To help you create time for content marketing, here are 5 ideas on how to produce the most content marketing in the least time.
1. Identify and address the root cause of jam-packed days.
To create time for content marketing, first reflect on what is the root cause of your days becoming jam-packed.
Everyone’s to-do list overflows, sometimes absurdly. Some people even advocate eliminating the to-do list.
Whether or not you have a to-do list, how can you prioritize your use of time better?
Distinguish what’s urgent from what’s important. Focus on what’s important, not only on what’s urgent.
This practice will make you more successful.
Growing up in the newspaper business, it was hard for me to recognize the mistake of letting urgent work crowd out important work.
All news is urgent. But not all of it’s equally important.
American culture celebrates busy people. The busier, the better, the nobler the worker.
But overly busy, stressed-out people aren’t all that productive.
Busy bees stack urgent needs ahead of important needs because urgent deadlines come sooner. But in the rush to complete the urgent work, important work often gets neglected.
Follow this to its logical conclusion, and your work life turns into constant fire-fighting. Some people get so good at fire-fighting that they are compelled to cook up crises when things get too slow.
Yet, they may be ignoring the important work before them. If you don’t distinguish what’s important from what’s urgent, you’ve already chosen a future in fire-fighting.
2. Set and stick to your strategy.
To create time for content marketing, set a content marketing strategy that determines what you will and will not do. Get your boss’ and clients’ buy-in by co-creating the strategy.
Every marketing department get saddled with pet projects that serve no strategic purpose for the company. Yet they perform the projects anyway to please a particular exec.
Today, 2 out of 3 marketers don’t have a written content marketing strategy. That’s a big mistake because an agreed-on strategy gives you the power to say no to non-strategic projects.
Without a strategy, you lack the power to say no. That leads to the tragedy of powerlessness.
A written content marketing strategy empowers you to do important work first and to kill off unneeded projects. Here’s how to create your one-page strategy with a template.
Allow yourself to advance strategic work such as content marketing – the kind of marketing customers actually want – by cooking up a written strategy with your bosses and clients.
3. Subtract before you add.
If you’re running at full capacity and your boss brings you more work, explain the facts. To free up time for a new project, some other project will need to be moved, paused or eliminated.
If your bosses don’t accept that rationale, either they’re telling you to hit the deadline and compromise work quality or they want you to sacrifice your life for work.
That’s no path to lasting success in marketing, in business or in life.
To create time for content marketing, help your boss recognize the some of the work the marketing department does is useless, even meaningless.
Too much work is based on assumed historical needs, inherited from a predecessor or boss. Testing those assumptions and questioning historical needs can be your ticket to higher productivity.
Here’s a true story: Early in my career, my predecessor erased the hard drive before turning over a PC to me.
At first, I was terrified, because I’d lost all the monthly results reports. To continue monthly reports, I’d have to reinvent each one from scratch, with no data from the past. Yikes!
Instead, I decided to stop doing monthly reports. I’d wait until someone actually asked for a monthly report.
A year later, guess what? No one ever asked for that report. Although it had been seen as essential, in fact no one needed it.
Every marketing department has work like that, just waiting to be axed.
To free up your schedule for important work such as content marketing, identify busy work and meetings that waste your time. Propose cutting meeting times in half and eliminating reports no one needs.
Chances are, no vital information or exchange will be lost. No one misses overly long meetings, unnecessary reports, or work that didn’t need to be done in the first place.
4. Do the hardest work when you’re at peak energy.
To create time for content marketing, observe and learn your energy rhythm. Everyone’s energy varies during the work day.
When is your energy highest? That’s the time of day when you want to do your most important work, such as creating content.
To take control of your time, observe your rhythm and build your schedule to fit it.
As a writer, I’m twice as productive in the morning, compared with the afternoon. To prime the pump, I review research the night before, sketch out a Message Map, and write the next morning – before my head gets cluttered with other people’s voices.
First drafts I write in the morning are cleaner. They require fewer rewrites than drafts started in the afternoon.
I organize my calendar accordingly.
I dedicate mornings to creating new content, including a new book about Message Maps called GIST: Hook Your Audience in 7 Seconds. That leaves afternoons for most meetings, phone calls and administrative work.
The result: I get more work done in the same number of hours.
Is it possible to follow such a schedule 100% of the time? No. I often have workshops in the morning, so I need to stay flexible rather than going rigid.
5. Schedule a meeting with yourself.
To create time for content marketing, guard the precious time that fits your optimum work rhythm.
How? By scheduling a meeting with yourself.
Block time on your calendar so that no one can schedule a meeting that steals your most productive hours.
As a guy who’s survived 52 bosses in my corporate career, I know this is hard, depending on who your boss is. Here’s how to explain it to your boss:
“I get more done when I dedicate certain times of the day to certain tasks.” Since you’re working to become more productive, any decent boss ought to listen and support you.
For your meeting with yourself, go somewhere you won’t be interrupted. Find the perfect place to think or write.
To find your own quiet place:
- Work from home.
- Steal away to a park bench, as John Cleese does.
- Your company’s library may be quiet and tucked away from traffic.
To create time for content marketing, use these 5 keys to free up time in your jam-packed days:
- Find the root cause of jam-packed days and address it.
- Set and stick to your strategy.
- Subtract before you add.
- Do the hardest work when you’re at peak energy.
- Schedule a meeting with yourself.
Here are answers to the Top 100 Questions on content marketing, posed by marketers like you.
As a marketing change agent, I consult with clients, lead content marketing workshops for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and write the weekly Simplify Marketing blog.
With experience from Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, RR Donnelley and Tellabs, I've been named:
- Content Marketer of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute.
- Best Marketer by BtoB magazine.
- A B-to-B CMO to watch by Fierce CMO.