Finding Sanity at an Agency

finding sanity at an agency

Agency life can be hectic. One minute, you’re producing well-received work for a huge client; the next, you’re left scrounging for the same client’s next opportunity. It’s true that clients come and go at rapid, unpredictable rates. And the same can be said for your team members.

It’s no secret that turnover in the advertising industry is high. In fact, according to an Adweek article that cites a 4A and LinkedIn study, turnover in advertising is higher than in related industries and is “growing at a faster rate than competitive industries, with the gap increasing 10 percent in [2015].”

So, why do people leave advertising agencies? While the reasons vary, it all boils down to happiness and productivity. Simply put, many creatives get burned out by this cut-throat industry.

Have no fear. Finding sanity at an agency is entirely possible. And it’s about more than achieving “life balance.” It’s about working intentionally, productively, and even happily. Here are my favorite pointers:

Tackle the important stuff first.

For many creatives, mornings generally consist of two symbiotic habits: coffee and email. While it’s tempting to check your inbox as soon as you sit down at your desk (or even while you’re still in bed, before the coffee has been brewed), it’s not the best way to get work done. Instead, try starting your day by prioritizing your tasks. By gaining an overview of all tasks and meetings, you’ll be able to devise a game plan for your entire day—before you respond to your numerous emails.

Trust us—your inbox isn’t going anywhere.

Take a deep breath.

As this article points out, the average person faces 30 “mini-crises” every day, according to Anna Maravelas, psychologist and author. What does this illustrate? That, every so often, things are bound to go awry. However, overacting to potentially perilous situations can make matters worse, as adrenaline and other chemicals released as byproducts of stress can linger for up to two hours.

Relax. Take a deep breath. And don’t sweat the small stuff.

Practice empathy.

Remember—your team members are only human. And much like you, they experience daily trials and tribulations. From demanding clients to impending deadlines, your team members experience just as much stress—if not more.

Recognize this, practice empathy, and be understanding of your team members. Rather than deriding your team members, get to the root of missed communications and deliverables and work proactively to fix them together.

Set reminders.

Between kickoff calls and creative presentations, juggling a schedule is a thankless task, to say the least. But there’s nothing worse than being surprised by a client meeting or a client call five minutes before it begins. In order to avoid any last-minute scrambling, make the most of your scheduling.

When fully utilized, schedules can be your best friend. Most digital calendars allow you to set reminders that will notify you before meetings begin. These reminders are a great way to remind you to clear your head and prepare for your next task at hand. You’d be surprised to see the difference that 15 minutes makes.

Just say no.

While many companies may tout the importance of “work–life balance,” some advertising professionals still find themselves logging an 80-hour workweek. Sure, we all experience late nights at the office—but it’s up to you to stay sane.

The best way to avoid burnout? To a certain degree, you need to know the positive power of “no.” Know when to tackle new projects and know when to turn them down. If your bandwidth is especially high, it’s okay to redistribute tasks to capable team members.


Simply ensuring that your clients and coworkers are kept in the loop is not enough. Over-communicating can help spread ideas, manage scope, and keep projects on track. The sooner you share news—good or bad—the quicker that stakeholders, clients, and team members can react.

And as far as your actual communication techniques are concerned, don’t use email for everything. Many times, a quick call or face-to-face conversation can help clear up an issue or portray a point far more effectively than an email.

With these tips, you’ll be able to always have sanity at your agency.

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About our guest blogger:
Ron began his career in the software industry at the age of 13, working with his father. He developed a niche as an expert in job cost and project management for Creative Firms. Ron now serves as the Director of Marketing & Sales at Workamajig. Connect with Ron on LinkedIn.