In any job, regardless of your position, you’re bound to have interruptions thaat distract you from getting important work done. It’s just the nature of the beast. Having a plan of action ahead of time however, will help you stay on track, get work done, and continue to be an important and valuable asset in your creative agency.
I mean, if Clark Kent was able to juggle being a journalist and Superman, I should be able to tackle getting a blog written, right?
Before beginning this blog post, I really had to follow my own advice. We had a colleague leave the office for 2 weeks, and I had to take on some of their workload to ensure our department stayed on track. To add to that, I’ve had several meetings being booked and rebooked, a holiday that pushed some deadlines up, and eager colleagues wanting updates on what seemed like an hourly basis. I knew I had tasks to complete, but how would I ever get them done?
So, I dawned my cape and made a plan of action.
Use a Task Schedule
First, I had to create a schedule and assign some tasks before starting anything. I know it’s tempting to jump into working on a task right away, but having a schedule and assigned tasks gives your day structure, a clear outline of when something is due, and who is working on it at any given time. Whether you decide to use sticky notes, reminders on a device, or a scheduling feature as part of a project management software, a visual reminder to yourself and your team will keep you focused and allow you to prioritize your day. I’m not sure about you, but an unstructured day is definitely my Kryptonite.
Use a Shared Calendar
Next, use a public or shared calendar to give transparency to your colleagues. When others are able to see just how jam-packed your day is, you’re less likely to face interruptions. This way colleagues or clients can book meetings with you at appropriate times, you may actually be able to take a lunch break, and being organized will ensure you don’t double book your time. It’s a bonus if the calendar you choose to use is available to sync with multiple platforms, so you never lose track of important tasks or meetings.
Make Your Tasks Public
On top of using a shared calendar, letting your team know what your day looks like also helps give others insight into the chaos you may be experiencing. Sharing your tasks or goals in a daily or weekly team meeting helps keep everyone on the same page, and allows people the opportunity to let you know that they may need some of your valuable time throughout the day. This way, you can find a mutually agreeable time, or simply answer any quick questions that may have otherwise ended up as a tap on the shoulder while you are hastily trying to work on a blog – er, I mean, task.
Don’t Neglect Your Colleagues
That feeds into my next part of my action plan: making sure I’m not neglecting my colleagues. My team is a crucial part of me being able to get anything done in the first place; they’re my Justice League. Without them, my workload would be unmanageable, my company would not be successful, and I would have a very lonely 8 hours every day. Setting aside time for team meetings, and discussing how everyone’s workload is feeling ensures that no one is left out, and people can get the help they need on various tasks. Use the time with team members to see if you can share tasks, get insight on creative direction, or find answers to something you may be stuck on. Sometimes what seems like a distraction is actually a disguise for an answer you needed.
Learn to Say ‘No’
The last part of my super plan is being firm, but flexible. There’s no doubt that you’ll face obstacles throughout your day, and some distractions may be unavoidable. Being flexible and perhaps even expecting of these one-off scenarios may help you get your tasks done sooner, for the sheer fact that you won’t be wasting time stressing over things that are out of your control.
Of course, if there are distractions that are avoidable, be firm about it. You’re in control of your schedule, and if you tell yourself that getting your task done is more important than getting up and socializing, snacking or engaging in other forms of distraction, then stick with it. If you are able to set a visible reminder about a deadline in your calendar or schedule, it may be enough of an incentive to get something done. If that isn’t enough, put that phone away, close your door, turn off all other notifications, and focus.
It may be common sense advice, but too often in this age, we succumb to distractions because they’re so readily available and accessible. Remind yourself of why you need to get this task done. You’ll be glad you did when you’re finally able to check that task off your to-do list, hand in your finished product, and put that cape away for another day.
An integrated project management software is a key communication tool to ensure you and your agency team stays on track and on budget. With an all-in-one project management system like Function Point’s, your agency can manage tasks, share calendars, pull real-time reports and automate timesheets to jobs.
Check out our eBook on how to efficiently manage your agency’s time and resources.
This article was written by former Function Point employee, Jo Bowron.