Whether you are a small business owner, a consultant, or an employee of a large organisation, if you are in the marketing or design space, you probably wear more than one hat, and are constantly prioritising tasks while trying to smash them out. For every task you complete, here comes another three to do.
As a Marketing Executive, my role touches on a wide variety of tasks – social media management, content creation, graphic design, copy editing, SEO, photography, videography and editing, creation of presentations… the list goes on.
So how do I manage my workload and prioritise each project? Well, first you need to set up your physical and digital space in a practical way, that will help create efficiency, and get you into beast mode.
1. Organise your workstation
Are you using a desktop, a laptop, a monitor, external drives, or all the above?
Organise your workstation in a simple and tidy manner that gives you the space you need, but also inspires you! If you are going to be sitting at this station everyday, you might as well make it interesting. Another important thing is furniture. Ensure your chair is ergonomically sound and that you are positioned at an optimum/comfortable distance from the monitor. Keyboards, mice and other tools you utilise will also come into play. It’s important to ensure you are completely comfortable while you’re working, and that you are not inadvertently hurting yourself.
2. Organise your digital assets
This is just as important as your physical workspace, some may argue even more important. If your files are not organised, you will waste time digging around trying to find this and that. Start with creating a simple Folder Management System and expand on that. Name your files properly as you go, and be diligent about filing them in the appropriate folders so you can easily find them again when required.
3. Add some inspiration
Like artwork? Stick up an inspirational canvas. Maybe your family inspires you to succeed – put a photo up of your kids. Think about what drives you and add reminders of these in your space. I remember a few years back, one of my good friends was starting out as budding music producer. He was super talented but his dreams of being a big time music producer was just that – a dream. I remember he had a simple set-up, but what stood out to me was a hand-written sticky note on his computer screen that said “Have a successful music career”. I queried him about it, and he said that was his 5-year goal, and it served as a constant reminder. He is now a platinum-certified producer and works with well-known artists, producing their tracks. I’m not saying everyone should pop up a sticky note, and expect all your dreams to come true – all I’m saying is put something up that will keep you inspired, and that will help drive you to your goal.
I love listening to hip hop music while I’m plugging away on my projects. Of course this isn’t always appropriate – it probably isn’t acceptable to listen to gangsta rap while at work. Stick on some ear pods or play it at a low volume. Add a pretty plant to your set-up. Even if it’s the plastic kind, the visual aspect of green leaves will evoke a sense of peace and serenity.
5. Use an online project management tool
Online project management tools assist in visually mapping out your projects and tasks, allowing you to prioritise them accordingly. The satisfaction of moving a task from the “TO DO” to “DONE” list is pure joy. I’m a fan of Trello and Asana, but there are so many more tools out there such as Monday, Zoho, and Hubspot. Find one that works for you and your team.
6. Define your processes
Create processes for your most common tasks. The more you work through them, the more likely you will find short cuts or more efficient ways to execute them.
7. Soft Deadlines
All tasks have a deadline, but it’s important to ensure you have enough time for feedback and edits before completing a task. I’m a major fan of soft deadlines. I give these to my team members to ensure they give me what I need in ample time. They don’t know it’s a soft deadline, but I do! And if they happen to come back to me a couple days late, it’s not the end of the world because I’ve already worked in that buffer, but I still give them the side eye! 🙂
Don’t waste your time doing repetitive things if there is an easier solution. Previously, I had spent about an hour at the end of each week manually backing up my files from my laptop to the server. This sometimes meant I couldn’t use the computer while this is happening. Luckily for me our IT manager wrote me a quick script so all I have to do is double-click on an EXE file when I want to run a backup, and the script automatically starts backs up all my local files to the server. The best part – it doesn’t slow down the laptop or interfere with my workflow. I can continue to work on my laptop, opening files and creating new ones without the script bugging out. And before you shout at me, yes – I realise you can backup via the Cloud… I’m covering that next.
9. Cloud it
While we’re on the subject of backing up files, it’s best practice to back up everything to the Cloud. I know I just said I had moved everything manually onto the server (this is at work), but it is also backed up to the Cloud. When consulting for my business, I use OneDrive. Not only do I back up all my important assets, I move all finished client deliverables onto OneDrive for them to access and download. This means no emailing attachments that will clog up your inbox, and also you can access these files wherever you are in the world. Everything is in the Cloud. Popular subscription cloud storage servers include iCloud, OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox.
10. Get on with it
Now that you have a sound set-up and have implemented the tools and processes you need to ensure effective task management, you are ready to rock and roll… in an enjoyable space!
Do what you do best and conquer your goals!