Hello PPC Heroes! As 2018 draws near, your feeds may be inundated with talk of New Year’s Resolutions. While I tend to stay away from making a big to-do about resolutions myself, I do like to reflect on my year past and prepare for changes I plan to implement to make for a successful future. This year, my top priority is staying organized in the new-to-me landscape of PPC management. As I made my list, I took a holistic approach that I’d like to share with you. My strategies fell into four categories – organization of my space, my time, my resources, and my workload.
Organizing Your Space
1. Ensure you always have the tools you need.
Keep an organized space dedicated to an abundance of pens, paper, notebooks, et cetera. This way, you’ll never be on an impromptu call scrambling to find extra pens or paper around the office.
2. Make use of your physical assets.
I’m a visual learner, and one of favorite tools is a printed copy of the month’s calendar with my due dates and reminders highlighted. If you’re visually motivated, I recommend making a list of the things you most frequently reference, and keep a physical copy taped up at your desk!
3. Categorize and label those assets.
I suggest separate spaces for your notes, lists, and reminders according to whatever categories make sense for you. At an agency, for example, this could be physical organization by client/account.
4. De-clutter regularly.
Once a day, or once a week, go through everything you keep on your desk and determine whether you need to file it or toss it. A clean space gives you a fresh start and adds ritual to an often otherwise chaotic schedule.
5. Put physical reminders where you can see them.
Post-its are great for those quick notes that are pertinent in the short-term, especially when you’re on a call or in the middle of a conversation. Stick them somewhere on your desk that you look at frequently. Avoid keeping them for more than a few hours, putting your reminders in your calendar or to-do list when you’re able.
6. Give it a personal touch.
Lastly, your space should not feel impersonal and uninviting! Modify any of the above suggestions to fit your preferences, and bring things to your workspace that make you feel happy and comfortable. Decorate your space with photos, art, or whatever else will make the space uniquely yours.
Organizing Your Time
1. Make the most of the beginning and end of your day.
When I start my morning, I do a “morning check-in.” This involves checking emails, scheduling the tasks that I plan to accomplish that day, and gathering any resources I will need for the day’s meetings or workload. Then I put these things away for the morning and get to work.
2. Utilize your calendar and reminders.
Your calendar is not just a scheduling tool for meetings. I use my calendar primarily as a time-blocking and notification tool. Any task that I’ve determined I’ll do for the day in my morning check-in gets a scheduled slot on my calendar (set to private, so that only I can see it), and any deadlines coming up in the next week (or month) get two reminders scheduled – one for two days before the deadline, and one on the due date itself.
3. Prioritize your tasks.
This is also part of my morning routine, but it can happen as tasks come in as well. I use a very simple, 3-letter prioritization system. “H” for high, “M” for medium, and “L” for low. I determine task priority subjectively, but there are more quantitative methods.
4. Avoid back-to-back meetings.
While sometimes back-to-back meetings are unavoidable, I think it is important to try to take time before and after meetings to prepare and process. After every meeting, I like to have at least 10 minutes to organize my notes, set my calendar reminders for deadlines, and jot down to-dos resulting from the conversation.
5. Don’t break up [client] work.
The most helpful tip a coworker ever gave me was to dedicate a specific day of the week to just one client or project. While I may work on several other tasks on a Tuesday, if I dedicate Tuesday primarily to the week’s work for Client A, I get a sense of completion and a holistic idea of the progress I’m making in the account.
6. Set time limits.
Some tasks cause more head-scratching than others. If I know that I regularly get stuck in data analysis-paralysis for a task in a client’s account, then I schedule no more than the amount of time I think the task should take if I am working efficiently. This allows me to get more done in a day, and gives me the ability to get a fresh look at the task later if necessary.
Organizing Your Resources
1. Keep your computer desktop and files organized universally.
I immediately name my files with this naming convention: Date_Client_Account_Task. At the end of the day, I move any of these files residing in my downloads folder or on my desktop to a well-organized client folder.
2. Make a running list of account changes and completed items.
I keep a word document with a master list of any changes I have made to each of my accounts on a given date. This is a great reference tool if there is ever question about when work was completed.
3. Record your notes from all [client] communication.
Similarly, always transfer your notes from calls or meetings to a master document that you can store digitally. I love pen-and-paper notes, but I consistently compile them digitally for future reference and reporting.
4. Organize your inbox.
Hanapin uses gmail, and I continually set my emails to be auto-tagged and categorized. I have a folder for each of my clients, platforms, etc. You can play around and come up with a system that works for you, but an organized inbox is another great reference tool when your other notes aren’t quite as robust as you need.
Organizing Your Workload
1. Make a to-do list, and keep it in one place.
There are many free apps and websites for task management and to-do tracking, and when I first started at Hanapin I tried to use them all. I found that keeping just one digital to-do list, no matter how simple the format, was the best option for me. I use a very basic spreadsheet with columns for the client, task, deadline, and status.
2. Checklists are rewarding!
A to-do list in a format that allows for marking things “complete” or checking a box is actually psychologically satisfying and can increase your productivity. I like to write my checklists down on paper from my to-do list each day – I break to-dos into smaller tasks that I can physically check off with pen and paper as I complete them.
3. Schedule (and keep a list of) recurring tasks.
Keep a PPC task list and schedule the ones that you need to do on a recurring basis. For example, I schedule my SQRs in my calendar as a recurring event for each of my accounts. Here is a PPC task list from ppchero that you can use for reference.
4. Accountability is necessary.
At Hanapin, many of us keep a Status Doc that we share with our team and/or our clients to hold us accountable for the work that we say we are going to do and when we are going to do it. Having a solid accountability system in place keeps you in check and ensures all parties are updated on the information they need.
5. Automate wherever possible.
There are so many tools for automating tasks that can save you tons of time throughout your week. Automation is not always the solution, but as these resources get more sophisticated, there are plenty of tasks that don’t need a manual touch.
Implementing solid organizational habits in your everyday work process is crucial for success in this industry, as there are so many moving parts to keep track of. This is a long list that could be broken down even further, but I hope it is a good start for those of us looking for ways to keep track of the myriad pieces to the PPC management puzzle!