Thursday, May 20, 2010
Managing Your Time
by Sarah Showalter, Account Manager
Part of being a successful account manager is time management. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done, but with effective time management skills you can accomplish what needs to get done and prioritize the remaining tasks.
Developing effective habits will allow you to stay in control and feel less of the outside pressures of stress and havoc by following these simple guidelines:
1. Develop a list
In order to understand what projects or tasks you need to get done, it is easier to write them down. This allows you to visually see what is on your plate and allows those little tasks not to fall through the cracks. Everyone has his or her own preferences, but I recommend typing out a list organized by client and including as much detail as possible (status, due date, etc.).
2. Prioritize tasks
Now that the list is developed it makes it even more effective by deciding which project requires your attention first. I ask myself this when deciding the order or prioritization:
1.Does it have an absolute due date? Is it due “next week” or May 25th at 1:30pm?
2.Does it require an approval process?
3.Do you have all the details and materials you need to complete the task/project?
If the project does not have a firm deadline, it can go after a project that does. Firm deadlines are the golden rule when prioritizing- they always come first.
If the project has an approval process, it will have multiple deadlines. The deadline to get a proof and the deadline that it needs to be finalized. It is important to stay aware of both and to consider what type of process it has to go through.
If the project requires gathering of materials (images, copy, etc) it is important to work ahead and collect them as soon as possible. It is a waste of time to wait until you “need” them to ask. Multi-tasking is key in this area of the project life span. Focus your energy on tasks you can get done while you wait for approval.
3. Stay organized
Staying organized means actually utilizing steps #1 and #2. Update your list as you complete it- cross it off, write notes on it, draw pictures on it- whatever you need to do to stay up to date on your list. Have your list easily accessible, my list sits by me all week long where I can glance over at it and it serves as a constant reminder as to what I need to complete. I also get a sense of accomplishment when I can cross something off- it’s all about the little things☺
If your project requires outside materials (images, copy, etc) make sure you know where they are. Are they in a folder? On your computer? Do the right people have what they need to work on the project? This allows the project to flow smoothly and more efficiently.
4. Avoid distractions
As I previously mentioned a deadline is the golden rule. If something is due at noon, you better sit down and get it done by 11:45. Distractions are everywhere- telephone calls, emails, the great view from your window, but rather than being easily side tracked, be motivated by the sense of accomplishment you will feel when the project or task is off your desk. After it is completed, then can you take a mental break, and then move on to the next one.
5. Open communication
Although we try to avoid setbacks and “emergencies” they always tend to happen now and again. Examples of these “emergencies” include approval process delays, waiting on images/copy, and deadline changes, etc. During these set backs it is important to stay calm, proactive, and make sure you notify all parties involved of the change in plans. For example, if an ad is going to be late, tell the publication (usually they can grant you a few days leeway) tell your client and your staff the new deadline, so they are all aware of when it has to be complete and do this while you are waiting on the revisions. Try to avoid last minute surprises and everyone involved will have a successful outcome.