Not a news flash: Being busy isn’t the same as being productive. All of us in marketing have no shortage of tasks and projects that keep us busy, but we’re often most challenged with ensuring we stay productive - moving the ball forward on key projects and deliverables.
Most often, marketers have to look outside of regular working hours (late nights, weekends, the early shift, etc.) to make sure all of the “busy” translates into “productive”. We all like to work hard, but what if we could work smarter?
Let’s look at a few of the contributors to that keep us busy while we try and grind out productivity. (Another not-news-flash: You’re not going to be surprised at any of these - that’s the worst part - we all know these are marketing productivity killers, yet, we still do them, every day!)
The Productivity Killers Lurking in the Office
The unnecessary status meeting
Are we still doing these? Why? Hasn’t the tech industry bestowed dozens of project management apps for our assigning, tracking and measuring needs? And what if you’re on more than one high profile project? That’s right - you’re in a status meeting for each of those. It’s 2pm and you haven’t even started actually working yet - but you’ve been in 3 status meetings. This is not something to be proud of!
How to fight off this killer: Leverage a great project management app that allows your project or production manager get a clear view into the work that’s going on and get the visibility needed to check in on team members where needed. Beyond that, you should always feel comfortable in asking if you’re really needed for a meeting; asking what value you will add above and beyond simply saying something is “in progress” might force the meeting owner to think twice about everyone’s value in that meeting.
Or, you can try a “meeting hack” - no chairs. Standup meetings are always shorter that those with comfy chairs. Also, no one wants to hold their laptop longer than a few minutes, that includes the meeting owner.
You assumed this would be #1, didn’t you? It probably should have been, but I wanted my readers to read item #1 and think “I don’t need a status meeting if everyone would just email out their updates”. And this is how we get to #2, email. Email, for all of the ways it’s changed our world for the better, it sure has done a great job of killing productivity. Status updates, progress reports, new proofs submitted for feedback, feedback on those proofs, the dreaded “reply all apocolypse” - you get the idea. Atlassian has a great infographic which states that business people check their email 36 times a minute. Let that sink in for a minute (in which time you’ve checked your email probably).
Negative bonus points if you’re the type of person who is constantly focused on “inbox zero” (you’re sick, you know that right?). In that case email graduates beyond a time suck to a legitimate source of stress.
How to fight off this killer: There’s a few ways to reduce your email burden and free up more time for being productive.
- Instant messaging is great for quick status updates, real-time collaboration, or even just general office trash talking that may have previously been done over email.
- Use filters/tags/rules wisely. For example, Gmail can be tuned pretty effectively to route, file and archive messages based on sender, type or even subject line. The latter of which is especially helpful if you receive lots of automated emails from systems. Those can really clog up your inbox.
- Schedule email “quality time”. I’ll admit it, I used to schedule 30 min blocks a few times a day to check email and see if there wasn't anything pressing that couldn’t wait for my next open time. Scheduling some time for your close friend, your email inbox, could be a way to keep it from being a total productivity killer.
All Those Tasks You Know a Robot Should Be Doing
There are probably 100s of tasks that have already come to mind once you read the heading. Mundane tasks are probably the biggest contributor to the late night or weekend shift, even more so than general inbox maintenance.
This is felt the most by marketing and creative teams. At my previous company, ProofHQ, we commissioned a report, the Marketing Dilemma Report, which highlighted the challenges of marketing and creative teams being asked to produce more creative content without the proper processes or tools to support the increased output.
When you think of all of the processing tasks that goes into each creative asset (a display ad, a video, even a Twitter profile image) and multiply that by the 100’s of projects being managed by a marketing team, and you can see a pretty clear picture of why you’re still sitting in the office at 8pm - resizing images for various ad networks, converting AI’s to PDF, JPEG and PNGs, copying new proofs to various folders and lastly - yup, you knew email was going to make an appearance again, didn’t you - emailing team members to notify them that new files are ready and where they can be found. (That sound you hear right now is the wind generated by every graphic designer and production manager nodding their head in unison.)
This is the precise reason we created Ziflow: marketers are being forced to spend less time on magic (producing the killer campaigns and projects that inspire customers and define brands) and more time on tasks.
How to fight off this killer: Automate and Simplify Marketing Production
Ziflow is cloud-based automation for your busy marketing team to streamline the time-consuming - but critical - tasks associated with the production of your creative assets. The resizing, sharing, converting and tagging tasks you do with new files during the creative process can now be automated. Ziflow does the heavy lifting, leaving you free to unleash your marketing magic.
Some Closing Thoughts
There are only 24 hours in a day. Of those 24, we’re going to spend anywhere from 8-12 working. It’s up to us, as marketers, to make sure we do everything we can to spend as much of that time being productive, not just busy.
Ok, you can go check your email now. And when you’re done with that, check out a free trial of Ziflow. You might just work leave early if you do.