at a time. (No I'm not bitter. Much. It made me stronger.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh, what to do when in Feast mode:
1. Make a list of all your projects and deadlines. Prioritise them based on importance, date and size. Now get to work.

2. Come in early. Stay late. Eat lunch at your desk. Do whatever it takes to get your work done. Your motto should be "by any means necessary."

3. If you absolutely can't handle it, ask for more time. Tell your boss or a project manager that you'll be able to do better work if you had a bit more time and see if they can move a deadline a day or two.

4. Don't whine, fuss or stress yourself out. For one, you look like a brat. Everybody goes through times when they're too busy to breathe. It's the nature of the game. Two, when you stress out, you disrupt your productivity. You end up spending more time complaining or feeling overwhelmed than actually doing the work or you make foolish mistakes because you're not focused. Get it together.

Plus, remember, a famine is coming. This craziness is only for a time. My personal motto is "What doesn't kill me will make me stronger, and THIS WILL NOT KILL ME." So suck it up and keep working.

Famine: And then there are those periods where you are on the opposite side of the pendulum and things are so slow you feel like you're going backward. Maybe you're waiting for client feedback, have just one small project, or are just in a place in the schedule where there's not much going on. Here's how to make the best of times of Famine:

1. Take some time to breathe. Enjoy having the time to chat with coworkers, peruse the Internet and take a proper lunch break.  Check out some of the latest ads online. Catch up on your emails. Read some articles.

2. Ask for more work. Ask if anybody needs help. This makes you look proactive, which is always good.

3. Stay productive. Find other ways you can keep busy. Work on your blog. Update your book. Write a newsletter for your team. Start thinking of new ideas for future projects - Christmas is coming - what ideas can you do there?

4. Don't be an asshole. Don't interrupt folks who are working. Don't come late and/or leave early. Don't watch TV shows at your desk. Don't put your feet up and play Words With Friends or Brickbreaker all day. This is still a place of business and though you might not be working right now, you're still employed there.