It’s a recession and your agency unfortunately might have made redundancies.
Couple this with the holiday season and your team is down to half capacity.
You sit at your desk stressed and cursing the person that allowed half the office the to take a holiday at the same time! Sound familiar?
Pitches are in full swing and you can’t even see a gap in your diary for all the new business meetings. Which means time is a rare commodity.
So to help you keep on top of your workload during these busy times, we have devised this five step programme to help you with your day-to-day time management.
These may seem like simple suggestions but even the best of us fall into the traps and could do with a reminder every now and again on how to manage your time effectively.
It is easy to get caught up in doing something easy to tick off the never ending ‘to do’ list, rather than something productive. But if you keep procrastinating on that project that you need to get finished, it will only get harder.
Set yourself and your team daily and weekly goals and stick to them. If you re-visit these goals regularly, you can see how much you have or haven’t achieved, and then either give yourself a kick up the rear or a well earned pat on the back and possibly even a couple of moments to thrash Ben in accounts at table tennis.
To remind yourself of your goals, write them down and stick them on the wall by your desk so you can see them.
2. What is most important today
As simple as it sounds, we all try and cram too much into our day, and things that could be done better tomorrow should be left until tomorrow.
It may sound like a contradiction, but there is no substitute for planning ahead. If you concentrate on what’s most important for your client or your agency in the next 24 hours, this will keep you focused on the task at hand rather than worrying about what you are doing Thursday next week at 4pm.
You could always prioritise your to do list as such:
1. What presentations/meetings do I have today that I need to prepare for?
2. What will make us the most money?
3. What will make me look good in front of my client/boss?
4. What will keep me in a job/get me a raise?
3. You can’t do everything at once
The phone won’t stop ringing, you’ve got clients emailing you for their latest campaign stats your CEO is breathing down your neck to chase up on that big pitch from last week and you have a new business meeting in an hour for an international brand of beauty products that you have even never heard of.
Where do you start?
1. Tell reception to divert calls or take a message
2. Delete any emails you can, leaving you with the ones you need to read
3. Ignore the distractions and start on the most important thing first. Take a deep breath and smile. Then you probably want to research those beauty products you have never heard of for that pitch in an hour!
Top tip: Sometimes it helps to get away from the clutter of your desk and the noise of the office. Take a leaf out of your creative teams book and take your laptop to the pub/park or café and create a more comfortable environment for you to work in. Failing that, put your headphones in an ignore everything but the task at hand.
4. Use tools that work for you
Whether it is keeping up to date with a client, rival agency gossip, or making sure you are on top of your workload here are a few suggestions.
In-house contact management systems – if you already have one, try and familiarise yourself with it. This will make yours and everyone else’s life in your team a lot easier. If you don’t have one and have lots of clients with lots of different people in the agency talking to them on a regular basis, then we suggest you get one installed.
Outlook – Set yourself outlook reminders as it only takes a second. Try and use outlook meeting invitations because you can track who hasn’t accepted your invite and warn them before they miss it - followed by the classic line ‘I don’t think I received that email!’
The PDA or Blackberry – Use it to its full advantage and if you have one try and learn as many of its time saving functions as possible. Make sure it’s synched with you outlook diary so your diaries ‘speak’ to each other.
Notepad and pen – It is retro, which is cool. So don’t be scared of carrying them around with you.
5. Delegate things you don’t have time to do
‘Successful people don’t just work hard, they work clever.’
See point three: You can’t do everything, which is why you need to make sure that you can offload some of your tasks to other members of the agency or freelancers.
There are undoubtedly people in your agency better than you at certain things, so get them to help as they will be invaluable assets when you’re up against the clock.
It also helps to help others and keep as many friends in the office as you can. Then you can employ the aid of your colleagues, boss, office managers, reception staff and cleaners if there are keen to help, as and when you need them!
Bribery also works as long as you follow up on your promise.
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