Posted on February 7, 2018 at 2:17 pm.
We know that there’s a lot to love about marketing: the ever-changing landscape of advancing techniques, the variety of tasks to throw yourself into, getting to be creative and connect with people, looking into and deciphering analytics….phew, there’s a lot!
However, it’s no secret that as a marketer you have A LOT to do and manage. Much of it is planned and much of it is reactionary; fixing problems when they arise or pouncing on campaign ideas that are suddenly relevant because of political, social or economic factors.
We understand the pains and pressures that come with being a marketer, but there is one major thing that can make your life an awful lot easier and this is (cue the drum roll)…
With so many different deadlines and departments relying on you, we know that time management is easier said than done. However, we’ve compiled eleven essential time management tips that will hopefully make your marketing life a little less stressful.
1. Not setting time limits
You might really enjoy getting stuck into an in-depth analysis and want to finish three days’ worth of work in just one afternoon, but it’s just not a good idea. Firstly, you’ll end up rushing and could make the whole thing invalid, and secondly, the chances are if you’ve planned what needs to be done according to deadlines, pushing other tasks back to spend longer on something unscheduled will only make you either miss deadlines, or stressed (or both).
To avoid both of these scenarios set yourself time limits for specific jobs. If you enjoy doing something leave it until the end of the day, or set yourself a few hours interspersed between other tasks. What’s also important is to track how long you spend on jobs.
Without doing this when someone asks how long something will take there’s no really accurate estimate. There are some excellent tools to help track and organise your time, like toggl. This application has a start and stop timer to track tasks on any device; which it records in visual reports so that you can see how much time you’re spending on work against the revenue it’s bringing in.
2. Deciding to multitask
A British Research study found that when you multi-task productivity actually drops by as much as 40%. When you’re switching between two tasks or more it makes sense that you won’t be able to give a task your full attention.
Not only is this a great way to build your stress levels, it’s also a fantastic way to make sure you go home feeling tense or stressed; all because you didn’t just choose to get one job done before starting on the next one. So, be disciplined and prioritise your work.
Remember, multi-tasking doesn’t really exist, it’s just fast task switching…don’t do it!
3. Not dealing with distractions
Distractions will always make us less productive. Take a day of working at home as an example. How much can you get done without interruptions from colleagues, or the office phone ringing for everyone else as well as you?
Now think of the same scenario according to all of the distractions that you can control. Switching to your emails or social media every time you have a notification is distracting. You lose your train of thought and even potentially get completely side tracked by something that is now suddenly more urgent.
If you had allowed yourself time away from emails, your phone, and social media channels the job would have been done and you could deal with anything urgent without the stress of having to get back to what you were doing.
4. Not delegating to other marketing specialists
Most marketers start at the bottom and work their way up from assisting roles. You’ve probably been in that situation where you get given something juicy to look after and take responsibility for, and it’s hard to let someone else take control of it.
The key here is to teach and trust. If you like something to be done a certain way, take the time to teach someone else exactly how it should be done and then trust them to know what they’re doing. The trust from you, coupled with the freedom to get things done properly, should mean that those helping you will step up to take that task off your plate (and you can always make tweaks afterwards!).
On the same note, if you’re great at strategic marketing planning or designing websites, but not so good at sitting down and coming up with a social media plan, delegate this to someone who is. Once you start doing it and realise how much time it saves you, whilst they’re doing a much better job in far less time, you’ll wonder why you didn’t try it before.
The same goes for outsourcing – marketing managers are often seemingly expected to know everything, but it’s extremely unusual for anyone to be an expert in all areas of marketing. Outsourcing the area you’re not so sure about, or don’t really have the time or skill to do, will mean more effective marketing overall.
5. Not taking breaks
Tony Schwartz, Founder of The Energy Project, says that to work our best as humans, “we need to renew our energy at ninety minute intervals”. How long do you go without a break? Taking a few minutes to stop and rest your brain will help you to renew your energy and focus so that you can smash through any barriers that are stopping you from thinking of the right solution, or just feel more energised when completing something that’s taking a long time.
Think of it as climbing a marketing mountain. If you gave it your all for ninety minutes, and then rested for twenty, how much more enjoyable and productive would your hike be? Compare this with sticking at it non-stop for 7.5 hours and you’ve got a much more formidable task at hand – one that’s far more likely to make you give up or become demotivated. The same applies to our working day.
Your twenty minutes break doesn’t have to be sitting with a magazine and a coffee (although it could be). You could spend the time catching up with LinkedIn or reading up on the latest changes to the Google search console.
Or go full out productivity and boost your energy levels over the long-term with some exercise – it’s amazing what some fresh air and power walking can do to get your blood pumping, making you feel more awake and full of beans!
6. Spending time on things that don’t work
Possibly our favourite tip for marketing time management is just getting rid of things that don’t work. If you’re spending half your day on organic social media posts that just aren’t being seen, no matter how well you word them, or how many opportunities there are for people to engage with them, stop.
Ask yourself, “how could I make this better and what is stopping it from working?” If it’s something out of your control, how can you make it within your control? In this example, targeting your posts via paid search is probably the answer, or changing your tactics altogether and presenting your brand in a light that does appeal to your target audience; instead of using soft messaging that is the same as everyone else’s.
The key here is measurement. Any marketing that is carried out should be measurable in some way or another. Whether it’s search engine optimisation (SEO) that’s measured using Google rankings and tracked conversions, or a direct marketing campaign with a special discount code – find a way to measure what you’re doing so that when you’re asked if it works, you can say with full confidence that it does.
Ensure that you’re playing to the stereotype that marketing is the ‘fluffy colouring in’ department. Be ruthless and cut out everything that doesn’t work to save time and money.
7. Not prioritising tasks
This one may seem pretty obvious, but people will consistently leave tasks until the last minute. If you’ve asked for a client to sign off a press release before sending it out, leaving this until 5.30pm on a Friday could mean that it’s no longer of relevance the following week. Similarly, you might not be available last minute to do the sending.
The point here is whether you’re delivering a service, or paying for one, don’t hinder your chances of success by not prioritising what you have to do that day by whether or not you think it’s important. Look at deadlines and prioritise by those timings as well as your own, otherwise you might miss out on opportunities and future work.
8. Not saying no…
We’re pretty sure that every marketer can relate to just saying “yes, no problem” at least once when they’ve been asked to do something they know that, deep down, isn’t the best use of their time.
We do this to keep the peace or to show willing, but it really is so important to instead say “no”. We don’t mean throw your laptop across the room and storm out screaming “no chance, how flipping ridiculous!” but instead to explain that there would either be no measurable results from carrying out the task in question, or to question the person asking you to do it about exactly what they’re hoping to achieve.
Spending lots of time on things that don’t work will ultimately reflect badly on you. You’re the one who is responsible for getting results so by not saying no to things that don’t work you’re not leaving yourself time to focus on the things that do.
9. Getting wrapped up in emails
Some people are super productive in the mornings. If there is an important task that you’re just not getting time to do set your alarm a little bit earlier and get up at 6.30am. Chances are that you won’t even look at your emails. Distractions can at least wait until 7.30/8.00am when people will be in the office.
We’re not saying you have to be an early bird, but instead you should leave yourself logged out of emails whilst you’re getting something important done. If you have an hour to write a blog then what harm will logging out of your emails for an hour do?
You’ve probably heard of setting specific times of the day to look at your emails, but it seriously works. Once in the morning, once after lunch and once at the end of the day should be enough for most people. If there’s anything urgent there is still such a thing as a telephone.
10. Not blocking out time to get tasks done
We spoke about prioritisation earlier and one of our best tips to make sure that you stick to priorities is by time blocking. If you have five things to get done on a set day, block out times in your calendar or diary to say how long you have for each.
This not only helps to show you how long things truly take to complete (going back to tracking your time for future planning), but it sets you a schedule to stick by.
Without time blocking it’s far too easy to get caught up in a task that should have taken an hour, but which ended up taking your full morning. Time flies when you’re having fun!
11. Not setting agendas for meetings
Meetings are not the enemy, but they can really suck the time out of your day. The best way to ensure that you’re not spending ten times longer talking about doing things than it would have taken to actually do them is to set an agenda for every meeting and stick to it.
For example, set yourself an hour for a meeting and allot fifteen minutes to the four things that need to be discussed. If you’re approaching the end of that time, request that a decision be made so that you can move on.
Even if you’re half this regimented meetings will be far more productive and it will prevent you from taking up your valuable time with people who just want to chat (probably because they’ve not had a twenty minute break yet!).
Make the change
We don’t just hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this, we want you to take action! Yes, we know that there’s a lot to take in with this blog, but choose just one thing you can experiment with.
Let us know which one you’ve tried by reaching out to us on Twitter (@birchprint).
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to forward this to your fellow time-poor marketing professionals!