How to be a more focused and productive marketer

Step inside any marketing department, in any business, and nine times out of ten the atmosphere is buzzing with excitement and creativity.

Whilst most of you, as marketers, probably love this about your job it’s no surprise that you could easily waste precious time on distractions that are actually hurting creativity.

In a 2016 survey conducted by Career Builder the results showed that there were nine main distraction culprits that affected an employee’s productivity. In the survey over 2,000 hiring and HR managers were interviewed, and, whilst there were some weird and wonderful reasons, below are the nine most common productivity killers:

  • Mobile phones – 52%
  • Internet – 44%
  • Gossip – 37%
  • Social media – 36%
  • Email – 31%
  • Co-workers dropping by – 27%
  • Meetings – 26%
  • Smoke/snack breaks – 27%
  • Noisy co-workers – 17%


These distractions  accumulate to employees wasting on average 759 hours each year. That’s a lot of hours if you ask us! Just think, what could have been achieved in those wasted hours?

The weird and the wonderful

We bet you want to know what the weird and wonderful reasons were for employees not being productive? Okay, here you go:

  • One employee was found taking a sponge bath in the bathroom sink.
  • One employee decided they would try hypnotising smokers to help them quit.
  • Instead of making deliveries, one employee was caught topping up their tan on a sunbed.
  • Looking for love, one employee was on the hunt for a mail order bride.
  • One employee was seen slashing another employee’s car tyres.
  • We may have all dozed off at some time at work, but one employee decided to get snuggly on their CEO’s coach.

The list goes on and on. Heck, we could just dedicate a whole blog to the most outrageous behaviours in the workplace… however, we have more to cover on this subject in this blog.

Joking aside

Joking aside, even though distractions only seem to last a few seconds, losing focus is a contributing factor to substantial decreases in productivity that can end up costing a company thousands of pounds.

Let’s look at the facts:

  • Quality of work being compromised up to 45%.
  • 30% of employees have low morale as they are left to pick up the slack.
  • 25% of boss/employee relationships are negatively impacted.
  • Around 24% of deadlines are missed.
  • Around 21% loss in revenue.

Scary stats hey?

How to combat the distractions

Now we know what the main culprits are for killed productivity let’s look into each one separately and see how they can be combated.

Culprit #1 – Mobile Phones

It’s no surprise that mobile phones are at the top of the list. Did you know that on average we touch our phones around 2,617 times every day? That’s a lot of times. You may think that each time you pick up your phone it’s only for a couple of minutes, but these minutes soon add up. To also throw into the mix, how many times have you been on a roll with a task but then get distracted by a notification? Once you have dealt with that notification it can be hard to find that flow again.

Our tips:

  • Only look at your phone during breaks.
  • Reward yourself with five minutes on your phone only after you have completed a long, arduous task.
  • Put your phone on silent.
  • If you can’t put your phone on silent, put personal notifications, e.g. friend groups on WhatsApp, on mute.
  • Put your phone out of sight; put it in your drawer or keep it in your bag.


Culprit #2 – Internet

As marketers it’s almost impossible to avoid the Internet, as, especially if we are in the digital field, we need the Internet to carry out most of our jobs. However, did you know that we waste around two hours a day browsing the Internet on sites that we are not meant to be on. Come on, that article about the top ten cutest dogs in the world won’t help you to complete that marketing report for your client. Nor will the latest sports news on the BBC. There are apps out there that can help limit how much time you spend on non-essential sites including:

  • Nanny – blocks sites.
  • StayFocusd – limits the time you spend on non-essential sites.
  • Strict Workflow – enforces a 25min/5min workflow.


Culprit(s) #3 – Gossip/co-workers dropping by/noisy co-workers

We have grouped these together as they are very similar to each other. If the above culprits are common in your workplace why not take yourself away from the situation? If you need to complete a task with no distractions book a meeting room and close the door. This way co-workers will not be able to distract you.

If meeting rooms are booked up for day why not see if you can work off-site, find a coffee shop somewhere, or work from home.

Failing that, why not take your headphones to work? Find music that’s not distracting, music with no lyrics is normally the best, and get yourself lost in the task at hand. If co-workers drop by they will see that you have headphones on and that you are in the zone, and so hopefully will not try and get your attention.

Culprit #4 – Social Media

Again, like the Internet, social media is almost impossible to avoid, especially if it’s part of your job. Saying this, how many times have you ended up browsing on your own account when you should have been spending the last thirty minutes engaging for your client? Or you were meant to reply to a message on your own profile, but then got side tracked looking at the Very British Problems Twitter account. It’s funny, but not going to help complete your task!

It’s all about being vigilant with yourself. Make sure you are doing the task that you are meant to be doing. Try using an app such as Toggl to time yourself on completing tasks as this should make you think twice about wasting time clients have paid for.

When you are not doing social media for clients sign out of accounts and close the page. Mute personal notifications to your phone. If you are worried about not replying to customer messages on social media set up instant replies. This way the customer knows they are being dealt with, but it won’t stop your productivity.

Culprit #5 – Emails

The average employee receives around one hundred and twenty one emails a day; you don’t want to know the percentage of these that are sales or spam as it would be too upsetting. The temptation to answer and deal with each and every email that comes in often gets the best of us. Especially as many of us keep our emails open during a working day.

Our tips:

  • Set up rules in your inbox so that you don’t have to manually move an email into the right folder.
  • Only look at your emails once in the morning and then before you leave for the day. If it’s urgent the person can pick up the phone.
  • Reduce the amount of emails you send out e.g. rather than sending separate emails with separate marketing reports bulk them together.

Have a go at some of our suggestions, or let us know of anything that we have missed off the list.

If you found this blog interesting you may also find eleven essential time management tips for marketers useful. Check it out!

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