Agency life is a wild ride. Each day is filled with surprises and curve balls that keep things exciting. Although this fast-paced environment is where many of us agency-dwellers thrive, it can certainly put a damper on the need to get everything done in a timely manner (without overdosing on caffeine).
Good thing there are people in the world who can help you figure out how to be more productive, even though sometimes it’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Here are some very easy-to-follow tips to manage time.
Multitasking: It’s Okay to Stop Trying
When you are asked to wrangle the moon and stars, and get it all done by 5PM, you will likely feel the need to try and get everything done at once. Believe me, we get it. But stop your paltry attempts at multitasking. You’ve heard the studies, and they aren’t wrong. While we all think we can shift between tasks seamlessly, we’re actually being incredibly inefficient and lowering the quality of our work.
Moving rapidly between tasks causes the state of our brains to transition from the rule sets of one task to the requirements of another so quickly that it simply cannot store all of it in the short-term memory. To put it simply: When you bounce around from task to task your brain has no idea what the hell is really going on or where to focus.
Moral of the story here is to let your brain concentrate on one thing at a time. You’ll be more efficient with your time since you won’t have to try to figure out where you left off and what you were thinking on a previous task. You’ll feel better. The end result will be better. Just embrace it.
The Power of Now: Just Send That Email
“The Power of Now” (as we call it) is an incredibly useful mindset for us here at Gigasavvy. While this small tip to manage time may seem obvious, we often get caught up in the moment.
Here’s a common scenario: You’re on a conference call, and you’ve taken notes on the project and next steps. You owe the internal team a summary email and the client an email on what you’re going to do next, seemingly easy tasks considering you’ve just discussed all of this. Instead of taking a moment after the call ends to send the two emails, you make a mental note to send them later.
5PM rolls around, and you remember you’ve promised to send those emails today. We’ve all been there.
“The Power of Now” prevents you from frantically reading through notes and remembering what you promised. If you had just taken five minutes when the call ended to send those emails, you wouldn’t be sitting here, feeling stupid, trying to get it done at the last minute.
When you get things done in the moment, you don’t waste additional time later trying to get back to the mindset you were in – send that email when the topic is fresh in your mind! Knocking out smaller tasks as they arise also helps you keep your to-do list cleaner. Which leads me to the next step to help manage your time.
Write It Out and Talk About It: Seriously, Make a List and Talk to Someone
When my colleagues ask for assistance sorting through their workload, my first step is always to draft a list. Putting everything on paper helps you visualize the actual size of your task list. Keeping everything in your head can be overwhelming and often make you feel as though there’s more to get done.
At Gigasavvy, we’ve implemented a practice of placing cards on the wall to list out our responsibilities. There’s something about physically writing things down that helps you truly grasp what needs to get done. Every day, we meet and discuss the items we’ve listed on the board. Running down our to-do lists together, even though we do it quickly, helps us feel that we’re ready to conquer the day.
Most of us remember things more sufficiently if there’s a discussion about the items we’re tasked to accomplish. Talking about what needs to get done helps you wrap your head around the big picture. Try it, it helps.
Get Comfortable: You Really Do Need a Spot of Tea and a Pillow
At my desk, I have the following (what I consider) essentials: Tea, honey, fancy straws, a plant, framed typography, and a candle—the whole shebang. It’s “me.” I’m comfortable at my desk. I even put a pillow behind my back to make sure I’m as cozy as can be. If my desk gets a bit messy, I take two minutes to organize it.
Having a personalized, clean space can help you get in the mood for whatever it is you’re about to tackle. Feeling satisfied with your workspace can drastically improve your ability to get shit done!
Being comfortable leads to a positive attitude, which in turn leads to kick-ass work. So make a cup of tea and get to it.
Being Productive and Maximizing Your Time: A Brief Closing Note from a Chaos Manager
It can be very hard to think clearly when there’s chaos around you. Finding time to even do what I’ve listed above can seem to take “too long.” But, believe me, these are simple steps that I’ve seen work for others and personally practice myself.
These tips aren’t hard to incorporate into your everyday work-life. And once you do, you’ll feel so much better. You’re welcome.