Category Archives: Time Management

Off Your Plate

Getting Things Off Your PlateIf you’re a marketer, you’ve got a lot of people counting on you.

Creative is always needing your input on their work. Financial analysts need you to ok their latest pricing models. Legal and Regulatory need you to send your wish list of claims. R&D needs you to narrow down their work. Customer Service needs you to point the way on just how to deal with certain customers.

And on and on.

Someone’s always counting on marketing because marketing is what sets the tone. Marketing writes the agenda for just about the rest of the company.

Which can present a problem. There’s nothing more you want than to move things forward. The issue is that, more times than not, the quagmire is you. On top of that, you’re normally not the person who actually executes what needs to happen, so you have to rely on others. Who in turn are first relying on you.

It’s only natural. You can only handle so many emails, so many meetings, so many phone calls, so many presentations. But nobody else really cares about that. What they want to know is what to do next.

So here’s the challenge: how can you quickly get things off your plate and onto someone else’s?

Isn’t that normally the issue? You have 8 hot items stuck because you simply haven’t had the bandwidth to concentrate on them for just a few minutes and move them along. So they just sit there, and sit there, and then you work late one night and blast them all out, only to find that it then shakes up your whole support team, cuz they don’t know exactly what and when to do next.

What if you took 30 minutes a day to get things “off your plate” and into the hands of someone who can move it forward. Treat it almost like a race, replying quickly to emails, returning calls and writing directional briefs for a solid 30 minutes. It puts the ball back in the court of the players (rather than with you, the coach) so that something can actually get done.

Lately, I’ve been doing it first thing in the morning, before I make my breakfast shake in the office, before I open my calendar, before all that stuff. My problem is doing it when I feel like I don’t have 30 minutes to burn. But then it hit me, if each item takes an hour for the “player” to complete, and I have on average 5 items to get off my plate at any given time, then that 30 minutes quickly becomes 5 hours worth productivity. So it makes sense.

Don’t overlook or underestimate the importance of your constant guidance in a project. You’re the marketer. You’re the one responsible for getting your product to market, and no one is going to completely share your paradigm and sense of urgency. Your team is dependent on you for those things. You’ve got to remind them, and you’ve got to get them what they need to get it done.

You’ve got to get things off your plate.

Related posts on Brett’s Blog:

  1. Thinking Outside the List
  2. Move the Box
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First Things First – Guest Post by Bruce Clarke

 This post is provided by Bruce over at Write On!  

Brett’s post, ‘ The 2 Most Productive Things You Can Do‘ got me thinking about my own productivity and time management techniques.

Like most managers, I’ve read countless articles and books on the subject. By far the best I’ve ever read is First Things First, by Stephen R Covey, A. Roger Merrill and Rebecca R Merrill.

(You may recognise Covey as the author of the popular ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’).

Although written in 1995, most of the concepts covered are equally valid today.

The biggest learning points for me were:

  • The need to have a balanced life, with equal importance given to health & fitness, relationships, career & financial, and personal development
  • The importance of identifying high level goals for each of these areas
  • Try to plan your time and tasks on a weekly basis to ensure attention is being given to what is ‘important’ in your life, rather than what is merely ‘urgent’
  • Sometimes life gets in the way of an ideal balance – for example there may be a health crisis in your family. Or there might be a major project at work. Or you may have an important exam looming. Understandably, these circumstances may lead to a situation where the other areas of your life do not receive adequate attention. Try to get things back on an even keel as quickly as possible.
  • Sometimes you can kill two birds with one stone, by scheduling activities which achieve multiple goals – for example you may have goals to spend more time with your kids, and to improve your fitness by walking three times a week. By scheduling a family walk on the weekend you can achieve both goals at once. Similarly, you can lose weight and save money by bringing your lunch to work rather than eating junk food.
  • The big take out point – if you work hard every day to climb a ladder, and find after many years that the ladder you’ve climbed was against the wrong wall, you’ll be very disappointed. You should always make sure you are working for a goal that you really feel is important at a basic moral level.

If you’re currently working hard to climb that ladder, do yourself a favour and take the time to read this book, and contemplate whether you are in fact climbing the right ladder.