Ever get the feeling that you’re swamped by an avalanche of emails? Me too. On an average, we receive about 121 emails a day—and this number is set to rise to 140 this year. Now I don’t know about you, but in my book, that’s a lot! And these are just emails from people we work with. It can tank your productivity before you’ve even begun your day.
As marketers, not only do we have to manage those 140 emails a day, we also have to look at emails sent by automated systems—social media spikes, alerts about a potential PR crisis, or even an email that tells you about low open rates about your latest email marketing campaign (ironic, I know). So, in the end, you probably end up with close to 250 emails in your inbox when you get to work every morning.
Oh and let’s not forget the constant pings on Slack. From your team. Or your boss.
At this point, you do one of two things. Give up and grab a giant mug of coffee or spend the rest of your morning tackling your inbox—which may or may not mean you’re ticking off items off of your to-do list. (More often than not, my to-do list is intact and I get maybe three hours—if I’m lucky—to tackle that before my inbox gets flooded again).
So how do you ensure that you’re not overwhelmed and frazzled by 3 pm? How do you stay on top of your game despite the deluge of emails in your inbox?
Here are three things you can do as soon as you get into work to increase productivity.
1. Use an Alert System
We all know how hard it is to contain an endless stream of complaints on social media or a viral blog post that doesn’t necessarily paint the best picture of your brand. You’re likely to leave a bunch of complaints unanswered—at least for a few hours. And nobody wants to do that. But you’re still human right?
The workaround for this is to anticipate a PR crisis before it grows into your worst nightmare. At Talkwalker, we use Talkwalker Alerts, our in-house alert system to keep track of our brand or latest campaign. This not only helps us take prompt action if we notice a potential crisis in the works, it also helps us understand what our customers think of our products or campaigns. It just takes a few seconds to set up an alert and then, it’s a matter of checking them as soon as we get in. There are both paid and free products for brand tracking—it really depends on your needs which will be right for you and your brand.
Why Check Your Brand Mentions?
It’s important to check your alerts regularly is because it helps you prioritize your actions for the rest of the day. Remember the deluge of social messages we just referred to? If you know within the first few minutes of entering the office that you have to tackle them, you can plan your day better, shift a few meetings around and dedicate your energy to sorting it out without wasting anyone’s time.
Be sure to also track your competition. You can use this information to develop strategy, create new campaigns to reach new audiences, and above all, know what you’re up against.
2. Optimize Your Calendar
Your calendar is your best friend when it comes to productivity. It tells your coworkers when they can and can’t reach out to you. Checking your calendar as soon as you get to work means that you can again figure out how you’ll use the time you have during the day to make sure you make every minute count. Too many meetings mean that you’re going to lose focus and end up being unproductive for the few hours you do have to get through your list of things.
How To Say No Without Actually Saying it
So how do you handle something like this? If you have to excuse yourself from a meeting, you might end up in a sticky situation—how do you politely tell your coworkers that your workload needs more attention and you can’t make it to a meeting for the annual ski trip without looking like a spoil-sport?
Block time for yourself in your calendar to focus on tasks that cannot wait. Maybe book a two-hour slot a few mornings a week to ensure that no one schedules meetings you have to attend at that time and you can take care of writing that blog post you’ve been meaning to do forever or working on the content for your latest webinar. You don’t always have to put in extra hours to meet your deadlines within the 9-5 window. A little bit of planning can ensure that you stay on top of your game.
And last but not least—try and follow your calendar to the best of your ability.
3. Make KPIs Your Priority
This may seem like it’s obvious but it’s easier to get distracted by side projects than you’d think. In the end, your KPIs are what count. For instance, if you’re responsible for PR in your organization and if your goal is to get coverage in three major publications a month, you should check in on where you are first thing in the morning. If it’s the 15th of the month and you’ve not hit even a single publication, you know how to prioritize the rest of your days.
Or, if you’re in charge of bringing in a certain number of leads every month, it’s important to check your numbers on a daily basis. This will help you plan the rest of your marketing activities for the month and help you hit that number. It’s important to know where you’re at in order to plan what to prioritize more efficiently and which projects you would need to put on the backburner or say no to.
It also goes without saying that being more productive includes blocking out tabs and notifications from sites like Facebook. For instance, do you really need to check your News Feed every hour? It really isn’t that important, unless you’re on your company account.
Now that you’re up to speed about what needs to be done and have a good idea of where you’re at, you can go and grab that cup of coffee without any doubts or without being overwhelmed.
Use headphones without listening to music. Studies show that if you’re in an open space office design, you’re more likely to be distracted by what your colleagues are doing. And none of that is your fault really—it’s pretty normal. A pretty good hack for this is to use headphones without any music on, which could, to a certain extent make your coworkers think twice about approaching you for a post-lunch cup of coffee.
What are your productivity hacks? How do you organize your work day to keep ahead? Tell me about your best practices in the comments.