The world of digital marketing moves fast. Best practices are constantly evolving, and sometimes even the most impeccably planned marketing strategies for the upcoming quarter can be derailed by current events, viral trends, or a pandemic.
Whether you’re managing people, content or Google ad spend, the modern digital marketer ensures high-quality work and still successfully meet deadlines.
In this blog post, I’d like to explore why personal time management is so important, especially now that so many of us have a very blurry line dividing our personal and professional worlds.
Listen to Your Body
Your body will tell you if you’re tired. When the stress hormone cortisol goes up, really important things like immunity goes down. And while we don’t all have time to take a week-long stay-cation, it’s important to communicate how you’re feeling.
- Having a few extra headaches lately?
- Not being as productive as you were?
- Finding yourself knee deep in procrastination strategies?
Take Time to Prioritize
On days when I feel overwhelmed, I take 30 minutes to re-prioritize my tasks. Try answering the following questions:
Will the world end if I don’t complete this today? → The answer is always no. The world is never going to end for any task on my list of 4 million.
After that, I’ll move onto more realistic questions for myself:
Does this item imminently affect business operations? →
Sometimes the answer is yes! Other people are depending on my organization for their deadlines, paychecks, or responsibilities.
Does completing this item on time affect other people? →
Again, sometimes the answer here is yes. Communicate with those people.
Could somebody else do this more effectively? →
Perhaps you usually do the social media scheduling, but someone else isn’t as busy. Today might be the day to call in a favor. You can return it in kind another day.
The above questions work differently depending on your role, but it’s important to be realistic about the consequences of not completing each task. The first question sometimes makes me laugh and makes the other questions feel less worrisome.
According to American Psychology Association, nearly 20% of US Women and Men are chronic procrastinators. Obviously, not everyone is a chronic procrastinator, but we’ve all been there.
Procrastination is a symptom over being overwhelmed. Sometimes we spend more time putting off a task than the task would just take to complete.
Find the Coping Mechanism that Works (for You!)
Some of us feel better when we clear out the small things and get on a roll.
Wow! I’m basically a productivity / task hero!
This may or may not work for your brain. Some people work better in the morning vs the afternoon. Some people feel better when the to-do list is online vs handwritten. Some people don’t like celebratory fake tasks when #6 was really stressing them out all week.
In all seriousness, clearing out small things like my email inbox makes me feel productive. It’s a nice ritual to start my day, and I can compartmentalize and begin. Taking the time to get organized lets me choose to work on things I’m good at and ask for help elsewhere.
Work from Home Challenges
Some of my colleagues love working from home. Personally, I miss meeting our clients in person and talking with my co-workers at the coffee machine.
I prefer the idea of a post-pandemic hybrid model that allows me to keep my at-home Peloton away from my work computer.
Working from home is different. The office allowed me to separate work from home life. I love my job, and when it’s always next to me, it can be tougher to set boundaries.
Set Boundaries and Prioritize Accordingly
Without the commute time, I have more time to actually work. However, I started becoming tired as I measured my current output against my jam-packed work days from the beginning of the quarantine.
I’m doing more work, but the number of everyday in-person connections are down by a lot. When I realized this, I started prioritizing calling my colleagues to ask a question or turning on the video on Zoom calls. It sounds so simple, but take a stretch break.
Time Management on the Clock
It’s also important to consider managing tasks by time spent in order to avoid spending hours on items that are just plainly more fun to complete.
We always want to work on projects that are fun first, but our team makes sure that we are all on the same page about deliverables to get the success metrics we need.
You wouldn’t get faster at running without checking the stopwatch on occasion. Throw time tracking into your task management strategy.
Time tracking allows us to see if we are dedicating the right amount of time (and therefore energy) to each of the following:
- Employee needs and burnout avoidance
- Breakdowns of where everyone’s time went
- Pain points to assess if it’s time to hire someone new
- Functional insight and employee strengths
Timers are a simple way to see how efficiently things are running and how we feel while it’s running the way it’s running.
The Story of Our Graphics Guru
Realizing how long I was spending on graphics enabled us to hire a dedicated media coordinator (and graphics guru/wizard) who has changed our day to day life forever and given me more time to focus on my strengths.
The Art of Minimizing
If I asked you to describe the beach, you wouldn’t say, “Well, there were 7,648,205,802 grains of sand.” You would minimize and summarize the description. “The water was blue, the sand was soft, and the tree line was green.”
You can see your daily tasks in the same way — if you focus on all of the things that need to be done, you’re going to feel overwhelmed, stuck, and more likely to procrastinate.
You Decide When to Look at The Big Picture
Some days require completing many little tasks, but starting each day by considering the big picture is a friendly reminder.
- What is my long term goal?
The answer to this shouldn’t change very often, and it should be easy to answer daily. Perhaps you want to become an SEO expert, drive traffic from keyword research, or become TikTok famous. (No judgement here!)
From there you can break it down into priorities that make the big goal happen.
- What are my short term priorities for this week?
- What small habits can I develop today to reach my long term goal?
- Is everything on my to-do list contributing to this goal?
By focusing on a long term goal/priority and then breaking it down into easy to manage pieces, you will be able to increase your productivity and utilize your time without feeling overwhelmed.
The Time Management Guide
Still feeling like you need some help with your personal time management? Download my time and task management sheet here to get started on prioritizing, organizing, and making your big goals happen with day to day changes.