25½ ways to get things done, by KesselsKramer
We’ve all a started a side-project we never got round to finishing, or tried to pick up a skill we didn’t quite manage to see through. Even with all the to-do lists in the world, getting things done is tough.
That’s why we’re speaking to leading London and Amsterdam-based communications agency KesselsKramer, who have spent the past 25½ years excelling at getting their work over the finish line – all whilst pushing boundaries and staying true to their eccentric selves.
Here, KesselsKramer share a very specific number of tips to help you nail that project you’ve been struggling to get off the ground.
A note from KesselsKramer
25½ years ago, Noel and Liam belted out (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? for the first time, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone had only just cast its spell on us and episode one of Teletubbies had just aired. Also in its infancy was us, KesselsKramer.
Since then, we’ve earned a reputation for communicating differently, with an eye-watering number of projects that challenge convention. We’ve teamed up with Diesel to instruct people to drink urine, created the world’s worst hotel in Hans Brinker and challenged kids to dispose of their litter in impossible ways.
For the 25½th anniversary of KesselsKramer’s founding, we’ve come together to spill the beans on how we get things done – in 25.5 simple steps. Proost.
The 25.5 ways to get things done
1. Do something or do nothing
In order to do something, sometimes you have to actively do nothing. It’s the in-between state that frustrates, drags you down and makes you doubt yourself. Creativity is not a switch you can turn on and off, but by actively stepping away from projects and work in general, you create space to come up with new solutions.
2. Be childish
We adults think we know all the answers as we have experience to fall back on. But questioning the ordinary, like a child, leads to refreshing perspectives and creative answers. Embrace the fact that we are all amateurs in this life and you will remove a lot of boundaries when it comes to creating work.
3. Turn up the volume
Not only by making more things, but also by making each of them more clearly defined. If a client wants one film, and the budget allows to make ten, make ten – of which eight are great!
4. Try not to cry
5. Get it done by letting it be
Creativity can’t be forced and sometimes, even though it’s really hard, it’s better to let it sit for a while. At the end of the day, the best ideas pop up at unexpected moments – when you’re trying to sleep, for example. So, maybe, the best way to get things done is by going to take a (paid) nap.
6. Thoroughly check your exports before sending them to the client
7. Write it down
If someone doesn’t like your idea but you really feel strongly about it, write it down and save it for later. You never know when it might come in handy again, months down the line.
8. Be nice
The only way to get anything done in life is to be nice to people.
9. Don’t be nice
But sometimes you need to be a bit stubborn to get something done. Always be fair, though.
10. You gotta kill a lot of darlings
But never let the darlings kill you.
12. Mix up your environment
Sometimes you need to be hyped up with hardcore tunes, and sometimes anything louder than a page turning will knock you off your flow. Tune into what you need at each stage and create the right space for you.
13. Make it bitesize
This one’s a classic, but it works. Creative projects are super long and can be overwhelming. Break them down into achievable, bitesize chunks and they’ll be much easier to navigate. Plus, you get the satisfaction of ticking each one off your list.
14. Always take lunch breaks
It’s so easy to remain at your desk and power through lunch, but eventually your brain will turn to mush and you won’t even realise it. Take a proper break – get outside, look up, look down, get chased by a pigeon, find a new favourite spot and reset.
15. Work smarter
It’s better to spend less time working at 100% than to struggle at 50% for longer – sometimes the things that seem the least productive can help the most.
16. Christina Aguilera
Whether it’s Christina, rain sounds, the Come Dine with Me theme tune, ASMR marshmallow-eating or the dark tumbleweed depths of silence, find out what conditions help you get into the zone and focus on the task at hand.
17. Bend the rules
If it means getting your shot, bend the rules. Then apologise after.
18. Don't try to be smart
Our industry counts enough people who earn a living using fancy, bullshit bingo words to show they understand the latest trends – but all that doesn’t help you do great work that solves a client’s problems. Smart people make difficult stuff look simple, and mediocre people make simple stuff look difficult. So be smart by trying to be simple.
19. Let it ferment
A big part of getting things done involves making things, and starting to make things can, frankly, be daunting as hell. To avoid a complete meltdown in front of a blank canvas, it is best to arrive with a selection of ideas that you like and feel confident about. But sadly, ideas – at least the good ones – don’t tend to spontaneously or instantly generate themselves. So to get to that point, give it some time. Let it sit. Let everything sink in and wait for the fermentation process to begin.
20. Call your mum
She loves you and will tell you that you’re doing great.
21. Find some quiet
Deep concentration time is important for certain tasks, so don’t be afraid to take some quiet time for yourself for deep focus.
22. Do it for yourself
Sometimes jobs slow down or won’t go your way: a client pulls the plug, an investor gets cold feet, a global pandemic happens and the thing you were working on for what seemed like 13 years has suddenly packed its bags and fucked off. So do it for you: why are you making that film on a Tuesday evening? Because it was your idea. An idea you had for yourself that you didn’t have to sell to a client or wasn’t going to get made. But if you’re not going to make work, at least make your own tea most nights of the week.
23. Find people who can do the things you can’t
Make a juicy trade – for example: a skill exchange, a cup of tea or a superficial compliment every Wednesday – in order to learn from those around you. You don’t have to know it all. You’re not a burden – there are people out there who want to help others.
25. Get anal
By this we mean be a stickler for the rules, obviously.
25.5. Go to the pub
Put your pen down, switch off the screen and sneak off to the pub early, because it’ll change your perspective on the task in hand and is–
Written by KesselsKramer