Feeling stretched thin? You’re not alone. According to research by Deloitte, 77% of people are experiencing burnout at work. Many have turned to social media platforms for advice and ways to juggle responsibilities while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Answering the call is online edutainer Max Klymenko.
We sat down with Klymenko to chat through a variety of topics spanning productivity, color psychology and how he uses Slack to set healthy boundaries at work.
The following is a condensed transcript; answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Manifesting a career that leans into creativity
What was your path to becoming a creative director and “edutainer”?
Ten years ago, I moved to the U.K. to study law with the aim of becoming a Ukrainian president one day. After earning four university degrees, I ended up working for Accenture, a large consultancy firm. At the same time, I started making videos online. I used to do acting and comedy as a kid, so being in front of a camera felt very natural to me and was fun. I made videos about marketing, business, psychology, my work, my cat, being an immigrant, being an older brother. All of it!
Initially, only my grandma tuned in, but then I slowly started to build a community online, a community that wants to be creative and do great things, through discipline and hard work, but without constant self-judgment and need for outside approval.
As my social media following grew, I developed an interest in advertising and worked alongside the best advertisers in the world at Droga5, one of the world’s most iconic creative agencies. Eventually, I decided I wanted to start my own agency. So I left Accenture and focused on making educational content and building my own agency, klym&co.
My agency is built on three pillars: my experience in the corporate world, my skill and intuition in digital communications and my desire to do work that matters. Advertising is cool, but it can feel like you’re helping brands persuade consumers to spend money on things they don’t need. The goal of klym&co is to change the world through communications and work on social impact projects. We have worked with brands and organizations such as the United Nations, NHS, Elton John and LinkedIn, helping them communicate important messages online. One of the projects we’re most proud of is helping tackle Covid-19 misinformation online and running vaccine-related campaigns by working with the United Nations and Purpose.
Using psychology to achieve peak productivity
We know you’re all about achieving peak productivity. What does that look like for you?
Look, I’m lazy too. People watch my videos and think that I’m a machine, but I also have my off days where I just want to chill. Even on those days, I have one rule: Just show up. Do something, even if it is the bare minimum, because sometimes you’ll get fired up and want to do more. The idea is that if you want to procrastinate and do nothing, you’re just delaying the procrastination to tomorrow, so show up today, and chances are you will feel more motivated to show up the next day too.
For me, peak productivity is when I’m happy and effective. I need to be enjoying my work and chasing something that drives me, and I need to be effective, rather than efficient. I define efficiency as doing something right and effectiveness as doing the right thing. I have another rule: Different is better than better. The goal here is to come up with new, innovative solutions, rather than mere incremental improvements.
However, the most important rule for me is BE YOUR NO. 1 FAN. When I start judging and beating myself for not doing enough or not being enough, I try to remind myself that I am my own No. 1 fan. Although I can still be harsh on myself, I try to change my mindset.
What are some productivity hacks that people can incorporate into their daily routine?
I have so many great productivity hacks, and you can find more in my videos, but here are my top three:
- The two-minute rule, which was popularized by David Allen. The idea is that when a task presents itself to you, and if the task takes less than two minutes, do it now. So if it’s something small, like emailing your landlord that the microwave stopped working or you need to write a quick response in a group chat on Slack, then complete these tasks as soon as possible, so they are not cluttering up your brain’s CPU (Central Processing Unit).
- The Eisenhower Matrix. This matrix is simple but really shows you how much time you spend on things you think that you need to do but aren’t that important.
- Keep a schedule. I hate calendars and schedules, but I found that if you’re a creative type like me, you absolutely need to plan your day out. No, it doesn’t zap your creativity. A schedule just helps you channel it in the right direction based on your priorities. Please learn to keep a schedule ASAP, and you’ll thank me for it.
We noticed that you create a lot of educational content around color psychology. What is that? And how does that impact how we work?
I stumbled upon color psychology when I was choosing the logo for my agency. I think logos and names are overrated, by the way, but that’s another conversation. So I started looking into what different colors communicate and how to use them. When I need to get creative, I surround myself with red, but exposure to red for a long time drains you, so for deep work, blue or green is perfect. I’d never wear gray for a client pitch because you can appear too timid. Well, Mark Zuckerberg pulls it off, but he may be the only one.
Even the little things like your desk position in relation to windows, chair height, colors around you, your clothes, plants, sounds, smells all seem insignificant, but they all contribute to setting up your environment. I want to be able to work from anywhere, but when I am able to set up my own environment, like my home office, yeah, I go hard!
Making changes to prevent burnout
Burnout comes up frequently in conversations these days. What can individuals and leaders do to ensure they overcome or prevent burnout? What strategies do you think are most successful, and what role do you think tech plays?
I’ve come close to burnout but have never experienced it. I remember a time when I cut off sports, my friends, family, love life and even sleep to meet client deadlines, which I do not recommend! However, I still felt driven and excited by what I was doing, albeit very tired. So the number one rule is if you’re constantly burnt out, and you aren’t enjoying what you’re doing, then you’ve got to think about changing what you do. You shouldn’t be working so much that you’re physically ill, but if you are just working so much that your body is collapsing, then you have to take a break and relax.
Also, set up work limitations on your devices and apps. On Slack, you can turn on Do Not Disturb and set a status for when you’re offline. If you are creating boundaries in Slack but aren’t actually resting, then turn your notifications off.
OK. We have to ask! What’s your favorite Slack emoji or feature?
I love video clips! Also, huddles are really cool and easy to use. For me, they mimic an in-person chat. My favorite emoji is a rocket going up. It’s basic, but I love it.
Follow Klymenko on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook for more insights on living a productive life. And learn how to build a digital headquarters in Slack that helps you do more in less time here!