A clean diary, a clean slate – tips to manage your time effectively

This is a tough thing to admit publicly (it’s a little embarrassing), but one of my favourite days each year is the day I fill in my new diary. The day that delivery arrives at the office, the excitement begins! Opening that box, the beauty that lies within…

…a pristine NEW diary!

Whenever I am recruiting, I often get asked ‘What do I look for in a new hire?’ I always answer the same, ‘Someone who is organised and can prioritise’. Our biggest challenge as marketers is balancing the needs of our customers, both internal and external, whilst also ensuring our products are introduced to the market at the right time and are communicated effectively to our target audience.

Effective time management is key to what we do.

We are fortunate as marketers, that we can manage our time. We have clear deadlines. We can measure the time it takes to set up a campaign. We know when analysis becomes available.

The first training session I do with any new starter is one on time management. In every weekly meeting with my team, I also ensure that they are sticking to the basics. That way, I know they have effectively planned their time and I can guarantee that they are getting their tasks completed.

When you get your new diary, the first thing you should do is look at the whole year. For example, we have ‘FC’ dates for every project. This is the date that we get the event brochure to design. This date is set in stone. This date for every project can be added to the new diary early. When we know this date, we can also add in that the ‘flat plan’ needs to be sent to the team 2 weeks previous.

Adding set dates to your diary over the whole year enables you to prioritise these key deadlines.

Next, I get my team to look at the next month. So on Jan 31st, we plan for February. Again, this allows you to plan around key deadlines, distributing the work evenly.

And of course, you have to plan a week at a time and also a day ahead. It is impossible to avoid those last minute tasks that enter your inbox!

So here are my tips to time management:

  • Plan a year, a month, a week and a day at a time. This ensure that major deadlines are in mind whenever you are planning. And also ensures that you plan enough time to ensure that these important activities are done effectively and not in a rush.
  • Mark out chunks of time. If you know setting up an email campaign takes you two hours, then give yourself two hours in your diary!
  • When undertaking tasks, turn off your email (or turn off the notifications that pop up on the bottom right hand corner of your screen) and focus on finishing that task. This will not only ensure a task is completed but also reduce stress, as that is one task off the to-do list.
  • Allocate time to analysis. You cannot make effective marketing decisions without knowing what works and what doesn’t. Often when busy, analysis is forgotten or pushed to the next day – no more!
  • Do not plan 100% of your time. 75% maximum – this leaves time for urgent matters, or new ideas.
  • Leave time after meetings, or weekly catch-ups, just in case an unforeseen task arises.
  • Give yourself time to look at your emails and return message. I always give myself 30 minutes first thing, 30 minutes after lunch and 30 minutes at the end of the time.
  • I love using colour! I use to colour to visually illustrate how my time is spent. For example, I mark my meetings in one colour, all urgent tasks in another…in fact I even have a colour for each member of my team!

People have often said that being too organised stifles creativity – I disagree. Giving yourself time to plan, gives you time to be creative.

Creativity and organisation – a marriage made in heaven.



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