Why do some marketers seem to generate significantly better results than others? It may seem like successful marketers are simply more skilled and motivated— but often, this is not the case. In reality, routines and habits are what separates best-in-class marketers from the rest of the pack.
The most productive marketers rely on good habits and systems instead of falling back on motivation, willpower, and ineffective productivity hacks. As best-selling author James Clear wrote in his book, Atomic Habits, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
In today ’s post, we’ll share seven habits you can implement today to become a more productive marketer. Let’s get into it!
1. Think in terms of systems, not outcomes.
We’ve all heard the saying “Work smarter, not harder.” But, what does working smarter really mean? Here’s one answer: The best B2B marketers think in terms of systems and processes instead of tasks and outcomes. In other words, great marketers look at the big picture, which allows them to scale their efforts more effectively.
One way to facilitate such a shift in mindset is to write down all of the tasks— big and small— that you aim to complete over the course of one week. Then, at the end of the week, review your completed tasks and group them into three categories:
- Things only you can do.
- Tasks you should delegate or automate.
- And, things you should stop doing.
From there, develop a system to handle repetitive or unnecessary tasks more efficiently. Whether that means automating these tasks or dropping them altogether, you’ll free up time to think more strategically about your truly essential tasks.
2. Track your progress.
What gets measured gets managed. This couldn’t be more true for building productive marketing habits. It takes a minimum of 21 days to build a new habit, and it can take 60 days or longer for a habit to stick (source).
Keep track of your output and task completion on a daily, weekly and even monthly basis. For one, this process will keep you accountable. And, as you see your productivity rise, you’ll be more motivated to stick with the good habits you’re learning.
As James Clear writes, “All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But, as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger.”
3. Leverage time blocking.
Time blocking refers to the process of scheduling all of your tasks ahead of time and then focusing only on the scheduled task during that designated time period. This method allows you to set effective boundaries and take control of your own schedule, instead of being reactive or going into fire-fighting mode.
Time blocking also prevents you from falling back on one of the most common bad habits: multitasking. Studies show that multitaskers experience a 40% drop in productivity, and take 50% longer to complete a single task (source).
Gini Dietrich, the founder of Arment Dietrich and the popular PR industry blog Spin Sucks, is one of many marketers who achieves success through time blocking. Dietrich says, “I block big chunks on my calendar for deep work. It allows me to get those things done, and I also do it for exercise and don’t let anyone interrupt that time.”
4. Set boundaries around meetings.
Time blocking isn’t the only way to take control of your calendar. You can also do so by managing the number of meetings you attend. It’s no secret, unnecessary meetings are the most common productivity killer. In fact, business leaders estimate that 67% of meetings are failures or a waste of time (source).
The best way to avoid the time-suck of unproductive meetings is to set rules and boundaries around meetings. These rules can include things like setting time limits, preparing meeting agendas in advance, restricting meetings to only a few hours per day, or even declining invites if you don’t think a meeting is necessary. If a brief email correspondence can suitably replace a half-hour meeting, speak up and say that. Your coworkers won’t hold it against you— you’ll be saving them time too.
5. Monitor your energy levels.
No one maintains a steady level of energy throughout the day. Productive marketers build their schedules around their peak energy levels. For example, if you notice you regularly waste time on Facebook and Twitter after lunch, you should consider devoting that time to more mindless tasks that require less effort. Likewise, if you feel productive in the first couple of hours of your day, you should block off that time for writing or high-level strategic tasks.
This is a different approach to the hustle culture movement, which advocates working extended hours. The smartest marketers know their productivity will drop off significantly after about 50 to 55 working hours, so they maximize their output by working when their energy levels are at their highest.
There are tons of time-tracking apps, including Toggl, Harvest, and RescueTime, designed to help you monitor how you spend your time at work. Leverage these tools to assess your energy levels and prioritize your peak performance hours.
6. Tidy up all of your digital files.
How many times have you spent five minutes looking for that one crucial email, spreadsheet, or PDF? Each individual instance may seem negligible, but five minutes here and 15 minutes there adds up to a significant amount of time in any given week.
The most productive marketers leverage specific tools to manage and organize their digital files. Apps like Evernote and OneNote can help you keep track of your notes and miscellaneous ideas. Take the time to label or tag these notes so you’re able to search for them on the go. As far as more important spreadsheets and documents, we recommend you store and maintain these files in a centralized location you can access from anywhere, such as Google Drive.
7. Embrace daily journaling.
In a fast-paced role, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and struggle to think clearly. Daily journaling helps you avoid this problem by forcing you to slow down and spend some time simply letting out your thoughts, whether they’re about work or not.
There are hundreds of different journaling techniques, from the Bullet Journal to the Gratitude Journal to the one-line-a day method. The method you choose is less important than making sure you’re consistent. Journaling has many benefits — from keeping you more positive and focused to helping you think through tough problems.
Key Takeaways on These Habits from Productive Marketers
And there you have it, seven habits the most productive marketers swear by. It’s always helpful to learn from successful peers in your field— but remember, you don’t have to adopt every habit we discussed above. Create your own unique systems that allow you to be the most productive and stick to them. With the right process in place, you’ll be able to achieve peak productivity every day you step foot in the office.
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Contributed by Annabel Maw, Marketing Communications Manager at JotForm. When she’s not blogging, she enjoys international travel, concerts, and artisan coffee. Say hi @AnnabelLMaw!