If you want to effectively manage your marketing workload, you have to do a better job of organizing your day, reassessing your network, developing healthier processes, and taking advantage of platforms that can help.
Adopt Technology That Helps You Focus
Because I’m a technology guy, I’ll start with that. I’m not sure what I’d do without Brightpod, the system I use to prioritize tasks, assemble tasks into milestones, and keep my clients aware of the progress our teams are making. The last part is critical – I’ve often found that when clients see the current status of projects and the backlog visually, they tend to back off on additional requests. Additionally, it provides me an incredible opportunity when urgent issues arise to work with my clients on whether they wish to increase the budget to tackle them, or we shift priorities and move back due dates on other deliverables.
Along with project management, calendar management has always been critical. I don’t have morning meetings (read about this later) and I limit my networking meetings to one day a week. I love meeting with people, but each time I’m shaking hands…it typically leads to more work on my plate. Constraining my calendar has been critical at winning back time to get the revenue-generating work complete.
Utilize scheduling applications to negotiate and set meeting times. The back and forth of calendar emails is a waste of time you just don’t need anymore. I have one built into my site’s chat bot with Drift.
Complete Your Most Complex Tasks in the Morning
I used to check my email each morning. Unfortunately, the flow never stopped throughout the day. Add phone calls and scheduled meetings, and I’d often be wondering if I got anything done all day. I’d then be burning the midnight oil trying to catch up and prepare for the next day. I’ve since reversed my day – working on email and voicemail only after I completed the key tasks for the day.
Numerous studies have indicated that individuals should try to perform major tasks during the morning. By using this strategy, marketers can focus their attention and remove distractions (I often work from home in the morning with my phone and email turned off). Move your minor tasks after 1:30 p.m., and you’ll reduce your stress levels, decrease the effects of fatigue, and increase the number of key tasks that will keep you successful.
Lastly, it’s science! After a productive day and a great night’s sleep, an individual’s brain has a relatively high level of dopamine. Dopamine is a compound that improves motivation, can enhance energy, and improve critical thinking. When you complete major tasks, your brain also generates extra norepinephrine, a natural substance that enhances focus, augment productivity and decrease stress. If you’re struggling to commit to a project throughout the day, and work late into the night impacting your sleep, you’re probably waking up sluggish and unmotivated. Regulate your dopemine to regulate your motivation!
Don’t be tempted – reward your hard work by checking social media and email after you’re done with your morning project or projects. You’ll be amazed at how great your days will be!
Detail Your Milestones
I used to second-guess how I approached large projects. I start with goals, create a roadmap to achieve those goals, and then I get to work on each step. As I work with clients, I’m always taken aback at their focus or concerns that we’re not even working on yet. I’m concerned about Step 1, they’re asking about Step 14. I’m constantly reeling my clients focus back to the task at hand. This doesn’t mean we’re not agile, we’re constantly reassessing our strategy with respect to goals and adjusting accordingly.
What are your goals? Do they align with your organization’s goals? Will your goals advance your brand? Your career? Your income or revenue? Starting with your goals in mind and detailing the tasks to hit those milestones brings clarity to your work day. This last year, I’ve cut key partnerships, important events, and even great paying clients when I realized that they were distracting me from my long-term goals. It’s difficult to have those conversations with people, but it’s essential if you’d like to succeed.
So, detail your milestones, identify the tasks that will get you there, identify the distractions that are stopping you, and get disciplined at keeping to your master plan! When you have clarity on why you’re doing what you’re doing every day, you’re more motivated and less stressed.
Automate Everything You Repeat
I despise doing something twice, I really do. Here’s an example… in the lifetime of working with each of my clients, I often spend time working with their internal editorial staff on search engine optimization. Instead of crafting a presentation each and every time, I have a few articles that I keep up to date on my site that they can reference. What could take days, often just takes an hour or so because I’ve written detailed material for them to refer to.
Templates are your friend! I have response templates for email replies, I have presentation templates so I don’t have to start fresh for every presentation, I have proposal templates for every engagement I work with. I even have milestone and project templates built out for client site launches and optimization. Not only does it save me a ton of time, it also gets better with every client as I continuously improve them over time.
Of course, templates take a bit of additional time up front… but they save you a fortune down the road. This is how we develop sites as well, developing them with the expectation that you’re going to make sweeping changes the next week. By doing the up front work, downstream changes take a lot less time and effort.
Another templatized approach we use is scheduling our clients’ social media updates. We often collect updates, align them with a calendar, and preschedule an entire year of updates for their followers to digest. It only takes a day or so – and our clients are amazed that we’ve just taken a year of wondering what they’re going to post off their list. PS: We love our sponsor Agorapulse’s options for queueing and scheduling social updates!
Kill Half of Your Meetings
Multiple reports have suggested that more than 50 percent of meetings are unnecessary. Look around the table the next time you’re in a meeting, think about how much money is being spent on that meeting in salaries, and then observe the outcome. Was it worth it? Rarely.
The best works of art were never created in a meeting, folks. I’m sorry but collaboration on marketing projects just results in the lowest common denominator. You hired professionals to get the job done, so divide and conquer. I may have a dozen resources working on the same project – many simultaneously – and rarely do I get them all on the same call or in the same room. We create the vision, then kick off the resources necessary to get there, while directing traffic to reduce the collisions.
If you’re expected to attend a meeting, here’s my advice:
- Only accept the meeting invitation if the person inviting you explains why they need you to attend. I worked at a large company where I went from 40 meetings a week down to 2 just when I told people I couldn’t attend unless they explained why.
- Only accept meetings with an agenda that’s detailed with the goal of the meeting and the times for each portion of the meeting. This method kills a ton of meetings – especially repeated meetings.
- Only accept meetings with a meeting coordinator, a meeting timekeeper, and a meeting recorder. The coordinator needs to keep every portion of the meeting on topic, the timekeeper keeps the meeting on time, and the recorder distributes the notes and action plan.
- Only accept meetings that end with a detailed action plan of who will be doing what, and when they will get it done by. And then hold those people accountable – the return on your meeting investment is based on their ability to complete the action items promptly. Avoid team-based action items… if an individual doesn’t own a task, it won’t get done.
If 50 percent of meetings are a waste of time, what will happen to your work week when you decline attending half of them?
Outsource What You Suck At
The time it takes to teach yourself how to do something or troubleshoot an issue you’re not familiar with isn’t just destroying your productivity, it’s costing you or your company a fortune. If you’re an entrepreneur, you make money when you’re doing what you’re supposed to. Everything else should be outsourced with partners. I have dozens of subcontractors that I call on for everything from headshot photography, to building responsive emails, to researching our next infographic. The teams I’ve put together are the best, are paid well, and never let me down. It’s taken a decade to assemble them, but it’s been worth it because I get to focus my attention on what makes my business run well.
This week, for example, a client came to me with an issue they’d been working on for months. The development team had spent months working on building a system and they were now telling the business owner it would take several more months to correct. Because I was familiar with their integrations and an expert in the industry, I knew we could license code for far less. For a few hundred dollars, their platform is now fully integrated… and with support and upgrades. Now their development team can be freed to work on core platform issues.
What’s taking you a long time to complete? Who could help you? Figure out a way to pay them and you’ll be happy you did!