Time savers to get more done

I spent a lovely morning with one of my clients yesterday. We talked about her marketing, played around with ideas, updated the marketing activity plan, had a look at new ways of doing things, which of course created a mountain of work.

“The thing is, I know what I’m supposed to be doing, and know how to do it, but I’m just not getting it done,” she said. Which of course is the real issue with modern marketing.

Social media management is like having to throw lumps of raw meat to a wild beast chained in the basement to keep it at bay...

Back in the dark ages, we created an ad, sent stuff in the post or wrote a press release - we pushed it out, and then got on with our normal day jobs. But now, of course, it’s a totally different ball game. We need to continually keep our social media, blogs and heaven knows what else, continually fed - like throwing lumps of raw meat to a wild beast chained in the basement.

So with that in mind, I thought it would be useful to think about some tips that will save time and make like a little bit easier.

1. A little bit of outsourcing

Obviously this costs money. But you don’t have to outsource vast amounts of things all the time. You can dip in and out. So for things like social media management, there are some very efficient and capable virtual assistants who can take care of it for you. They charge anywhere between £15 and £25 per hour - and you can buy just a couple of hours a week of someone’s time. Check out: http://www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk/  or http://www.aukva.com/

You can also look at places like People Per Hour https://www.peopleperhour.com/ which is a collection of freelancers who are for hire. They are vetted and reviewed, and there are service level contracts that ensure you get exactly what you paid for.

2. Some cool tools to get you organised

Here are my favourite tools that keep me organised:

  • Buffer: my number one favourite social media management tool. It saves me tons of time, and it’s really easy to use. You can also use Hootsuite, but I don’t get with that one as well as Buffer - but check them both out and see what one works for you.
  • Basecamp: I use Basecamp for keeping track of client work, and clients have their own login to use for the duration our project. It holds all communications in one place and stops you wasting tons of time scrolling and searching for emails and attachments and all that kind of thing. You get an instant snapshot of each project, and it sends you reminders of overdue tasks, etc.
  • Asana: This is a bit like Basecamp, but I use this one for my personal tasks. It’s free to use. Trello is another one that lots of people like.
  • Evernote and Pocket: These little apps are excellent for saving online stuff you want to keep. You can tag and categorise things so you can find them really quickly. I find regular bookmarking a real faff. These tools are much quicker.
  • Any.do Organise your entire life - family, work, social life, etc. This is free to use, and there is a premium version with some extra bells and whistles.  http://www.any.do/anydo/premium
  • youcanbookme.com This is a great little tool that allows people to book appointments with you. I don’t know about you, but I reckon I’ve lost years of my life faffing about with appointment times - particularly if you’re trying to get a group of people in the same room at the same time.  You also look at doodle.com which is really good for finding a good time and date for large groups of people.
  • ITTT (if this then that) https://ifttt.com/ which allows you to automate all kinds of things - like automatically sending out reminders or share content across different social media accounts with just one ‘tap’. It’s worth a look.
  • CRM systems (customer relationship marketing): for managing all your customers. Good ones used by some of my clients are Capsule https://capsulecrm.com/   Nimble https://www.nimble.com/ This is one is particularly cool because it will run in all your social media contacts too. There’s also Insightly - which I’ve not played with, but I know some Insightly fans. www.insightly.com

3. Limit interruptions

When you need to focus, turn off email, put phones on silent. I know you’re probably rolling your eyes, but it really does help. My other top tip is to use Spotify. In the music genre section, there is a category called Focus. There are loads of playlists in there that help concentration. My personal favourite list is one called Acoustic Concentration, which does actually help me get things done - particularly writing tasks.

4. Organise your days to ‘in days and out days’

I’ve been using this technique for years, and it really works well for me. Essentially, I’m either in all day or out all day. If it’s an ‘out day’ I try to get as many appointments as I can while out. Then my ‘in days’ are for writing and things that require me to be at my desk. I find that if say, I have a meeting in the morning, by the time I’m back at my desk, I find it really hard to switch into my writing and focus mode and end up wasting lots of time. So in days or out days makes everything a lot more productive.

5. Set start times as well as deadlines

This a tip someone gave me about 30 years ago. We’re all used to working to deadlines, but this tip is about planning start times. So in my work planning, I put in my calendar when I plan to start something and block out that time as if it were an appointment. That makes a massive difference.

6. Have a daily ‘if all else fails’ list

We all have long ‘to do’ lists. (I met someone the other day who has a list of her lists - argh!) So every morning make a list of your top 3 things that you absolutely, positively, must do before you finish working the day.

Anyway, hopefully, one or two of these ideas will save you a bit of time. See you next time.