This week in Zeitlines as the Republic team prepares for the holidays Head of Strategy, Brian Tod, uses research to justify his procrastination (of course) and Account Coordinator, Karishma Karia shares a “reso-flection” (YES that’s now a thing!) A worthwhile read for us all as we head into the festive season. Happy Holidays one and all.
Last Minute Or Bust
Brian Tod, Head of Strategy
'Twas the day before Christmas, when all through the store,
All the people were scurrying, buying gifts with a roar;
The price tags were hung by each garment with flare,
In hopes that frantic givers would soon pay by square;
I have a confession to make: I’m a chronic last-minute Christmas shopper. I have been for years, and let’s be honest… I probably always will be. There’s no argument, this is who I am. Recently, when I was supposed to be researching gift ideas for my brother-in-law, I decided to do some research into my gift-procrastinating brethren: are there many of us and why do we torture ourselves every December? I thought what I uncovered was interesting, so I decided to share it with you instead of heading out to find spruce-scented candles for my Secret Santa. As a strategist I do love a good segmentation, and my research didn’t disappoint: apparently there are four different Christmas shopper archetypes:
- Early Birds – 15% of people – have all (or most) of their shopping done before Black Friday.
- Black Friday Warriors – 22% of people – blitz their entire list on the Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend.
- Consistent Shoppers – 32% of people – who shop throughout November and December, gradually checking items off the list
- Last-Minute Shoppers – 31% of people – who save everything till the last few days (like me)
Going into this research, I had a hypothesis: while I’m a proponent of it, last minute shopping must be on the decline. With Black Friday / Cyber Monday (which the insiders apparently acronymize to BFCM) deals running wild, holiday gift guides hitting publications in November, and the trends toward online shopping along with the required extra time for shipping, people must be getting their act together earlier.Certainly, the fact that Shopify alone processed $1.5 Billion USD in sales over the BFCM weekend (that’s $870k processed per minute) suggests a heavy amount of holiday shopping taking place in late November. But apparently, the real trend is heading in the other direction: Black Friday Warriors are in decline, and Last-Minute Shoppers are on the rise (spurred on by online shopping’s endless supplies and now lightning-fast delivery times). This all begs the question: is there a right way and a wrong way to go about gift shopping? Do these Last-Minute Shoppers know something everyone else doesn’t? Or, are they missing out on a stress-free late December? Well, my (obviously unbiased) research suggests that just like other forms of “active procrastination,” waiting until the last minute to do your Christmas shopping can have many benefits. First, and foremost there is the output: active (ie: intentional) procrastination can lead to better ideas.
- More unconscious processing time for your brain to connect more dots and find unique solutions. Studies have shown that ideas can be “28% more creative” if we delay the brainstorm first. As long as you start to consider ideas early on, you can give your brain weeks to ponder and spark with a great idea.
- The adrenaline is also a positive force as "the imminent deadline creates excitement and pressure that elicit peak performance."
There are also important side benefits to delaying your Christmas shopping.
- If you can put aside the stress of this looming and uncompleted large task, you can actually have a more relaxed December. While everyone else is running around worrying about what to get through the whole month, you cram all of that stress into just a few days. Bingo, bango.
- Maybe I’m an adrenaline junky (you should see me ride my bike to work… just don’t tell my Mom what you saw), but there’s a great rush of accomplishment when you exit a mall on December 24th victorious after stepping into it a few hours earlier with just a sparsely populated list and panic in your eyes.
- And finally, when we procrastinate, we tend to fill up our time with other tasks. My December has been super productive: consider the 8 hours of proactive chores I did last Sunday instead of starting on my gift-giving list.
If you’re the kind of person who needs proof, consider these highly successful chronic procrastinators: Charles Darwin and Leonardo da Vinci as well as Steve Jobs and Aaron Sorkin. Who knows if they also put off shopping for gifts, but I like to think they do and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I’m happy to share a trait with those gents.
“You call it procrastination, I call it thinking.” ~Aaron Sorkin
So, this weekend, as you first-minute shoppers are basking in your relaxed weekend by the fire, don’t look down your noses at us last-minute shoppers as we frantically toil away in busy malls. Celebrate the adrenaline-fuelled creativity that just may come up with some pretty killer gift ideas this year… at least that’s the hope. Okay, now where did I put that list of gift ideas for my brother-in-law? Click here to learn more about our Head of Strategy, Brian.
Karishma Karia, Account Coordinator
When I was younger, coming up with my New Year’s resolutions was an event. In early December I’d start thinking up a long list of who I wanted the new and improved Karishma to be. By mid-December I would narrow down the list to 5-7 broad resolutions, things like “become really good at a sport” (turns out it takes more than just writing about wanting to be good at any sport to actually be good) and “be a morning person” (I regularly show up to work 30 minutes late. Sorry team). Then on New Year’s Eve I’d sit in front of the TV, wait for the countdown and write the final list in my journal to cement my commitment to the new me.
Unsurprisingly, the longest I’ve been able to maintain a resolution is 2 weeks.After a childhood spent giving up on each resolution I had written down, the way I felt about New Year’s shifted. Getting excited to celebrate with the people I love was replaced with a strange feeling of dread that the year would be exactly the same as before. Not better or worse, but the same. The shininess of the holiday had worn off and for a long time, December 31st was my least favourite day of the year. But then my perspective changed.
Not to be that person who talks about how much life changes as you grow older, because that’s cheesy even for me, but it feels like it happens overnight. Suddenly, every experience you go through can push you to look at who you are, beyond just one or two days out of the year. Every ‘resolution’ I’ve actually committed to has never been thought up at 11:59pm on New Year’s Eve. It’s been on Sunday morning after a very, very long night out, an hour into a nerve-wracking 18-hour flight and most recently, last month after our team offsite.
When I stopped putting pressure on myself to have everything figured out by a certain date, I was ready and willing to work through what I wanted. That’s not to say that resolutions can’t be successful. I know a ton of people who follow through on their goals, and more power to them for sticking with it. But as you prepare for the holidays and the inevitable question about your resolutions comes up, remember that figuring things out as they come, without the perfect checklist scribbled in a dingy notebook, is always an option.
Are you #TeamProcrastinator or #TeamEarlyBird? What are your New Year's Resolutions for 2019? Send an email to email@example.com and let's chat!