Below are six small tips I’ve been told, read, or developed for myself that have been useful in my day-to-day work. Likely, they’ll be some help to you as well.
One Place to Put Tasks
My first tip is the easiest: Have all of your to-do tasks in one place. Be able to see everything that’s on your personal list in a single glance. Whether you do this through a task management system like Basecamp, Evernote, or Trello, or you take my route and paint a 50 square foot dry erase board on your wall, make sure you have a grasp of everything that’s on your plate. I’ve found having this view is very valuable when it comes to determining what you’re going to tackle on any given day.
Big & Little Tasks
Every job, including that of a PPC manager, has tasks that can be classified as small, medium, and large. Small might be responding to an email or running account projections. Medium tasks can be pulling together notes for a client call or starting a new ad copy test. Large tasks might include pulling an assisted conversions report in Google Analytics or building out a new group of campaigns around a new product line. Put a little of each of these categories into every one of your work days. Give yourself at least a couple quick wins every day so you feel a sense of accomplishment, but also a couple bigger tasks so you’re making good strides in your accounts. Building an account can be really rewarding, but can also take long stretches without really finishing anything. With this system, you’ll be able to work on large and medium tasks, while also being able to cross multiple little things off of your list. The best feeling is crossing something off your list.
Coffee vs. Coke Hours
This is a little metaphor I use for myself: coffee = morning, Coke = afternoon. Well, Diet Coke is really more appropriate for me. Basically, know which part of the day you’re most effective. Personally, I’m a coffee person. I do much better work, and am more eager to work, on tasks that require high amounts of thinking in the morning. I try and schedule investigatory work, research, and creative work in the morning. By the afternoon, my Diet Coke time, I become a little more of a drone. I prefer to schedule tasks that don’t require as much brain power as will power in the afternoon. That’s when I tackle bid changes, budget shifts, reporting, etc. Know when you’re at your best during the workday. Make sure you’re not just scheduling the right task, but the right task at the right time.
Don’t Break Up Client Work
Working at an agency requires you to shift your thinking for different clients. Each account has a different product/service as well as unique KPI goals. Going back and forth with work from Client A to Client B and then back to Client A throughout the day forces you to change your mindset each time you shift from client to client. Staying in one account for multiple tasks before moving on to the next client will allow you to focus and keep the right KPIs in mind.
Some Tasks Need Limits
Some tasks in PPC seem like you could work on them forever. My best example for this is the automatic placement report. Although there are some quick filters you can apply here to cut the work down, there’s still a seemingly endless amount of data available around the list of sites your display ads have shown up on. For tasks like this, I recommend setting limitations for your work. The first is a spend limit. Sort your auto placement report by descending spend, ensuring you see the highest spend URLs first, then choose a lower spend limit, let’s say $10. This means that you look through each URL on the report until an individual URL has less than $10 spend. At that point, the spend for the rest of the sites isn’t worth your time to check them out. (Diminishing returns…or something economical like that.)
The second limit is a time limit. Although you’ve set your $10 minimum, that doesn’t mean you’ll get there in less than 2 hours. Be sure you set a safety net for yourself so you don’t use your entire day on one task that might not have a huge effect on the account as a whole. Either look at the clock or set an alarm for some amount of time, 30 minutes would work for our example. Once that time is over, so is that report’s luck in getting any more of your attention. Finish up and move on to your next task. If you feel you haven’t gone through the report thoroughly enough, that’s fine. Schedule more time for it tomorrow.
Fire Fighting Time
We all know things go wrong in accounts, but we rarely plan ahead for those times, and we should. Contrary to regular tasks and scheduling, fires can come up at any time and usually need to be resolved right away. (You know, like, fires.) So rather than making 11am your “fire putting out time”, I suggest you simply don’t schedule 30 minutes of your day. (Possibly an hour depending on how many fires you typically have to put out.) E.g. if you work 8 hours a day, then only assign yourself 7 1/2 hours’ worth of tasks. Build in time for those fires. If a fire comes up, you’ve got the time to go put it out. If it doesn’t, bonus time! Now you can get to work on another couple small or medium tasks you need to get finished anyway. Maybe that auto placement report you didn’t give enough time to. Yay!
Do you have any tasks or time management tips you’ve developed? Let us know how you make your day as effective as possible.