We had the good fortune of connecting with Stefania Poletti and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stefania, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
When I quit my job to start my own advertising agency, one of the first challenges I had to tackle was finding a way to hold myself accountable for my work beyond the nine-to-five model. Many working from home face a similar problem, and struggle to stay on track. Over the years, I have perfected a method that has effectively helped me organize my busy days without feeling constantly overwhelmed. I call it the 30 minute rule. The rule is as follows:
When planning your day, use increments of 30 minutes for whatever key tasks you set yourself to accomplish that day. Use 30 minutes as your smallest unit of measurement.
Let’s say you are organizing your work day or week and you have a set number of key tasks you want to accomplish. Some may take hours (e.g. a client meeting or putting together a report), while others may only take a few minutes (e.g. sending an email, or reviewing a document). No matter how short or long a task is, allot multiples of 30 minutes for each. If you estimate an email will take you five minutes to write, mark it as a 30 minute task. If a client call typically takes 45 minutes, round it up to one hour. Use your best judgement for each task you wish to accomplish, keeping in mind that you decide what defines a single task. In some cases it could be a singular action, in others it could be a few bundled together.
At this point, you may be thinking: ’30 minutes is too much!’ Once you go about your day, however, you will notice something remarkable starts to happen: the buffer that seemed excessive at first, becomes a life-saver. A call that was supposed to last one hour, for example, goes over by 20 minutes. Suddenly, unused minutes from the previous task come in handy. The surplus and shortage of minutes balance each other out task after task. Even if some can’t be moved (like calls or appointments), the time you gain around them translates into a more balanced schedule overall. At the end of the day, you may even find yourself with some time to spare. Most importantly, however, you won’t feel overwhelmed; your schedule will be more like a game of Tetris, rather than a game of Dominoes.
This method can be used to organize your entire day (e.g. errands, chores, meals). You can also decide to start with smaller increments of 10 or 15 minutes, and observe where you land organically after a few days or weeks. After much trial and error, I found 30 minutes to be the sweet spot for me. I also found that using a third-party platform like an online calendar is a helpful way to implement this method. It allows you to add, delete, and move assignments quickly and intuitively. I suggest giving this method at least a week to be able to fine-tune the way it plugs into your life, and to allow it to do what it does best: keep you on track.
The 30 minute rule is not perfect; it’s not applicable to all kinds of work or lifestyles and, even when it is, occasional overwhelming weeks or days are inevitable. The objective is not perfection, but improvement. The true magic of this method is that it addresses a mistake many of us make when we plan our days: we forget to account for life between tasks. Distractions, unanticipated events, or technical and human errors are inevitable, and having a little buffer can go a long way in restoring our daily sense of accomplishment.
What should our readers know about your business?
Kindvertising is an award-winning and woman-led creative agency that uses advertising to promote kindness towards both human and nonhuman animals. We are highly specialized in animal rights, human rights, and sustainability.
I am most proud of the clients we work with: companies and organizations that genuinely care about making the world a kinder and healthier place to live in.
Getting to where we are today was not easy. I have started completely from scratch, with just my savings and my advertising experience. It took several years to build the portfolio and the reputation we have today. The hardest thing has been staying true to our mission and values, particularly when it meant walking away from projects and opportunities. But ultimately it’s what gave us credibility and integrity.
The only thing I want the world to know is our work. As an advertising agency, that’s what matters the most.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m not a great guide, but here are some of my favorite things:
Monday: Burgers and a shakes from Plant Power, eaten while watching the sunset at Sunset Cliffs.
Tuesday: A walk around South Park, including a little shopping at Gold Leaf boutique, nails at Lulu’s Nail Spa, and coffee at Cafe Madeleine.
Wednesday: Coffee and hash browns at Tobey’s 19th Hole Cafe, right on the Balboa Park golf course where you can see the San Diego skyline.
Thursday: a few rounds of tennis at the Balboa Tennis Club and dinner at Azuki Sushi in Hillcrest.
Friday: drinks and live music at Panama 66 right inside Balboa Park.
Saturday: Morning beach volleyball with Tim Strong’s San Diego Beach Volleyball League at Mission Beach and a comedy show at the American Comedy Co. in Downtown.
Sunday: Brunch at Kindred in South Park and games and beer at Coin-Op Game Room in North Park.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The absolute stellar team of people that I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years, without whom I would not be able to do what I love every day. In alphabetical order: Alyse Furber, Ben Dutter, Darryl Dieudonné, Freddy Munoz, Keelee Lovaas, Noah Crider, Randy Church, Shanna Loveman, and Stacey Uy.
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