In our first paced world in digital-land, it's so easy to just get caught up in our own daily bubble. Every day we churn through hundreds of emails, ever-expanding task-lists and back-to-back meetings. No wonder it's easy to become flustered and subsequently less effective in our roles. Here are seven habits that we can all incorporate within our daily work routine:
1. Read. Let's face it, the digital industry constantly evolves as technology, content and media companies innovate. Trends that are bubbling away in early-adopter-land will hit the mainstream before you know it. To stay on top of our evolving industry, set aside a minimum of 15 minutes every day to read industry portals/newsletters/blogs. Share articles and interesting links with your colleagues and clients with an opinion on how it applies to their world. Try and do this every day with your morning coffee before the daily onslaught of emails and meetings begins.
2. Question. Don't accept things at face value. The amazing world of digital marketing means that most things are now accountable. Dive deeper into data – from site analytics, to industry reports to campaign results. Ask your agency or publisher why something changed, clarify results and question everything. (Don't however go over-board and suffer paralysis from analysis).
3. Prioritize. With 28% of our work day spent reading and answering emails, we're constantly inundated with requests of varying importance and urgency. Stephen Covey's task management classification framework is a great way to visualize how we should be investing our time. Too often we spend our day dealing with urgent and important tasks (the pink square in the matrix below). In other words this means we're rushing around to solve problems or responding to last minute requests. Prioritize tasks that are important but not urgent (purple square), ensuring progress is made towards important goals before they end up in the pink square. Everything else should be at the bottom of the priority list.
4. Single-task (be present). We all like to think we're good at multi-tasking. But let's face it; most of us suck when it comes to doing more than two tasks at once. Scientists have proven that our brains can only store between 5 and 9 things at a time. When we try to write an email whilst having a conversation with a team member, multi-tasking falls apart and you'll do both activities ineffectively. So, do your colleagues, clients and yourself a favor and put away the laptop when in meetings and on phone calls. Be present and give your full attention to the other person, they deserve it!
5. Be polite. I'm amazed at the level of discourtesy that has crept up in the modern workplace. Abrupt emails, impersonal communication and a lack of niceties seem to be more common than not (or is it just me?!). Some people may think niceties are a waste of time...just get to the point right? I completely disagree. A thank you email, a genuine apology if you're late to a meeting, a 'how-was-your-weekend' first thing on a Monday morning, and general courtesy and respect to team members and 3rd parties. All of these small things add up to make the work environment a more pleasant (and productive) place.
6. Have Balance. You're ambitious, and no doubt your colleagues are too. In this fast-paced, hard-working digital industry, employees are often expected to work very long hours and be on constant call (admittedly I've noticed this considerably more since moving to New York). Remember that there are other important pillars in your life besides your career including health, relationships and experiences. Ensure you make time each day to do at least one thing that you love. For me, that's going for a run most mornings (and perhaps less healthily, the pub in the evenings!). Additionally, prioritize exercise, eating well and spending time with friends and loved ones. After all, happy and healthy employees are 25% more effective.
7. Be thankful. I honestly believe we work in one of the coolest, most dynamic and fun industries. The digital marketing sector is continuing to show strong signs of growth and digital experts will remain in high demand for the foreseeable future. Despite the sometimes stressful nature of our jobs, take a moment each day to reflect on the positive aspects of our industry. There's always something new to learn, great people to work with, and fun social aspects. A more positive outlook leads to greater effectiveness in our teams and companies. We are living and working in the most interesting time in the history of marketing....let's not forget that!