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6 Ways to Master the Power of Productivity

In marketing, efficiency is key.

Without efficiency, it can be incredibly difficult for marketers to be consistently successful with their marketing efforts.

When combined with effectiveness, a marketer becomes unstoppable.

As Steve Kerho, contributor at Fast Company, points out:

“The hallmark of a great marketer is the ability to consistently drive both marketing efficiency and effectiveness simultaneously.”

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But achieving this unstoppable combination is not an easy task.

In order to do so, a marketer must take the necessary steps to be as productive as possible – therefore optimizing their efficiency and effectiveness.

To help you with this, here are six powerful productivity hacks that you need to know:

#1 – Build Checklists and Systems

One productivity hack that is starting to gain traction throughout many different industries is the building of checklists and systems.

As marketing tasks grow and the margin for error lessens, having checklists and systems in place to ensure everything is in line is essential.

This is especially true in a marketing industry where massive amounts of data are now being used on a continual basis.

Keeping up with and understanding how to follow through with the inner workings of a marketing plan is difficult enough. It becomes even more difficult when confusion sets in.

Belle Cooper, a contributor at the Zapier, put it perfectly when she said:

“As more of us take on ‘knowledge worker’ roles, where our livelihoods rely on collecting, interpreting, and applying huge amounts of information, we’re becoming more prone to these same errors. There’s only so much we can carry around in our heads without forgetting something.”

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Cooper provided the example of a hospital in San Francisco that was running into surgical problems due to their lack of an effective checklist and system prior to surgery.

In addition, the team of doctors and nurses were running into issues when transferring a patient from one room to another during surgery.

To take care of the issue, a checklist was put in place that ensured that a system was followed every single time.

At first, Atul Gawande, the doctor who created the checklist, was skeptical of his own creation and did not expect it to make much of a difference in his surgeries.

The result, as was pointed out by doctor Atul Gawande, was that at least one life was saved because of the implementation of the checklist.

While being a marketer is certainly not the life and death profession that being a surgeon is, the benefits of a checklist and systems are just as evident.

Having documentation in place to state the necessary workings of each project can lead to increased efficiency and effectiveness across all areas of your marketing efforts.

It is also essential if you want to communicate effectively and keep your clients happy.

As expert content marketer Kane Jamison, founder of Content Harmony, says:

“Working towards building checklists and procedures internally helps cut down on errors and misunderstandings. The more complex our processes get, the more I’m realizing the need for documentation earlier rather than later.”

When creating a checklist and putting documented systems in place, it is important to realize that perfecting these two things is a process.

You certainly cannot expect to create a checklist and system on day one that will work for many years to come.

Instead, the process requires that you continue to improve upon these checklists and systems as time goes on.

From there, the hope is that you will reach the point of optimal efficiency as soon as possible.

If you need help with creating checklists for your marketing tasks, Checklist is a free tool that can help you do so.

#2 – Plan Out and Stick to a Schedule

For marketers, it can be difficult to plan and stick to a schedule.

But the importance of doing so is evident.

Rand Fishkin, CEO of Moz, is one of many marketers that heavily advocate this productivity hack.

Fishkin says:

“My biggest hack is my schedule and my rigid discipline on communication and work channels. Basically, if it’s not on my Google calendar or in Gmail, it doesn’t happen.”

While the fact that much of Fishkin’s business comes down to replying to and communicating via email, that doesn’t mean this hack can’t work for everyone.

He goes on to advocate setting up a daily schedule so habits can be developed within that schedule.

Fishkin’s daily schedule looks something like this:

  • 8:30 – Wake Up
  • 8:30-10:00 – Email
  • 10:00-11:00 – Get Around and Get to Work
  • 11:00-6:00 – Participate in Work Meetings and Communicate with Team
  • 6:00-10:00 – Family Time
  • 10:00-1:00 – Email and Blogging

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Now, some of the biggest fears of marketers sticking to a strict schedule are that it will be limiting and difficult to sustain.

As you can see, however, while his schedule is fairly strict, it is still versatile enough that there are seven hours of time in which he can complete different types of tasks each day.

Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of both Twitter and Square, is famous for regularly putting in 16-hour workdays.

As he points out:

                  “The only way to do this is to be very disciplined and very practiced.”

The way that Dorsey makes this work is by theming his days to focus on a particular portion of each business.

For example, on Mondays he focuses on management and running the company.

On Tuesdays, however, his focus shifts to product development.

While putting together a schedule similar to Dorsey or Fishkin may be impossible for you, the key is that you actually have one in place.

Put together a schedule that works for you and develop the discipline to stick to that schedule.

From there, your productivity is sure to take off.

#3 – Give Yourself Time Limits

Deadlines are an aspect of marketing that many marketers and business owners dread thinking about.

But the main reasons that they are seen as evil is because of these deadlines are generally given by someone else.

What if you were to give yourself your own personal deadlines for getting things done?

Well, as content marketer Roger Parker says, you will get a lot more done:

                  “The best way to reduce stress and get more done on time is to give yourself more deadlines.”

The important thing here, and as has been pointed out, is that you are the one giving the deadlines to yourself.

Parker goes on to point out that while due dates and deadlines provided by someone else may be good in theory, they are, in reality, encouragers of procrastination.

Quicksprout founder Neil Patel is another marketer that heavily advocates for setting deadlines for yourself.

The only difference with his deadlines, however, is that he uses them to make decisions.

As Patel says:

“Decision making is a time-draining vortex. When you’re faced with a decision in the course of your work, give yourself a one-minute limit. Your decision will be just as good, but it will take less time.”

Now it should obviously be pointed out that Patel is talking about minor decisions.

But, with the fact that marketers and entrepreneurs are faced with dozens of minor decisions every day, this hack can be a major time saver.

The benefits of setting deadlines for yourself, as Parker states, are vast.

Some of the more significant benefits include:

  • Making it easier to schedule and make commitments
  • Enabling you to build and maintain momentum throughout the day, week, month, and year
  • Increasing productivity
  • Increasing creativity

Parker also goes on to say that more self-set deadlines can lead to a significant decrease in stress.

And what marketer or business owner is not interested in less stress?

#4 – Be Proactive Instead of Reactive

Another hack that is not typically thought about by marketers is that of being proactive instead of being reactive.

For many marketers and business owners, their day is interrupted constantly due to having to react to different issues that come up.

This gets them away from their schedule and makes it difficult to stay on task.

The key to getting out of this habit is to get in a proactive mindset that enables you to have systems in place for taking care of issues before they occur.

Brian Dean, the owner of Backlinko, pointed out how difficult it is to maintain this mindset when he said:

“Because of the way humans evolved, we’re in reactive mode by default. First, it’s better for survival (you can spot danger and opportunities easier). Second, it requires less mental energy. That’s why checking email/Facebook/blogs is so addictive; it puts you in full-on reactive mode.”

But just because it is difficult does not mean that it is impossible.

Doing so requires self-discipline and a commitment to only focusing on what can be controlled.

The great thing about reactive activities is that they generally do not require near as much mental effort to complete.

For this reason, one of the easiest ways to be proactive is to completely commit to getting the most difficult and mentally challenging tasks out of the way early in the day.

From there, issues and tasks that require a reactive state of mind can be handled (since they are significantly less mentally challenging).

For Brian Dean, he makes the daily decision to only check his emails after 3PM.

While this is not possible for every marketer, this goes back to the hack of creating and sticking to a schedule that works for you.

Put yourself in a position where you know what you will be doing throughout your morning and early afternoons.

From there, leave time for reactive activities later in the day when your mind is not quite as sharp.

#5 – Hire the Best People Possible

One productivity hack that many marketers and entrepreneurs do not generally think about is that they need to be hiring the best people possible.

Hiring the best people means that you are surrounded by individuals that understand how to get the job done and can work independently while delivering high level work.

Adam Kleinberg, the CEO of Traction, lists this as his biggest productivity hack, saying:

“I have the ultimate productivity hack…Be relentless about hiring amazing people. If you hire great people, stuff just gets done – better and faster. It may take a little bit longer to find them, but that upfront investment in finding the right people pays productivity dividends for years to come.”

Hiring someone to simply fill a spot is only going to hurt your business down the road.

Instead, creating ways to ensure you are recruiting the best possible people into your business should be your goal.

In addition, it is necessary that you focus on the employees within your business that are already doing great work.

Make sure they have what they need to excel at their jobs and don’t be afraid to ask them for feedback to ensure they are happy with where they are.

For more information about keeping your employees happy, Lauren Drell of Mashable put together a great article titled 8 Ways to Keep Your Employees Happy.

If you are looking for a great resource fo

r hiring employees, Red Frog CEO Joe Reynolds put together a highly informative guide for Inc titled How I Find and Hire the World’s Best Employees.

#6 – Make the Decision to Take Action

Take action!

It is surely one of the most generic phrases uttered continuously throughout self-help and productivity books everywhere.

But while you may be annoyed with how much the phrase is used when discussing productivity, it is unfortunately the only way to actually make productivity work.

None of the hacks outlined within this article have any use unless you first make the decision to go forth and take action.

One of the more interesting takes on the matter of taking action comes from popular author Mark Manson.

As he points out:

“Most people only commit to action if they feel a certain level of motivation. And they only feel motivation when they feel an emotional inspiration.”

But it is impossible to consistently find emotional inspiration for getting things done.

This would be an absolutely exhausting process.

So, instead of constantly seeking out inspiration, Manson advocates for what he calls the “Do Something” Principle.

While you can check out the article for a more detailed explanation of what this is, it basically comes down to the theory that action is what actually leads to inspiration and motivation.

So while you are continuously searching for something to inspire you to get started, the easiest way to become inspired is to simply get started working on the task.

Applying to the “Do Something” Principle is as easy as simply committing to doing something for 30 seconds.

From there, Manson claims that you become much more likely to be inspired and motivated by the work and will therefore continue.

While this may not be true for everyone, it is certainly worth a shot.

The Final Word

At the end of the day, increasing your productivity starts with increasing your self-discipline.

Without discipline, you will remain stuck in the process of continually reading articles about productivity hacks and not taking action.

While it may seem difficult, discipline can be built over a period of time.

Make the decision to take action, implement the hacks outlined in this article, and watch as your productivity skyrockets to levels you have never seen before.

Lastly, let me know your thoughts and what other tips for productivity that have worked for you. Leave a comment below and I look forward to hearing from you.

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About Sean Donahoe

Sean is one of the most recognized industry leaders in business and marketing. As a popular speaker, author, consultant he has helped over 50,000 students world wide find success in their businesses and has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and businesses of every size grow and thrive...

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