Marketers:Tabata-Style Time Management Can Help You be More Productive

Posted on May 17, 2017 by Lisa Allocca 0 Comments

Red Javelin Inbound MarketingEach day, marketers have more on their plate than they can possibly get done - budgets, lead generation, content marketing, social media, public relations, and the list goes on. It is the new normal. With tight budgets and fewer resources, we need to find time management strategies that help us work smarter and be more productive. This article was originally published in Forbes  and was written for business owners but the strategies contained within the article can help marketers work smarter.

The life of a business owner is hectic. You have so many tasks on your plate that it is easy to get lost in the details, and difficult to prioritize daily responsibilities. When I started my company, I tended to gravitate toward the things I enjoyed doing and neglected the tasks I found difficult or tenuous. Unfortunately, it catches up with you and can impact your likelihood of success.

One day, I showed up at my gym for a Tabata-style CrossFit class. I had no idea what this class entailed, but as I was pushing a weighted sled at 6 a.m., it occurred to me that I could use the techniques in my workout to help me push through my daily workload.

For those unfamiliar with this type of exercise, CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program that includes a variety of functional movements performed at high intensity intervals. You travel from one station to the next to complete each set of exercises.  

When you combine these styles, it looks something like this: Twelve different exercise stations where you do three sets of two different exercises at each. The exercises each last 50 seconds with a 10-second rest between each one. Phew!

Even the most difficult exercise only lasts three minutes. As I was doing the exercise I hated the most (burpees), I just kept thinking, I am almost done. 

Like CrossFit, business owners have a variety of functional tasks that require rapidly shifting attention and focus from one project to the next. One minute you may be focused on a new partnership, the next minute you may need to address a financial issue, and then you may have to shift your attention to a personnel issue. It is easy to see how your day can go by without accomplishing what you really need to do to move your business forward.

Here are nine tips to put you on the road to Tabata-style productivity:

  1. Sort your tasks at the beginning of your day into two categories: one that takes significant brainpower, and one that is more concentrated on busy work.
  2. Determine how long each task should take.
  3. Be aware of your body rhythms and recognize when you are typically the most productive for cognitive work -- work that takes more brainpower. There is a great article in the Wall Street Journal that discusses this concept in detail. For me, I do my best thinking and writing early in the morning. Late in the afternoon, I struggle putting together a cohesive sentence.
  4. Develop a schedule that matches your tasks to your productive times.
  5. Intersperse the less-liked tasks with the ones you enjoy. This way, you are rewarded when you finish a task you do not enjoy.
  6. Here is where the Tabata comes in: For the tasks that continually fall to the bottom of the pile, the ones that you don’t like to do, schedule slightly less time for them. If you estimate a task is going to take an hour, give yourself 45 minutes. If you know that you don’t have a lot of time to complete a specific task, you will tend to work harder, stay more focused to get it done in the time frame allotted, and look forward to moving on to a task you do like to do.
  7. Make sure you leave some time open for emergencies or office hours. This is important. You need some flexibility in your schedule to address items that come up in the course of business.
  8. Condition your team to save non-emergency items for office hours or for one-on-one meetings. Interruptions for non-essential issues will derail your agenda.
  9. Stick to the schedule! If you don’t stick to the plan, then why have one in the first place?

It isn’t necessary to schedule every day like this. However, a manager's work is never done, and if you schedule a couple of days a week Tabata-style, you can get some of those annoying, "need-to-do" items off your plate.

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Tags: Agency Management