When you work in marketing, having a variety of ongoing projects means you have a wide range of daily tasks. However, this can make it difficult to know when and where to direct your focus. Trying to stay organized amongst the chaos can be difficult at best — or a black hole of productivity at the worst.
Fortunately, keeping a few guidelines in mind as you go about your work will help you stay on top of everything on your plate. If you’re ready to tackle your to-do list, optimize your productivity by taking note of these six tips.
1. Set realistic goals and clear deadlines
Before beginning work on a project, it’s important to ensure that it has a specific end goal and deadline. When the finish line is in sight from the get-go, it’s easier to take an organized approach to reach it. Consider working through the SMART goal planning strategy to determine exactly what the deliverable of a project will be. Whether you’re developing a new email campaign, website, or overall marketing strategy, you want to be sure that the final product of your work is specific, realistic, and aligns with the larger goals of your company.
Similarly, you’ll also want to determine an appropriate deadline for the project. This is particularly important for larger, longer-term endeavors where it may become challenging to keep everyone on task. For marketers working on publishable content such as blog posts or videos, maintaining an editorial calendar is a must. As you add more projects to your calendar, you’ll need to assess your existing workload before setting deadlines for new tasks.
2. Define your project’s scope
Scope creep is a real problem with creative projects and can make it challenging to deliver work on time. In general, defining a project’s scope means setting solid boundaries about what the project will and will not include. By defining these boundaries ahead of time (and sticking to them), you can avoid getting sidetracked by changes and prevent the project from dragging out and impacting other work. This is particularly important if you suspect that other parties might try to stretch the project past its original limits.
3. Make a plan
Having a clear checklist of what needs to happen at each stage of a project gives you direction. Not only does it help you stay organized with your daily work, it also helps you know where to jump back in if you have to step away for a period. Include specific smaller tasks to complete at different stages of the project, so you’ll know that work is moving along even if the end product still feels far away.
Keep in mind that completion of some tasks will often depend on the availability of other members of your team. In these cases, check in with your team members first to ensure that your plan is achievable.
4. Regularly review your progress
Set aside time each week to check on how much progress has been made relative to your original plan. This gives you the opportunity to adjust your goals due to circumstances beyond your control, or to invest additional resources to move the work along. Furthermore, these regular check-ins will help you to become more organized when planning future projects. As you observe common bottlenecks, you’ll identify which types of work progress more slowly and require more time.
5. Develop a solid tracking system
It’s essential to know who is working on which part of each project, as this can impact overall progress. Is the videographer waiting on material from the graphic designer before moving forward with production? When is the material from the copywriter due back?
When this information is readily available, it’s much easier to stay organized and determine where you need to apply pressure to get things moving again. Your tracking system could be as simple as a spreadsheet showing who is responsible for each task. However, if your team tends to juggle multiple projects at once, it may be worth investing in project management software that lets you track stages and assign responsibilities.
6. Digitize and automate your overall system
On that note — with all of the technology available today, it’s easy to find a variety of apps and software that can help you streamline and automate your workflow. Instead of spending time entering data and chasing colleagues, invest in tools that help you keep things moving. For busy marketers, lead management software offers many benefits, from capturing website leads to scheduling reminders for teammates to managing marketing campaigns. Because these features free up time that would otherwise be spent be spent on manual tasks, you can focus on the big-picture work that really matters.
And there you have it — a starter guide for planning and executing projects without getting lost in the details. Of course, no one is expecting you to overhaul your processes overnight. Instead, start by carefully considering your work situation. Which of these tips are most applicable to your current role? Which ones would yield the biggest improvements in your team’s productivity? Focus on implementing these changes first, then make further changes as necessary. By continuously looking for opportunities to improve your workflow, you’ll find that it becomes much easier to get organized — and stay organized — at work.