Running a business and doing its marketing, albeit an exciting opportunity, is a job requiring great workflow habits.
You’ll wake to a mounting number of tasks to complete in order to keep your profits stable. You’re always on the lookout for new tools and resources that’ll give you an edge. There are always new products and platforms to choose from to grow the business.
In essence: it’s a labor of love – and you’ve gotta love it all day, every day.
The pressure will build, in due time.
You only have 24 hours in the day and even less time that you can dedicate to the actual operation.
What you need better workflow habits.
These are a selection of helpful tips and tricks for getting more done with less time.
1. Go Minimal to Reduce Info Overload
The Web is cluttered with distractions.
It also doesn’t help that we’re carrying around cell phones and feel compelled to constantly check notifications.
Then add your physical environment and your brain gets to the point of so much information overload that you can’t bring yourself to get work done.
This weekend I made up my mind to take the minimal route in my office and how I use the Web. I cleared my desk of everything other than my laptop, extra screen, and a notepad. Online I used tools to block advertisements, feeds, notifications, and also unsubscribed from many services that send constant push messages to email and phone.
You may feel the compulsion that it’s a necessity to keep all these channels open. But, you’d be pleasantly surprised how things switch around after you begin to adjust.
The fact you’re no longer seeing as many status updates, emails, and distractions make you grow tired of the items.
Cutting out distractions makes you realize you could be doing some productive… so you’ll, ya know, act.
2. Think “Gimme 5 Minutes” to Overcome Procrastination
What does cleaning the house and link building have in common?
There two tasks we don’t particularly enjoy but need to be done.
Despite the need – we all seem to allow it to pile up. We know it’s important and that it doesn’t take much effort but it doesn’t stop us from avoiding it until it becomes an issue. The problem is that we see these types of tasks as a big time sink when in reality you can get a great amount of it done in small five minute spurts.
This way of thinking is somewhat similar to the idea of “when you’re entering/leaving a room, pick up a piece of trash or do a small amount of cleaning”. Throughout the day, by taking these small actions, you begin to make an impact on the whole.
You’ll develop workflow habits where doing these menial tasks doesn’t feel like an annoying job.
You just sort of do them.
Things like link building, updates, responding to emails, and the like, all seem to fall into this category (for many, that is). If these are the type of tasks you don’ particularly enjoy (but know need to be done) then give it five minutes.
Hop into it, do just a little bit, and then get back to something else.
You’d be surprised how often you actually continue through the task – you think “well, that wasn’t so bad for five minutes, how about I do another five … and another … and another”.
3. Prioritize and Become an Early Bird
The top CEOs are up and ready to go well before most others – so there’s got to be something about this workflow habits, right?
Becoming an “early bird” can pose its troubles for many marketers since they’re no longer required to come into the office and report to a boss. However, the habit should be formed because those few extra hours before the rest get up are a prime time to begin making the moves that’ll put you out in front of the competition.
In fact – don’t even worry about getting up at a time like 4 or 5 am.
Make a commitment to wake just one hour earlier each and every day. That extra hour can be used for a variety of important tasks whether it’s setting up meetings or rolling out some fresh content first thing in the morning.
On that note – prioritize your activities and put those difficult (big win) tasks right at the beginning of your workday.
Go ahead and get it over and out of the way.
Even if you fail to complete the rest of your to-do list you’ll have at least done the biggest one that mattered.
4. Mind Map It to Show Everything In Its Place
People are most frequently categorized as a visual learner (65%, in fact).
So then why, when doing our business, we resort to lists, notes, and calendars to break up our day and schedule?
Better yet – why do we plan our marketing strategies by listing out ideas onto a notepad or Word document? Why does much of the information we try to learn generally come about as a blog post?
Visual learning is why businesses using tutorial videos have gained much success.
It’s why we all seem to love infographics or image macros with captions. We want to see how it’s done.
It makes the activity seem like you’re getting a hands-on experience. We’re able to associate the sights with what we’re learning. Because of this – we’re able to retain a great deal of knowledge.
Consider using mind mapping tools next time you’re readying a project or set of tasks.
These tools are made to give you a visual breakdown of the individual components of your task/project. You can edit and design your mind map to include visual media to help reinforce your actions. As you work through the components you’ll begin to feel that knowledge stick (rather than just robotically completing a task).
5. Hold a Digital Blackout to Shut Off Distractions
This one is a little extreme but could be the biggest way to boost your productivity and get things done in your business. It’s a digital blackout. As in – no connection (Web, phone, direct mail, etc). You shut it all down. You may not find it feasible because the fact marketing is done online but take a moment and reassess your routine – I bet the majority actually don’t need a net connection.
Let’s say you need to write a new blog post, sales email, and a guest post pitch for a campaign this week. On the prior day, before bed, you can gather the information, print it out, and set it aside for the digital blackout day.
Now it’s the day and here you are with all the resources to complete each task but what’s this? You’re completely focused. You’re not bombarded with notifications. You can’t access the Web so you may as well get the job done. It forces you to be productive since it may be the only thing you can do.
Of course, you’ll want to let people know when you’re having these blackouts which are why if you build it a habit then it won’t seem too odd to your community, business network, and customers. Set a day you feel would work – maybe a Tuesday or sometime on the weekend. Get away from it all, focus on the important tasks, and take the rest of the day off to unwind. It may be a little extreme but if it helps you get things done and avoid burn out than it’s well worth it.
Start Those Workflow Habits, Now
A habit is only as good as you make it. Does it make the task easier? Great! Run with it.
Does it disrupt your usual work style too much? Not a problem. Don’t force it.
At least give it a try, though, because you never know what could be a game changer in your workflow.