By Anna Condon, Junior Copywriter
It’s the critical element that every project manager has to grapple with on a daily basis.
In the “hurry up and wait” world of agency life, time management is crucial. Not only are you juggling different projects for a variety of clients (each with their own timelines and bumps in the road), but also you’re working as part of a larger machine with many moving parts.
For example, say you’re working on the copy for a simple save-the-date card for a client’s annual fundraiser. Since there is an absolute date when the final design must be sent to the printer, pushing back your deadline would mean there is less time for the art director to design the card and less time for the account executive to discuss revisions and review the final product with the client.
Managing your time effectively helps you consistently deliver for your clients, which is good for business. How can you ensure you’re making the most of your time?
Prioritize your projects. When you’re working on multiple projects, you need to be able to prioritize and make judgements about what is most important. Make sure you keep an open line of communication with your project team, so you know which jobs are hot — and which can wait.
Batch related tasks together. Let’s say you have two campaigns running simultaneously. It might sound easier to tackle all the promotional emails for both to get them out of the way, since they’re quick and easy to produce. However, switching between campaigns can actually slow down productivity. Different campaigns demand different types of thinking (e.g., target market, campaign theme, etc), so it makes sense to let your mind flow rather than switching to something that’s going to require you to reorient your thinking.
Focus on the task at hand. When you run up against a creative roadblock, it can be tempting to switch between the 10 tasks on your to-do list, but switching gears can sometimes take more time than simply working through the problem.
Switch off your email. Again, switching gears isn’t good for the creative mojo. I’m not saying you should ignore your inbox for the day, but turning off notifications while you’re working on a time-sensitive project can be beneficial. Blocking out distractions is crucial to maximizing productivity, and the constant interruptions of email or co-workers dropping by your desk can add up. Just remember to check it between assignments.
Create a project budget. Time is money, and chances are there’s a set budget for how much time you should devote to any given project. Estimate how much time you can afford to spend on each task and set a timer. Knowing you have a specific time constraint will push you to focus and be more efficient while you work.
Don’t let the to-do list overwhelm you. I’m guilty of this one. One of the fastest ways you can overwhelm yourself and bring on a creative block is to obsess over your list of things to do. No amount of thought will make it any shorter, so try not to stress, and take it one step at a time.