If you work in digital marketing, then you’re probably no stranger to feeling overwhelmed, unproductive, and like you’re being pulled in a million directions at once. Not only is bouncing from task to task with no clear direction a waste of time, but it’s also mentally taxing as well.
Fortunately, implementing just one or two of the following productivity hacks should be enough to have you breezing through your work week with a new sense of purpose and direction:
Start the Day Right
Do you typically stumble out of bed after three hours of sleep, splash water on your face, and drink a cup of coffee before reluctantly tackling the day’s work? Starting the day on the right foot can make a huge difference in your productivity for the rest of the day.
It may be easier said than done, but getting enough sleep the night before can drastically improve the following day’s performance. Earlier this year, research presented at the Corporate Sleep Health Summit suggested that lack of sleep not only hurt productivity, but also innovation, job satisfaction, and overall stress levels.
Furthermore, a 1999 study found that just 24 hours of sleep loss is enough to slow down your critical thinking and decision-making skills. These should be compelling enough reasons to get enough shuteye at night, but it’s also important to remember to eat a healthy breakfast to give your body some much-needed energy and to do some light to moderate exercise to boost the serotonin levels in your brain.
Organize Your Communications
Social media and email aren’t just conveniences to digital marketers. They’re crucial parts of our everyday tasks. Getting your social media organized so that you can check all of your accounts in one place is a huge step in the right direction when it comes to productivity.
Any of the following tools can help you to get organized for maximum effectiveness:
- Tweetdeck is an app by Twitter that allows you to track multiple social network accounts from one screen – even if you have multiple accounts from the same website.
- Hootsuite is another such program that lets you manage multiple social media accounts from the same place. As an added bonus, both of these options are free.
- If email is a particular problem area for you, then focus on getting your inbox organized instead. Mozilla Thunderbird is one great app for checking your email and RSS feeds from one place.
- Unroll.me is an app that helps to streamline your email account, thereby freeing up time that you’d otherwise spend scrolling through your inbox.
Capture Stray Thoughts
I often get into trouble with this one. I’ll be working on a project and I’ll get hit with a random idea or thought that I have to stop my work to look into. Of course, once I’m done with my research, I have a hard time remembering what it was I was working on to begin with – which makes it much harder to get back into the swing of things.
Instead of getting off track or letting these types of thoughts clutter up your mind all day, keep a notepad nearby to jot down ideas and thoughts that you want to look into after you’re done with the task at hand. If it’s something that needs your immediate attention, then leave breadcrumbs for yourself that will lead you back to your original task. As an example, write down what you’re doing before you step away, so that you don’t have to rack your brain trying to remember what you were doing later.
Track Your Time
Time is our most precious resource and, yet, it gets away from us so easily. You can remedy this by using time tracking software. While this might sound unappealing for those who like to “free work”, it’s not as restricting as it sounds. You can be as flexible as you need to be when tracking time – the result will still be more free hours at the end of the work day.
Time Doctor is an easy-to-use program that allows you to easily switch between tasks and that also works well if you’re part with a team. It even emails you productivity reports at the end of the day so that you can see how you’re using your time. Toggl is another option that’s great for those who want an in-browser time solution.
The Pomodoro technique has become a popular method for making the most of your time. With this technique, you set a timer and work for 25 minute bursts, taking a short break between bursts. To get started, check out Focus Booster – a helpful desktop app for implementing this time tracking method.
If you find yourself spending more time on distracting websites than you ought to, then don’t feel bad. The internet is a busy place with more distractions than anyone previously thought possible.
Luckily, humankind has come up with ways to circumvent these distractions. Programs like AntiSocial and SelfControl (both for OSX) let you temporarily block the websites that distract you the most long enough to get your work done. FocalFilter and LeechBlock are two other options for eliminating distracting websites.
To deal with outside distractions, schedule blocks of time for yourself where you’ll do nothing but work. Turn off your cell phone during those times and let people in your home or office know not to disturb you during work hours. You can even hang a sign outside your door for emphasis.
Remember that change takes time, so try to do one or two things differently to increase your productivity over the course of a week or two. Don’t try to overhaul your routine all at once or you may find yourself feeling even more overwhelmed than you were before.
Remember to take your digital marketing efforts one day at a time. Dale Carnegie said, “…the best possible way to prepare for tomorrow is to concentrate with all your intelligence and all your enthusiasm on doing today’s work superbly today.” It’s fine to look down the road at things that you ultimately hope to accomplish, but it’s also important to set the pace for your future success by focusing on how to make the most of today.
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