Workplace culture

‘It’s like a 10-hour spin class without the bike’: Work hacks from Shiny’s creative director

House music helps Shannon Stevens get in the zone.

Shannon Stevens's work station. (Courtesy photo)

At any given moment, you may find Shannon Stevens, creative director at Wilmington’s Shiny Agency, listening to house music in his office. While most people associate electronic dance music, or EDM, with a fun Saturday night, Stevens uses music as a way to focus when he needs to tackle approaching deadlines. Curious about how else Stevens handles challenging work days? Read on.

What is a normal workday like for you?

It begins at 7:30 a.m. Plowing through and catching up on emails that came in the previous night and getting back to emails that I couldn’t respond to the day before. 9:15 is a regroup with the creative team and project manager to go over what was completed yesterday and what is on the docket for today. Then the day is filled with presentations, internal meetings, regroups, kickoffs and client conversations.
In the middle, shoehorned in there somewhere is lunch. Not a fun lunch. Lunch is a distraction sometimes and a nice retreat other times. But the need to get fuel into your body is important, because design, content, UX/Ai and creative meetings really do take a lot out of you.
At the end of the day is where I get the most work done and I am the most efficient. People are not dragging you away and not distracting you. It is my favorite time to produce work and clarity is at its best.

What is something you do daily that helps you maintain productivity and enjoy your work?

Listening to EDM (Electronic Dance Music) really helps me work at a fast pace for a long duration of time. It’s like a 10- hour spin class, minus the bike.

What is one thing about the way you do your work that only you do?

Not sure that I am the only one that does this, but I like to “GO DARK” during a hot and heavy run to a deadline. I don’t look at emails, text, Slack messages and prefer to be in a zone of no human stimuli. Just music and my thoughts. After all, we are the agency that has a mission to “create engagement in the age of distraction,” so I should practice what I preach.

How do you keep your team motivated when working on challenging projects?

Challenging projects ARE the best motivation …

Do you have any tricks that keep you from getting distracted while working?

I have a “Do Not Disturb Please …” sign that I put up for the times I need to go dark but just putting on my Grado headphones even without music on, helps to bring a sort of tunnel vision and solace to what I am focusing on.

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