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8 Tips (and a Few Tools) for Getting S**T Done

Every industry has them – the indefatigable ones. The people who seem to be everywhere doing everything every single day.

You see they’re speaking at conferences (sometimes more than one in the same week). You read their articles, newsletters, and even books. You hear them interviewed on podcasts and videos. You follow their conversations on social media.

And you wonder, “Where do they find the time?”

In the content marketing industry, many of those paragons of productivity happen to be speakers at Content Marketing World 2019. We asked several for their secrets. And they gladly shared.

If you’re facing down a seemingly endless set of tasks, take a moment (and a breath) and peek over their productive shoulders in the paragraphs below or in this video:

1. Mix digital tools and don’t forget about paper

Our work lives are digital, and there’s no going back. While digital productivity tools help with collaboration, some paragons of productivity supplement their digital tools with plain-old paper to keep track of their personal tasks:

“(We use) Basecamp and Slack in the company. But, personally, I love paper planners.  I use a combo of a paper planner, digital calendars, and the project management tools we have in the company to keep focus. You’ve got quarterly goals and annual goals to hit. And it can be so easy to let those slide for the day-to-day emergencies.”

.@LeslieCarruther uses a combo of paper planner, digital calendars, project mgt #tools to keep focus. Click To Tweet

Leslie Carruthers, speaker and founder/president, The Search Guru

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: 100+ Tools Content Marketers Really Love

2. Be your own best resource

As time-tested as the paper list is, it’s simply a tool. The goal is personal accountability:

“I actually rely on myself! We manage our own time. We have our tools like Outlook. But a lot of the time it’s our self-awareness in terms of how productive we need to be.

“I prioritize the things I need to do for the whole day. And I just follow that list. Usually, I create that list the night before or in the early morning. And I focus on the things that are most important or most pressing for that week.”

.@PamDidner prioritizes her day with a list the night before or early in the morning. #productivity Click To Tweet

Pam Didner, marketing consultant, speaker, and author, Global Content Marketing

3. Focus on team collaboration and accountability

Managing teams and tasks for multiple projects and multiple clients (internal or external) requires personal accountability, sure. But it also requires accountability to the team and the project plan. That’s where digital tools can really help.

“I’ve started to use Airtable. Airtable is a mix between using an Excel spreadsheet and Google Docs. It’s simple. It’s free.

“What it’s done is created continuity and accountability with a team that’s spread out across the United States. It’s one of those tools where we’re talking, and it’s not, ‘Oh, I have that locally, let me pull that up.’ We can all go to it, and as someone’s editing, you can see the changes happening. It’s just a nice tool for accountability. I think it’s important because, as you continue to assign tasks and people are doing different things, you’ve got to make sure they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and it’s visible and accountable.”

.@Airtable, a mix of spreadsheet & doc, creates continuity & accountability w/ a remote #content team. @mikepweiss Click To Tweet

Michael Weiss, vice president of consulting services and solutions, Creative Circle

4. Don’t create something new

The easiest way to get through your list? Don’t make it harder (or longer) than it needs to be:

“One productivity tip I use is repurposing content. That’s something a lot of marketers forget about. Often, we get caught with our head down trying to create content, trying to figure out new ways of creating content. There’s a lot of content out there that we’ve already created, and we need to focus on promoting that well-performing content first and foremost before thinking about new ways to create content. So, repurposing content is my number one tip.

Focus on promoting well-performing #content before thinking of new ways to create content. @JuntaeDeLane ‏ Click To Tweet

Juntae DeLane, speaker, CEO, Digital DeLane; and founder, Digital Branding Institute

5. Block out time for every single thing you do

This next tip forces you to think about not only what you need to get done and when you can do it, but it requires the context around your work:

“I’ve recently adopted a zero-based calendar. I put everything on my calendar, even if it’s not a meeting. Taking the shuttle to get to work, blocking off that I’m going to take time to shower, that I’m going to the gym, that I’m eating dinner or eating breakfast.

“It gives me a much more realistic picture of free time in my day. It’s easy to look at a calendar with just two or three meetings and think, ‘I’ve got plenty of time to get work done today,’ not realizing that it’s a half-hour commute to that meeting, a half-hour commute to that meeting, you’re going to work, you’re breaking for lunch, and you could lose those things.

I put everything on my calendar. It gives me a more realistic picture of my day, says @mdeziel. #productivity ‏ Click To Tweet

Melanie Deziel, speaker and founder, StoryFuel

6. Let Google do the work

Hey, Google, what should I put in my content plan? Yes, it really can be that easy:

“The one productivity tip that I use most is just Google Autofill. I love it. If you type in ‘how do I,’ Google will tell you what most people in the world search for when they type in ‘How do I.’ I’m a content marketing strategy consultant. I type content marketing strategy into Google and Google Autofill tells me I should write content about templates, examples, definitions. So, what do I write about? Templates, examples, and definitions.”

Use @Google Autofill to indicate what industry topics you should write about, says @BrennerMichael Click To Tweet

Michael Brenner, CEO, Marketing Insider Group; acting chief marketing officer, Concured; and author, The Content Formula

7. Automate everything

It may not be as easy as asking Google but taking the time to set up automation rules can save you from repetitive, manual work.

“I work with Pardot and Salesforce as core components of my engine, and I’ve got 40 or 50 different little automation rules that trigger in the background whenever leads pop into our system or whenever we take certain actions. Those cut down on a lot of the grunt work you would otherwise have to manually do.”

Set up automation rules to cut down on a lot of the grunt work, says @bediscontent. #productivity Click To Tweet

Vishal Khanna, speaker and director of marketing and communications, HealthPrize Technologies 

8. Step away from social

Then there’s the one everyone instinctively knows but most people find incredibly hard to do:

“Ah! Get off social media! It’s such a time suck! Because I work within social for a lot of my clients, all of a sudden, I’m like, ‘Hey, how long have I actually been on Facebook? Interesting.’ But there are a lot of tools you can use to monitor your excess usage when you’re working, and I find those really help.”

#Productivity tip? Get off #socialmedia. Use a tool to monitor excessive usage, says @annabananahrach. ‏ Click To Tweet

Anna Hrach, speaker, podcast host, and content strategist, Convince & Convert

How do you do it?

And that’s how it’s done, according to some very productive people. If that’s not enough productivity inspiration, try a few of these resources:

There’s no magic here. Just good examples from people who set their priorities, write (or type) their lists, schedule the work, and get it done.

You can do this. You do it every day. I’d love to hear your best tips in the comments.

Please note:  All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).

Learn more from the expert speakers at Content Marketing World. Sign up for video-on-demand access to 2018 or register to attend CMWorld 2019.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute