The life of a digital marketer is tough. Each day, you face a pile of potential distractions that seem to hit you from all sides: endless social media updates, the launch of the latest and greatest tool, another ultimate guide to becoming an online hero, and more. You know how it is?
It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed with everything that’s going on around you. That’s why it’s important to remain disciplined and focus on the things that matter if you’re going to succeed online. In this post, I’m going to share some tips and tools that will help you manage your time and work more efficiently.
General Time-Saving Tips
1. Set Time Limits
When you allocate a specific amount of time to a specific task, you’ll find that you become more productive. It’s a well-known fact that you can drift and let any given task consume all of your time—after all, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” You can combat this by using a countdown timer to ensure you focus on completing your task.
Let’s say you have to create some social media posts. Allow yourself 25 minutes. Set the countdown timer running on your mobile phone, or use one from Google.
The countdown timer creates a sense of urgency. It helps you to focus solely on completing the task before the timer hits zero.
2. Avoid Multitasking
Multitasking is one of those nasty little myths that has evolved over time. Scientists have now proved that our brain works best when it focuses on one thing at a time.
“Focusing is the key to manifesting your desires.” – Stephen Richards
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3. Eliminate Distractions
We all work in different situations. Some work at home. Some work in a shared office. Whatever your situation, you need to have a mechanism in place that says, “Do Not Disturb.” For example:
- Close the door.
- Switch your phone to airplane mode.
- Shutdown other apps on your computer.
Best-selling author Gary Keller wrote why it’s so important to focus on one thing at a time and illustrated what happens when you get interrupted:
When you lose your focus, it can take you twice as long to get back into the groove. So make sure you eliminate distractions.
4. Invest Time in Education
This idea is not immediately obvious, but if you spend time learning a new skill now, it can help you save time in the future. For example, learning how to use a social media scheduling tool like Postcron will save you time in the future.
5. Delegate or Outsource Tasks
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t delegate or outsource tasks to another person. If you work on your own, you could hire a VA to help with some admin tasks, or hire another freelancer to design your graphics. When you do the math, it can often work out to be more cost effective than you first thought.
If you’re working as part of a team on a project, then sometimes it makes sense to re-assign tasks to colleagues who have more capacity. The bottom line is this: You don’t have to do everything yourself.
6. Take Regular Breaks
Working non-stop is not the best use of your time. Our bodies work better when we take regular breaks.
Various scientific studies have discovered different work-to-rest ratios. According to Tony Schwartz, you should work for 90 minutes and then rest for 20 minutes: “The human body is hard-wired to pulse. To operate at our best, we need to renew our energy at 90-minute intervals.”
Another study recommends working for 52 minutes, then resting for 17 minutes. “Concentration is like a muscle: It needs to rest to be able to function, and it shouldn’t be overworked.”
Alternatively, try a power nap. Snoozing for 15 to 20 minutes after lunch can recharge your body for the rest of the day: “You reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance.”
Which one works best for you?
7. Track Your Time
Do you honestly know how much time you spend on each activity throughout the day? Most of us kid ourselves. Try using an app like TimeMyLife to get an accurate recording of how much time you spend on each task.
8. Use a Password Manager
When you’re working online, it’s inevitable that you’ll be logging into a load of tools and resources, and each one invariably requires unique user credentials. It’s frightening how many you accumulate over time, and it’s impossible to remember them all. Invest in a password manager tool like LastPass to store them all in one place. It’s a lot quicker than scrambling for Post-It notes!
9. Don’t Waste Time on Things That Aren’t Working
As marketers, you should always be evaluating your various online campaigns and activities. Be ruthless. Cut out the things that aren’t working, and invest more time elsewhere.
10. Only Use Tools That Show Real Benefits
It’s easy to become attracted to new tools that promise outstanding results. But there are only so many tools you can use effectively in your business. If you try using too many tools, you’ll waste time and potentially money, too. Consolidate your tool set, and use those that benefit you most.
Social Media Time-Saving Tips
11. Choose Your Channels
The more channels you are active on, the more time you’ll have to spend on social media. The first step is to decide on which channels to focus. Choose the channels that most benefit your business.
For example, WordStream decided not to bother with Pinterest. Instead, they focus on Twitter where most of their audience hangs out. As Katie Lance says, the question to ask yourself is, “What social networks should I focus on that will build my community and build my business?”
12. Check Your Engagement Data
When was the last time you checked your social media engagement? You’ve no doubt seen the infographics about the best times of day to post social media updates on each channel. But have you checked your data?
13. Automate or Schedule Your Posts
Social media automation has two main benefits:
- It lets you post content when your audience is online (as noted above).
- It frees up your time for other tasks.
There are plenty of social media automation tools you can use, starting with Postcron. One of the main advantages of Postcron is that you can schedule your posts for all the different networks, including:
- Facebook: Fan page, Profile, Event, and Group
- LinkedIn: Profile and Company Page
- Twitter: Profile
- Google+: Business Pages
- Pinterest: Boards
- Instagram: Accounts
It’s a big time-saver to manage everything inside one tool.
14. Manage Your Engagement
Once you’ve scheduled your posts for the best times of day, you have to decide how you’ll interact with comments, mentions, and feedback.
If you’ve only chosen to focus on one or two social media channels, then it makes sense to use the native platforms. It’s not difficult to jump into Facebook and Twitter and track what’s happening on your accounts.
If you’ve got more channels and more interactions to manage, then you might find it easier to use one tool like AgoraPulse that can consolidate all your messages into one inbox.
15. Use Templates
A lot of social media activities are repetitive, so it makes sense to create some templates that you can use over and again. For example, you could:
- Save a set of graphic templates in Canva or Postcron for each social network.
- Save a standard set of hashtags ready to use on your Instagram posts.
It will save you time when you only have to change an image or modify the text rather than starting from scratch each time.
16. Avoid Social Media When You Should Be Doing Something Else
Yes, that’s right. Now I’m telling you to avoid social media! That’s because it has a good and bad side. On the one hand, it can be an effective marketing tool. On the other, it can be a distraction that sucks time like nothing else. Unless you’re employed to sit watching social media streams all day, then it’s best to allocate specific time slots to social media and discipline yourself to stick to them.
As Ian Anderson Gray suggests: “Set aside two or three fixed times every day to attend to your Twitter engagement. Make sure you cap the time for these sessions (for example, 10 to 15 minutes), so you can spend the rest of your day focusing on other areas of your business.”
You can replicate this advice for each social media channel so that you cap your time accordingly.
Are you managing your time efficiently? Do you have everything under control? Most of us have our good days and our bad days, and that’s okay because we’re human. But if you pay a little more attention to what activities you’re spending your time on, and start implementing some of these time-saving tips, then you’ll start to have more good days than bad.
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