About That Work Emergency.

About That Work Emergency.

It’s no surprise that we’re fierce advocates of protecting our time. And one of our favorite things to remind our teams is that there is no such thing as a work emergency when you work in digital marketing. (In case you need the reminder, too: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A MARKETING WORK EMERGENCY.) 


Humans are humans, donors are donors, coworkers are coworkers, and clients are clients. All too often, the people around you forget to plan (or ignore your well-crafted plans) and force you into a time crunch. And as much as you try to cancel meetings and set boundaries, you aren’t the only one who can throw a wrench in your calendar.  

So while, philosophically, you don’t have emergencies, practically, if you’re anything like us, you definitely have pressure. 

The question, then, is what do you do in response? 

What do you do when people need things and they need them now

What do you do when it feels like you cannot take a sick day because you’ll fall too far behind? 

What do you do when your to-do list has 900 competing priorities, all of which deserve attention, and most of which needed attention yesterday? 

After hiding under the covers or screaming into a pillow or taking a long shower (all very cathartic, in case you were wondering…), we like to follow a few simple guidelines to deal with stressful days (weeks, months…). This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a place to start on things that feel like emergencies (that aren’t really emergencies). 

8 ways to respond to that “work emergency”:

  1. Take a deep breath. You might not get to everything. That sucks, but that’s reality. Got it? Keep breathing. You’re no good to anyone if you’re hyperventilating. 
  2. Prioritize your list. We know everything feels like it needs to get done right this second, but if you slow down and look, that might not actually be true. What can you possibly move to a different day? Can anything go to next week? On really crazy days, we prioritize by the hour. What needs to be done before noon? Delete everything else from the morning list. 
  3. Phone a friend. Who on your team can jump in? Call them. Right now. You do not need to be a hero, and being a hero will destroy you. You do not need to shoulder the entirety of a stressful situation on your own. This is why coworkers exist. This is why we build great teams. 
  4. Set expectations. Are you really not going to make a deadline? Tell someone. Yes, this conversation is not going to be fun, but better to establish an honest reality than have your stakeholders assuming one thing and experiencing another. 
  5. Eat snacks. We are firm believers that 85% of life’s challenges get better after a nap and a snack. If you have the ability to power nap for 20 minutes, do that. If not, at the very least, eat something. 
  6. Ruthlessly eliminate unnecessary tasks. One of our team members used to produce a major conference for a client every year, and in the two weeks leading up to the event, she put a hard-core screening system on her email and phone. If you were not a direct vendor for the event, she sent you to voicemail and didn’t call you back until the event was over. Brutal. But effective. Did people get annoyed? Sure. But the priority was the priority, and everything else was…not. 
  7. Take dance breaks. Our brains are not designed to focus all day long. In fact, our brains cannot focus all day long. Research shows that it is WAY more effective to work in spurts punctuated by true breaks than it is to “power through.” So take breaks. Blast some music. Dance. Then get back to it. 
  8. When you hit your breaking point, stop. Listen. You matter so much more than your work. Do not let a project (even a very important project) hurt you. If you are getting sick, stop. If you cannot keep your eyes open, stop. If you feel like your mental health is teetering toward precarious places, stop. It’s not worth it. You are. Protect yourself. Be your own fiercest advocate. 

We know what busy seasons feel like. We know what overwhelming days feel like. And we know that we are still learning to deal with work stress right alongside you.

We also know that cracking this nut is important because our well-being is important. We want to love our work, and that means developing a plan to handle hot mess disasters even before they arise. 

What would you add to our list? What helps you get through even the most pressure-filled moments? Let us know in the comments.

Working Asynchronously in the Nonprofit Community

Working Asynchronously in the Nonprofit Community

Here at Swell+Good, we talk a lot about work processes. How do we make our team more efficient? How do we improve quality? How can we better serve our clients? And, most importantly, how do we make sure that everyone on our team actually gets to enjoy their life? 

Yes, we love marketing. And yes, we love helping organizations raise more support so that they can better do the work they were born to do. That’s our what, and we’re kind of obsessed with it. 

But if we’re honest, we give equal attention to our how—to the way we do the work, not just the work itself. We’re very, very into work culture. We’re very, very into people being humans first and employees second. And we’re very, very into work being fun and not-terrible. 

We were virtual and remote long before being virtual and remote was cool, so we’ve had lots of time to get creative on how we connect and communicate—and ultimately we feel pretty proud of where we’ve landed. 

Our tricks aren’t magic, but they are intentional. And over the next few weeks, we’re excited to give you an inside look at the secret sauce of Swell+Good.

First up, we’re asynchronous. 

That means that our team can work whenever they want, wherever they want. 

Or, more simply, working asynchronously means when you send a message you don’t expect an immediate response

And here’s the deal: “Not only does async produce the best work results, it also lets people do more meaningful work and live freer, more fulfilled lives.”

Working Asynchronously? How? Well, let’s turn to the research! 

  1. Synchronous communication prioritizes communication over productivity. “Synchronous communication is heavy on staying connected. Here, you are expected to be available at all times during the day. In a team group chat with over 10, 50, or even 100 employees, this could mean you could possibly miss out on important information just because you weren’t available within a certain timeframe.” (Read more!)

    We’ve all experienced this, right? Sitting on Slack waiting for a response? Getting left behind as a reply-all email spirals out of control? Watching your colleagues travel way off course on a problem you could have solved in two seconds all because you took a 30-minute break to make a sandwich?

    The worst.
  2. Synchronous communication promotes overworking and increases work-related stress. “Being constantly available translates to working 24/7 with no downtime. Employees, especially those with parental and spousal responsibilities, fail to find a work-life balance, resulting in increased levels of stress that can often lead to burnout.” (Read more!)

    This is the real problem. When you’re expected to be “on” 24/7, you’ll….be on 24/7. And that’s just not a healthy way to live.

    (You already know our opinions on work emergencies. And if not, here’s a hint: You don’t actually have any.)

But here’s the deal, friends. It doesn’t have to be this way. 

When you prioritize working asynchronously instead of rapid chat (or, even worse, constant meetings), you give your team freedom. You give them flexibility. You give them time. 

Sure, we have client calls that are scheduled. And there are some conversations that just have to happen immediately. But 85% of our internal communication can wait—so it does. 

Here’s how: 

  1. Really, really good task and project management. We use Basecamp (another huge fan of async, btw), but you can use any tool you like. The key is actually using it—and making sure that everyone on your team is using it, too. 
  2. Long-form written updates. It’s the old “this meeting could have been an email” except instead of an email, we default to public posts. Have notes you want to share? Type them up. Have a discussion question? Post it and let people reply when they have time. Writing—then sharing that writing in an open-to-your-team forum—is where the magic happens. 
  3. Plan ahead. If you don’t want crazy, “emergency, do this now” deadlines, you need to have a long horizon. Same-day deadlines are not in our policy (they happen sporadically because…life, but they are absolutely the exception, not the rule). This lets people plan their days and their weeks without worrying about missing a key task that got added to their list two hours ago. 
  4. Over-communicate. Asynchronous communication works when everyone explains everything they’re thinking. Over-communication also makes occasional meetings and conversations way more productive because everyone on your team is already up to speed! 

We’ll keep sending you what we’re learning about working asynchronously (and all of our work processes! We’ve got lots more to test and discover and share!)—and we want to hear from you, too! Have you tried async communication? How has it worked for you? Let us know by replying to this email. Just make sure you do it at a time that works for you. 

The January Productivity Trap

The January Productivity Trap

We know we’re belated on our 2022 well wishes, but we took January off from the newsletter (all the praise hands for self-created breaks!). Now, we’re back in your inbox, hoping you’re feeling well-rested, inspired, and ready to tackle the year ahead. 

When we flipped our calendars to January a couple of weeks ago, we realized something. We were already swamped. 

Somehow, this always happens. We head into the new year with BIG goals (new year, new you, right?)—and then those goals start eating us alive. We decide to be extra productive, and then realize that (surprise!) we’re human. We were already productive. There really isn’t much more room to accelerate. 

That January-must-be-full-of-big-goals-and-hustle thing? It’s a trap

What if, instead, you let this year look…normal? 

What if you took your foot off the gas and just did your job? 

What if you continued to prioritize your mental health and your personal interests and your time instead of trying to accomplish all the things

What would that do to your calendar and your goals? 

Because, yes, it’s a new year. But you aren’t any good if you aren’t taking care of yourself. 

Here at Swell+Good, we’re all about practicing what we preach, so here are a few things we’re trying in 2022: 

  • No-deadline Fridays. You already know that we love cancelling meetings. So we scrapped as many Friday meetings as possible. Then, we moved all of our deadlines to Thursdays or Mondays. It gives us a chill start to the weekend—and lets team members take every other Friday off while others cover anything that comes in hot. 
  • Dedicated time for learning. Somehow, our own projects always fall to the bottom of our lists. Other priorities take precedence and we never get to our own stuff. So we problem solved and blocked our calendars with dedicated brainstorming time. 
  • Snacks. Ok, this isn’t new. But we are not good at our jobs when we forget to eat. Put kindly, we know when one of our teammates has skipped lunch (the hangry life is real!). So we’re making time to eat. Or nap. Or take a walk around the block. We’re better when we do. 

What’s on your list? What goals do you have for 2022 that are for you—not for the hustle? Let us know by replying to this email! 

It’s time to take inventory

It’s time to take inventory

This week, our brains registered that a brand new year is coming our way.

And while, realistically, January 1 will look a lot like December 31 (yes, we are as hopeful as anyone that the saga of 2020 will end soon…but probably not with the flip of a calendar, sadly!), the New Year does bring a unique opportunity to evaluate our goals, behaviors, and practices.

So in the next few weeks, as you start thinking about a new season, ask yourself hard questions. What workflows and processes are actually helping you and your team—and which ones aren’t? What projects bring you joy—and which ones don’t? What do you wish you had more time to do? What has been most frustrating this year? What campaigns really worked—and why? What are you doing just because you’ve always done it?

It’s time to take inventory. And it’s ok to leave some things behind.

Too often, we roll right into a new year without ever getting reflective or introspective. We let other people set our goals and priorities. We keep doing things the same old way.

What if this year was different? What if we painted our own pictures for the year ahead—then built the processes we need to achieve them?

So press pause, just for a second. Dream. Write down some goals. Make your own plan. Shake up how your team operates. We have a feeling it will make your 2021 even more successful, fulfilling, and fun.