I bet you’re thinking “there couldn’t possibly be more time management strategies”. I agree – sometimes it feels like the same methods populate every resource and you can’t find anything new no matter how many rocks you turn over. Let me just say I am glad to take on the challenge.
In this article, I decided to skip the obvious (and often unhealthy) lifestyle advice. We won’t offer sleep schedule improvement tips, talk about saving time by checking analytics while commuting, or drinking more water for improved focus. Here you will find actionable and straightforward advice. You’ll not only learn how to manage your schedule but also how to understand your body and help it push through those especially busy days.
Let’s move on to our Do’s and Don’ts list.
What time management strategies to use in your routine:
Choose platforms wsely
Not every client needs to be on every single platform.
Managing fewer but more relevant accounts can make a real impact on your client’s traffic and results. It’s one less Twitter account, one less Youtube video a week, and less time writing replies to LinkedIn comments. Keeping a lot of barely active profiles that contribute little to the business are nothing more than dead weight.
How it helps: Dropping platforms that prove to be irrelevant for the client gives you more time to focus on those that bring in the traffic. However, there are many other ways to improve client retention.
Learn how you spend time
How well do you know your professional self? What makes you productive? What influences your energy levels?
Here is how you can actually become a better time manager. Set aside one week to track how you currently work. During that week, you should track everything you do, how long you do it for when you take breaks, and so on. It’s tedious to mark down every little change, but it’s essential. If pen and paper is not your thing, you can opt for some of the best time management apps in the market. Clockify is a great example.
Take note of everything you do during the whole work week.
How it helps: This is precisely like tracking your calorie intake while working on losing or gaining weight. You curb your motivation and focus just as you curb your sugar cravings throughout the day. The more you know about your habits, even the smallest ones, it’ll be easier to establish an optimal work schedule.
Establish your MIT
One of the most important time management strategies is setting your most important tasks (or MITs) for the days as they come. Your MIT will always be something that yields excellent returns, meaning it takes priority. Here is an example:
Say you have to follow up on a company event from last night with a Facebook post the next day. This post is important and needs to be published. On top of that, you have to make it interesting and engaging, with beautiful photos to engage. Seeing how this is your MIT for the day, it needs to be solved first. Even if you usually, say, check Instagram and Twitter in the morning.
How it Helps: Having an MIT ensures that you will be able to devote your undivided focus and energy in the right place. It’s best to shift your schedule around those tasks to be confident you did the best possible job for that day.
How to set priorities
More often than not, the most important tasks will have the center stage that day. However, what if you don’t have an obvious MIT? If the tasks look equally important, how will you know which ones to tackle first? There are two time management strategies to create a functional schedule:
Calculate the ICE score
Developed by Sean Ellis, the goal of this method is to figure out how to prioritize tasks. Those three letters are your filters for calculating the importance of each task.
Going through your list, you should assign a score from 1 to 10 to each one based on:
- The Impact that task will have on the overall project or strategy;
- The Confidence you have in how well it will turn out;
- The Ease with which you can do it.
You add up those scores, divide them by three and voila – now you can arrange the tasks in your schedule according to their score — simple, pure math.
Time management strategy – The Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix, also referred to as Urgent-Important Matrix, helps you decide on and prioritize tasks by urgency and importance, sorting out less urgent and important tasks which you should either delegate or not do at all.
The second method has been around for a long time. And unlike with the ICE scoring, it doesn’t use math, but personal reasoning. The Eisenhower matrix requires you to distinguish between four categories of hierarchy:
- Not Urgent
Most Eisenhower Matrices look like this:
As you can see in the graphic above, tasks that are both important and urgent need to be done immediately, those important but not urgent later, and so on.
How it helps: The Eisenhower Matrix makes you look at your tasks objectively and find those that will yield the best results (in this case, drive your traffic forward). Instead of focusing on menial tasks simply because they are urgent, it forces you to think long-term.
Take a look at what Amber Hurdle advises on Twitter about planning tasks:
Plan for what you can *actually* get done. Not what you wish you can get done.#timemanagement #productivity pic.twitter.com/k1Xi3nbO4z
— Amber Erickson-Hurdle (@theamberhurdle) September 25, 2019
Use “If This Then That”
If This Then That is a neat little website that sets up custom tools that automate those annoying small tasks you have to do every day.
Users create formulas called “applets” that connect two apps, then publish them on the website. For example, they generate an applet that connects Alexa to the calendar. So when you dictate your schedule to Alexa, it immediately enters your calendar.
How it helps: IFTTT has the true spirit of automation as it doesn’t require you to download loads of new apps and widgets. It’s made with busy people in mind and gets updated with new applets daily.
Challenge the “Always-On” mentality
It is not uncommon for social media managers to burn out in a short amount of time. Until you establish a rhythm, you’ll likely make mistakes and bite off more than you can chew.
Those who’ve been in the game for a while now may remember “The Wendy’s Girl”, a young community manager whose ingenuity led to unfortunate online feedback. That is precisely why you need to learn how and when to make downtime.
Determine your work hours and keep these limits strict. You are one person, not a corporation, so you cannot manage that Twitter account 24/7 (however, if you do they recently launched some awesome updates for marketers). Laura Mae Martin, Google’s productivity manager, advises creating “open loops”:
“Psychologists who have tested this theory believe that when our mental guard is down, especially during breaks, it’s easier for one’s thoughts to break away from existing, dead-end patterns. We might land on a solution to a problem without consciously thinking about it.”
How it helps: In short – going offline leaves you sane. The internet is a strange place, full of things you do and don’t want to see. It’s also full of all kinds of people. Their comments and responses can truly affect one’s psyche. Consider making breaks part of your routine so you keep yourself mentally sharp. You can plan to take breaks in your calendar. The team at gaming studio Im-a-puzzle, for example, began requiring breaks and found that productivity increased.
Besides, you can always ask other people for help. Just make sure each person in your team works the same reasonable number of hours in different shifts. That way, you hit two birds with one stone. You keep everyone’s sanity and keep the social media accounts running, if not 24/7, pretty close to that.
Use a free timesheet app like Zoomshift or TimeCamp to fix your work schedules. The tool will not only help you plan your work. It will improve employee accountability, too. It allows you to share work schedules via text, push or email, so when there are no social media account updates during a shift, you’ll all know just whom to bother.
What NOT TO DO if you want to be better at time management:
Plan too far ahead
You can never really anticipate what will happen in the social media space. Which is why it would be a big mistake to plan out your exact schedule several days ahead. One morning you could wake up and find a client’s social media page in shambles over some poorly received product update, or a new competitor blowing up on every front page. Then all your to-dos are getting flushed out in favor of keeping up with the change.
Also, don’t forget to check how 30+ professionals share the best hacks on growing their brand.
The best time management strategies say it’s better to make a detailed schedule for the next week or so with a tool like Planable, keeping a close eye on the trends. A rough roadmap for the entire week and month will do just fine, as it leaves room for unexpected changes.
How it helps: This habit will mostly help with the anxiety that comes from postponed tasks and falling behind. Additionally, the less detailed you are for the long run, the more improvisation room you get.
Swamp yourself with tools
The digital market nowadays is filled with all manners of wonderful tools and apps that make our lives easier.
While it’s important to automate as much as you can to save time, be very cautious. If you’re overly reliant on social media management tools, you give way to two things:
- Distancing your content – with too many automated emails and scheduled posts, you risk losing that personal touch;
- Getting lost in a sea of apps – pile on enough browser add-ons, tools, and smartphone apps to govern your daily life, and you become either lost in too many notifications or lost without them.
How it helps: Less digital aids means more strategic thinking. Even though you do operate on a digital plane, work towards a more calculated use of fewer tools. It’s bound to help you improve your time management skills instead of leaving it to the computer. Remember, don’t always rely on tools, but keep in mind that project and task management such as Monday.com can significantly boost your productivity level.
Be a perfectionist
Gauge how many likes a pampered Instagram post will bring you.
Will spending half an hour retouching a photo get you ten, or fifty more likes and comments? If the answer is yes, then you need to enhance your image with the help of photo editing software. Those who can’t handle the extra work or want to save time can outsource photo retouching to professionals.
Perfectionism is the death of motivation, whatever industry you’re in. Social media management is no different. Set a standard for each task on your plate. Then make sure that all of your posts are at least good enough. The earlier mentioned ICE scoring method can also help stave off perfectionism.
How it helps: Stops time-wasting on unnecessary polish. Most people will postpone certain tasks on their schedule or put them off for the next day because what they’re working on right now “just isn’t ready yet”. It’s a common pitfall that also causes loss of motivation and stress.
Accept every task
When you work in social media full time, you tend to accept every offer that comes your way. Somehow, there always seems to be time for one more thing. The truth is often different.
Every new offer should be thought over carefully. Take only those that work towards your career improvement. Learn how to say no politely and save yourself some extra time in your schedule.
How it helps: Busy doesn’t always mean productive. Because instead of picking your battles, you’re taking them all on until you stretch yourself thin. Ultimately, it affects your work AND life quality.
Force a rhythm (that your brain can’t follow)
It has been scientifically proven that people have different working rhythms. Some function best the first two to three hours upon waking up, while others reach their peak in the evenings.
So don’t try to follow one famous media mogul’s or blogger’s advice on how to schedule your day. Odds are, it doesn’t work for your body’s natural rhythm. What you want is to follow your own tempo for at least 24 hours and find out: how many hours of sleep you need, when you feel most alert, when you experience a dip in attention, and so on.
The online findings concerning this have been astounding, and eye-opening in many regards. To ensure you make full use of your day, listen to your body to find the right schedule.
How it helps: Time management is more difficult when you impose tasks at inopportune times. Instead of disciplining your body to conform to a pace it can’t keep up with, work your schedule around your rhythm. You’d be surprised at how better your time management will get.
And so, remember
Time management strategies are more than just boxing your to-do list and trying to cram in as much as you can in 24 hours. It’s more about knowing your body and your mind, knowing what works for you and what doesn’t. This is about saying “No” when you’re swamped with work and saying “Yes” to tasks that matter. Therefore choosing longterm goals over tiny emergency fires.
For busy veterans and even busier up-and-comers, time management strategies are all about learning how to navigate the daily routines without losing yourself in the process. We sincerely hope some of our advice will help you in that quest.