“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”H. Jackson Brown Jr.
Whilst I’m no closer to ending world poverty, or discovering the cure for cancer, I’m already starting to see the vast benefits of effective time management.
Now when I started at BBD, I wouldn’t say that my time management was poor – I arrived on time every day and got all of my tasks completed on time.
As the new kid on the block, I had settled in well and felt very much ‘on top of it’.
For the first two months at BBD, I worked on a variety of projects, doing a vast array of tasks. They varied massively – one day I was helping set up targeting parameters for chocolate adverts and the next I was hanging origami marine animals made from litter. That’s the beauty of agency life.
Whilst the first two months were very enjoyable, I wouldn’t say they were particularly taxing. Most of my tasks weren’t time dependant or, if they were, I was given plenty of time to complete them and I felt very comfortable in my surrounding.
I was out for a casual swim – not quite in the shallow end but certainly not out of my depth.
What I didn’t prepare for was the incoming tidal wave that was support for a top 5 superbrand.
Into the deep-end
I took over the account executive role for this company in mid-August and my first few weeks were overwhelming to say the least.
With 34 markets across Europe, approximately 10-20 projects running at one time and about 100 plus emails coming in every day, I could feel the grey hairs already starting to show.
The original tactic was to action the requests as and when they came in and keep a log in my head of what needs doing.
Unfortunately, I’ve never been the most blessed when it comes to memory.
I blame my dad. He once took my six-year-old-self to the local park to ride my new bike I’d got that Christmas. Two hours later he returned home with the helmet and bike chain – not a Raleigh in sight.
So I was doomed from the start when it comes to keeping things in my swede. Fortunately, I didn’t make any huge errors (they are still our clients after all!) but I immediately realised that I couldn’t rely on the power of memory.
With this strategy ruled out, I needed to find a new way to stay organised and manage my time effectively.
The ground breaking time management insight
The answer came in something very simple – a to-do-list. If you came to this article hoping for a ground-breaking insight then you might be a bit disappointed.
It’s not exactly reinventing the wheel but I’ve found that simply writing my tasks for the day in my little black book has massively helped me stay on top of requests.
As for time management, it’s crucial to prioritise tasks and manage client relationships. Although this can be difficult as all clients think that their request is the most important and want it remedied as soon as possible.
Each day I sit down, look at the different tasks that need to be completed and when the deadlines are.
In the beginning it was very difficult as I didn’t know how long a task would take the developers and all the technical jargon was like a foreign language to me. Over time, as I started to work out what people mean by a “URL redirect” or a “vanity request”, I’ve began realising how long I should give people to complete requests. This has helped massively with reigning in client expectations as well, allowing me to be honest and open with them.
I’m still learning every day. There’s good days. There’s bad days.
One thing I do know is that, so far, I have taken away so much from the experience and I know how important managing your time is to successful execution.
Having said that, this blog is nearly a week late so I still have a long way to go!
Top 5 tips you need for effective time management:
- Write things down
- Stay busy in the quiet times – there’ll always be something to do!
- Learn how long things take and always allow extra time – there’s no point setting unrealistic deadlines
- Try to be proactive rather than reactive
- Say if you’re overwhelmed