I like lists. From a list of groceries to a list of personal goals to a list of my daily tasks, these ripped up pieces of paper (yes, I like old-school lists) help guide me through every part of my day. Is it a little Type A? Possibly. Does it work for me? Absolutely.
Recently, I’ve stepped into the role of Client Services Manager at Atilus, meaning I’m the one that works directly with clients and the team to facilitate projects. With that, I’ve learned something very quickly that never occurred to me before: micromanagement (of myself, not of others) is the best way for me to stay focused and get things done.
Given that I’ve become so wise in my 3 years in the “working world,” I thought I could pass along a few helpful tidbits when it comes to being efficient (both as a working person and a human being).
(I’m really not that wise. I just thought this would be a neat blog topic.)
Tip #1: Plan Your Day
First of all, planning your day should be a no-brainer. However, the tricky part isn’t CREATING the plan for your day. It’s the STICKING to the plan that becomes a challenge.
If you’re in the business world – web design or otherwise – you know that things come up. The phone rings or you receive an unexpected email. These things are bound to happen, but when you create the plan for your day, it’s important to remember that not EVERY phone call is urgent and not EVERY email is one that requires immediate response.
I’ve found that when it comes to planning my day, it’s necessary for me to plan down to the hour. For example, from 9 – 9:30, I’ll run through emails. From 9:30 – 11:30, I’ll get started on a new project. By doing this, I’m able to tell clients EXACTLY when I’m able to get something to them and hold myself accountable for doing so.
Tip #2: Work Offline
Have you ever found yourself buried deep within a task, only to hear the all-too-familiar email ding? While there is the option to ignore it (this is a skill I have yet to master), the best thing to do is turn off your email for a few hours. Crazy, right?
I read this post from Ross Simmonds, a fellow content marketer and digital strategist. As Ross stated in his blog “Why I’m Ignoring Your Emails & Phone Calls,” we only have so many hours in a day. Part of staying productive and focused is the ability to step away from allowing others to contact you and knowing that while it may sound unproductive, it’s quite the opposite.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t get back to people trying to contact you; it’s just a matter of priority. In my opinion, one of the best things you can do for clients is develop habits to stay focused and ensure that when the time comes for you to focus on a task for them, they’ll know that you’re devoting 100% of your time and attention.
Tip #3: Plan for the Unplanned
There have been too many times where I’ve made a plan, tried my hardest to stick to it, and ended up tossing it out the window due to some unforeseen event. The inability to get to tasks I PROMISED myself I’d complete sends me into sheer panic. While I’d like to think that I can create a plan and follow it down to the minute, I have to be realistic and know that I can’t plan for each second of my day.
A perfect example of this is a day that I’d set aside to work on only client-related tasks. I’d planned my day out by the hour as always, only to end up having an internal website discussion that lasted for an hour. With that experience, I learned very quickly that I need to set aside at least 1-2 hours for the unforeseen: that website error from a client, that unexpected phone call regarding a new sale, etc.
I’ve only worked as a Client Services Manager for a few months and I feel as though I’ve gained so many valuable skills that have improved my working style as well as provide a great experience for our clients (I’m hoping).
I’m always curious to hear how others work and am eager for tips! If you have any tips on working more efficiently, leave them in the comments below. Until then, happy listing.