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8 Proven Ways to Stay Focused in A Busy Office

ThinkstockPhotos-506435716-519714-edited.jpgIt can be hard to stay focused in a busy office. There’s always something going on–meetings, conversations, or donuts to eat in the kitchen. Not to mention your coworkers coming up to you to ask about your job. The nerve people have! Fortunately, you don’t actually have to be available to your coworkers all the time. There are proven ways to keep yourself on task while keeping others away from you at the same time.

You’re not wrong if you think you might be spending a bit too much time on non work related tasks. A study found 89% of employees admit to wasting time at work, and of those, 2% waste 5 hours a day. There’s a chance there’s a guy hanging around your office getting paid to pretend to work.

Before we discuss how to keep yourself on task, you might be wondering what people are doing all day if they aren’t working. The study also uncovered that:

  • A married employee was looking at a dating web site and then denied it while it was still up on his computer screen
  • An employee was caring for her pet bird that she smuggled into work
  • An employee was shaving her legs in the women’s restroom
  • An employee was laying under boxes to scare people
  • Employees were having a wrestling match
  • A sleeping employee claimed he was praying
  • An employee was changing clothes in a cubicle
  • An employee was printing off a book from the Internet
  • An employee was warming her bare feet under the bathroom hand dryer

So, in an effort to protect you from yourself and those around you, here are some ways to stay focused.

1) Put On Headphones

Headphones tell the world, I am too busy for other people’s noise. Become visibly annoyed if anyone requests you remove them. Bonus points if you play them loudly enough that it sounds like your own personal desk concert.

2) Grow Plants

Try creating a forest around you made of various plants, or perhaps grow a hedge. You won’t be able to look out, and no one will be able to look in. Is she or he in the office today? Everyone will wonder, no one will know.

3) Practice Quiet Hours

If you can’t beat ‘em, set strict rules they must follow. Enforce quiet time for a few hours a day to give everyone the chance to listen to Jerry’s heavy breathing. No chips or crunchy snacks allowed. Be very fanatical about it so people know you’re serious.

4) Change Your Environment

Outside influences like air temperature, air quality, smells and colors can affect your focus. Take it upon yourself to make office updates. Purchase air filters, light Pine scented candles (the scent is proven to increase alertness!), and paint the walls around you a productive shade of blue.

In an effort to not cut into your work time, make your renovations at night when everyone else has gone home for the day. What a surprise when they show up in the morning! Don’t worry, your company will surely foot the bill.

5) Use Privacy Accessories


Pick up a computer privacy hoodie. This guarantees no will try to talk to you – not now, not ever!

6) Write a To-Do List

And then throw it out the window! Clients and coworkers will ask you to complete other high priority tasks that they need RIGHT THIS MINUTE PLEASE. This is okay. The point is, for a few moments while writing out your list you will feel in charge of your life.

7) Keep Your Desk Organized

Keep your desk clean and your mind uncluttered. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to clean your desk just so and to put things back where they belong. Inspect each item’s placement carefully. If they are moved the next morning, you know Susan has been messing with your things and she had better stop calling you paranoid.

8) Drink Coffee

Drinking coffee helps you concentrate and keeps you alert. Just be sure not to drink it within the first two hours of waking up, as this is when your body’s natural adrenaline keeps you awake and coffee can interrupt this cycle. Also avoid drinking it before any big meetings or on an empty stomach – you don’t want to be running to the bathroom all meeting, or coming across as a jittery or anxious. Never drink coffee after 1pm, it can keep you from falling asleep at night and cause a vicious cycle of becoming exponentially more tired with every day that passes!

If you really are looking for some ways to stay productive, Hubspot Partner Big Sea put together the tips their team of designers, developers, and marketers uses to get stuff done.




The Good and Evil of Native Advertising

native-advertising-1.pngIIf you use the internet (and since you’re reading this, I’m assuming you do) then you’ve likely encountered native advertising – whether you know it or not. You may have been on a site like Buzzfeed, reading a listicle called “25 People Having a Worse Day Than You” before realizing that it was a sponsored post promoted by an insurance company.

When you discovered you were actually reading an ad, how did you feel? If the piece was entertaining enough, you may have viewed the the company in a positive light. On the other hand, if you felt like you just wasted 5 minutes of your life reading a boring article, you probably got mad and made a negative mental note about the company.

Native advertising is hardly new. Since the early 1900s it’s been around in the form of advertorials, sponsored radio shows, and even infomercials. In the 2010s, native advertising as we know it took off, with sites like Buzzfeed pioneering the way with sponsored content. To some, it’s seen as an unobtrusive solution to advertising. To others, it feels deceitful.

By definition, native advertising is advertising that takes on the form and function of the platform it appears on. Native advertising in the form of radio shows up as announcers talking favorably about a product sponsoring the show. Infommercials are just commericials for products turned into something that resembles a television show. Today, it most often means social media posts that show up on your feed or an article about a product or company showing up in your news source. 

The question remains. As marketers, how can we use native advertising in our strategy while staying current with trends without making the people we’re trying to sell to hate us?

The Good

With that said, native advertising isn’t always evil. As much as people hate it when it’s bad, they can really like it when it’s good. When it’s done well and makes sense for the brand, publisher and reader, native ads can be a win for your brand and a chance to spread awareness of your product or company.

Native advertising has produced some high-quality ads like this Buzzfeed article sponsored by ACUVUE, titled “11 Impossibly Cool Facts You May Not Know About Your Eyes.” The content is relevant to the brand (a contacts lens company talking about eyes) and on top of that, the facts are actually interesting and worthy of reading. A reader wouldn’t be surprised to see ACUVUE sponsoring the article, and they’ll be pleasantly surprised when they find themselves interested in what it has to say.

In this case, the choice of platform in supporting the ad. The ACUVUE article makes sense on Buzzfeed’s platform because readers aren’t looking for hard hitting news and they’re more tolerant to the content they find.

While many native ads come across as entertainment, native ads can still be good journalism. The New York Times published an article paid for by Netflix to promote its series Orange is the New Black, titled “Women Inmates: Separate But Not Equal.” The article covers women’s issues in prison–the same topics covered by the show–in an honest and fact-based way. It made sense that someone who would be interested in reading the article might also want to watch the show (even John Oliver called this piece “as good as it gets” when it comes to native advertising… though in true fashion he still didn’t like it).

This native ad was a win because it was appealing to an audience that would enjoy both the article content and the show, and it was displayed in a platform that made sense. The content was informative, and while it was clearly an ad for Orange is the New Black, the article itself wasnt promotional.

The statistics point to native advertising’s continued growth. It’s projected that 8.8 billion dollars will be spent in 2018 on native advertising, and for good reason. 53% of users say they would look at a native ad over a banner ad, and they are 18% more to show purchase intent. Consumers themselves may say that they don’t like them, but advertisers are continuing to pour money into it.

The Evil

There’s one big, fat, evil reason why people hate native advertising – it can make them feel cheated, lied to, and taken advantage of. As I mentioned before, reading an article (especially if the article isn’t well written) and finding that it’s an advertisement in disguise can make you feel tricked. As a brand, you don’t want to be associated with dishonesty in the eyes of the consumer.

Because of this, native advertising has been the subject of quite a few angry rants. Take this segment from John Oliver’s show, “Last Week Tonight” where he says that even when native advertising is clearly marked as an ad, it doesn’t mean it’s trustworthy. He cites a study by IAB that found that half of viewers could not tell the difference between native ads and actual news, and points out the advertisers are banking on consumers being too unintelligent to know otherwise.

And in typical South Park fashion, the show satirized native advertising with an episode called “Sponsored Content.” In one clip, Stephen talks about how he can’t seem to escape the ads.“It’s like I’m in a black void trying to reach the news story, but then the next thing I know, I’m reading an ad for Geico. So I click out of that and try to read the news story, but it’s not a news story, it’s a slideshow.” It’s a familiar scene for many of us who spend time on the internet and feel attacked by advertisements.

Ads are still ads, even when they come in the form of a trustworthy looking article. And when only 20% of people can point out a native ad (as you see if some cases), you come to an ethical dilemma. If you look at native advertising as a way to “camouflage your ads to make them look like news stories,” (as Ken Auletta of The New Yorker said in the John Oliver clip) your ad might fall into the evil category.

One prominent, real-life case of native advertising gone wrong was an ad from the Church of Scientology. It was published online in The Atlantic, looking like a real article giving a rave review of the church’s leader. Eleven hours later, after the integrity of it was questioned, as well as dispute about the comment section moderation came up, the ad was pulled.

Why was the ad so swiftly pulled? In this case, it came down to editorial integrity, and that the ad was not clearly marked as an ad. The article came across like a real endorsement of the Church by The Atlantic, when it was really just an ad. The Atlantic has since then created strict guidelines on native ads.

How to Make it Work For You

How do you make native advertising work for you? I’m not sure if there is a perfect answer for this that works for every situation.

One thing I know for sure–the solution to getting consumers to enjoy native advertising lies in producing better content. If an article I’m reading is truly interesting, informative, and truthful, the fact that it’s an ad is okay with me. After all, aren’t we watching the Super Bowl commericals for the entertainment factor? We know we’re watching advertisements, yet we don’t let that take away from the fact that we’re enjoying them. In fact, in one survey consumers said they would actually trust a brand more if their native ad was high quality.

Another option? Don’t create ads with the intention of tricking your audience. Those who can tell it’s an ad will see right through you, and those who realize it’s an ad after reading it will feel deceived. The negative view of your brand will stay with them long after they leave the page.

So while the solution may not be, as John Oliver suggests, putting news in advertising, it might be creating better advertising and putting it in the right kind of news. If we as marketers focus on creating high-quality content that speaks to our audience, we just might come out on top after all.

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