As marketers, we tend to work a tremendous amount of hours per week. We have what feels like a million tasks to complete each day. And our company’s departments many times work in silos. How does one work smarter and not harder everyday to be more productive? Two words: productivity tools.
Why Productivity Tools?
We marketers have numerous tasks to perform, across many departments, involving many people, on a daily basis. Tasks such as:
- Managing new updates on the company website
- Creating new content like blog posts, white papers and infographics
- Building each content piece’s subsequent landing pages, and
- Maintaining the company’s social presence.
These types of activities require coordination from marketers (of course!), developers, designers, and potentially management.
Communication for Marketers
Previously at my company, I had to use multiple communication channels to manage all our work across departments. Our management prefers Skype, our employees prefer Google Chat, and everyone uses (and abuses) email. It wasn’t out of the question to speak with someone via Google Chat, someone else via Skype, and then reply to an email chain all discussing the same topic.
Now multiply that by the many tasks I needed to accomplish that week and you can start to see why I would find myself getting very little done but feeling like I just took a quantum physics test without studying.In fact, if you’re seen recent research, it shows that people who multitask regularly are generally less productive and use their brain less efficiently than people who focus on a single task. So yeah, I needed to find a new way to get more done.
Let me introduce you to Slack, a real-time communication platform that brings all of your conversations into one coherent, searchable tool. Slack’s tagline is “Do less work”, but it could also be, “Receive less email”.
At InfoTrust, I juggle analytics work for clients and also our own internal marketing. I get too many emails from clients as is, so having people within my own company email me regularly became a real nuisance. Moving away from email internally into a communication tool built for collaboration improved my email anxiety.
I was first introduced to Slack way back in the beginning of the year in an article on TechCrunch and was extremely interested in trying it out. I joined the waiting list with high hopes for the product and I’ve truly been a believer ever since.
My company has “channels” for topics like internal marketing, client work, random thoughts, and even monitoring our Twitter feed. I also use it to direct message colleagues on a one-on-one basis. It also integrates with multiple third-party apps and tools, like Google Drive, which not only makes it easy to share documents, but also to find documents once they’ve been shared.
Slack was built from the ground up with the search function in mind, so any conversation, link, document, code snippet, and so on is fully indexed and searchable. It’s great.
I highly suggest piloting Slack’s free plan with a few key cross-functional members of your company, not just your marketers. Learning Slack is easy and you’ll find it’s a very natural way to communicate effectively across your organization.
Task Management for Marketers
Slack is great for communication and collaborating, but how do I manage and plan my tasks on a daily and weekly basis? Our company has used multiple project management tools over the past year trying to find something that felt right. We settled on a tool which I’m not a proponent of (I’m not going to mention its name) and so I’ve been searching for the ideal task management tool ever since.
Asana is one of those tools that you see and want to get started using right away. It’s beautiful, has an intuitive user interface, and just plain understands how us marketers work. Asana, like Slack, was built to be extremely collaborative. It’s like a project management tool made sweet, sweet love to your favorite social network.
Managing multiple people within our marketing department became much easier once I switched our team over to Asana. Weekly meetings with an agenda created in Asana allows us to create and assign tasks as we talk through agenda items.
Here are some of my favorite features of Asana:
- An Inbox that manages all of your new and/or assigned tasks, comments from others on your tasks or tasks you follow, and more. I turn off the email notifications and keep Asana open throughout the day, because, screw you emails.
- A personal and team calendar of upcoming tasks that are due. This makes it easier to understand what my team is working on.
- You can follow other people’s tasks, so you can stay constantly updated. Being that I manage our internal marketing team, I want to know the status of my team’s tasks without having to constantly barrage them with questions.
- The just-updated iOS app is magical. Seriously, it’s great.
Asana is free for up to 15 members with an unlimited number of projects. Go on, try it out.
The Swiss Army Knife for Marketers
This tool doesn’t need much of an introduction…
I highly recommend using the “Clip to Evernote” Chrome extension. I save articles, pictures, screenshots, and more to read later offline. Also, The iOS app is killer, so I always have my notes plus any clipped articles from the web with me when I’m away from a computer. Saving articles to view later on your smartphone is plain awesome.
CopyClip is an awesome Mac-only clipboard manager that remembers your last 80 copies to your clipboard. No more copying a URL, then copying over it with something else accidentally. Check your clipboard and boom, there are your last 80 copies to the clipboard. It’s a time-saver for sure.