If your office is as cool as mine, distractions also aren’t in short supply.
We have jungle pong, alcohol, dogs, a potty putter, and Tom “Friday” Burgess, after all.
Having an awesome company culture also means you have to have extra discipline to stay focused and get your work done; another major part of our company culture is “compass, not clock” and to work our asses off for our clients.
We need to learn the balance between work and play, and how to overcome distractions so we can get shit done and drive results.
I know this isn’t something unique to our digital marketing agency, and I know that other marketers (whether at an organization or an agency) are presented with this challenge, too. Distractions don’t just come in the form of ping pong tables or office dogs, either; every office has distractions whether it’s the phone ringing, incoming emails or text messages, chatty co-workers, or incessant and unnecessary meetings.
In fact, work interruptions cost an average of 6.2 hours every day, or 31 hours per week in lost time. Once you’re distracted, it can take 23 minutes and 15 seconds just to get back to where you left off.
So, what’s a marketer to do?
Here are 3 productivity strategies that you can adopt to stay focused and continue to drive results.
1. Proactive Planning & Prioritization
We all have those tasks or projects that we absolutely hate doing. But, we’re also up against deadlines and simply can’t afford to keep putting a project off or, worse, not do it at all. A lot of the time, we feel more productive if we check a lot of small tasks off of our to-do list even if they aren’t meaningful. These small, unimportant tasks add up and eventually end up distracting us from the actual urgent project at hand. To change this mindset, proactive planning and prioritization is the best solution.
Here at Revenue River, we filter our tasks through the four quadrants of time management out of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
We use these quadrants to plan our our work week and prioritize the tasks we need to accomplish. On a daily basis, as distractions come up, we also filter through the quadrants. Is an email from your boss urgent or not urgent? If it’s not urgent and not important, don’t drop everything and get distracted from the task at hand. You should never be in Q3 or Q4, and the goal is to spend most of your time in Q2, though Q1 time is inevitable as you do have to “put out fires” as they arise.
Part of proactive planning is also to plan your day according to prioritization. If you know a project is going to take a lot of effort and strategic thinking, don’t put it off until the end of the day when you’re going to be burnt out. Instead, plan it at the beginning of the day when you’re most productive and save those mindless tasks for later. Same goes for deadlines: if you know a project is due on the 31st, don’t wait until the 30th to get started.
2. Rule Your Technology
In this digital age that we live in, distractions are around us now more than ever. We have cell phones, social media, tablets, laptops, you name it! While it’s awesome, it also can be a curse. Another way to stay productive and avoid digital distraction is to rule your technology.
While technology can actually help us be more effective and productive in some ways, in many cases, it just unnecessarily distracts us. To avoid this, you can do a few different things:
- Set rules in your Outlook inbox – your emails will automatically get filtered into folders so they don’t distract you until you’re ready to address them. You can also check out a tool like Boomerang (no, not the looping mini-videos app – STAY AWAY during work hours J) to streamline your email management.
- Use site blockers like Block Site or StayFocusd to restrict access from the websites that you know are your kryptonite.
- Put your phone on “do not disturb” or airplane mode when you need to work for a block of uninterrupted time. The same goes for messaging apps that you use at the office like Slack.
3. Get Organized
One of the biggest contributing factors to lack of productivity is, well, lack of organization. If you aren’t organized, how can you possibly weed through all of the shit you have to accomplish enough to be able to prioritize it? And, if you get distracted for even a second, good luck trying to remember what it is that you were supposed to do. Luckily, there are some awesome project management and prioritization tools out there to help you stay organized and keep track of everything you need to do:
And, as a bonus, here are some additional tools you can use that can help you track your productivity and identify your patterns so you can see how you can improve productivity and where (and when) you’re getting the most distracted:
Distractions happen all around us, every day. In fact, as marketers, we’re trying to break through the clutter to grab our audience’s attention. Before we can do that for our audience, though, we first have to be able to do that for ourselves!
By using the 3 productivity strategies above and adopting some of the awesome tools that can help you get organized and stay focused, you’ll be able to spend less time on the B.S. and more time driving results.