We’ve all done it at some stage. When asked if we can undertake a particular task short notice or add a new project to the list, the response is often “sorry, I’m too busy”.
Are you, though? It’s a really tough question to answer yourself, because, on the face of it, you absolutely are too busy. Your email inbox is overflowing, your task list never seems to get any smaller and you have more meetings in the diary than you know what to do with.
Strip all of that back, however, and you’ll probably find that the weight of responsibility placed on your shoulders is purely down to poor time management and a reluctance to delegate certain tasks.
Today, we’re going to consider ten brilliant productivity tips for marketing managers. If you’re struggling to get things done and feel like you’re forever behind, they might just be your knights in shining armour.
1. Work on your approach to email
The most productive people on the planet know what ‘inbox zero’ means, and it’s a strategy they practice every day.
Inbox zero means working through your inbox systematically to ensure every message is dealt with either there and then or categorised for processing later.
A busy inbox is one of the worst distractions, so start clearing out yours today!
2. Stop responding straight away
If you’re the sort of person who responds to emails and instant messages as soon as they’re received, you’re creating quite a significant problem for yourself.
If people become accustomed to you replying quickly, they’ll expect it every time they send you something – and get annoyed if you don’t always respond in quite such a timely fashion.
There’s no need to respond in real time to the messages you receive, because if you do, you’ll set a precedent that will continually interrupt your workflow.
3. Manage your focus rather than your time
If you simply plough on each day without any regard for your focus or level of motivation, you won’t be nearly as productive as it seems on the surface.
Focusing purely on the time you spend working is dangerous, because it will lead you to work for hours on end, without breaks and at times when you’re unlikely to be at your most productive.
Instead, think about when you feel most inspired and motivated, and shift your working pattern to take advantage of those hours. It’s incredibly effective.
4. Just say “no”
Sure, you hate saying “no” and disappointing people, but by taking on every task you’re asked to complete, you’ll never get them done. Worse – those that are completed probably won’t be to the best of your ability.
Productive people know how to politely turn work down if they know, deep down, that it can’t be achieved to a level with which they’d be satisfied.
It gets easier, and if you do it in the right way, you won’t upset anyone – most people prefer honesty, after all.
5. Work from a to-do list
Most people have some form of to-do list, but if yours extends as far as a bunch of Post-It notes attached haphazardly to your computer monitor and scraps of paper for which you’re always hunting, you’re missing a trick.
Productive marketing managers have just one to-do list, be it digital or in notebook form. They’ll also ensure it’s short, concise and only contains tasks that they know can realistically be completed in the given time.
Running an effective to-do list takes time and honesty, but it’s absolutely worth it.
6. Learn how to avoid distractions
There are so many distractions in this world that avoiding them all is incredibly tricky.
Unfortunately, as human beings, our curious nature means we’re easily and often distracted. The key lies in learning how to avoid or at least minimise the distractions we encounter every day at work.
Turning off your email, switching off smartphone notifications and only heading for your web browser when a task demands it are just some of the tricks you can employ to keep distractions to a minimum.
7. Get good at delegation
Letting go of jobs you’ve held onto dearly for many years is incredibly challenging. After all, you know better than anyone how to do this stuff, so why allow someone else to screw it up?
In reality, there are lots of people out there who can do those tasks, and many of them will be right under your nose, in your team.
Make a list of the tasks you undertake each week and look for those which take you an inordinate amount of time to complete and which you know, deep down, could be handed to someone else.
Then, delegate them! Let go – it’s a wonderful feeling, and you’ll claw back acres of time.
8. Don’t get tool-happy; pick only the best
There are a tonne of tools to choose from in order to keep yourself productive and on-task, but too many will result in you spending forever managing and configuring them, rather than getting the actual work done.
Spend some time trialling the tools that will benefit the way you work, but only pick those that are the best for the task in hand. And stick with them!
9. Structure your day properly
We mentioned earlier about only working during the time at which you feel most productive, but that isn’t always possible.
If your job demands that you work a regular 9-5 – stick to it as often as you can. If you’re finding yourself working late nights or early mornings but for no real gain, you need to structure your day properly.
Try starting and finishing at your designated times; you’ll almost definitely discover that the productive times within those working days start to make themselves known, and you’ll get far more done as a result.
10. Outsource where appropriate
You don’t have to do everything in-house. There will be certain marketing tasks (for example, video and social media management) that might be best undertaken by an external marketing firm.
If the budget allows, involve a third party to manage those aspects that are vital to your marketing strategy but for which you simply don’t have the resource in-house.
In truth, just one two of the tips above will work for you – there’s no reason to go all-guns-blazing on these productivity techniques.
Take it slow, and start modifying the way you approach each day. Just remind yourself regularly that it your day, and your time; as manager, you decide how it’s spent.
Say goodbye to unproductive days – it’s time to get to the bottom of that to-do list each and every day!