Time management is crucial. Are you planning your day mainly yourself? Are you sure you’re using your time wisely? Remember, telling everyone that “you’re SO busy” and that “you have SO much to do” usually means “don’t bother me with your crap, try finding other fools out there”.
Sure, there are periods of intensive workloads, but I believe if someone comes to work with such a thought every morning, either a) he or she doesn’t inform their manager about the workload (or their manager is REALLY blind) or b) they can’t manage their work responsibilities and their time wisely.
Take a look at this short list that I’ve made and if you see yourself making the same mistakes that I’ve been doing, share your thoughts below!
1. Your tools are working with you, not AGAINST you
Monday morning, I’m opening up my PC, filling in the password and then… loooooong pause. Upgrades, installs, scanning, and “loading” on my screen. No worries, I’ll grab my coffee, chat with my colleagues about the weekend and then I’ll get back to work. Crap! 30 minutes already?!
Yes, the drama of SUPER slow machines, slow internet (or worse – no internet!), and new versions to be installed. Well, I just need to get used to it! MISTAKE NUMBER ONE – no, your tools are there to help you, not the other way round. Slow computer? Old computer? Mr. CEO, time to get me a new machine, otherwise I can’t be productive for you. No budget? No wonder, I can’t work like this to make you more budget!!!
Updates? Yes, time to actually click “Install” than “Remind me later (i.e. NEVER)”. Why? I was few times in a situation when I had to test a new app or functionality within few minutes to give final feedback to developers. And? “This version is not compatible with the version of the browser/system that you’re using. Update your browser to XXX”.
Solution? Reserve 1 hour for those things and just do it! You’re not sure how to? There’s for sure an IT guy sitting behind his desk or an IT company that you work with. Just ask to help you out – it’s their job!
2. Block your time in your calendar (and use it!)
When being the only marketeer in the company, I struggled with saying no to anybody. Result – I NEVER got my work done because of all those little tiny “quick” things that turned out to take more of my time than I thought. And guess what? Most of the time, it wasn’t my responsibility at all.
So how did I manage to get more peace? Simple idea – use your calendar. No, not for empty meetings for the sake of having one, but to reserve your tasks in time blocks. Make a to do list and estimate how much time you’d need to finish it. Put it in your own calendar!
My supervisor told me once it’s working very well especially if you’re sitting away from your desk. Doesn’t have to be a meeting room (you’ll probably get kicked out anyway), but e.g. a coffee corner or your lunch place. People will approach you less, because they see you’re trying to focus. More benefits? 1) No need to pick up “We offer the best SEO solution and we want to plan a meeting with you” phone calls. 2) Your colleagues see your calendar filled in with your “own meetings” – this will discourage them to plan unnecessary meetings.
3. Plan, plan, plan
Useful tip if you’re managing campaigns, product/video launches or anything which is supposed to be done perfect and takes more than a day. First, make a checklist of things that have to be done and deadlines.
Trello is a really good tool to keep track of such actions. Their checklist option is really handy (more about Trello in “Check This Out!“).
I even used Excel to write down months in columns and actions in rows to get a better overview of what has to be completed when:
Advantage in time? If you’re working in a team – it saves time on unnecessary questions or missed deadlines. Everything is transparent, the deadlines are communicated and everyone has a great view of what are the dependencies within departments.
My personal advantage for social media marketeer? Sit down with your supervisor and lay out a content marketing calendar – what is launched when, which messages pushed with which priority.
This will help you understanding which content has to be created when and when posted on which media. I wasted SO much time when posting on social media “on the day” thinking it’s more time-relevant and responsive and ending up stressed out at 5:30pm because there hasn’t been anything posted yet.
Sit down, look at the timeline, take a breath and schedule stuff – so much easier.
4. No more group e-mails (or e-mails in general…)
In every organization that I worked for, e-mails were hated but… were the primary way to communicate with people. I used to work with Skype and there are several advantages of the tool, however trying to find out past information within hundreds of conversations was always a challenge.
HipChat is one of the best tools for group chats, some other examples are mentioned in this article. It’s a programme that can run on your browser or desktop, and there’s also a mobile app. Create a ‘room’ when you want to open group discussion. Add people to your ‘room’ or just ask a direct question by @ mentioning them.
Such a way works much faster and is richer than a simple email with attachments. Here, you can reach someone quickly, follow other projects or teams and share much more information (e.g. via video conferencing). Using such chats will save you time waiting for that “important email” or instead of answering the same e-mail from 10 people – just sharing the information once in a group.
Another tip? Just avoid e-mails as much as possible. Sometimes a chat by the coffee machine or just walking to someone’s desk gives you more updates than you thought you needed. Don’t be such a nerd – open up to people!
5. Make use of online programmes and tools – they’re there for a reason!
To start with social media planning tool – something that could help you collect all channels in one, schedule posts and analyze data. Industry leader is Hootsuite and as of now, it integrates Instagram data as well. You can also try tools such as Locowise, OctopuSocial or Origami Logic.
Need new ideas for social content? Use BuzzSumo or Buffer to see what is trending in media or which articles get most shares. No more wasted time Googling and figuring out if the article comes from a reliable source!
Do you need to collect all Instagram posts to one sheet in Google Drive? Evernote needs to be synced with your Gmail account? Sync different apps using IFTT programme or Zapier and save time copying and pasting things – those apps will do it for you, so you can focus on what is really important.
6. Meetings – the fewer, the better
I’ve spent some time in a company where it was weird if you weren’t in a meeting. Yes, I’ve been sitting on an empty floor, whilst people were passing me with their laptops going from one room to another and looking at me suspiciously asking “aren’t YOU in a meeting too?”
The truth is, meeting up for the sake of having this one hour filled up in your calendar is very unproductive. And believe me, an hour booked is an hour. Nope, not shorter and not longer. I sat in some of those meetings full of people, where the person on the phone gave a lecture, whilst everyone else were going through their emails or Skyping each other (about how boring the meeting is).
So when I worked for a start-up, I was really happy to see people valuing their and your time and getting things done quickly. If we needed more input from each other, we met in a room, or even on a couch and had a discussion for as much time as it was needed. Done. No weeklys, no team meetings (even when the team is not even there), no update conference calls. I’d much rather prefer short everyday stand-ups with small teams, instead of long sessions where a group of people all share their updates from the past 10 days. Come on, there’s job to be done, right?
7. Custom Google Analytics Dashboard
Save few additional clicks that you make everyday by creating a custom Google Analytics dashboard. First of all, open up Analytics with a concrete question: “I want to find out how many new users entered my X landing page and what were the 3 top sources”. “I need to find out what is the device usage ratio of my website in The Netherlands compared to The UK”. Analytics provides a lot of information and it’s easy to lose few hours there without getting the right information.
That is why creating a custom dashboard gives you the information that you always need, without any further distractions. Advantage? You can share it with your colleagues or send it to your manager.
8. Fill in the “White Noise”
What I mean here exactly is sitting 8 hours straight behind the desk and not multi-tasking. Are you answering e-mails all day? Why not signing up to a webinar that you can listen to in the background?
I really enjoy group’s chit chats in the background, but to be honest, it doesn’t bring anything to my productivity.
Sure, let’s have a chat when we all come in in the morning or if lunch is approaching. But I really don’t need to listen to my colleague’s problems with her knees or my friend’s adventures with a new girlfriend. Listening to music is always a good idea to “zoom out”, but why not listening to a social media podcast or a TED talk?
9. Better to note too much than too little
Yes, that’s my biggest mistake – assuming I remembered everything and got all the deadlines in my head. So when we’re we going live with this project? Perhaps taking notes looks still like sitting at school, but I saved a lot of time not calling, chasing people, writing emails, and stressing out, just by taking look at the notes.
This is why chat tools that I’ve mentioned in point 4 are so useful. E-mails tend to get lost, people might not forward you all conversations and Skype or WhatsApp are difficult to analyse. So start making your notes. And no, don’t pull your pen and paper! Use apps such as Evernote or OneNote.
10. It’s all about teamwork
Finally, it all comes down to working with people. Asking questions, being proactive, finding out about people’s jobs and skills gives you a spectrum of information. The key reason for being unproductive is that we try doing all ourselves. Sometimes, it’s about letting go and DELEGATING!
Struggling with designing this banner in Photoshop? Your creative person or a graphic designer should be able to give you few tips! Not having enough time to adding few Instagram posts? Why not asking an intern for extra help?
Stand-up meetings are my favorite – short, to the point meetings in the morning with the entire team to find out what they’re goals for the day are. Such sessions save you time on planning ling meetings or sending e-mails with questions never to be answered.
So that’s my list of things to help you being more productive. Remember, it’s not about becoming a robot chained to your desk. It’s just a genuine human feeling (I believe) to be able to discover a shortcut that gets you from point A to point B faster. Do you remember this “Aaaaa so this is how it works!” moment? That’s what I mean.