2020 has been a year no one could’ve predicted. It can be overwhelming to think of all the things we feel like we can’t control right now. Here’s what we can control though: our time, energy, and headspace.
In my own day-to-day as a digital operations specialist, I look at what a client’s task objective is and break down how we’re going to make it happen. In 2020, I’ve learned this skill isn’t just something that can be applied to advertising operations but rather, to life.
Whether it’s breaking down a project for a client, or figuring out how to make more time to do the things I enjoy (like blogging at Build With Joy), here are the six simple steps I take to turn a big idea into reality:
- BRAIN DUMP: If you’re anything like me… you keep a never ending mental list of things and it can throw you into an anxiety spiral. Before you end up frozen and overwhelmed, clear up space in your head to tackle the day. Pull out your favorite project management tool (I love Asana) and list it all out, or a good old fashion paper and pen. Get out of your head, literally.
- PRIORITIZE: What is most important? I like to tackle my day by picking the TOP THREE things that MUST be completed that day. Start there, and then start ranking which tasks can wait until tomorrow, next week, etc and which are more important. You want to get the most IMPORTANT items out of the way first, then work down through the later items. Adding DATES for deadlines is ideal. On Asana, you can add dates to start and/or complete.
- BUCKET: Okay, great! You should now have a list of everything you need to do to get going. Now, look at similar tasks. Maybe you have multiple emails you need to send out, calls to make, copy to write, strategies to outline, etc. Go through and start adding these tasks into different “buckets”, and essentially begin to categorize. If you are using a tool like Asana or Airtable, move the tasks to be near each other.
- FOCUS: We know you are amazing and can do ALL THE THINGS! But should you? No. We exert more energy switching back and forth between tasks that are different. AKA: Multi-tasking takes a lot of energy. Reserve your energy for a SINGLE TASK. Try this: Set aside a timer to FOCUS on one of your buckets. Focus solely on that bucket of tasks for an allotted amount of time (e.g. 30 minutes). Put away your phone, minimize any non-relevant browsers, close those extra tabs. When the time you set is up, take a break. Stretch, get moving, share that meme on Instagram. Reward yourself.
- AUTOMATE: Now, this is the part everyone wants! We all want to automate our lives, but the truth is many of us don’t even realize all of the moving parts that go into a task. We haven’t even taken note of all we are doing in a day, or for a project (except maybe operations folks- I see you, I know you, I care). In order to automate, look at what you’re doing repetitively. Look at the various software you’re using. Think about all the extra clicks that are taking up your time, and start taking inventory. A great automation tool that doesn’t require you to know any programming language is Zapier.
- AUDIT: Continue to audit where and how you place your focus. By following this six step system, you’ll begin noticing more and more parts of your day that you can potentially automate. You will also notice how much your “saved” time can add up. Surprise: You can GET IT DONE, and make time for yourself and all that you love!
In a digital world it’s easier than ever to be connected 24/7, but that can also make it more challenging to get into the headspace we need to be mindful employees, managers, friends. As the old adage goes: work smarter, not harder.
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