I’ll admit it. I’m behind the times. But thanks to Netflix I am able to catch up on a bunch of TV series that I’ve been missing out on, the most significant right now being Mad Men.
I can now see why there is such a buzz about the show with most of it centering around Donald Draper, the main character. Whenever I watch shows like this I am always curious as to what makes a character like him a truly memorable one.
It could be the charisma. The charm. The creativity. Mostly, though, I think it’s his mysteriousness.
So many scenes are finished with the viewer wondering, “What’s going on in that handsome head of his?”
That’s really okay, though. We get to see the most interesting things he does. So what is he doing that allows him to get all of this done?
Different Kinds of Productiveness
Productiveness is about producing (sentence of the decade). To be a productive worker means you’re getting things done.
Too often we confuse productiveness with efficiency. They are not the same thing although oftentimes you need efficiency to get things done on time.
Take two runners. They both start at the same place and are headed towards the same finish line. Runner A takes the route Google Maps gave him, making his way on the sidewalk.
Runner B decides to cut through Mrs. Olsen’s backyard because he sees Mrs. Olsen’s daughter, Natasha, sun-bathing and stops for awhile to chat. They share laughs, drinks, flirtatious conversation when Runner B realizes he still needs to finish the race. Being the cunning runner he is, he takes a shortcut through some forest area before arriving at the finish line…at exactly the same time as Runner A.
If you’re thinking that Runner B is a cheating fraud, think again. I didn’t say there was a set path. And if your thinking Runner B seems a little too much like Don Draper, you’re keeping up nicely.
The Creativity Beast
Offices, schools, and homes have been bombarded by a surge in the value of creativity and innovation.
What Mad Men shows is just how much creativity has always been valuable. Tailoring your resources in order to solve a specific problem in an innovative way. It’s cool to see the result and even cooler to see the method. Some of the scenes showcasing Draper’s ability to do this are jaw-dropping. He weaves an idea into something with deeper significance and charms you with the way he explains it.
To be creative time and time again can take using different methods. While sipping on Crown and smoking are, in-fact, methods, I would like to focus on the napping.
Wake Me Up At 3:30
Picture some guy dressed in a suit, pencil in hand, sleeves rolled up, crunching numbers, filing papers, making phone calls, typing copies.
Too often this is what we think being productive is. Doing a bunch of work, putting our nose to the grind, getting things done.
Donald Draper is the anti-thesis to this picture of productivity. He is calm, collected, laid-back and seems to nap a lot. How can he afford to be this way?
Draper’s productiveness does not come from getting a lot of little things done, it comes from getting a small amount of large things done.
He hits homeruns when it comes to the ad agency. That is what makes him so sought-after. It is what makes him an expert. And it is one of the reasons behind his method of working.
Remember, there are different ways of getting the same thing done and Draper prefers to take some breaks once in a while.
Sometimes It’s Best To Back Away
This method of getting away from your work in order to get it done seems strange but is backed by both common sense and studies. In fact, it has been seen as such a great way of ingesting life into work that some believe it should be mandatory.
How does it provide a benefit, though? I mean, you actually aren’t doing work.
Well, it mostly comes down to two things:
- Re-energizing you for when your return to work.
By taking a break and removing yourself from the task completely you replenish your energy for when you get back to the grind. Having more energy for work means better focus which you would be lacking by trying to force yourself through the wearisome times.
- Allowing some creative thinking to occur.
Getting away from work allows you to ignite your imagination. Since you are not worrying about anything in particular you are free to follow any thought wherever it may lead. Sometimes this leads to new insight, new ideas, new products.
A Couch in the Office
Draper’s methods match those put in place by big name companies such a Google, who implements a 20 percent free time program for its employees.
The rule is simple: 20% of the employee’s time should be devoted to whatever the employee wants.
While this sounds like it may be bad for business the truth is that at companies who value creativity and innovation this may be the best method yet. Humans do not work like machines whose continuous repetitive movements get work done. For a human this kind of work is fatal to any imagination and passion that may have initially been there.
There is a part inside of us that longs for exploration, if only occurring in our mind. We wish to wonder about the going-ons in other worlds, the intricacies of complex designs, the reasoning and emotion driving our own heart.
Letting that part of us roam is good for the soul. And as companies like Google have seen, good for business.
Google Draper Method
- Think About It
Insight doesn’t occur until genuine work has been put in to understand the problem.
Understand the problem beyond a “textbook definition.” Ask the significant questions surrounding it. Become knowledgeable about the values involved.
- Then Forget It
Remove yourself from it. Get away. Do something different. Watch a movie. Read a book. Take a nap (my personal fave).
- An Idea Will Jump Up In Your Face
Giving yourself a chance to relax gives you time to see a problem in a different light, even if you aren’t aware of it. You will gain a moment of insight, your personal Eureka moment. Just remember to keep a pen and paper handy.
There you have it. The Draper Method of Productivity.
Remember, finishing the race can take different routes and, being human, the slow, steady, and repetitive is not always the best way to work. Sometimes it takes working hard and then removing yourself from the task.
This re-lights your flame of passion and imagination and re-energizes you for the work that must be completed.
Characters such as Donald Draper and Gregory House rely on their expertise to get them through problems. However, even the expert encounters novel predicaments and comes to rely on his ability to be creative as well.
Knowing how to take advantage of our creative side works wonders for us who don’t have script writers working for us.