Clients of our ad agency know not to call us on the first Monday of the month.
Our phones are off. We don't check e-mail. All 50 of us go into a room and focus on innovation--improving how we do things.
I think it's critical to set aside time to take a breath, look around, and think. You need that level of clarity in order to innovate and grow.
Often, we use the time to hone our creativity. We'll play a game to come up with pitches. I'll ask an employee her favorite food--OK, salad. I'll ask another what he did last night--watched football. Then we create a 30-second spot for Kleenex, involving salad and football.
Or we may talk about what's annoying people. There was a frustration that design-team members weren't responding to emails for hours at a time, because they were focused on their work. So we came up with a system that flags them when there's an urgent need.
Being unavailable to clients for a full day forces us to be proactive about meeting their needs. And if somebody can't make the meeting because of too much going on, that tells me either we're doing something inefficiently or we need to hire more people.