Working at a start up is chaotic. Everyone has a dozen projects they are working on at once and another dozen meetings to talk about those projects. Some projects could take weeks, some could take ten minutes. If we're going to be successful, it's important that all members of the team stay focused and kick ass.
The same goes for running your blog. Site redesigns could take months, but updating your headshot could take just a few minutes. So, how do you break up tasks and prioritize to make sure you're getting the big projects addressed, but also ticking those monotonous tasks off your list? Time management is all about finding out what works for you! That being said, here are some pointers, which hopefully give you some new ideas and determine what works and what doesn't.
Find Your Rhythm
Everyone has different working habits. I arrive at work between 9:30 and 10 AM, sit down, go through my to-do list from the day before, respond to emails, and mentally prepare myself to dive head-first into my new to do list around 11:30 AM.
If you're a late riser, like me, create a habit of organizing in the morning, waking up if you’re still fuzzy from your commute, and then dedicating the rest of your day to knocking out those high priority tasks first. This way if things pop up through out the day, you've made sure that those big tasks received love.
If you work better in the mornings, switch things up! Spend your last hour at work organizing for the next day. This way when you arrive at your desk you already know whats on your plate.
Start Your Day By Making A List
When you start work, take some time to look back at your list from yesterday, see what you’ve completed and determine what needs attention. Once you pick a way to keep a list, stick to it! Keeping everything in one place is key to being able to know what’s on your plate at any given moment. That said, the following are a few ideas that have helped me:
- Prioritizing: This may seem like a no-brainer. Have deadlines that are creeping up? Priority number one. About to get kicked out of your Facebook group for not sharing other members' posts? Priority number two. It’s definitely a difficult task to try and prioritize tasks when everything feels urgent and important, but try to take a step back on a regular basis and re-sync. (This can also help you know, for next month, what you shouldn't be committing to.)
- Breaking Up Tasks: Sometimes one project consists of a dozen different tasks. Break those projects up into chunks. Don’t write “redesign website” on your to-do list. Write “identify steps in website redesign” and then the next day add “change theme” or “update logo” on your list. Don’t set yourself up for stress! Plus if you work with a team, this allows you to show what goes into completing those larger projects.
- Tools: Ain't nothin wrong with a pen-and-paper list-keeper. But if you're the kind of person who, say, always forgets to pack a writing utensil (guilty), go digital. Looking for a tool to use for your new highly organized to do list? Try Wunderlist. Use this tool to make private lists or share some of your to-do's with team members!
Breaking down your goals is a great way to keep yourself motivated. Nothing kills your productivity more than being unmotivated or overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed makes it difficult to think clearly about what needs to get tackled first.
Here at Chicory, we have some pretty big goals for the marketing department every month. Seeing those big numbers makes my heart stop, yet gets me energized in the same 30 seconds. I take those goals and break them down into weekly targets so I can see if we are on track, behind, or on a roll.
Want another 100,000 eyeballs on your blog by the end of the year? How about boosting your views by 10% over the next two weeks, to start? Take a plan of action on what you are going to try, brainstorm some tactics, test those tactics out and then report back. When you see what works, iterate and move forward.
The average American citizen has an attention span of eight seconds. Guys, that is SHORTER than the attention of a goldfish, which is nine seconds. I’m not telling you to take a break every eight seconds, but science says taking a break every 50 to 90 minutes will help you stay focused in the long run.
I’m not here to tell you how to take your breaks, but if you’re looking for a suggestion I’d pick up the ping pong paddle and get yourself moving! Oh, or check up on the latest celebrity gossip (T. Swift and T. Hiddleston.. like what?!).
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