As a marketer, one of the worst things you can become known for is not meeting your deadlines. If you’re juggling multiple projects, working with multiple clients, or supporting multiple brands, chances are you’ve experienced the strain of having multiple deadlines that seem to creep up on you all at once.
Three of the biggest office time-sucks — endless meetings, project management, and overflowing inboxes — take precious time away from the actual business of getting down to work. Here are a few simple steps to ensure that you meet your deadlines to the best of your ability, each and every time.
Make your meetings count
Sometimes it seems like people have meetings for the sake of having meetings. Colleagues veer off topic or hijack the agenda altogether, and when the meeting’s over there isn’t a clear set of expectations for next steps. Don’t be one of those people.
To make sure your meetings count, all you need to do is put a little more time and effort into planning and follow up:
- Schedule meetings with everyone you’re coordinating deadlines with on a weekly basis. Checking in with these interested parties will help keep everyone accountable and prevent the dreaded last-minute dash to completion.
- Set meeting agendas for every call that you have and ensure everyone sticks to it during the call. This will ensure that there are no “wasted” meetings and everyone’s time is spent productively.
- Send meeting recaps with assignments and deadlines following each call so there aren’t any miscommunications. Periodically, you may want to send status updates in between your weekly calls to keep things moving.
You may be thinking, “Wait, you want me to spend more time on meetings?” Don’t worry: you’ll get that time back and then some when people remain focused on the topic at hand and everyone knows what they’re accountable for.
Keep your projects on track
Next, you’ll want to find a project management system that works for you. Usually this will consist of several tools to get you the results you need in the fastest way possible.
I’ve tried Asana, Basecamp, LiquidPlanner, Kapost, Celoxis, Wunderlist, Google Docs, and the oldie but goodie Microsoft OneNote. They all have various functionalities that you can piece together to create the perfect system for you.
After taking each of these tools for a test drive, I came up with a project management system that works for me:
- Microsoft OneNote: I maintain a tab for each client I cover with all current activities, and update tabs when any new information is received.
- LiquidPlanner: I use this tool to assign, track, and report on all activities.
- Google Docs: I always go back to using Google for spreadsheets (and sometimes files) that need to be shared with multiple parties, and to create forms that need to be submitted for various reasons, like email campaign and landing page request forms, for example
- Wunderlist: This is a really neat tool to create and manage multiple lists. I use it to help organize my personal life by tracking my budget and organizing shopping lists.
Take back control of your inbox
Lastly, email can be a huge time-suck. And if you spend all of your time checking email, how will you get your work done so you can meet your deadlines?! Simple…spend less time checking your email.
Here are a few tips to minimize the amount of time you spend on your inbox:
- Categorize your inbox by project/client/brand/etc., using different colors in Outlook or different tabs in Gmail. This way you can quickly scan an email when it comes in, categorize it, and come back to it during the time you’ve blocked out to work on that particular project.
- Roll up your emails so that you always see the most recent email in the same email thread. It’s amazing how much time this has saved me. Instead of going through 300 emails, I might only have to go through 50; and instead of replying to an old email in a thread, I always spend my time on the most current information.
- Don’t be afraid to block out your calendar for important work. We can all get bogged down with too many meetings that give us more work and not enough time to complete our current assignments. If your workload is piling up and you don’t see how you can possibly get it all done, add everything to your calendar. Then you’ll really see the time you have available to complete everything. If you still want others to be able to schedule meetings during your working sessions, just show yourself as available during those time slots.
These are some of the tricks I’ve come up with to focus my efforts and to maintain control over my day. I’m always interested in learning new ways to become more productive. Please share what’s worked for you in the comments below!
Michele Gourdine is a DemandGen Campaign Manager and oversees all aspects of DemandGen Campaign Execution Services, including managing campaign requests, and supervising the DemandGen team responsible for executing client campaigns. She coordinates and monitors campaign executions to satisfy client specifications and supervises quality control throughout the entire execution process.