Six Work Habits for Agency Success

Let me start by saying this was my first internship at a creative agency. This summer, I noticed each department had inherent work habits and unique approaches to tackling their days. From daily stand-ups to Slack channels, each team organized themselves a bit differently. While I still don’t understand why our developers work in the dark or how our creatives can do three things at once, a few daily habits of those I admired surfaced across members of all teams.

Here are six habits I would tell anyone with agency career aspirations to do:

1. Manage your Time
You can either run your calendar, or it will run you. One way to take back control of your day is to consider the length of your meetings. Whenever I had back-to-back meetings, I felt unprepared for each one. Yes, I got my steps in running around, but I also often felt flustered by the awkward feeling of interrupting the beginning of the next meeting. Try scheduling non-standard meeting times, such as 20 or 50 minutes long. Give yourself and your colleagues some margin and a chance to grab a snack.

2. Prioritize
When requests are flying from every direction, making a to-do list keeps you on track and aware of deadlines. I find it most helpful to organize my list with the most urgent tasks at the top. Highlight the items that have hard deadlines. Try creating tomorrow’s to-do list before you leave today. This might be the single most helpful and most satisfying habit I am cultivating.

3. Organize
Emails get out of hand quickly. There’s the one with from a client requesting a call, the one from your manager updating you on her schedule for the day, the one from the kickball team begging for additional players, and the list goes on. Make folders, take advantage of category labels, and flag the ones you must act on before you leave for the day. Try to take an action as soon as you open the email, or better yet, respond to the email immediately instead of adding it to your growing to-do list.

Collaboration, completing your urgent to-do list items, and managing meeting times are all great agency work habits to cultivate.

4. Collaborate
As an intern, I’ve been able to sit in meetings with just about everyone at the company. I’ve learned that each person you encounter has something useful to bring to the table. From their backgrounds personally and professionally, everyone has a perspective that might shift yours, and I have to say, it’s been great to be challenged. Try running an idea by someone you typically wouldn’t consider—you have nothing to lose!

5. Be Flexible
Things are constantly changing in an agency environment, so you need to be able to “turn on a dime” and move onto something new, quickly. From being pulled into a last-minute client meeting, receiving a new project request, or being tasked with walking a beloved office dog, a sense of flexibility will allow you to remain calm and approachable. And, you just might learn something new and grow your confidence while doing so.

6. Stay Curious
This is actually one of Brown Bag’s stated company values. Throughout this summer I saw several people whose roles moved around, so it is important that you are always eager to learn and grow. Expanding your skillset makes you and your agency better as a whole. Try taking an online course to gauge your interests. Read a lot. Ask why. Remember, there are no stupid questions!

As I head back to school, I’ll carry these top agency work habits with me. What is the best work habit you’ve learned in your career?